The Desk

July 15, 2017

Evaluating Character

There are candidates who present themselves and proclaim that they have a passion about a particular cause that makes them uniquely qualified because of the insights that passion caused them to discover. For the most part, this is a very real facet of gaining knowledge and expertise. It supplements knowledge of the primary discipline that, in turn, creates the ability to forecast consequences of one act compared with another on future outcomes.

Sometimes the interview will aid in discovering the candidate’s growing interest in their passion and how it’s applicable to the work they seek. Some will be insightful and bring this interest into the conversation at some strategic time. Caution needs to be used if the added awareness and qualification for the position is couched on this passion and not direct experience.

Sometimes this “passion” is fleeting; it exists only for the sake of gaining a better position over the competition. One sign of a fleeting passion is the inability to have a detailed conversation about it as it relates to the position, the work, the overall direction of the company and its target. Or there may be detailed knowledge. The false passion is more like a moving target as discussion of it evolves in relation to the position – or anything else. Scrutiny comes into play to discern whether the knowledge is tantamount to merely parroting marketplace rhetoric. One with real passion will be able to offer unique insights; they have ideas that are more than the typical hyperbole.

We all have biases of one type or another. It’s important to be aware of them and to admit to them so that those biases can be put aside when making critical decisions, especially about hiring qualified talent. That’s why evaluating a candidate who professes a special interest that makes them more qualified than others needs special care.

Melania Trump’s passion about children, especially abused children, became a matter for closer scrutiny and an example of necessary care when evaluating a candidate. Because of her association with an unpopular, high-profile figure (not to mention some very public gaffes), she does not have the usual adoring audience. In fact, her background shows behavior that’s been quite the opposite of the reaction that is usually expected of someone in her position.

We look at the woman who is noted as having a favorable university education. A rare quality is that she speaks seven foreign languages. She is noted as having a strong interest in art, architecture, and design. On paper, it’s expected that she would be the one making decisions about her destiny and being very outspoken in that area. Yet, the public gaffes that follow and haunt her show she has poor discretion and depends on others to do her speech writing.

She has declared FLOTUS causes that are vogue since the late days of the campaign only to abandon one for something else that seems to be taking public attention by storm and then abandoning that cause as well. Does this FLOTUS have a cause, a passion?

There is a consistency in her behavior. Using recent audio clips of statements she’s made, we find she is noted for her defense of her controversial husband with the averment, “while her husband is fair and treats everyone equally, he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Perhaps that defense was pulled from a statement her husband made a year earlier.

Those who speculated about her refusal to move into the White House in January. She made a campaign declaration that she wears the color of the place where she lives. Many thought that meant she eagerly looked forward living in the White House. After hearing one fabricated-sounding excuse after another for keeping her distance from her husband’s new domicile for five months, speculation rose that she may be suffering from abuse and wanted to keep the distance for whatever reason could be manufactured.

In May, the President and his wife took their first official trip outside of the United States. In the initial days of the trip, the relationship showed strain. It wasn’t until the flight that brought the couple home to the White House that the tension dissipated. Uncharacteristic of previous behavior, she seemed animated and happy, even in the presence of her husband. That was also the day when Melania’s interest in fostering her FLOTUS cause was announced, care for children of abuse.

Attention to children of abuse seems like a legitimate cause. The speculation about the atmosphere in the First Family home points to the possibility that this is the cause that will endure. However, the reasoning for her absence from the home evaporated when it was reported that she had Secret Service escort her son to and from school while she stayed in the Trump Tower penthouse alone. Yet she seemed to blossom when in the company of abused children in foreign countries.

The legitimacy of her cause to support abuse victims also wears thin when we hear that campaign support of her husband repeated in speeches after the inauguration and as more damaging headlines emerge about the leadership abilities of her husband. “. . . he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Has Melania developed Stockholm Syndrome and it’s being evidenced by way of this repeated statement in his defense?

