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Diversity, Professionalism, and Inclusion

By Moira Cue

Does your organization practice diversity, professionalism, and inclusion? I would argue that each of these values represents a level of commitment to the same core principal, in ascending order of ethical strength and subtlety. While each value has its place in the contemporary work world, I believe that inclusion is the most important goal to strive for.

Diversity and professionalism can be stepping stairs on the upward path to inclusion, but only if leadership is self-motivated to engage in constant questioning of the status quo. The danger in the “step-by-step” approach is that each step can become a plateau, wherein the organization becomes comfortable at one level and doesn’t go any farther.

Title: "Sojourner Truth," Other Title, "I sell the shadow to support the substance" Summary: Photograph shows Sojourner Truth, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left. Created / Published c1864. Subject Headings - Truth, Sojourner,-- 1799-1883. Format Headings, Albumen prints--1860-1870. Cartes de visite-- 1860-1870. Portrait photographs--1860-1870. - Copyright 1864 by Sojourner Truth. - Purchase;--William A. Gladstone;--1995;--(PR 13 CN 1995:113)
Title: “Sojourner Truth,” Other Title, “I sell the shadow to support the substance.”  Summary: Photograph shows Sojourner Truth, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left. Created / Published c1864. Subject Headings – Truth, Sojourner,–1799-1883. Format Headings, Albumen prints–1860-1870. Cartes de visite–1860-1870. Portrait photographs–1860-1870. – Copyright 1864 by Sojourner Truth.-Purchase;–William A. Gladstone;–1995;–(PR 13 CN 1995:113)

An organizational commitment to diversity often focuses on hiring and retention statistics and avoiding legal liability. Adopting policies such as mandatory sexual harassment training for managers, hiring targets for minorities, participation in surveys, and official diversity committees out of fear reduces diverse people, including women, to statistical targets at best; and potential fires to be handled with caution, at worst. It seems true that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It is also true that quantifiable results, such as the number of African-Americans on your Board of Directors, or the presence or absence of discrimination lawsuits, are the fruits of a particular work culture, leadership attitude, and environment. The root of the problem is deeply held, even subconscious, beliefs of not only the people “in charge,” but the people who come to work for your organization with prior experiences of victimization or discrimination based on their identity. If the main reason you or your leadership engage in a particular course of action is to not get sued, or to decrease future financial loss after a successful suit, than that action is reactive rather than proactive, and your organization should consider moving up the ethics ladder to review and address matters of professionalism from a more holistic vantage point.

On the other hand, there are cases wherein a formal investment in diversity programs signifies progress. Is if your organization refuses to review its own diversity metrics (at least internally); has been the subject of an EEOC disciplinary action or investigation; or has problems retaining women and diverse people at upper levels or with retention in general, then looking at the metrics is a good place to start. If there is no prominent member of your organization who is not white and male and/or from an Ivy League school, certainly you might want to bring in a consultant to ask why that is, and keep an open mind. Don’t assume there is a lack of qualified people applying for jobs with your organization. Upper management or HR may not realize that compared to other organizations of your same size and industry, you have a higher or lower percentage of various ethnicities, so when you analyze the numbers you might see patterns that lead to more important questions. Is diversity not only a product of the organization, but of the industry itself? If so, what factors favor parity in one industry and not another?

There are entire industries that need to start with diversity: Look at the overall numbers in engineering (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/2013/tables.cfm). Or, closer to home for this author: Look at the numbers of contemporary (i.e. living) female artists exhibiting solo shows in major museums globally compared to the number of women who go through art schools (http://www.artnews.com/2015/05/26/taking-the-measure-of-sexism-facts-figures-and-fixes/). Worse yet, look at a historical list of the highest sales prices for paintings. There are no women artists represented in the top 65 individual sales, and only two men who are not European or American descent (both are Chinese). The most obvious answer to this question could be that one of these industries (engineering) enculturates its own with so called “left-brain,” solutions-based, rational thinking that tends to emphasize the calculating areas of our brains over the care and connectivity centers—so “leveling the playing field” is an alien concept when participants are less aware of the “field” as a sphere of human interaction and more aware of direct, concrete objectives. But art, which traditionally engages the “human story,” is simply a field (much like Hollywood) wherein there is no traditional employer-employee relationship for the makers of individual works of art (or music or entertainment), hence a field wherein threat of litigation plays little to no deterring role for exploitation, and individual personalities battle for “celebrity” status.

