One of the reasons that my campaign focuses on Relationships is by building friendships and expanding personal networks, life can be much easier for people.
I hope by sharing a little of my background and experiences with training sessions to improve acceptance of the less advantaged we can try similar exercises in the town that go beyond dialog and are translated into action. The goal is to help the privileged come up with useful actions to help the under-appreciated, unloved or powerless. Also to help minorities navigate life more successfully with more joy and less pain.
I first came to the US as part of International Women's Year. IBM was wanting to attract more women to the computer business and decided to recruit two women from each of the European countries it operated in to be summer interns. IBM took the risk on me and I am very grateful they did as it opened my eyes to office life - I'd only worked as a cleaner, a factory worker and a supermarket cashier before that.
Four years later, Bell Laboratories executives were measured on their commitment to hiring diverse employees. I was hired because I was female, along with 3 other post-graduates. Once again, I was extremely fortunate to be hired because a director 3 levels above me was from the UK, saw my resume and took a chance on me.
Bell Laboratories and AT&T, by law had to have affirmative action training, so below I've listed some of the exercises we had as they can be modified for helping people understand how to treat the disadvantaged better.
Fast forward another 7 years and I was starting my consulting business. A client hired me and some of my subcontractors because they saw me, a female business owner, as a minority. I'm grateful someone, once again took a risk on me because of their diversity initiatives.
Exercise 1 - Getting People To Share Real Feelings
In this case, the goal of the exercise was to empower women. The lesson learned here is that it is not enough to share thoughts and feelings, each man had to develop a plan that would help empower women.
Our department at Bell Labs took a whole day for this exercise - it works best where the people know each other before hand - so if any employers are thinking what they can do for employees to help the less-advantaged this could be an approach.
EXERCISE 2 - Understand the Odd One Out
Exercise 3 - Understand Black Lives Matter
This was another of our compulsory Affirmative Action Trainings at Bell Labs - we were a small conference-room sized group led by a consultant who was African-American.
Exercise 4 - Dealing With People You Don't Like
Read "Coping with Difficult People" - a classic. Whether it's a difficult neighbor or town employee that is difficult to work with, this book is an invaluable source for how to work with others. I've also used software in my consulting business to profile clients and match it with my own profile and then the software suggests an approach to the client.
Exercise 5 - Giving People Self Esteem and Confidence
The aim of this exercise is to help people build relationships with clients and boost their confidence. As there are layoffs, Californians don't rank very high on LinkedIn's confidence list. It challenges you to think of yourself as a consultant.
In some sense we consult to each other as we build relationships in Portola Valley - so for Town Committees a workshop of this type to help members advise the town council could be useful. Even though at Bell Laboratories we didn't think of ourselves as consultants until after this exercise, in fact we were. We were advising telephone companies, helping them with strategies, systems and cost studies.
So here's a book to read and notes on my experience with the author. This is not my favorite book - but the group exercise was useful.
Angela Hey is a candidate for Portola Valley Town Council. She is an experienced technology marketing consultant who serves nonprofits, as a volunteer.