This candidate is stellar on paper. But once the background investigation begins, the visage falls apart. Perhaps the abused children cause is yet another cause du jour.

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November 24, 2016

Post-Election Stress

Filed under: Diversity,Leaders,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 12:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

There are some who are still going through the decompression phase of post-election stress. There are still some experiencing anger, anxiety, depression.

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

According to an interview with Washington-based psychologist Alison Howard, which appeared in Psychology Today, “. . . “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Howard, who stressed that such feelings were natural and not a mental health pathology. (Emphasis supplied)

There are other accounts of how this election has taken a toll on the population. “Stephen Strosny, a psychologist in a Washington suburb who voted for Clinton, said he started noticing a spike in election-related stress in April, when he coined the term Election Stress Disorder, whose symptoms include anxiety, trouble concentrating and nervousness with resentment.”

Although the article recommends being mindful of self in order to overcome the stresses being experienced at this time, there is something more that I would recommend.

  • Find a positive aspect of things that happen.
  • Develop an attitude of Life as filled with teachable moments.
  • See your life as a continuing path.
  • See your role and your activities as purposeful and meaningful.
  • Endeavor to fulfill some aspect (or become prepared to do so) of those activities each hour of each day.
  • Be open to candid and respectful conversations with others about how your endeavors can be a cohesive effort toward improvement – for living together, working together, bein part of the same community.
  • Identify the things in your life that have mutualities with others of opposite positions.
  • Build on the differences of perspectives and how each can be applied to something that is of mutual benefit.

No matter what you do, it isn’t necessary to carry around a mental self image like the one above. Make certain your endeavors are lawful and leading toward a positive outcome.

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June 30, 2016

Troubled Landscape: Generations

So much of the time the typical comments heard about the new work force is in relation to generations that are post Baby Boom. There are comparisons. There are complaints. There are acknowledgements of positive attributes. There are concerns about the pressures they are already beginning to endure and sympathy for their conditions. There is awareness that they are deferring many of the usual inroads into adult life.

The majority of the complaints are with regard to whether the younger workforce is actually qualified to manage the needed tasks in a responsible way. Indeed, there are many instances wherein the complaints are justified. Quality of service and quality of workmanship is missing. The customer winds up needing to explain the concepts to the one doing the serving when the situation should be the reverse.

But the stream of soft, dewy faces continues to bombard the large and small silver screens. The older faces that either bear white hair or none at all become more faint and then drop out of view. Finally, a storyteller (read scriptwriter) allows us to be part of the scene being painted and we begin to see the cycle of life happening whereas we thought we were standing in a timeless environment. We are aging; it is time for the younger, newer to prepare to over the positions we once occupied. Our roles need to change.

At one time, we considered the younger generation as self absorbed and like a petulant child that demands what has yet to be earned. In a more reflective moment, we realize the Millennials are mimicking what we ourselves did some 40 to 50 years ago. We considered ourselves quite sophisticated and adult. We knew everything and were exquisite. We deserved not only what we had but had earned (and were entitled to) even more. Not only that, today’s Millennials and every generation before them feels their compensation should be much higher so that there is the ability to put their foot out of the nest in order to create their own.

And there’s the difficulty. The compensation seems misaligned in many instances. Not only that. There seems to be too little money available to be paid to the growing numbers of those who would like to be employed. Compounding that situation is the fact that inflation continues while the dollar’s buying power continues to shrink. That phenomenon is not merely because of inflation. It is also impacted by the fact that we now live in a global economy. It is simply good business to manufacture as cheaply as possible in order to sell at the highest possible markup and reap the best profit for the efforts to get to market with quality product or service.

And then there’s the issue of quality service – and training. In the rush to fill the orders and seats that are needed to create delivery, there’s something that’s being overlooked or given short shrift. It’s a precious asset. Few appreciate just how valuable it is. It’s called training. It’s sibling is mentoring. Good training will bring about quality service. Good training (and quality practice) will bring about quality product. And good mentoring will provide the insights not available in the textbook. That mentoring will also be the barometer of when the next plateau of development needs to be approached.

