Dr. David Campt is a national expert on inclusion and intergroup dialogue. David has worked with groups from large corporations to the White House, and has appeared on The Daily Show. He speaks about about how we talk with each other, and how to help people come together. In 4th grade, David had a teacher tell him that “People are more alike than they are different,” and in his critical work, David shows audiences how to use dialogue in order to connect and come together.
David tells us about how the world has changed over the last 20 years. When he was in the White House in 1998, black people took on the unpaid job of trying to talk to white people about racism. Now black people are saying, “You do the work -- it’s not up to us.” And 55% of white people think that racism experienced by white people is just as important as the racism experienced against black people. The work isn't helping people to understand the importance of that question, it's to hel the 45% of people who do believe racism is an issue to talk with the 55% who do not -- that's the basis of David’s important work.
David encourages conversation, and has been inspired by the growth of the ally movements across all areas.
We talked about "race method"and "reach method": in difficult conversations, in order to be productive, you want to do two things up front. First, move from facts and beliefs to experiences; and secondly, ABC: "Agree Before Challenging," meaning establish common ground before inviting people to new thinking.
RACE is David's acronym for racial conversations, and REACH is for other conversations.
R - Reflect (get centered) and think of stories you want to tell.
A - Ask questions (vs attacking).... ask about their experience (vs their beliefs) that inspires their point of view.
C - Connect; find something you can agree with in their position and tell a story about that.
E - Expand their view... by telling another story where you had a different experience
R - Reflect
E - Enquire (British spelling)
A - Agree
C - Confess
H - Harmonize
David wants people to invite each other to a place of new thinking vs coercing or forcing them to it. David’s methods have people first coming to agreement before they try to teach people to think differently. According to David, people on the Left are “too woke” and treat the people on the Right like they don’t know anything. In David’s book, Compassion Transforms Contempt, he talks about moving the country forward by treating each other with more compassion, which is more persuasive.
Compassion is key to personal change. Moving towards something vs fighting something you hate is so much more effective. If you want to be effective, finding common ground is a good thing.
These are skills to practice, but you have to want to do it.
2020 has been an eye-opening year in terms of race. We’ve opened our eyes to experiences like George Floyd’s gruesome murder, unconscious bias, and mircoaggressions (or as David says, Inadvertent Dignity Violations), and now it’s up to each of us to do better. David’s tips can be helpful in this.
Moving on to our work lives -- the key to building and maintaining diverse teams? We have to support people in a reasonable way so that they can be themselves.
We asked about David’s approach to handling unconscious bias and microaggression situations with peers and leaders at work, and how to handle them as a bystander. David’s #1 strategy is to say to either person, not that one person is wrong or even that you're offended. Instead, David recommends: “When [the thing you're bringing up] was said, I felt weird.” This phrase doesn’t make presumptions about how someone should feel, or show malicious intent, but instead invites people to talk. This can work with both peers and leaders, and can be followed with, “I don’t believe you intended that” or “I’m not sure how the other person felt.”
How are companies improving diversity hiring? David talked about removing diversity markers from resumes to promote equality. He also talked about the importance of employee resource groups. To make these effective, top level management must say they are important, and must train people to be mentors and allies outside of their own group. Lastly, David believes in high quality unconscious bias training that shows that everyone is subject to biased thinking. We feel more comfortable when we understand that everyone has bias. Employee surveys are are an important too, and are important, but looking at the top level numbers can be misleading; instead, breaking down the data by group can allow up to come to a deeper understanding to create a workplace that works for everyone.
For executives to get DE&I sensitive, they may need private coaching, because they can’t be completely honest about their own biases, struggles and concerns in front of employees.
Executives also need to support diverse hires in building up their skills in order to help those colleagues feel welcome, Telling people the potential you see in them, and supporting them, can help them reach that potential from a place of empathy. If a manager hires a person to diversify the team, but there is a skills gap that can be learned, it is up to the manager to empower the person to fill that skills gap in order to help them succeed.
What about creating roles for diverse candidates with relevant experience? David’s a believer in that strategy, because diverse teams make companies and products better. As long as it’s a quality role for a relevant candidate, be creative to add diversity.
As we closed out the podcast, we asked the hard question about healing our nation. David encourages people to find ways to come together, and reach out to people who voted differently and find that common ground. Own up to the transgressions we made to the other side, and admit your part in the polarization. He asks us to reach out to friends with different opinions and ask questions and not put yourself in a position to argue. Learn and understand if you can handle it, and call out different viewpoints. You can start with figuring out something we all want, or where we all want to go, and figure out how we can come together to recognize that shared value of completing this project together.
“If a plane is going to fly, it needs a left wing and a right wing.”