What NOT to Wear

(with apologies to TLC)

When choosing to live more sustainably, small steps can make a big difference. Every choice or purchase we make has an impact, including what we choose to put in and on our bodies.

Fashion is a new vanguard of sustainability with savvy, professional women shopping smarter by doing their research and investing in pieces that last longer. “Fast fashion” is a major culprit in the industry – that is, clothes made cheaply to meet demands for hot new styles – and these cheap processes can put the planet at risk.

Investigating what to wear (and what not to wear) shouldn’t stop at the garment itself, but should also consider the full lifecycle of the product – from the design, sourcing and production processes to the product afterlife. Just because a garment carries a hang tag that says “sustainable” doesn’t mean the retailer or manufacturer used clean processes to get it on the hanger.

Ethical or sustainable fashion is sometimes called “slow fashion” and addresses one or more of five main issues of concern in the fashion industry:

  1. Water usage – Due to pollution and an overabundance of salt water, usable water is a limited resource. Look for brands looking to cut down on how much water they’re using.
  2. Hazardous chemicals – Some dyes and finishes are dangerous not only for the workers who are required to work with them but also the communities in which they live. Identify brands coming up with new ways to address these chemicals.
  3. Short lifecycle – Look for brands that are striving to overturn the trendiness of fashion. Buy less. Wear longer.
  4. Waste – Collectively, brands and shoppers, need to find ways to create less trash by learning to mend, repurpose and recycle.
  5. Agriculture – Natural fibers like cotton, hemp and linen are the most sustainable, but we need to pay attention to growing practices, including pesticide and water use.

Don’t Know Where to Start?

Using their fabric expertise, Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab has worked with an environmental consultant to rank top brands addressing environmental and social concerns. Here are the top 5:

Levi’s

Levi’s focuses on the finishing processes to remove water wherever possible with its Water<Less collection, which it says uses up to 96% less water to make. And because Levi’s is such a big player in the denim industry, steps like this can actually have an impact.

Alternate Apparel

For casual closet staples like T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, and more, Alternative Apparel focuses on using organic cotton and recycled materials.

Pact

All of the cotton garments from this brand are certified organic by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), so you know the entire manufacturing process follows organic guidelines. They’re also Fair Trade Certified, which looks at ethical factors like wages and working conditions.

Everlane

This brand focuses on ethics and transparency, showing its markup process for each garment and showcasing factories to give an idea of where it sources from.

thredUP

It’s not a clothing brand itself, but the website buys and sells women’s and kids used clothing that’s in like-new condition with lots of life left in it. The budget-friendly retailer closely inspects second-hand garments before selling them, so you know you’re getting garments that are in great shape. Buying used clothing is more sustainable than anything new, and on top of that you’re getting top fashion brands for a fraction of the cost.

*

At UW-Green Bay, we have created a noncredit Sustainability Certificate Program that we believe can help drive Wisconsin forward through sustainable business, products and services.

Our Sustainability Certificate Program not only adopts a proven and successful model, but it is affordableaccessible, and flexible.

The program is 100% online with three core courses six weeks in duration, encompassing multi-facets of sustainability — environmental, business practices and public policy. The final capstone course requires participants to put sustainability theory into practice within their organizations, an efficient and practical way to encourage sustainable business.

Full program details are available online.

*

RESOURCES:
Forbes, “Why Sustainable Fashion Matters,” Ellevate Contributor, ForbesWomen.
Good Housekeeping, “20 Best Sustainable Fashion Brands You Can Actually Trust,” Lexie Sachs, April 20, 2020.

Holiday Ideas for Assisted Living

Holiday spirit is about what’s in your heart, and this year it seems more important than ever. Administrators and staff can create a holiday to celebrate for residents by planning small events that make memories for residents. Below are some ideas. Do one or two or more!

Celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day – Saturday, December 9
Set up an area for residents to decorate either gingerbread cookies or gingerbread tree ornaments.

