Sticky Situation – How to Address Hypocrisy-The Experts Weigh In

How to Address Hypocrisy-The Experts Weigh In

We recently published the issue called “Sticky Situation – The Experts Weigh In” written by Victoria Trabosh, CDC, CEC; Suzi Pomerantz, MT, MCC; .and Craig Carr, BCC, PCC, CPCC

The Situation: “I am an MCC coach of color and on a team hired to provide DEI training for a company where my client contact is also a woman of color. She has subtly demonstrated racism, discrimination, and exclusion in many ways: not staffing me when I’m the most qualified, making offhand comments to me about other races, rolling her eyes when someone speaks with an accent. How can I restore integrity and inclusion?”

Here’s what one of our experts, Victoria Trabosh, had to say…

You have observed that her behavior is not in alignment with the organization’s stated desire to create a more div Sticky Situations erse and inclusive environment. And the toxicity of “you learn this but I’ll do this” generates huge roadblocks for creating lasting change. Speaking truth to power is defined as an expression for courageously confronting an authority, calling out injustices on their watch, and demanding change. In that action lies the truth that if we do not speak up, silence is acceptance. And you are not accepting of her behavior. One thing you have going for you is that today, like few times in the past, discussions of racism, discrimination, and exclusion have been happening more often and more publicly, i.e., more speaking truth to power conversations. As the DEI trainer, she is your contact; you are not her coach. In my world, coaching, regardless of my skills, does not permit me to coach everyone I meet. Hold a conversation to receive permission to do so.

I would begin a one-on-one with her and say, “This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation for me, but I would like to tell what I’m observing in my role as a trainer for your DEI goals.” Feedback is best served warm (meaning right after or soon after you observe it) and privately. Seek to understand where she’s coming from before you launch into any integrity and inclusion statements of why it’s not ok to do x, y or z. Be prepared for push-back, embarrassment, anger, and denial. Hopefully not all at once–but possibly.

Dialogue happens in give and take, not a lecture. Be specific in your observations (what happened when and with whom) and find out first if she’s aware of her behaviors and words and if and how she wants to address the issues. You know how to coach her to solve these issues, yet neither she nor you expected to have her need your words of wisdom. She may need to walk away and think about it. Give her space but don’t drop it.

You spoke of six areas of concern – mention them ALL, to be honest with her, but pick ONE to work on; otherwise, she may shut down. Choose a biggie and the others may drop away with her awareness or become more comfortable for her to address.

In the future, have a clear and early conversation and agreement with leadership that if you observe anything that might create a lack of integrity in the work or lack of inclusion from them, you have permission to address it with them privately.

For the full article including the other views and support of our other two experts, see the June issue of choice, the magazine of professional coaching Volume 19, Issue 2, From Inclusion to Belonging: Why DEI isn’t Enough

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