The Responsibility of Learning About Social Issues: "It's not your coworker's job to teach you"
Many leaders support their organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, details an article in Harvard Business Review, "but are stumped when it comes to having constructive conversations with colleagues about police brutality, sexual harassment, or LGBTQ+ issues."
"They want knowledge about social issues and identities like race, ability, gender and sexuality which their diverse employees possess but which they themselves don’t. And they’re puzzled when employees don’t seem to want to share." Situations like this, writes Lily Zheng, leave employees "feeling bewildered and stung by the interaction," when "you were only trying to learn."
When employees tell leaders to “Google it,” “look it up,” or “teach yourself,” they are saying two things. One, that a thorough discussion on the topic in question requires background knowledge beyond what they assume leaders have. And two, that in that moment they aren’t willing to take on the extra work to do the teaching. Minorities and women don’t have the responsibility to provide social justice education — for which consultants like myself do as part of our full-time jobs — for free, and on demand.
The article, then, provides some thoughts on where do well-intentioned leaders find the information they need.
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