Gift-Wrapping Party
Collect lots of cardboard boxes for your residents to wrap during a fun gift-wrapping party. Pass out gift-wrapping paper for residents to wrap the boxes and tie the ribbon. Gift-wrap presents for family or gifts for under your facility’s tree.

Create a New Christmas Tree-Lighting Tradition
Create invitations to pass out to residents to invite them for your facility’s annual tree-lighting ceremony to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Beforehand, recruit residents to help you decorate your facility’s trees with ornaments and lights. Then invite residents to wear their holiday sweaters to the party, where you’ll serve hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. At the start of the party, have your administrator “flip the switch” to show-off the beautiful decorations, and if you have outdoor decorations, turn them on as well.

Santa Hat Luncheon
Host a luncheon and invite residents to wear a Santa hat if they’d like. Combine with an arts and crafts session beforehand where residents can decorate a simple and inexpensive felt hat with baubles, bling and put a unique style on the hat that is all their own. Hold a contest and provide awards for the most original hat, prettiest hat, ugliest hat, and so on.

Night Before Christmas
Celebrate Christmas Eve with a movie marathon. Watch tried and true favorites such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas. Complete the evening’s activities with a visit from Santa, who will pass out a small gift to each resident or candy canes if you’re on a tight budget.

Hot Chocolate Bar
Host a hot chocolate bar (offer sugar-free options) complete with candy canes, whipped cream, and sprinkles for a holiday experience residents will enjoy.

Door Decoration Competition
Provide decorations to participating residents so they can decorate their doors with a holiday theme. Decorating a door may be easier than an entire room and everyone can enjoy the decorations as they move throughout the facility.

Holiday Bingo
Finally, there’s the tried-and-true favorite bingo, dressed up for the holidays. Choose from a selection of designs. Make the game sweeter by using holiday candy as markers. Red and green-colored Hershey kisses or M&M are especially cheery.

*

Now Offering Training for Caregiving Staff
We know that the pandemic makes it difficult to bring new staff together for training. That’s why we’ve come up with a solution!

The Wisconsin Caregiver Academy has created online classes for your staff to receive either parts or all of their DHS 83.25 mandated continuing education.

*

RESOURCES:
S&S Blog, “6 Holiday Themed Party Ideas for Senior Residents.
Love To Know, “Fun and Festival Nursing Home Holiday Ideas,” Tamsen Butler.

Chasing Strengths

What Really Matters in Effective Leadership

The maxim may be true that you cannot lead others if you don’t understand yourself. However, leading only with a strengths-based focus can reveal character blind spots, which may cascade to organizational weaknesses.

For example, a creative, big-picture thinker who cannot translate their vision into a realistic operating plan with specifics about resources, responsibilities and timelines is hamstrung if they don’t seek out ways to develop the yang to their yin.

A natural collaborator who can bring people together and pool insights won’t be much use if they don’t know when or how to end discussion and decide next steps.

In some ways, chasing strengths is a cop-out. Leaders can be lulled into thinking that their strengths are enough. This may inhibit their development mindset. Also, weaknesses are weaknesses, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If a leader can only operate in “command” mode, what are they not hearing or observing?

What’s needed is a a more balanced approach to leadership learning and development, especially in today’s complex, dynamic, ever-shifting world.

New research shows that the most effective leaders are the ones with the broadest repertoire of complementary skills and competencies. In other words, they are versatile.

Versatility is the capacity to read and respond to change with a wide range of correlative skills and behaviors.

How Does a Leader Develop Versatility?

  • Broaden your perspective — Seek out roles that stretch your skills and experiences. Versatile leaders tend to have more diverse career paths and work experiences than others, as well as the learning agility to absorb lessons and incorporate them in their leadership tool kits.
  • Solicit ongoing feedback — It’s crucial to get input about the impact and effectiveness of your behavior. Versatile leaders not only respond well to change, they also change their behavior in response to constructive criticism.
  • Become a more well-rounded person — Be open to new opportunities and capabilities. Versatile leaders show a pattern of stepping beyond the familiar and comfortable.