A culture that thrives on professionalism (or civility, if you prefer) would exclude cultural appropriation at the expense of the minority. It isn’t professional to boost yourself over others while trampling them under your feet. It isn’t professional to take credit for others accomplishments, pay a person less than she is worth because she lets you get away with it, use racial or sexual slurs, or make someone so uncomfortable that she drops out of your school or company. I’ve had the pleasure of working in organizations led by men, who happened to be white and well compensated, who had this kind of class. Because these leaders saw their subordinates as professionals first, it was easier to do my best work than in other environments where unprofessional and gendered comments were the norm.

But there’s still a higher plane of organizational virtue: inclusion. I often hear the words “diversity and inclusion” brandied about as painter Hedda Sterne famously heard the phrase “great artist,” as if one word. To me this is a pity, as I feel we lose so much of the value of inclusion when we look for diversity reductively or mechanistically. When we strive for diverse work forces, or to give diverse voices cinematic exploration, rather than inclusive work forces or works of art, we only go skin deep. There is an assumption that if a person isn’t a member of a protected class, he or she has never experienced discrimination. There’s an assumption that you can take a snapshot or run your metrics, and know if you are certifiably diverse. There’s an assumption that traditionally excluded people are being “let in” that smacks of paternalism. An inclusive approach throws all assumptions about identity out the window. It’s not management that defines the beingness of their employees by checking off boxes. An inclusive approach is one where real differences, as experienced by the Self, rather than culturally or politically constructed sociology of difference, are given room to be. A progressively inclusive workplace, for example, might create dim, quiet spaces for employees who are disturbed by bright lights or too much noise or accept an introvert’s desire to avoid the company picnic (regardless of disclosure or existence of a formal autism diagnosis). A progressively inclusive workplace would hire art school graduates or creative consultants and ask “how can we be more creative” during Board meetings. You would see not just different skin colors or sexual orientations, but different personalities, different politics, different religions, working together.

My personal working hypothesis regarding inclusion, perhaps due to indoctrination in, first, empiricism, and secondly, a “post-” everything ethos, is that the differences we don’t see—arbitrary epistemological boundaries—are more individualistic and profound than differences attributed to diverse variables. Though there is so much overlap that diverse variables become the simplest way of pre-judging others. By “arbitrary epistemological boundaries” I mean the invisible hierarchy of values which are unique to every field of knowledge as historically defined, without elimination of Western or ‘civilized’ bias. (Two excellent books exploring gender and nature, Carolyn Anne Merchant’s The Death of Nature, and Leonard Shlain’s The Goddess Versus the Alphabet, were key to my early inspiration in this regard as well.) Historical divisions between commercial activity and the academy, art and science, ethics and all other fields of endeavor, have created poly-fragmentated dissociation en masse. We go to work exclusively to make money. We go to school exclusively to learn. We make art exclusively to express ourselves. If we question the impact of any of these activities on non-human life, we have stepped outside of all -ologies other than ecology. Competition and cooperation have prescripted dominant-subordinate relationships in various settings.

Both in your individual success and the success of the organizations you influence, identifying the “invisible walls” more clearly and including ideas, modalities, and people “outside” those boundaries can yield adventure, discovery, and original ideas and combinations.

This story is ©2016, The Hollywood Sentinel, Moira Cue, all world rights reserved.

Hi! I’m all like…uh…socially awkward!

subnormal

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letter from the editor

I went to the famous rock club The Whisky a Go Go recently for one of my clients that I booked there, and I got talking to someone that really made me think about something important. This person stated to me, and I quote, “I’m sorry. I’m very–uh, socially awkward!” Wow! Now, I admit, when I was a teenager, I may have been a bit socially awkward too, by getting nervous around other kids that really impressed me. But, I would never tell them that I was socially awkward. Now, I suppose I could respect the fact that this person was at least self realizing enough to recognize this, and even brave enough to admit it. However, I have also learned over the years, that what we put our attention on, is usually what we get. If you go around telling everyone that you are socially awkward, well then, chances are, you probably will be. And even if you are not, and people are informed that you are, well then they will probably tend to think you are. The words we say and hear have power. Choose your words wisely. Speak of that which you wish to be. I’m not saying to go around lying and introducing yourself as a billionaire or superstar if you are not, but certainly don’t demean yourself to others, or to yourself.

