Talking about office politics and diversity and inclusion means talking about accountability.
Creating a space to talk about the impact of corporate office politics, I mean, office communications, was an exercise in trusting the idea and understanding the potential risk. Often, when problems arise in the work place, talking isn’t just talking. It is opening the door to retribution via decreasing professional development opportunities. It is common knowledge and often what keeps people from talking and companies from forming solutions.
While I debated this effort for over a year, our country has been rocked by protests following the deaths Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery; the worldwide pandemic that hit our country ridiculously hard; and the calls for change to undo many years of systemic racism.
“A year ago, I was still a corporate employee and in the middle of challenging my own corporate communications experience. While I lost my voice I also felt compelled to create change for others. It was about the words, the ones spoken and the ones left unsaid, that were creating a language barrier of its own.”
Here's an example
A couple of years ago, I was invited to take part in a focus group of a developing D&I program and the organizers wanted feedback. All the important sections were included in the presentation but the one I needed to see most, accountability. I waited to speak last so as to not mar others’ willingness to contribute.
“The program is a good idea and this is a good start. Where do people go to see what the behaviors look like because otherwise it’s just a bunch of words on paper. It has to be an effort top to bottom.”
Needless to say the room went quiet. I looked at my immediate supervisor who I think was waiting for the room’s response to gauge both my intention and the environment.
“She’s right, it has to start and include the top."
It took about 20 seconds before he spoke. That one person heard me and I felt understood. For about two minutes, I had a champion. I still recall this individual with appreciation. Not because he agreed but because he was open to seeing the challenge as a member of the “top”.
So, what does one do with this experience and 20 years working in corporate environments? Create a space to make transparent the behaviors and language that diminish professional development opportunities, make longer the path toward economic gains, mask the lack of accountability, and discuss the retribution factor, including when it starts, what it looks like and what it sounds like.
Welcome to CL3 Talks!
I don’t expect the conversation to be a happy one, or even a welcome one at that. But I do hope to give employees a space to participate freely. I want the experience, struggles and lessons learned to serve the incoming professionals; and the past actions and conversations of mid-level and senior professionals, to guide the first-generation, minority and/or first-time corporate employee.
Most of the conversations will happen on Twitter and you can see the conversations running on the right side of this page but you can also follow the discussion @CL3Talks. Like most social media conversations, articles will be shared, questions will be asked, surveys will be available to collect your experiences. I might even return to my journalism roots and interview experts myself.
I hope you ask questions, suggest and tag communities that can contribute to the conversation, and most importantly, contribute to opening the taboo topic of office politics.
-M @ CL3 Talks