As you move forward, developing as a leader and a person, this quote from the late Peter Drucker could be your touchstone.

What should I stop, start and continue doing to be more effective?
—Peter Drucker

*

Our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program includes a diverse course curriculum that not only includes a core course “Development Yourself and Others” but also covers other critical topics like “Coaching for Performance,” “Change Management,” “Supervision and Human Resource Functions,” “Interpersonal Communication,” “Helping Your Team Achieve Organizational Management,” along with a Capstone Course that integrates all the learning and knowledge. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.

*

RESOURCES:
Harvard Business Review, “The Best Leaders are Versatile Ones,” Robert B. Kaiser, March 2, 2020.

Talent Quarterly, “Your Leader’s Strengths May Be Your Company’s Weaknesses,” Rob Kaiser, M.S., September 17, 2019.

*

EXTRA CREDIT:
Read Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein or watch his TED Talk “Why Specializing Early Doesn’t Always Mean Career Success.”

Coming Trend of All Trends

The United Nations has determined that the environment and climate change are the defining issues of our time.

Business experts say 2020 marks an era of sustainability with every business being called to make change.

A convergence of forces is driving this urgency, encompassing shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels, and an increasing demand for ethical consumerism and governance.

These forces are creating impacts that are hard to ignore:

  • Our “throw-away” culture is creating 8 million tons of plastic every year with only 14% currently recycled.
  • Land masses are becoming inhospitable, putting animal and plant species at risk of extinction.
  • Drought, agricultural failure, food and water shortages are causing human displacement.
  • Mass migration of peoples is creating a humanitarian crisis for governments that need to learn to cope with new priorities and policies.

The impacts are cascading to such an extent that business giants admit it is time for radical action. Microsoft has announced plans to be carbon negative by 2030, and Amazon has pledged $30 billion for climate change.

The World Economic Forum goes even further to say that “businesses must serve society and the planet, not just shareholders.”

How, then, does a business or business professional serve society and the planet? First, the business community needs to recognize that sustainability touches every part of a company – from its physical workspace to its supply chain operations. Second, the community needs to reckon with the fact that consumers are looking for them to lead the sustainability revolution by identifying ways consumers can reduce their carbon emissions and by cutting down on the plastic choking oceans.

Here are some actionable ways other companies are transforming in a sustainable direction:

1. Make sustainability part of your service.

What new tool, platform or ongoing service can your company develop to help consumers reduce the negative impact of their consumerism?

Specific company examples to jumpstart innovation:

  • Ecommerce platform Upchoose stocks organic cotton baby clothes that can be returned as babies grow.
  • Finland-based payment provider Enfuce created an app that shows consumers the CO2 emissions of their purchases.

2. Reimagine your brand or industry to exemplify sustainability.

Not only is your internal culture a key part of your public-facing brand, but so is your whole end-to-end supply chain. Share what you know for the benefit of society and the planet. Look for ways to make your supply chain “circular.” Don’t be afraid to be a disruptor.

Specific company examples as additional idea-starters:

  • The UK-based rock music band Coldplay chose not to tour their new album “Everyday Life,” due to environmental concerns.
  • IKEA built a new store in Vienna without a parking lot with the expectation that shoppers will arrive on foot or by public transportation.

When it comes to sustainability, we are at a defining moment. How will you or your business answer the call?

*

At UW-Green Bay, we have created a noncredit Sustainability Certificate Program that we believe can help drive Wisconsin forward through sustainable business and build sustainability leaders.

Our Sustainability Certificate Program not only adopts a proven and successful model, but it is affordableaccessible and flexible.

The program is 100% online with three core courses six weeks in duration, encompassing multi-facets of sustainability — environmental, business practices and public policy. The final capstone course requires participants to put sustainability theory into practice within their organizations, an efficient and practical way to encourage sustainable business.

