Compassion: An Antidote to Incivility

Graphic of a quote by Henry A. WallaceConsider this quote by Henry A. Wallace, a statesman, scientist and leader from an earlier generation.  It suggests his approach to incivility.

Today, we still see faces distorted by anger. The hunger Wallace describes can be seen as a metaphor for not being heard, understood, or a condition from trauma of a difficult situation encountered earlier in life.  When we see an angry face, we just don’t know what caused the face to be angry.

Prior to what historians now call the civil rights movement, Wallace faced angry faces and hateful reactions during his travels in the South.  He saw the pain in the faces of angry people as a symptom of their state.  It probably does not mean he excused them for their actions, he just knew that at that particular moment their actions were a sign of their emotions rather than a expression of their character.  He had the presence of mind to not aggravate their stress.Re-Think Angry Faces Photo

Researchers suggest that we are wired to see facial expressions and react with a flight or fight response.  So compassion must be intentional and developed at time when we are not in stressful situations.

Getting to the state of compassion comes from a personal decision.  A person needs to get there on his or her own.  Like the whole concept of civility, compassion  cannot be mandated.

There are models of compassion out there.  Who comes to mind as a model of compassion.  What have these models of compassion done to get there?

plant seeds graphicSeeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we plant seeds of inspiration for your daily life.

Recap: Diversity and Inclusion Forum

Diversity and Inclusion

Graphic from Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership offered the 2nd Annual Executive Forum on Diversity & Inclusion today. The goal of the event was to facilitate a dialogue on diversity and inclusion-related issues and initiatives in the workplace and community.

The Wallace Centers of Iowa attended because we believe diversity and inclusion can be addressed through thoughtfully applying civility practices in workplace leadership development efforts.  We wanted to learn more from leading companies about their approach to inclusion.

Excellent planning led to Sandy Harris, who is  Vice President of Corporate Diversity Strategy & Internal Operations at Sodexo, being selected as the keynote speaker.  Her company is #2 ranked-company on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity in 2014.

Some key learnings from her speech were captured in tweets from attendees who used #DSMDIForum. Here are a few:

  • Organizations with gender balanced leadership teams outperform teams without gender balance.
  • Sodexo took a Top down, Middle out, and Bottom up approach to their diversity initiatives.
  • Emerging economies are outpacing in STEM degrees compared to developed countries.

After the keynote address, the participants had a chance to select from three breakout sessions:

  • Global Talent Development with a speaker from DuPont Pioneer
  • Being in Iowa with a speaker from Iowa Public Radio
  • OpportUNITY: Creating Prosperity for All with a panel from a variety of organizations and businesses.

Attending the session on global talent development, we learned that one approach to addressing diversity and inclusion is to utilize the company wide engagement survey that is done annually.  The key to this approach is to follow-up with action planning at the team level and hold managers accountable for those discussions.

DuPont believes inclusion and diversity is essential to their ability to innovate. They see the power of sharing new and different beliefs and promoting  a culture of respect.  Our take away was that that diversity is not a nice to have, but a need to have strategy.

It reminded us of a quote from the man who founded Pioneer before the company became part of DuPont.

Henry Wallace quote on diversity

The only drawback to the meeting today was that we wish we could have attended the other sessions.

If you attended a session please share your thoughts below or send us a connection to your own blog or post.