Why Deloitte & Touche made Diversity Inc’s Top 50 list.

03/04/2009
Deloitte Office Building in Downtown Chicago
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Deloitte and Touche has a CEO in Barry Salzberg that values and models diversity internally and externally (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He chairs and manages an internal diversity council (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He is connected with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and other diversity oriented nonprofits (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He supports diversity in his executives by tying compensation to the promotion of diversity (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). He is quoted here:

“Building and sustaining an inclusive culture has been critical to Deloitte’s growth and will play an important role in our continued success. Clients expect it, new recruits want it and our people demand it. Most importantly, our culture of inclusion has a direct impact on the organization’s ability to set the standard of excellence in the marketplace.” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

They hire a diverse worker body, and support diverse employee resource groups, such as LGBT groups and employees with disabilities (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm). “Thirty-two percent of its work force and 41 percent of its new hires were Black, Asian, Latino or Native American” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

This company respects its employees. They promote a work/life balance, have strong metrics to support productivity and goals, and provides support (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm).

They have a mentoring program in which 75% of managers participate (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm).

They also have a Chief Diversity Officer, Allen Thomas, who is quoted here:

Diversity and inclusion is tightly woven into Deloitte’s fabric. We’ve accomplished this by setting a clear and decisive tone at the top and demonstrating leadership’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive culture that provides opportunities for all of our professionals to succeed. In addition, our active support of Deloitte’s Business Resource Groups and their members across the country is a daily display of our commitment to the diversity of our people. (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3294.cfm)

DiversityInc devises it’s top 50 most diverse companies “by metrics obtained in a detailed survey of more than 200 questions” (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

Any company with over 1,000 U.S. employees can request and recieve the free survey (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

Some more details on the methodology of choosing the top 50:

four areas the survey measures: CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate and Organizational Communications, and Supplier Diversity. Companies are assessed within the context of their industries, geography and employee skill sets. Any company that does not offer domestic-partner health benefits is automatically excluded from the Top 50 and the 11 specialty lists (http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3273.cfm).

I think that Deloitte and Touche is regarded as a top company in terms of diversity because the structure of the leadership (e.g. a Chief Diversity Officer) as well as a CEO who supports and models diversity encourage that behavior. If the leadership provides the path, the carrot, and the stick, intrinsic valence of the idea in employees is probably not far behind, especially if it helps people, helps the company, and helps the world.

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Is the Internet Warping Our Brains? | LiveScience

02/25/2009
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In our ongoing discussion about the ways in which the internet, technology and Google is changing the ways in which we think, I thought this article might be a good one to bring to light.

The Internet is no doubt changing modern society. It has profoundly altered how we gather information, consume news, carry out war, and create and foster social bonds. But is it altering our brains? A growing number of scientists think so, and studies are providing data to show it.

What remains to be seen is whether the changes are good or bad, and whether the brain is, as one neuroscientist believes, undergoing unprecedented evolution.

Texting and instant messaging, social networking sites and the Internet in general can certainly be said to distract people from other tasks. But what researchers are worrying more about are the plastic brains of teens and young adults who are now growing up with all this, the “digital natives” as they’re being called.

via Is the Internet Warping Our Brains? | LiveScience.

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Open Source – The Washington Times – Home

02/20/2009
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Some old media are embracing new methods, including openness and portability of data, such as the Washington Times. This is big.

The Washington Times has always focused on content. After careful review, we determined that the best way to have the top tools to produce and publish that content is to release the source code of our in-house tools and encourage collaboration.

The source code is released under the permissive Apache License, version 2.0.

via Open Source – The Washington Times – Home.

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Seth’s Blog: Solving a different problem

02/05/2009

As usual, Seth makes a great point. The convergence happens naturally, and often there is a evolutionary aspect to the curve of adoption. Sometimes, though, there’s just no comparison. In a way, it’s surprising that we who have internet access at high speeds still have televisions and cables around today. I ask again, when will NBC take down their transmitter, and just use their routers?

If the telephone guys had set out to make something that did what the telegraph does, but better, they probably would have failed. Instead, they solved a different problem, in such an overwhelmingly useful way that they eliminated the feature set of the competition.

The list of examples is long (YouTube vs. television, web vs. newspapers, Nike vs. sneakers). Your turn.

via Seth’s Blog: Solving a different problem.


Journal entry: New Directions Chapter 11

06/10/2008
Personal Experiential Influence
This chapter talks about an 800 pound gorilla in the mediation chamber – the one that indicates that mediation theory in the transformative/relational tradition and mediation practice in the problem solving/individualist tradition are at odds, not speaking, and distrustful of one another – which is ironic, considering mediation might be a good way to bring about relatinal understanding between these two groups. They have so much in common – they want to help people, they want to resolve issues, and they want to take all the framing instances and find a common frame. However, because acting upon the criticisms and theoretical analyses of mediation might be considered experimental in real world practice, current mediator training is strictly focused on the practices and ideas that have come before. It is the antithesis of innovation, and seems much more like stagnation. Maybe what needs to happen is something like the case study that occurs in Chapter 12 concerning the Wolf population control issues in Alaska. If we could get critics, mediators, managerial 3rd party practitioners, and disputants who have both succeeded and failed in mediation to participate in a controlled dialogue on the issues of what’s right and wrong in individualistic vs. relational approaches to mediation, maybe we could all find something in common with other extant views.

Rifkin, J. (1994). The Practitioner’s Dilemma. In J. P. Folger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New Directions in Mediation: Communication Research and Perspectives (pp. 204-221). Sage Publications, Inc.


Journal Entry: New Directions Chapter 3

06/05/2008

This chapter talks about the pros and cons of the storytelling metaphor of Mediation, in which a story is told by each side. Work is done by the mediators and disputants to weave a new tale that none would dispute.