Full program details are available online.

*

RESOURCES:
Forbes. “2020 Will be the Year of Sustainable Business: Here’s Why,” Jonquil Hackenberg, November 28, 2019.
Forbes. “7 Global Trends Impacting the Sustainabilility Movement,” Timothy J. McClimon, April 15, 2019.
Trend-Watching, “The Future of Purpose,” Make-Shift Quarterly Report, February 2020.
United Nations. “Climate Change,” Global Issues.

Defining Leadership for Yourself

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of leadership encompasses: 1) the office or position of a leader; 2) capacity to lead; 3) the act or instance of leading; and 4) leaders.

Leadership is personal and organizational. It can be demand-driven, purpose-driven, people-driven or all three.

Leadership can be described differently by different people, depending on their vantage point.

The Wall Street Journal asserts that leaders should be able to adapt their style to the moment, responding to the particulars of a challenge. Effective leaders should be able to move between the following modes:

  • Visionary — Helping an organization determine a new direction by moving people toward a new set of shared dreams.
  • Coaching — When working one-on one to guide an individual’s professional development and to connect them to the broader organizational mission.
  • Affiliate — If morale or trust are issues, this style focuses on team-building by connecting people to each other.
  • Democratic — This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, creating a group commitment to organizational goals.
  • Pacesetting — In this style, the leader sets the standard for performance.
  • Commanding — The classic model of “military”-style leadership, best suited for crisis or urgent situations. Probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Even the military has come to recognize its limited usefulness.

Tony Robbins, author, coach and nationally-renowned motivational speaker, insists all leaders should cultivate a style with an underpinning of servant leadership. That is, you using your leadership skills to serve a greater good. He believes you should first identify your purpose and then you explore the types of leadership style to determine which aligns best with your personality and situation.

His styles relate largely to the ones shared above. He even includes a “Style Quiz” to help you identify your particular style or combination of styles.

Harvard Business Review classifies leadership styles as “archetypes,” which simultaneously stamps the individual’s personality and situation onto a prototype as follows:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess.
  • The change catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity.
  • The transactor: leadership as deal-making
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management.

What all these descriptions have in common is a certain level of self-awareness. The exercise of exploring personal leadership styles results in a greater understanding of an individual’s personality strengths and weaknesses, and how they might be best leveraged within an organization to have the desired result.

What matters ultimately is how you define leadership for yourself, and how that definition serves the organization and mission you find yourself charged with.

*

The core course in our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program is “Developing Yourself and Others,” which includes a CliftonStrengths 34 assessment. You will learn your unique strengths and how best to leverage as a leader for the fulfillment of your organization’s mission and your individual purpose. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.

*

RESOURCES:
Wall Street Journal, “How-To Guide: Developing a Leadership Style,” adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.
Tony Robbins, “7 Types of Leadership Styles.”
Harvard Business Review, “The Eight Archetypes of Leadership,” Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, December 18, 2013.

Emotional Intelligence and Caregiving

A MEANINGFUL CIRCLE

Emotional intelligence (EI) has long been embraced by the business community, and leaders are coached to enlarge their empathy and understanding of employees in order to address fundamental interpersonal and emotional needs in the workplace.

But does EI help in caregiving? It turns out yes.

That was the result of a multi-year caregiver study conducted by Dr. Dafna Hadar-Pecker.

She found that EI enabled professional caregivers to achieve a higher level of understanding, and consequently offer a better degree of care.

Caregivers with high EI are not immune to the negative aspects of their profession: the day-to-day need to cope with difficult issues and the physical and emotional pain.

However, caregivers with higher EI were able to avoid compassion fatigue and were more successful experiencing “compassion satisfaction.”

Says Hadar-Pecker, “EI is a tool that tells [caregivers] it’s okay to feel something deeply because you are doing something that is meaningful and valuable, and as a result it helps the treatment programs. It becomes a kind of circle.”