There's a mixture of generations working as one entity today

Previous roles are changed as life cycles evolve.

The difficulty with this easy-to-read picture is that the workforce is now a collage of generations. Some are just commencing Life. Others are in reboot mode because their previous industry collapsed or because they were downsized and cut out in order to cut costs. Difficult as it may be, there are many who are willing to subsume their ego and thoughts about their previous status in order to be included in the numbers who are employed and actually earning a living rather than being supported by government stipends or the kindnesses of strangers and family. Everyone is going through the spin cycle in order to come out still fresh and sparkly and equipped to produce because of the quality of knowledge, skill, education, experiences, and eagerness to be all they can be – and to help the business get there.

Today’s world of work is a difficult landscape.

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June 3, 2016

Gender Pay Gap Effects on Ethnicities

In 2014, a American Association of University Women (AAUW) study found there was a 78% difference between compensation for men compared to women. The study also looked at pay differences by ethnicity based on gender. The numbers were historic, meaning the rates of difference are essentially the same over the past 10 to 15 years of measuring such data.

Also in 2014, AAUW announced its acquisition of $tart $mart and Work $mart, “workshops empower college and professional women to negotiate better salaries and benefits,” Work $mart being the program for women already in the workforce.

In April 2014, AAUW looked at the wage gap as a function of race and gender compared with white men as well as a function of within women’s ethnicity. The broader spectrum was more disheartening by showing a deeper cut in earning power.

Bound by inequality

Not isolated to women, pay disparity impacts Black men to the same degree

An article in the June 2014 Harvard Business Review agreed with the findings of AAUW. According to an item at InfoPlease.com, it isn’t expected that women will reach wage parity with men until 2059. A Washington Post article from March 8, 2016 paints a more dismal picture by saying a study projects it will be 177 years before equity is reached.

You would think that with all this talk about lack of pay equity between men and women that there would be little disparity along ethnic lines for men. Not true. On June 1, 2016, a new study was released that found Black men are paid 73 cents to every dollar earned by White male counterparts. Even in 2011, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found the disparity was 71%. So it can be said that there’s been some improvement. The 2011 article analyzes why there is a difference. A June 2015 Pacific Standard article looks at the pay disparity of Black men to White and points out several factors contributing to its existence. It also asserts that even though there may be some progress toward closing the gap for men, it may not be a result of gaining positive inroads as much as it represents losing ground.

On a positive note, being a Black gay male means a better chance of earning more than even a White straight man (study published in April 2015).

CBS Money Watch looked at the 12 professions where disparity is the worst and did a slide show of them in a story from March 2016.

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July 22, 2014

EEOC Announces Expansion of “Disabled”

Today I’m working on clearing some content off of my desk so that I can return to better productivity. Today I’m going to share with you a bit of the processes (but not all of them!) I go through to come up with some of the answers that are shared with my readers.

This particular topic isn’t quite as old as the research from the Meet the Press April 27 assertions about Asian women being the lowest paid of the minorities. And it doesn’t quite match the things I found about how recruiters review profiles on LinkedIn. Oh, there are quite a few things that have been crushing The Desk. But the matter of the expansion of the definition of “disabled” needs to be better organized and in a folder of its own.

It was late February or early March when I read an email that brought awareness of the fact that the EEOC had expanded the definition of “disabled” so that it now includes non-visible disabilities. The case related to Williams v. Toyota Motor Mfg. where a production line worker developed carpel tunnel syndrome and was not provided with sufficient accommodations for her disability. You’d think a simple thing like muscle strain would not give rise to such a momentous change in the law. But another phenomenon that was happening was people with diabetes or having been diagnosed with breast cancer were also suing their employers for disabling conditions that kicked them out of the employment arena.

