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The Delaware Department of Transportation recently sent a newsletter to its employees illustrating ways one should avoid communicatiing with coworkers. The detailed illustrations of what not to say did not go over well with many department employees. To contrast the example set by the Delaware DoT's newsletter, here are some things small businesses can do to make workplaces more inclusive.
As reported by Delaware Online, Delaware DoT's "Diversity Spotlight" newsletter was intended to promote diversity awareness. Ironically, it asks, "How can you go about interacting with your colleagues without putting your foot in your mouth?" Contrary to state's intentions, the Diversity Spotlight appears to have cast a light on just about every way one can cause offense in the workplace.
Unfortunately, the newsletter's language prevents this blog from linking to it. Let's just say it systematically goes through most minority types and identifies three or four incredibly offensive things you should not say to such people. About "the N word," the newsletter says that although we've heard African American comics says it, it's never acceptable to say. "You are asking for trouble; leave this one alone," it concludes. Good advice indeed. Also for those drafting workplace diversity newsletters.
Some say Delaware DoT bungled a very important topic. Some say the Diversity Spotlight itself was sexist, racist, homophobic and ageist. Not Delaware DoT spokesman Darrel Cole, however. His response? "Is it in your face? Absolutely. Is it pretty bold? Yeah, it is. But the general thought is that you have to shock people to get their attention. The overwhelming response was 'Wow, this is saying what we've been feeling.'"
In saying what not to say, the Delaware DoT showed us what not to do. On the other hand, here are a several things small businesses can do to limit discrimination and harassment in the workplace.