Further, she says, “An individual with high EI knows how to create a strategy to navigate through the negative aspects and positive aspects.”

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)

EI is generally understood to mean the ability to comprehend and manage our emotions while simultaneously understanding the emotions of others.

For caregivers and other healthcare workers, emotional intelligence can be categorized into four areas of particular importance: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Diagram of 4 areas of emotional intelligence
Self-Awareness – Far from being self-indulgent, self-attention and self-care are essential, so that you can continue to help and serve.
Ask yourself:

  • Am I aware of my emotions?
  • Am I aware of how I am expressing them and impacting others?
  • What is the tone of my self-talk?
  • Are my basic human needs being met?

Self-Management – Becoming more aware of your emotions and how you’re expressing them gives you the information you need to better manage your responses.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have effective way to navigate emotional triggers?
  • What is within my zone of control?
  • Am I making time for sleep, nutrition, and exercise?
  • Do I have a support network and do I give myself permission to lean on it?
  • What brings meaning and purpose to my life?

Social Awareness – Taking care of yourself is what allows you to take good care of others.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I listen to others first to understand rather than rush to respond?
  • Can I identify and name others’ emotions accurately?
  • Whose work haven’t I recognized?

Relationship Management – While social awareness is tuning into others, relationship management is using this awareness to have successful interactions with them.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I bringing extra patience, and assuming the best about others?
  • As a caregiver, am I being transparent with information?
  • Are my communications frequent, clear, and open to feedback?
  • Am I going slow at key moments, including moments of thanks?

When caregivers cultivate higher EI, they feel more rewarded by their work, and the patient is the ultimate beneficiary.

*

Cultivate Empathy and Understanding
Wisconsin Caregiver Academy has created two specialized online live courses to enable you to learn how to honor the needs and desires of your patients. “Negotiated Risk Agreements: Balancing Risk, Responsibility & Rights” takes place on Thursday, November 12 from 9-11 a.m. “Clearing the Muddy Waters of Individual Service Plans and Assessments” takes place in two parts: Thursdays December 3 and December 10, from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn more and register. With enhanced awareness and communication comes enhanced care.

*

RESOURCES:
Caregivers, Caregiving and Emotional Intelligence, Open Letter, The Open University of Israel.
How Health Care Workers Can Take Care of Themselves, Harvard Business Review, David P. Fessell and Daniel Goleman, May 20, 2020.
Why Emotional Intelligence is Vital for Remote Workers, Josh Millet, Forbes Human Resources Council, September 30, 2020.

What the High-Value Companies Know

The Importance of Professional Development

Comparably launched in March 2016 as a compensation data and culture platform with the mission of “making workplaces transparent and rewarding for both employees and employers.”

Comparably ranks companies on their culture, based on a variety of factors, as contributed by real employees.

A key factor for culture is professional development. Says Comparably CEO Jason Nazar, “Professional development serves a vital role in companies, improving employees’ productivity and attitudes.”

Nazar also noted that professional development is important for gender and racial equity within the workplace. “One of the most important things we can do to level the playing field is to focus on professional development.”

The list of brands that rank high for professional development is a who’s who of high-value companies:

Best Large Companies for Professional Development (500+ employees)
Top 25, in alphabetical order

1. Aflac, Columbus, Ga.
2. Amazon, Seattle.
3. Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.
4. Costco, Issaquah, Wash.
5. Ernst & Young, New York City.
6. Facebook, Menlo Park, Calif.
7. Fanatics, Jacksonville, Fla.
8. Fuze, Boston.
9. Google, Mountain View, Calif.
10. HubSpot, Cambridge, Mass.
11. Indeed.com, Austin, Texas.
12. Insight Global, Atlanta.
13. International Flavors & Fragrances, New York.
14. Intuit, Mountain View, Calif.
15. LogMeIn, Boston.
16. Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.
17. Nevro, Redwood, Calif.
18. PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y.
19. Starbucks, Seattle.
20. T-Mobile, Bellevue, Wash.
21. The Home Depot, Atlanta.
22. The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, Calif.
23. Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas.
24. Workfront, Lehi, Utah.
25. Zillow, Seattle, Wash.