12" wire cart accessibility device

A shopping cart or accessibility device?

I took this change in law to the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s March (or was it April) meeting because the Committee focuses on accessibility issues for seniors and the disabled. They needed to know about this change in definition. Also significant to the group’s awareness was the fact that I was the one who brought to their attention the matter of non-visible disabilities at the August 2013 meeting. The Committee, therefore, in its efforts to effectively serve its constituents was leading other organizations with regard to the matter. And the Committee could be said to be on the cutting edge of disability awareness and accommodation regulations and ways to address how they provide accommodations.

Unfortunately, that Public Comment was omitted from the meeting minutes in spite of the fact that several who were present asked for the information to be repeated while they feverishly copied the name of the case into their notes. It was necessary to find that email message again or at least the additional Web content that backed it up so that the accuracy of the shared information could be assured. And that’s when The Desk started growing its slush pile.

My efforts to commute on public transportation were meeting with increasing denials. My efforts to effect change and improvement through membership on the Committee were being met with increasing resistance and suspicion. I was finding I was spinning my wheels while being cut out of conversations and opportunities to provide input on driver training modifications. Worse yet, it began to appear that the presentation I’d done regarding non-visible disabilities was going to become (or had already become) yet another instance of watching my work be credited to someone else’s efforts while I sat on the sidelines with a reputation as a troublemaker but no attribution to the originator of the content. That isn’t what consulting is about.

  • Out of frustration, I took a new step by bringing my concerns to the Metro Board. But first, I wanted in my hand an official definition of a non-visible disability. I found What is an Invisible Disability?
  • It’s one thing to go before a body with a lot of platitudes and shrieks about “do something”. But a governing body has little room for action when it has few facts on which to operate. If I were on that body, I would want to know the size of the population that’s being affected. In answer to that, I researched on the string “how many suffer from non-visible disabilities

It isn’t clear whether Metro will make modifications to their operator training so that the drivers are much more sensitive to the fact that there is a class of commuter that is disabled but the evidence of their limitations is not obvious. They should not be accused of being shiftless homeless people. They should not be denied transportation. They should not be forced to over-exert themselves when simple deployment of a ramp (that is supposed to make boarding easier) could be done. They need to be cognizant that the person may have just exited their doctor’s office and are operating on instructions to limit certain activities. They may be suffering from an ailment that causes impairment to their balance.

Pass-ups happen to more than individuals using wheelchairs. Sometimes they happen because the person wasn’t paying attention; the bus approached and they didn’t collect their self fast enough so that the operator could stay on schedule. Those with sleep apnea may doze off without any fault on their part. Or just the fatigue of having to ride the bus all day to accomplish a paltry number of things (one or two) has worn the individual into an ennui. Unfortunately, the Chair of the Committee doesn’t seem to appreciate these conditions.

Furthermore, commuters should be treated with respect. Insulting words and insinuations are simply not appropriate and will cause your customer base to be motivated to find an alternative.

There you see some of it. These are just part of the process of collecting the information that falls on The Desk that needs to be reported to you, especially as today’s content relates to the volumes about the expansion of “disability” as it relates to non-visible disabilities.

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Sociopolitical Aspects of Disabilities: The Social Perspectives and Political History of Disabilities and Rehabilitation in the United States

 

February 25, 2014

Seniors Employer Finder

One feature of many job boards is to help a candidate search for the right types of jobs and to help them focus on jobs available in their area. Not many of them offer a specialty feature such as employers who are actively seeking those over 50. For that matter, not any of the ones I’ve seen offer special features or highlight opportunities for those with disabilities. But I digress.

I have found what appears to be a great job board and search engine that targets the over 50 demographic. It came in the form of an AARP email that talked about finding a job with better benefits. Then the web page talked about job search for those over 50 and best employers for that age range. And then the Nirvana Moment. It provided a link to the Best Employers Job Search Tool. There’s also a list compiled by AARP in association with Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) called the Best Employers for Workers Over 50 awards program. Since I found this resource in the Summer of last year, what I can do is send you to the 2013 Best Employers list.

