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LSST Climate and Workplace Culture Issues Steven M. Kahn LSST Director.

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Presentation on theme: "LSST Climate and Workplace Culture Issues Steven M. Kahn LSST Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 LSST Climate and Workplace Culture Issues Steven M. Kahn LSST Director

2 Workplace Culture on a Distributed Project As a large construction project, LSST is unique in many ways. I discussed some of those yesterday in my overview talk. One of the most important ways we are unique is that we are highly distributed. Key centers of activity for LSST Project work include: Tucson, AZ, Menlo Park, CA, Seattle, WA, Urbana, IL, Princeton, NJ, Upton, NY, Paris, France, La Serena, Chile. Operating in such a distributed way creates a number of challenges: The most obvious involves communication. Face to face interaction enables a much larger range of communication than teleconferencing or written exchanges like . Victor mentioned enhancing our videoconferencing capability as a means of addressing this. But that may be only a partial solution. Another difficult aspect of running a distributed project is maintaining a clear and consistent “workplace culture”. There are natural differences between communities which are geographically distant. In addition, petty institutional battles can lead to factionalism, interfering with our ability to work coherently together.

3 What is workplace culture? It is somewhat easier to define and recognize elements of a bad workplace culture, than a good one: – Employees and collaborators do not trust one another. – Individuals do not feel appropriately valued for their contributions. – People like what they are doing but dread coming to meetings with others. – Talking behind one another’s backs is common and encouraged. – Participants seem to want to debate petty points just for the sake or arguing, rather than to to proactively seek solutions. – People feel uncomfortable in their jobs because of their gender or ethnicity.

4 Why is this important? LSST is a highly visible project. There is a lot of attention that is focused on us, and this will only increase as we expand into construction. The impression the outside community has of the Project is based on more than just our ingenuity and technical accomplishments. It is important for people to think of us as “a great team”, not just “a technically strong team” or even “a brilliant team”. We want to continue to attract outstanding hires. It is a cliché to say this, but it is really true that the best people come in all shapes, colors, sizes, genders, and personality types. We don’t want to have a reputation as “a great project, but not a great place to work.” We need a commitment to achieving and maintaining an outstanding workplace culture from everyone involved in LSST!

5 Standards of Conduct Most of our constituent institutions have some form of existing policies for standards of conduct. AURA does as well. I would like to adopt the AURA Standards as applicable to the entire LSST Project, irrespective of institution. If something bad is happening anywhere on the Project, it reflects on us all. What are the elements of the Standards: – Civility and respect for others should be demonstrated through behavior, attitude and language and tone of voice. – Embracing difference and fostering an inclusive environment create opportunities for participation and innovation and contribute to a productive, high-achieving workforce. – Each person’s contribution is valued and his/her opinion should be heard and treated with dignity and respect. – All individuals should demonstrate personal and organizational integrity in all matters. – Accepting personal responsibility and accountability are the foundation of successful outcomes for individuals, teams and the organization.

6 Bullying One can think of may egregious examples of inappropriate behavior. However, some of the more common, and thus more damaging behaviors involve subtle forms of “bullying”: – Persistent singling out, for adverse purposes, of one person. – Shouting or raising one’s voice at an individual in public or in private. – Public humiliation in any form. – Constant criticism on matters unrelated or minimally related to the person’s job performance or description. – Ignoring or interrupting an individual at meetings. – Repeatedly accusing someone of errors that cannot be documented. – Spreading rumors and gossip regarding individuals. – Encouraging others to disregard a supervisor’s instructions. – Taking credit for another person’s ideas. – Deliberately excluding an individual or isolating him or her from work-related activities, such as meetings.

7 Reporting and Corrective Action I want to encourage a climate on the LSST Project where our team members feel comfortable in reporting workplace environment issues that are hindering their work. Please bring these directly to my attention, independent of the institution that employs you. I will discuss them with you individually and confidentially, and with your consent, will take action if appropriate. Let’s all work together to ensure that great people continue to want to join LSST because it is great place to work (at all of our institutions).

8 What’s wrong with this picture?

9 How does diversity matter?  It opens up the environment for a wider range of people, skills, talents, and perspectives.  More perspectives are taken into account in devising solutions to problems.  Fewer things are taken for granted; more things are questioned.

10  The intelligence, ability, drive and interest required to succeed is distributed among the population without regard to race, gender, or socioeconomic background.  By not actively promoting diversity, we will lose talented people to other employers and professions, which means that there will be discoveries and achievements that will take longer to realize or that simply won't happen. Why does diversity matter?

11 “Discrimination” vs. Bias  It is tempting to believe that discrimination of some groups is a thing of the past, or is only practiced by a small set of uninformed people.  Research shows that we all – regardless of the social groups we belong to – perceive and treat people based on their social groups (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.).  All humans - men and women of all ethnicities - are biased. This is not a finger-pointing exercise.

12 Schemas: Non-conscious hypotheses, expectations and stereotypes that influence our judgments of others (regardless of our own group). Unconscious (Implicit) Bias: Numerous studies show that schemas lead to unconscious bias and affect evaluation. Stereotype Threat: Minorities in a group are conscious of (and anxious about):  Their status  Stereotypes of that minority  The need to overcome that stereotype  The need to combat it as a representative of their minority What are some problems?

13 LSST hires the most qualified applicants. LSST seeks a diverse and inclusive workforce. If there are equally qualified candidates then can you can take proactive action to hire the individual that improves the workforce pursuant to the organization’s goals. It is illegal to hire a less qualified candidate to diversify your staff, just as it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of qualities that would diversify your staff. Of course, the key issue is that the judgment of who is more or less qualified is usually subjective – there are often competing factors, and it is how one weighs those factors that determines the ultimate ranking. LSST Policy on Hiring

14 Conclusions Workplace climate and the diversity of our workforce are important. We need to attach an equivalent priority to our goals for making improvements in these areas as we do to our scientific and technical goals. As Director, I want to encourage an open and inclusive environment. Please come to me with issues you are personally facing, but also with suggestions as to how we can do a better job as a group in addressing these areas.


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