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While modern technology has brought us many great things, it has also sadly eroded the intelligence of the average person. Note that I state average. I am not talking about the un-average, I am talking about the normal, usual, average person. Also notice that I didn’t just state the young person or today’s teenager. I don’t think its fair to single out an entire generation with generalities. I hated when people did that when I was a teenager, and I don’t believe in that now. There are some exceptional, un-average teenagers that do not fit into any statistical attempts at defining their generation. And there are people of every generation whose intelligence or learning growth has been eroded– not just teenagers– due to new technology.

Take driving for example. A large number of people text and drive, or at least talk on their cell and drive. This alone has caused more traffic accidents and fatalities throughout the world. This is stupid. Yet, like drunk driving, it still keeps happening. So called smart phones in general, have taken what was already a major distraction when at home–the internet on home computers, and turned it into a non stop distraction at home, school, work, at play, literally anywhere and everywhere.

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So called social media, which should actually be called anti-social media, has further eroded social development by addicting the masses to a digital, artificial reality of so called friends. People get upset when their so called FaceBook friends don’t ‘like’ their comments quick enough, or forbid, not at all. Going outside and actually engaging with real human beings face to face has become the exception, not the norm.

At parties, concerts, and other social or public events, places where people used to meet, mingle, and make friends has largely become places where room fulls of socially inept loners nervously fidget with their phones, pretending to stay busy. Apps for engaging with someone live with their faces on streaming video, has removed the need for some, the desire to even see a person face to face in real life, cutting down the three dimensional reality of a live human being in the flesh and blood before someone, to a mere video capture of them that can of course, always be manipulated, or hacked for the world to see.

Concert photography, once limited to valid, professional photographers, has denigrated to bands and most venues letting everyone take pictures of the artist at any time during the shows, which has resulted in the destruction of a natural crowd in the moment, enjoying the scene, to a crowd of wanna-be photographers and wanna be videographers destroying the vibe with their arms raised in the air, and bright cell lights illuminating what should be a dark concert hall, just waiting to get home and upload it to share with their other so called friends.

News stations and newspapers, who used to fact check and have journalistic standards, now simply copy verbatim, stories published on amateur blog sites written by people with no experience, and pass it off as news. When the mainstream, supposed respectable news sources don’t completely duplicate lies and posit its legitimacy, they get so scholarly as to tell us, ‘This story has not been verified for authenticity,’  yet report it anyway.

People, reading and watching news online, often consider it infallible. If its online, it must be true, some think. On the contrary, if it is online, it might ‘not’ be true, and one should find out as to whether it is real or not, by scholarly fact checking, themselves. And yet, only some of the college educated, properly taught how to do professional research, know how to find out the truth of something, based on scientific research. Thus, masses of people getting some, most or even all of their news from the internet are deluded into not knowing what is real, and having a false sense of truth and reality.

Laws against slander and libel, which used to be enforced in hard copy press, have no bearing in the digital domain, where anonymous hacks can call persons rapists, murderers, or criminals, whether true or not, and get away with it under the guise of freedom of speech. Criminal run blogs can extort money from attacked victims on their libel sites, and the government, busy committing their own crimes, does nothing.

Privacy violations, made publicly aware with the NSA computer spying, (popularized by rebels including Bradley Manning and Julianne Assange), which have always existed since computers existed, reminded us all that there largely is no privacy any more. Department stores, shopping centers, convenient marts, stop signs, traffic lights, and street corners often have cameras, recording our every move. Companies such as Google are simply like another branch of the government, used to monitor, and modify public opinion. Companies including FaceBook conducts social experiments to control what information gets posted in users ‘timelines,’ to control their mood, and monitor and sway their buying habbits.

Lastly, live social interaction has not only become more ‘awkward’ for multiple generations of internet addicted victims, it has declined. “People don’t go out more,” one hipster told me not long ago. “I can’t get my friends to leave the house,” another said, “They’re too lazy. They’d rather stay home and be on the internet.” All of this inactivity, has turned a generation of ‘couch potatoes,’ that at least used to get up once in a while, in to cross generational internet junkies, that don’t even need to leave home to go shopping. Countless record stores and book stores have shuttered their doors, going out of business, as movies and music are hacked or downloaded online, and new generations of children get fatter and fatter, not only becoming a social disgrace to be mocked and laughed at by the kids lucky enough to not get fat, but even worse, becoming a health casualty getting major diseases due to poor diet and inactivity.  Presidents’ wives take on America’s ‘fat epidemic,’ yet meanwhile, the same administration pushes to get computers in every home and school; as the arts, sports, and science classes get cut from educational programs nationwide, and cursive is dreadfully eliminated.