It is “a biennial program that was started in 2001 and recognizes employers with exemplary practices for recruiting and retaining mature workers.” The award winner was How each employer was selected is worth a read. After learning that they submitted an application to be included in the list, the question that comes to mind is how many knew about this opportunity. And the next thing to ponder is (given that the usual response rate to surveys and calls to action is about 10%) how many actually participated in being considered. And yet another thing to think about is whether the list of candidates is growing in its existence and the extent or rate of the growth.

Some of the criteria for selection looks at whether the employer has “set outstanding examples through programs that help them retain, retrain, engage and recruit the older workers who will be increasingly crucial to their success and the success of the U.S. economy over the coming decade.” It’s so glad to know that seniors are valued for the long run. Another intersting criteria for making the list is innovative ways of attracting and retaining senior workers.

This is not some local yokel award. The search has expanded to include international companies. And they get into considering the more creative ways of not only attracting but also retaining these valued, seasoned workers. Many have the tendency to consider older workers not as viable for positions as the younger generations. It has been found that assumption is a myth that definitely needs to be dispelled.

It’s entirely possible to simply build a page of links. It’s much wiser to provide you with some of the more meaningful ones on this topic and allow you to explore in order to come up with some of your own ideas about how to show your appreciation of and keep your older workers.

Resources:

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The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today

 

July 23, 2012

Qualified and Disabled

QUESTION:

After making formal application for an advertised opportunity, I was invited to interview. When the interviewer saw that I am blind and use a wheelchair, she exclaimed that she could not see how I would be of benefit to that company [in light of my disabilities].

I got the job but I would like to know what to do the next time I interview and face a similar negative attitude.

ANSWER:

I’m glad that this sounds as though the outcome was positive. It shows that you demonstrated some excellent skills and ability to do the job. Congratulations. It also sounds as though you did a very good job of creating a sense of credibility for yourself through doing well during the interview. Possibly, you said empowering things that you did not even realize you were saying.

In answering your question, let me start then by discussing the most essential presentation during an interview.

  • your skills and qualifications for the opportunity
  • quantifiable evidence of how you are qualified
  • how those skills and qualifications will help the business function as well or better with you in the position.

You already pointed out that you were early for the appointment. That is good. It shows that you appreciate timeliness and that worked in your favor. No doubt, you took with you two extra copies of your resume so that they were ready in case your interviewer did not have it on top of her desk and you had one for yourself to pull out and discuss with them. You demonstrated being well prepared and skill in foreseeing and making contingency plans for unforseen circumstances. You showed diplomacy and tact.

The focus should not be on your shortcomings nor your disability (please note that those are two different things) but on you, how and why you are qualified. Discuss your direct, on-the-job experience that relates to the new opportunity. Discuss how well you performed in your last situation and how your input was beneficial to the customer and the company. If there were things or situations that were done better because of your involvement, talk about them.

Your speech should be cordial, business-like and professional. It should be at a good volume – not loud nor apologetic. Make certain your voice does not sound whiney – don’t be a martyr nor a cry baby. You are a strong, intelligent professional person. Show that in your deportment and presentation.

Finally (for this writing), openly discuss your disabilities. However, do not apologize for them. Discuss how adaptive you are to many situations and in short order so that you have several approaches to situations. These are not disabilities; they are opportunities for new ways of doing things. They are abilities that others do not have. Sometimes being in a chair makes you better suited for doing certain things better or more easily than others. Having low vision or no vision affords you with still other advantages. Point them out.

And having a disability is not the same as not being able. It is merely a different way of handling life and business situations. Two of your fellow South Africans have discussed coming into meaningful contributions to business and society by realizing how those “disabilities” proved to be assets and empowerment. Likewise, they point out how that South Africa’s (as well as India’s) relatively recent affirmative action legislation has created new legal bases for opening doors.