This chapter talks about the potential issues with mediation’s storytelling metaphor. Cobb argues that the practice of storytelling and the content of each disputant’s story can be managed through mediation to be a powerful record of a more complete record of the truth between divergent disputant stories. The issue is that if the mediator is to stay outside of the realm of content building, how can they both shape the stories being told, while not being a storyteller themselves? I personally feel that this is the necessary balance that a mediator must be aware of and respect.

This chapter makes note of the idea that the truthful reality, the story as it appears in the mind of each disputant, and the way that it is mentally or verbally practiced and then told in mediation may all be completely different stories, and so it is the task of the mediator to be aware of all of these contingent potentialities, and to work to passively engage disputants in the task of aligning reality, their own story, the story of the other, and the stories being told in the mediation session, so that they all achieve commonality in the majority.

Of the utmost importance are coherence, or the common understanding and agreement of each story, closure, or the filling of gaps in stories, interdependence, or the ways in which disputants might feel the need to have mutually divergent stories in order to fulfill their role of disputant, and that mediation must be seen as a way of clarifying and commonizing stories on opposing sides of conflict.

It provides a way for each disputant to have a voice, participate, and reconstruct the individual’s tale into a relational, collaborative story. Through conflict stories, the individual view that precedes any sort of collaborative mediation work, we can find the differences between realities, and by knowing these differences in reality, we can begin to construct more whole, encompassing views of the conflict, in order to find commonalities, establish coherence, and reframe conflict stories into an acceptable narrative for all involved (pp. 52-54).

The reluctance for disputants to part with their ‘closed, written’ conflict stories and opt for an opened up, bidirectional, relational narrative makes sense. In opening ourselves up to question, alter, or reveal our inner reality for scrutiny can be emotionally dangerous, relationally imbalancing, and potentially conflict increasing, but it is also possibly essential as a process for digging down to the whole, acceptable reality of the conflict, one that shows and describes all sides of a disagreement (pp. 54-56).

Mediation’s place in narrative building is not as editor, but more I think as fact checker. The facts are checked by the disputants themselves as part of the inquiry process of mediation (pp. 58-61). If disputants can open up to see more than their own world view, and can further be engaged to the degree that they can realize and accept not only all of their own experience and narrative, but the experience and narrative of the other side(s), then mediation can be seated and see what agreements will come (pp. 61-62).

Cobb, S. (1994). A Narrative Perspective on Mediation. In J. P. Folger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New Directions in Mediation: Communication Research and Perspectives (pp. 48-64). Sage Publications, Inc.

Personal experiential application:

I wonder if it would work to go beyond the idea of storytelling in conflict narratives to an idea of poetry writing in conflict narratives. I’m not talking about injecting rhyme or rhythm into conflict narratives, but rather an emphasis on the poetic premise of the emphasis on sense based, concrete, nonabstract imagery in order to provide a recording of an event in an unbiased way, so that the reader can in effect experience the event for themselves. For instance, if I were to say:

/I loved her hair/

it would not likely be very telling, or convey what love is, because love is something I might feel differently than others do. I might define my own sense of love in an unbiased way instead:

/her hair was dark, down to her elbows, very straight, and smelled of lavender./

You might despise long dark hair, and not care for lavender. Do you love her hair? It’s up to you.

I also wonder about the potential for an electronic coop caucusing feature where the disputants could still be in content visually and aurally, but in a more comfortable physical space, maybe the room next door, by way of videoconferencing, closed circuit TV, or even just a phone. This way the face to face feature of mediation would be preserved, but in the case of a physical dispute or one in which violence took place, there would be no danger of any violence taking place during the mediation, despite all parties being ‘present’.

What might the introduction of a discussion board or a wiki do, where the narratives get told in written form, saved and recorded each time for posterity and progress assessment, but then is given to the other disputant so that they could edit the story to make it ‘more realistic’ according to their own reality?


Journal Entry: New Directions Chapter 1

05/23/2008

The Benefits of Transformative Orientation of Mediation

The relational view of mediation provides an alternative to simple individualistic me versus you problem solving style mediation, which is the most commonly practiced style in the form now. Transformative style is poised to increase human awareness along two key axes: Empowerment and Recognition (p. 15).

It is important for mediators to avoid simply solving the problem for disputants, no matter how simple it might seem to be to do, as disputants are more likely to agree to and own solutions that they devise themselves through trusting inquiry.

The transformative methodology stresses the disputants being given the ability to devise and own a shared, collaborative solution to their conflict (p. 21). Active listening and monologues in turn is demanded as part of the process (p. 18). Individualist views emphasize me and my while transformative, relational views emphasize the me and my as they relate to you, yours, we, ours, and all of ours.

Folger, J. P., & Baruch Bush, R. A. (1994). Ideology, Orientations to Conflict, and Mediation Discourse. In J. P. Folger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New Directions in Mediation: Communication Research and Perspectives (pp. 3-25). Sage Publications, Inc.

Practical Experiential Application:

Active listening, in particular, has been an especially useful tool for me in my own day to day conflict resolution toolkit. In normal conversations, we do more back and forth work in our communication, where I’m thinking about the points that I want to make next, the context of the moment right now, the ways in which I’m going to add to or refute what you just said. You’re dong the same thing. While practicing active listening, we put aside all of that cross pollination of ideas between my thoughts and yours and simply focus on those of the current speaker. In active listening, we act to silence ourselves, stifle our want to interrupt, and work to understand the similarities and differences between your ideas and mine. This is difficult to do while practicing active listening, but nearly impossible to do in normal conversation, where there is the constant flow of nonverbal data, environmental context, and our own babbling mind. Active listening is a form of working to silence all of that.