The failure to communicate with people in person has further– resulted in a fear of people, leading to increased anxiety, stress, paranoia, and ultimately, violence.  Idiots that have been dumbed down by TV, video games, and worse, chat rooms or social media, get in ‘flame wars,’ or simply begin engaging in ‘cyber bullying,’ leading to suicide among adolescents and teens.

Becoming bored, depressed, tense, or uneasy, tweaked out internet junkies get diagnosed by quack psychiatrists with the next new label, and doped up on the latest psychiatric pill peddled by Big Pharma. This of course, leads to more depression, violence, suicide, homicide, and those ever popular school shootings.

So while technology certainly has its good points, its points of abuse are not difficult to find. The moments when people introduced themselves with lines like, “I’m sorry, I’m uh, really socially awkward,” should be relegated to comedic films, not real life. Clearly, things need to change. So readers, I dare you, if you don’t already, pick a day, perhaps a Sunday or any other day you can, and avoid the cell phone. Avoid the internet. Stay off the computer. Stay away even from any other phone or T.V. and video games. Get outside. Meet people face to face. Demand they look at you instead of their phone. Make them listen. Listen to them. Shake some hands. Give a hug. Go climb a mountain. Swim in the Ocean. Take a walk in a park. Touch some trees. Enjoy nature. And leave– if for not longer– at least for one day, your phone and internet connection at home. And who knows, maybe one of these days, I just might un-plug things myself for longer than a few hours (after making the next issue here you must NOT miss) and join you.

– Bruce Edwin

This content is un-copyright, 2016, and may be duplicated in full only, for no profit, with hyperlink back to this site with full credit by the author.

subnormal magazine, 2016

 

 

 

 

Making It in Hollywood

HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD

Suffragette, hollywood sentinel

Bruce Edwin is CEO of the A-list firm Starpower Management LLC, publisher of The Hollywood Sentinel, and also a film producer. His services, based on his years of expertise and success in the music and film industry are sought out and used by some of the most powerful companies and stars in entertainment. This ongoing article series, a precursor to his upcoming book, is his way of giving back to models, actors and bands, with free education- that in its totality and with its unabashed honesty- cannot not be found anywhere else. Free.

I have stated many of these items before, but I constantly experience these same mistakes being made by artists over and over again. And so until I no longer have artists doing them, I will keep repeating them, as it is vitally important to know.

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1, Don’t send material that is unsolicited. That means, e-mail or call first and ask if it is OK to send the material. If I get material that is unsolicited, that is not quality work, it gets added to the spam folder, with no future chance with us ever again.

2, Ask, don’t tell. Ask people to hear, read, or see your work. Don’t order them to. If we get an ‘order’ to do something, again, unless it is really mind blowing, it goes to spam. Be polite. Ask for what you want, don’t give orders to someone you are not the boss of.

3, Don’t use people or screw people over, it will come back to haunt you, and it is no way to do business.

4, Don’t ask people to invest more time in to your career than you invest in yourself. If you want someone to work very hard for you, you had better be already working 10 times that hard for yourself.

5, Personalize all query letters. If I get an email asking me to read or look at something, that does not have my name on it, unless it is really amazing, it gets deleted or again, marked spam. Spell check and check all grammar before sending something out.

REIKI WITH JACLYN- HOLLYWOOD SENTINEL

6, Stop smoking. Many people these days, including myself, hate cigarette smoke. As a former smoker, even the smell of the smoke on someone’s clothes disgusts me. Smoking is a sign of failure to control ones life, mind, and body. Smoking is a sign of weakness and being a loser over ones willpower. Being a smoker tells people, “I’m an addict, and a willing victim of a billion dollar industry that knowingly kills people.” Quit.

7, Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and work out regularly. When you work out, in whatever form, it feeds your body, mind and spirit and actually gives you more energy and ambition to do even more.

8, Surround yourself with people more successful than you are, and emulate what they are doing right, applying it to yourself, in your own unique way. Don’t hang around losers, failures, complainers, and whiners. You will become like the company you keep.

9, Get a great agent or manager. If you get rejected, don’t take it personally. Ask them what you would need to do or have for them to be willing to sign you. If it is something you want to and can do, do it.

10, Be a professional. Be on time, and do what you say you are going to do. Have accuracy and integrity with your word. A great book on this topic I recommend is titled ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz.

I hope this has helped many of you. As always, if you have any questions, you are invited to contact me at the front page of this site.

This content is © 2016, The Hollywood Sentinel, Bruce Edwin, all rights reserved.