Although it positively states that those with disabilities are entitled to vie for opportunities, there is still a long way to go as far as making that new legislation meaningful for there is still the critical element of educating employers about the opportunities that are available to them through using all of the diverse population – diverse in age, sex, race and abilities. Likewise, there is still the matter of educating employers about the fact that employing those with “disabilities” is not a costly proposition and does not mean extraordinary expense to include that segment of candidates in the considered roster of candidates and personnel.

You did well and it appears you did so without realizing you did so. Focus on how you will be an asset to the company and will save money, enhance the business opportunities, have abilities that your co-workers may not have because of the issues that others see as shortcomings. Affirmatively show how you are qualified and “disabled.”

About the Author:

Yvonne LaRose was a Disabilities Accommodation Provider in the Bay Area of California from 1993 to 1997 as well as one of the founding members of Bay Area Disabilities Coalition (BADC). In addition, she was a news reader for Broadcast Services for the Blind (BSB) (a private band radio station based in the Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind that reaches 13,000 listeners in 13 counties) from 1993 to 1997. From BSB, she produced and hosted her bi-weekly radio features and newscast, “Legally Speaking” from 1994 to 1996.

Originally published December 25, 2001

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August 12, 2010

Effects on Perception of Quality

There’s a thought that’s been plaguing me for several weeks now. Unfortunately, there’s not been a lot of time to research it in light of the other things that require completion before moving on to a new challenge. However, it is an issue that really does require unbiased study and then action.

The matter is whether those who graduate from historically black universities and colleges are perceived as having a better than average (general population, not ethnic population) education and therefore bring to the bargaining table above average skills and knowledge.

From my understanding of Post-Civil War America, freedmen (and women) had few educational resources available to them. Education was the key to actualizing the benefits of being free and leading a powerfully productive life. There is an argument that the first teachers were (and still are) marginally qualified compared to their White counterparts. But our nation has as one of its cornerstones the promise of free basic education for all. Those who founded the Black universities were essentially educated people who had struggled to excel in the environs of universities where their acceptance was tantamount to Shannon Faulkner’s at the Citadel. But many graduated with distinction.

Here we are in the 21st Century, more than 150 years later. The color of one’s skin still dictates one’s the first impact acceptance of one’s abilities and professionalism. Sometimes, actually many times, even with meaningful conversation and above average diction and vocabulary, the overall condescending treatment still cancels opportunities and relegates the potential human capital (and business solution) to the recesses of the arena and then exclusion.

Again, there’s been scant time to actually research some of the information that would form the answer to this question. It’s worth discussing from many perspectives: the recruiter, the job candidate and job seeker, management at all levels, educators and students, and ultimately our global neighbors. How is a person who has been educated (or seeks education) at an historically Black university or college perceived? Are they seen as the person of color who presents with some of the best qualities available? Are they still viewed as marginal? Does where they were educated even matter?

January 15, 2010

Where Voices Ring

It seemed like just another day. But the someone punched a hole into the dark morning sky and a streak of light tore across the landscape announcing that this was not going to be just another ordinary day. The scene was glorious and people in the building stopped their work in order to take in the amazing sight of that broad shaft of light stretching across the land.

The busi-ness of the mundane suffocated the morning. And then minds began to awaken to take cognizance of the actual date. January 15. Just a minute! There’s significance to this date. It’s the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Laureate, the civil rights leader, the champion of freedom, the advocate for change through nonviolent means.

The impact of the quietude regarding the date also has an impression. Not only is it eclipsed by the disastrous earthquake that has leveled Port au Prince, Haiti, the hurry scurry of being in our small spaces of our small worlds also eclipse the date. No longer do we have the stalwart civil rights leaders who champion equality and equal rights for the oppressed and downtrodden. No more do we have the voices being lifted up to speak against unfair practices that suppress those who would be qualified but for. No more do we have civil rights leaders.

