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VALUING DIVERSITY Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Equal Rights.

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Presentation on theme: "VALUING DIVERSITY Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Equal Rights."— Presentation transcript:

1 VALUING DIVERSITY Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Equal Rights

2 Course Information n Course created by: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Equal Rights n Course Code: SUPI n Training Credit: One hour supervisory credit n Course placed online March 6, 2007

3 COURSE OBJECTIVES n Participants will be able to: –identify a common definition of diversity –explain the difference between diversity and affirmative action –discuss how perceptions are formed and the implications that can arise from those perceptions

4 PURPOSES n Simply stated, the purposes of this course are to: –create a positive workplace –remove or minimize barriers (both personal and systemic) that preclude any employee from making his or her maximum contribution toward achieving our mission

5 WE HAVE MANY SIMILARITIES AND MANY DIFFERENCES n Examples: –where we are from –names –marital status –children –pets –favorite foods –colors –others?

6 People vary in many ways, some subtle and some not so subtle Even though many of the similarities and differences are irrelevant... some of the differences cause people to have different expectations in the workplace

7 YOU HAVE UNIQUE TALENTS n Valuing and utilizing the unique talents of all employees: –enhances communication –strengthens problem-solving and decision-making skills –leads to improved organizational productivity and performance

8 WHAT ELSE? n To make participants aware that: –there is an increasingly diverse customer population (survivors) –diversity helps the Agency attract and retain top talent –utilizing the unique talents of each employee improves Agency performance –valuing diversity makes good business sense –maintaining a diverse staff and serving a diverse customer population assists the Agency in fulfilling its mission

9 COURSE OVERVIEW n We will cover: –the definition of diversity –how perceptions are formed –the importance of communication –tips for communicating with others –seven myths of diversity –a summary of what we covered

10 WHAT DO YOU THINK? How do you define diversity?...or put another way... What comes to mind when you think of diversity?

11 DEFINING DIVERSITY n Because of the many backgrounds and experiences we bring with us, we have many different definitions of diversity n Let’s look at the following two-part definition to give us a common understanding of what is meant by diversity in this course

12 THE DEFINITION n Diversity is the mosaic of people who bring a variety of backgrounds, styles, and beliefs as assets to the groups and organizations with which they interact n Diversity is a strategy to eliminate barriers between groups and take advantage of a diverse workforce by harnessing different backgrounds and talents, while avoiding friction

13 DIVERSITY IS NOT THE SAME AS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION n Affirmative action is a strategy to get a fair representation of women and minorities on the job

14 QUESTION n How are perceptions formed? n Perceptions are formed through our life lessons, the experiences in our lives that teach us about our place in a group, a community, an organization, or in society

15 PERCEPTIONS n As perceptions are being formed throughout our lives, we tend to: –be raised in homogeneous groups –gravitate to people like ourselves –be uncomfortable with differences we don’t understand –screen out evidence which contradicts our existing perceptions

16 SO WHAT? n This can, in turn, cause us to: –magnify the similarities for people like us –diminish the similarities for people who seem different –magnify the differences for people who seem different –diminish the differences for people like us

17 WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? As we relate to others maybe we see what we’re looking for… instead of what’s really there

18 If perceptions are positive and we feel appreciated, how do we feel? - We feel included, part of the group - Our differences are valued and seen as a resource - We feel others depend on us, are interested in us, and care about our fate - Others identify with us and appreciate us - We are included and have 2-way communication

19 When others avoid us, how do we feel? - We feel excluded from the group - Our cultural life and traditions seem distinct and separate from others we work with - We tend to be overly sensitive - We can feel contradictory feelings of pride and shame

20 Why is feeling that we matter important? By being appreciated and accepted we foster positive feelings... which then stimulate a more productive and enjoyable workplace?

21 DIVERSITY INVOLVES... n Recognizing the differences that make each of us unique n Attracting people of all backgrounds to work together in a respectful environment n Creating an environment where everyone is appreciated and has a chance to succeed n Recognizing how attitudes toward differences influence our interactions with others n Acting as a diversity change agent to create a respectful work environment

22 DIVERSITY during A Serious Incident n Diversity during a serious incident represents countless differences n We’re not just talking about race, sex, age or ethnic groups but many others as well –hometown- education –height- weight –language - disabilities –economic status - family size –religion - politics, etc.

23 SHARED RESPONSIBILITY n Working toward a more diverse workforce is a responsibility we all share and is part of Agency’s strategic plan n Agency employees are expected to take a more active part in supporting the concept of diversity by appreciating and valuing the various cultures of their colleagues n This appreciation can be achieved through an increased awareness, acceptance of differences, understanding and mutual respect

24 YOU MAY STILL ASK, WHY SHOULD WE DO THIS? It’s simple. A diverse workforce will help us to successfully carry out our mission and effectively provide proactive support to our employees and disaster survivors

25 WHAT IS THE KEY? n Answer: Open Communication –communication differences often cause problems and may even cause others to feel discriminated against –misunderstandings and incorrect perceptions of others with different backgrounds may cause people to misinterpret messages –even non-verbal communication may have a different meaning in different cultures or different settings. This might include gestures, body movement, personal space or proximity, eye contact, touching or shaking hands, etc.

26 THE VALUE TO YOU n By recognizing and respecting our differences, we are more likely to earn cooperation and support and get commitment from others n When we clearly communicate with others we establish respect and understanding n Discussing issues or concerns as they occur can avoid misunderstandings

27 COMMUNICATION TIPS n Be fair and impartial n Communicate clearly and effectively n Demonstrate respect and sensitivity to others n Maintain a calm, normal voice level n Treat people equally and do not show favoritism n Use language which is not offensive or embarrassing n Use “consequences” - not threats n Focus on productivity, not differences n Try to resolve problems promptly n If problems arise, identify common ground first

28 SEVEN MYTHS OF DIVERSITY n Diversity is a problem n Diversity is the responsibility of the Office of Human Resource Management n Diversity is just about race and gender n Diversity is about minorities and women in the workplace n Diversity is exclusive n Diversity is just another fad n Diversity is just another version of EEO or affirmative action

29 LET’S SUMMARIZE n Diversity is not just being nice to each other, nor just race, gender, age or cultural differences n We must recognize the impact of our words n Communication misunderstandings can heighten diversity differences n Providing prompt feedback to each other can help eliminate communication problems n Identify common ground to minimize workplace differences n Including everyone on the team makes them feel important n Respecting each other’s opinions and backgrounds will help reduce workplace conflict

30 Forming perceptions about people without really getting to know them can create friction within a diverse group Understanding and valuing diversity can help all of us relate more effectively as colleagues... and help us ensure fair delivery of services to all applicants

31 TRY TO REMEMBER When you are in a situation where someone’s words or actions make you feel uncomfortable... don’t forget the information presented in this course

32 YOUR PART n Be part of the solution, not part of the problem n Conduct yourself in a professional manner n Be considerate of, and sensitive to others who are different than you n Address diversity as an avenue which can enrich your job and help us work more effectively

33 Finally…the end! Thank you for participating Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Equal Rights

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