John Chen Effectiveness Institute

Business Leaders Need to Step Up Against Racial Inequality

race racism business leaders racial inequality seattle
Graffiti in Seattle, Spring 2020.

What is your reaction when you see graffiti like this? Do you get out your wash clothes and remove the paint? Do you walk by and do nothing? Do you agree with the statement and the meaning behind it?

The website Stop AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate was set up by Professor Russell Jeung at San Francisco State University and has received over 2,000 reports of hate crimes since March 19, 2020. The recent increase has been attributed to the Coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China. The increase is also attributed to political and cultural figures referring to the Coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus” or “Kung Flu.” (Notably, a more deadly strain from Europe did significant damage on the East Coast of the US, but no one is calling it the German or French Flu).

[Read “Don’t Let Your Behavior Style Preference Become a Cultural Bias“]

A Tale of Two CEOs

In July, CNN reported that a tech CEO from San Francisco launched an anti-Asian tirade toward a family while dining at Bernardus Lodge, a restaurant in Carmel Valley. A nearby waitress bravely stepped in, shielding the family from the verbal onslaught, and asked the CEO to leave. Watch the video to see what many Asians in American have to experience. 

This CEO has since stepped down from his company stating, “I will make it my duty to ensure my personal actions do not continue to have a detrimental impact on those people closest to me.” It seems he has a lot of cultural conditioning to unlearn, but hopefully he’s forging a new path to rectify past wrongs.

In contrast, some business leaders are stepping up to combat racism and doing their part to challenge racial injustices where they can. George Myers, President and CEO of Effectiveness Institute, is one of these people. He has invested over 30 years of his professional life into seeking equality, justice, and high-performance from teams that see diversity and inclusion as a business and life advantage. In this same spirit, George has asked to interview me as part of Effectiveness Institute’s new discussion series—Conversations at the Institute—to explore cultural and racial biases as they pertain to Behavior Styles. 

[Read “Exploring Behavior Styles, Culture, and Bias with Kendra Washington-Bass”]

Using Behavior Styles to Better Adapt to Your Cultural Context

I have been personally trained by Effectiveness Institute’s CEO, George Myers, in Behavior Styles and have found it useful when coaching people who are working with AAPI teammates. Statistically, AAPI teammates test at a greater percentage of the Analyzer and Stabilizer preferences. The best metaphor I can give is that when you visit a foreign country, you will have a better experience if you learn the customs of that country. Behavior Styles are the same. If you are visiting someone from an Analyzer country and you are a Persuader, you will need to “rotate your iceberg” or change from your default Behavior Style preference if you want to be more effective. 

When I coach people who are working with Analyzer AAPI teammates, I remind them to slow down, bring facts and data, and be methodical, even if that is not their personal style. When I coach people who are working with Stabilizer preferences, I remind them to open the conversation with connection before content (the opposite for an Analyzer), explain the benefits of an action or decision and be patient, allow them silence and time to think. 

Try these tips and see if you get better results than from your previous engagements—people sharing deeper information or saying thank you for making conversations easier.

[Read “I Control the Narrative”]

Join Us for a Conversation on Race, Bias, and Behavior Styles

Conversations at the Institute has been created to help further the discussions and understandings following the turbulent events and demonstrations occurring nation-wide after George Floyd’s death.

Please join me in following Effectiveness Institute on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s an easy way to stay engaged as the Institute continues discussions around diversity, inclusion, and bias. 

This Conversation at the Institute will be hosted on Friday, August 28th at 11am (PST). If you watch it on FB live or on the Zoom event, you too can join the discussion by chat. We’d love to field your questions and join in solidarity as well.

During this session, George and I will explore my experience as an Asian American over the past 50+ years. Some of it is glorious. Some of it is not so pretty. All of it will reflect my own experiences and includes my personal guidelines on how you can help counter anti-Asian racism. During this session, we will address some of the following questions:

  • What is it like growing up Asian American in the US?
  • Have you ever hit the bamboo ceiling?
  • What’s your understanding of Behavior Styles?
  • How do Behavior Styles relate to Asian cultures?
  • What biases do you see in other people?
  • How do you feel about your Asian culture?
  • What are some of the roots of anti-Asian racism?
  • What do you suggest other people do when they encounter anti-Asian racism?

Effectiveness Institute will release a recording of this interview later on this blog, so be sure to check back later. 

Until then, if you’ve read this far, I hope that you’re one that will take further personal action to prevent racism and stand up to racism in the world.

John Chen is the virtual leader of Geoteaming. He's been virtually meeting for over 35 years. He is the author of “Engaging Virtual Meetings” and “50 Digital Team Building Games," a top-selling business book.

His work has earned him multiple awards, and more than 230,000 clients across the world. In addition to leading Geoteaming, he climbs mountains, walks on fire, swims with dolphins in the wild, rides Harleys, and organizes Super Bowl Suites while meeting with people from around the world from his computer.

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