My belief used to be that those who could have carried the Civil Rights torch became afraid after King’s assassination in 1968. They feared that they too would suffer the martyrdom and have little to show for it. “Cowards!” I growled to myself. Few inroads were made in the civil rights arena after that historic occurrence. There were occasional skirmishes such as Shannon Faulkner. There was the astounding victory of having a Black man elected as the President of the United States without having overt attention drawn to his race. It could be argued that these two meager examples are the present-day torch bearers of the Civil Rights movement. But I think not.

Where are those voices that used to cry out for justice, admission, and equal rights? The ones that were so prevalent and effective in the 1960s, where are they? I don’t hear them any more.

I stop to examine my circumstances as these seven years have stretched into an eternity and my strength and endurance have begun to fade (but not the desire nor the willingness to speak). Finally, like that hole punched into this day’s dawn, realization and appreciation of why the voices are stilled comes to me. It isn’t because of fear and cowardice. As with Faulkner’s epiphany, mine comes from the appreciation of the rigorous path that I have personally traveled, alone, and that many others have endured as well as those who are also enduring it.

The staggering preparation to become qualified has been there for each voice singing the song of freedom and equality. Look at our newest women who have succeeded in breaking that iceberg of the glass ceiling. The strong logic contained in the arguments and advocacy in favor of admission and access has been there. The humble words to encourage the adversaries to change their positions or merely open their ears to hear the message have been appropriate. The consistency of the message was in place. The urgency of the need was properly emphasized.

The trouble was the perversity of the opposition. Unbeknownst to the general public were the many overwhelming distractions that plagued the advocates. Accomplishments can be forgotten. They can be erased and no sign of them recoverable. In these days of electronic media, the mere click of a mouse button on the “Delete” key can wipe out years and decades of work. Thievery can destroy back-up copies.

Best laid plans and agendas can be overturned and toppled. All it takes, even with the most disciplined, is to have some type of urgent disruption on the order of financial or health matters that simply cannot be put off to a later or a more convenient time. Somehow, those urgent, single-factor disruptions grow in proportion and complexity. What should have taken half an hour or an hour, becomes several days. Those people who are pivotal in reaching a solution are not available; they don’t return phone calls or emails. The details and the requirements grow. The original agenda is lost.

The original advocate begins to appear to be ineffective and not worth the time to hear or read what they have to say. In many instances, finances become scant. With that loss also comes deterioration of appearance and lack of ability to be in the right company and places. The voices become hoarse and weak. The clarity of their ringing tones becomes a whisper, an occasional feeble squeak. It’s easily brushed off as something not very important and low on the priority list. And then the entire entity is forgotten because the person is dying or dead. As one person observed, the advocate has been so marginalized that they are no longer.

Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. In his words at the Lincoln Memorial, he urged us to let freedom ring. Today we need to partner with those who would let their voices ring on behalf of those who are still oppressed and repressed to our social detriment. We need to do whatever we can to allow those voices to ring with the message that causes the positive change and empowerment so vital to our survival and a thriving and healthy society and economy.

According to today’s E-Alert from California Employment Advisor, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that 2009 witnessed the second highest number of nationwide bias claims against private-sector employers in its history, amounting to 95,277 and edging out above the previous record set in 2008. The filings show a steady stream of age and race claims while the number of claims of disability, retaliation, national origin, and religion increased. According to the CEA, “Overall, continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in 2009 were those alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%).” Could it be that the lack of those voices of protest is part of the reason that the claims are growing and the lackadaisical attitude that conscious deterence of discrimination is flippantly disregarded? No doubt it’s part of the reason.

It’s time for a change. We need to have those voices ringing everywhere we go. It’s time to stop their suppression. It’s time to stop the disruptions and obstructions. Those voices must be heard again. They must be heard today.

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