Being Culturally Responsive with Jeffry Schneider

Posted on January 1, 2018

If being culturally responsive was just for educators, then CEOs and other business professionals wouldn’t go to training on the subject. In the past, businesses and organizations called it diversity training, and, before that, it was about EEO/affirmative action. These terms are decades old. In our pluralistic society, we need a new approach. Leaders need to get involved in causes such as hurricane relief without thinking about whether they are being culturally responsive. Leaders should take steps that will have positive impacts on human beings, and helping people from different cultures in this context becomes a collateral benefit.

Moving into 2018 – Be More Inclusive

Today, I want to discuss how leaders can lead their business team with culturally responsive approaches with a focus on inclusion. If you look at the average public-school classroom in America today, it would include people from different races, cultures, language backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. Some kids come to school with all the support they need at home and enough exposure to vocabulary to make meaning out of the kindergarten curriculum. Other kids arrive at school to begin their education with next to nothing. Yet, educators are expected to achieve the same results with everyone, assuming that their kids commenced on a level playing field. In the world of business, we also like to compare businesses of different sizes, but, in a globalized world, firms don’t start on a level playing field either. Here’s where the inclusion approach comes into play.

Include Everyone on Your Team

Whether you are sitting in a board meeting or just trying to provide extra coaching to the weakest members on your team, you can push for inclusion. This means that you come to the table as an equal, not the boss or the team leader. You work from the assumption that everyone has something to offer. Then, you introduce the topic and solicit ideas from the people at the table. You don’t allow anyone to be arrogant or critical of other people’s ideas because the atmosphere is one of cultural tolerance. Everyone’s idea is shaped by his or her own background. When you listen carefully to ideas in a group, you can start to piece bits of them together to form a shared direction. The team realizes that a new good idea is taking shape and they feel the common momentum. Before you know it, what started as someone’s bright idea was quickly refined into the group’s new objective.

Get Rid of the Expert Mentality

Different from talking with Jeffry Schneider, I’ve sat at tables with other CEOs and professionals alike, I’ve realized that too many of them get caught up in the expert mentality. Here’s an example of what I mean. Daria is talking because she’s the lead accountant for the firm’s Pacific coast office. She is researching a new environmental startup that specializes in plastic netting manufacturing for medical applications. We should listen to Daria because she has toured the plant and met with the startup’s key players. Jose raises his hand and wants to explore something he hears about our capital development strategy, and no one will look at Jose because he’s new to the team and knows nothing about the startup. While Daria may be the expert, she may not have an insight that Jose has. If we don’t listen to Jose, we may miss out on the exact strategy we will need in this startup. If we’re not culturally responsive, we will ignore Jose because we assume that Daria knows more. That’s because he doesn’t hold the same status in our organizational culture, but he’s on our team and his ideas are valuable and should be treated as such by everyone at the table. If we are all equals, then Jose’s input is equally important to Daria’s. What kind of organization do you want to work for?

Categories: Investment Strategies


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