*

UW-Green Bay excels at training and curriculum development and offers exceptional training agility through the Division of Continuing Education and Community Engagement. With every training, we use an approach that respects the time and learning styles of adult learners, allowing them to pick and choose activities and modules that work for them while still delivering the learning they want and need. Consult our dynamic certificate programs to explore the ways we can help you advance your position in your existing company or undertake new challenges somewhere else.

*

RESOURCES:
USA Today, “Facebook, Starbucks, Ernst & Young are among top U.S. companies for professional development,” June 7, 2018, Ben Tobin.

Change Your Habits

WAYS TO PREVENT DEMENTIA BEFORE IT STARTS

Early signs of dementia include having a difficult time remember a recent conversation, names or locations. Patients may also experience apathy or depression. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Dementia is progressive, which means it can worsen over time. But new evidence suggests that if you change your habits, you can stop dementia from occurring or becoming more severe.

1. Quit smoking.

It’s never too late. 90% of people quite cold turkey, but other ways are available, according to WebMD. There are also herbs and essential oils that can support your efforts.

2. Be physically active.

30 minutes three times a week. Walk around the neighborhood. Bring a friend, so you can catch up. Dance in your living room.

3. Make sure you get enough Vitamin B.

Adequate levels of B vitamins (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12) slow down brain atrophy in patients with mild impairment. Foods high in B vitamins include:

Salmon
Leafy greens
Liver and other organ meats
Eggs
Milk
Beef
Oysters, clams and mussels
Legumes
Chicken and turkey
Yogurt
Nutritional and Brewer’s Yeast
Pork
Fortified cereal
Trout
Sunflower seeds

4. Make sure you get enough Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is crucial for mental health. And the good news is easy to come by. When you walk outside, expose your skin to the sun (no sunscreen) for at least 15 minutes.

5. Train your brain.

When you learn new things, your brain has to work to reorganize, creating new neural pathways. Consider:

Taking a class
Learning a new language
Doing crossword puzzles or sudoku
Playing scrabble or chess

6. Increase your social interaction.

Humans are social creatures, so spending too much time along can wear down your brain. Combine some of the habits above by walking with a friend or meeting new people at a class.

By changing your habits, you can not only stop dementia but improve your overall health, increasing your quality of life. What’s stopping you? Start today.

*

The Wisconsin Caregiver Academy offers two courses, designed to prepare caregivers for the unique challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Completion of both courses earns a digital badge that can be displayed on a resume, social media or an email signature to demonstrate ongoing continuing education.

*

Lifelong Learning Institute is a unique program for retired or leisure adults to take up to 20 classes a semester for a low membership fee. No tests, no grades. Just learning for the fun of it.

*

RESOURCES:
Daily Health Post, “9 Habits You Need to Adopt Today to Stop Alzheimer’s or Dementia Before It Starts,” March 19, 2020

A Bold Promise to the Nation

IN PRAISE OF THE CDC

Because of the pandemic, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC are in the news almost daily.

It feels important and right to take a moment to recognize and praise their unique mission in all its complexity.

The CDC is a unique agency with a unique mission. The CDC works 24/7 to protect the safety, health and security of America from threats here and around the world.

The CDC leverages its scientific expertise and data analyses to develop strategies that are a bold promise to the Nation in support of these priorities:

  • Securing global health and domestic preparedness
  • Eliminating disease
  • Ending epidemics

Within these broad stroke priorities, the CDC galvanizes against many important healthy living initiatives, which get less publicity and cover concerns across all stages of life.

For example, the CDC has launched a Healthy Brain Initiative to improve our understanding of brain health as a central part of public health practice. The initiative was designed as a countermeasure to the impending public health burden of dementia, as evidenced by the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is:

  • One of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.
  • The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
  • The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.

