When Scott Adams, creator of the popular comic Dilbert, went on a horrifically racist rant recently, many people were shocked. As a result, most major media outlets carrying the comic dropped his work. From this incident, Human Resource professionals and business leaders should take away 5 important lessons:
- A lack of diversity results in group think
- Diversity should extend well beyond the workplace
- Immediately disavow racism and racists in and beyond your organization
- Own your failures and apologize when you screw up
- Find SERVANT-Leaders (Selfless, Empathetic, Resolute, Virtuous, Authentic, & Nonpartisan)
I explain each of these lessons below in a short video. Thank you for liking, sharing, and subscribing. Until next time, keep serving.
Full Transcript from the Video
At this point, You’ve probably heard about Scott Adams, the creator of the popular Dilbert comic strip, and how he recently
had a terribly racist rant on his video blog a couple of days ago (at the time of this recording). I’m here to tell you five quick tips
that any H.R. professional can take away from this example.
First, a lack of diversity in your employee base will result in groupthink. Now, in Scott Adams case, he even says in his video that he moved away from black people because he wanted to get away from them, for whatever reason. The reality is he created his own groupthink. No matter how many people he may be exposed to. He clearly wasn’t exposed to differing perspectives and thoughts, significantly enough to open up his mind and create some empathy for other groups. If your organization is structured the same way, where it’s a very homogeneous group of individuals, you may run into the same problems that he ran into with what he said.
Second, diversity extends well beyond the workplace. When we think of DEI&A initiatives, we often think about what they mean within the corporate walls,
virtual or real. But diversity, good diversity, comes from executives and leaders who consume diverse information of all forms and well beyond the office. When you’re looking for great talent for your organization, executive leaders, and really at any position, you want to try and find people who are educating themselves and informing themselves with diverse perspectives. They want to have their media, the news they consume, their books and podcasts they listen to come from people who don’t just look and sound like them, but people who have differing perspectives from them.
The third lesson here is to immediately disavow racism or racists in any way, shape or form. Kudos to all the media organizations that immediately dropped Scott Adam’s comic strips. That was the right action to take. Unfortunately, Scott didn’t do the same thing. And we’ll explain more in just a minute.
Fourth is to own your own failures and apologize. Again, unfortunately, Scott failed to do this in his subsequent interviews with other individuals and on his own podcast, he attempted to defend the actions, even explaining that he somehow did this just to create the conversation. Nobody’s buying that. Well, I shouldn’t say nobody – there are some people who are buying it – but anybody who’s well-educated in this space can realize that that wasn’t his intention. And certainly if it was, he didn’t go about it the right way. Good organizations immediately disavow any kind of racist behavior or anything similar to it, any kind of unethical, immoral or illegal actions. You should absolutely immediately disavow whether or not they come from within your organization or from a third party or partner that you work with or support in any way, shape, or form. Immediately disavow them, apologize for it, and show a commitment to improving with better education, moving forward.
Last, but certainly not least, of course, find SERVANT-Leaders in your organization. As you will see, there’s many principles in servant leadership that will hopefully avoid you having to deal with such terrible issues as racists in your organization. Some examples of those principles:
They tend to have a willingness to walk a mile in other people’s “muddy boots”, as I like to say, not just their shoes, but understanding what life is like in their most difficult days and situations.
Next you have Virtuous. Obviously, Mr. Adams did not show ethical or moral behaviors in his actions and what he said or did.
Then you’ve got Nonpartisanship. We speak a lot about nonpartisanship, not just in political nature, but from a servant leadership perspective. Nonpartisanship is where you see a lot of the DEI&A initiatives we talk about. If you are nonpartisan, you’re willing to listen to new ideas from anyone anywhere – I always say ALMOST any time. And last but certainly not least, is Thorough.
Again, Mr. Adams information was largely informed by one particular perspective, as you can tell by listening to him. He gets a lot of his information from a clearly singular line. The source – the poll that he cited – was a very biased organization, and he clearly had not done his research on the term, which was often associated with white supremacists and their notions and actions, which explains some of the ratings that he saw in the poll. But, of course, Mr. Adams didn’t refer to any of that because he wasn’t well educated enough on the topic. Servant leaders are thorough. They become very well educated in these spaces.
So again, to recap, a lack of diversity results in groupthink. Make sure your organization is not homogeneous. Surround yourselves and the employees in your organization with differing perspectives and individuals. Second, diversity extends well beyond the workplace. Make sure people are getting their
information from a variety of backgrounds. Third, immediately disavow racism or any immoral or unethical or, heaven forbid, illegal behaviors. Fourth, own your errors and apologize when you see them. And fifth, make sure you find some servant leaders for your organization.
I’m Ben Lichtenwalner. Thank you for listening. Hopefully you can take away a positive from this lesson and remember, until next time, “Keep Serving”.