Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Ten "Dude" Commandments for workplace equality: A non-feminist approach

I. Thou shalt not be a ass-hat! To anyone. Ever. If your words or actions marginalize anyone, are just an angle to get laid, make you look cool at the expense of others, make fun of someone, or end up having to be defended as a result of being offensive, then you are being a ass-hat. Don't. Make no mistake, it is going to boomerang. Learn what workplace etiquette means. This is for your own good as well as everyone else's.

II. The office is never a dating pool. This should be self explanatory. Think about your last huge blowout fight with your significant other and then think about it happening at your office. It can cost you your career and more.

III. Learn to be wrong every time you are challenged..You may have a Ph.D from MIT, but that doesn't mean you are always right. And if you don't have that, there is a far better chance that you aren't right. So instead of immediately dismissing an idea that isn't yours, try that idea on as the right answer. Give it your best shot to defend it. It might be a better idea. And it might surprise you who gives you that idea. Listen to them all.

IV. Keep the fights in the office to fights about the office. Tons of people have hills they long to die on. Religion, politics, equality, whatever. Don't take the bait! You have strong opinions about something. We get it. Bringing up a hot-button issue at work can disintegrate a team quicker than a fart clears an elevator. It also exposes you. Fight for what you believe in, but leave the personal battles in your personal time.

V. Never join a negative group. Gossip, bad-mouthing, trash-talk, sexual innuendo all fit into negative groups. If there is a clique that is in power and they are based on this, it is better to find a new job, school, or religion than join. This isn't office only. Those laughs and that coarse camaraderie may feel good, but it will tear away somewhere else in your life.

VI. Promote other people, even if you don't like them.You are at work, you don't get to pick all of your co-workers. Some of them are going to rub you the wrong way. Does that mean that person can't be the next genius who makes your stock option treble in value? Congratulating someone on a win or singing someone's praise can be great for building bridges. Get over yourself.

VII. Call people on their bull crap. Laughing at a joke may only be reacting to embarrassment, but if you don't turn that laugh around, you are co-signing the bull crap. It is easy to sit by and do nothing while someone else is getting a raw deal. In that kind of place, it is easy for *anyone* to get a raw deal. It harder for a raw deal to happen if an ass-hat knows that he or she will be met by resistance. It takes people willing to make the office a safe place to do the one thing we are all their to do in the first place; WORK. Follow your company policy, but speak up.

VIII. Do not judge. I hate how trite that sounds. I hear it all the time, but it makes morality sound passe and even out of place. Morality is actually my source for this blog. In a business though, where the body we join is diverse in almost every aspect, we can't afford to leave people out because they don't fit one of our pictures of right. It will leave us ultimately as a party of one. Yes, our morality matters. I don't know of a moral code in existence that says it is okay to be an ass-hat.

IX. Don't steal post-it notes. Well, that is really just an example of the "Small things, Large things" axiom, but it is solid advice. If you give yourself a little permission to do something a little bad, you will crumble when it comes to something big. Self-justification is an almost instant promotion to ass-hat.

X. Fight ass-hats. We are pushing talent out of  technology faster than we can train the replacements. Whether its a bias on culture, race, religion, gender, sports teams, fraternity status, physical fitness, sexual orientation; bias kills a team. If we are going to keep the tech industry in the US healthy and growing, diversity isn't what needs to go away. Ass-hats need to go away.