In 2014, an estimated 5 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimer’s disease. This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.

The Healthy Brain Initiative creates and supports partnerships, collects and reports data, increases awareness of brain health and supports populations with a more pronounced burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

In addition, the CDC has developed Healthy Brain Road Maps to enable state and local public health agencies and their partners to chart a course for action and change.

New initiatives like the Healthy Brain Initiative demonstrate CDC’s commitment to a “new level of preparedness” in the US and global health community, and we can be thankful for their 24/7 stewardship.

*

The Wisconsin Caregiver Academy offers two courses, designed to prepare caregivers for the unique challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and can contribute to the knowledge needed at a specialized provider. Completion of both courses earns a digital badge that can be displayed on a resume, social media or an email signature to demonstrate ongoing continuing education. Learn more.

*
RESOURCES:
“A Bold Promise to the Nation,” https://www.cdc.gov/about/24-7/index.html.

 

Dismantling Bias

CAREER & BUSINESS

The first hurdle we face as a society in dismantling bias is our own natures. Bias is baked into our brains. We literally can’t function if we don’t categorize the information we’re constantly exposed to: familiar, strange, interesting, boring. It is necessary for us to make inferences and assumptions. Otherwise, we’d be insensible with indecision.

Therefore, eradicating bias shouldn’t be the goal, and any plans to do so are inherently doomed to fail. So, what can we do? As individuals? As larger institutions?

As individuals, acknowledging and understanding bias is the first step toward lessening its influence. Experiences contribute to bias, and you have some control over the experiences you seek out. Here are ways you can harness the power of experience to start to disassemble bias:

  1. Put yourself in situations with people who are different than you. One of the most consistent findings in social psychology is that the more you are around people who are different from you, the more open-minded and tolerant you become. Especially if you can find common interests and values. We can hold problematic biases around race, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, neurodiversity and political preference, so don’t shy away from events, conversations or destinations that might put you in the way of people you may be unfamiliar with.
  1. Practice empathy. Try to understand people’s motives, attitudes and actions based on a wider perspective. Expand your knowledge with reading by diverse authors. Think about how you would feel if you were in their situations or had their lived experience.
  1. Get real. In order to deal with your biases, you have to know what they are, and the Implicit Association Test (IAT) has been used for decades to explore the gap between what you think and do. Or the difference between your “implicit bias” and “explicit bias.” Take a test to learn your particular association in multiple categories.
  1. Act as-if bias-free. Although you might not be able to control how you think, you can control how you act. Set aside the easy assessment or categorization of other people and behave bias-free, or how you might imagine bias-free.

Collectively, these strategies for tailoring your experience will help reduce the impact of biased behavior.

However, work on an individual level is only part of the needed change to dismantle bias. We also need to realize that bias is also a structural and organizational problem that will require additional work to change. And it can’t be just about the employees or individuals working for the organization.

Organizations need to examine and explicate long-standing practices and procedures to determine how they might be stigmatizing or disadvantaging people of color, people of the LGBTQ+ community or any other group about which we hold a bias.

This is not easy, but it is necessary work, if we as a society hope to dismantle bias and fulfill the promise of America as “a land of the free and the brave.”

*

Intercultural communications can affect your relationships with employees, clients, corporate partners and other stakeholders when conducting business internationally. Join Dr. David N. Coury, PhD, in our September Expert Spotlight to learn how you can prevent misunderstandings and broaden your awareness of cultural differences.

*

We have partnered with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., of American & Moore, LLC, to create a youth program Peace, Equity and Social Justice for middle school and high school students, along with their parents, encouraging #RealTalk.

*

RESOURCES:
Fast Company, “How to Become a Less Biased Version of Yourself,” February 12, 2019, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.
Insider, “Can Meditation Reduce Implicit Bias?” July 1, 2020, Sara Shah.
Scientific American, “The Problem with Implicit Bias Training,” August 28, 2020, Tiffany L. Green.