This was originally posted in January 0f 2011, however its views are even more pertinent in today’s crisis and I have updated it for today’s world.
We are following the events that are unfolding in world with Covid-19. It brings us to poise and consider what kind of environment we are fostering from our dialogue. Based on the era when I grew up we have a citizenry which was able to enter into a dialogue with consideration for the value of differing views on the issues that we are confronted with. We understood that there was a wide breadth of sincere beliefs on these issues.
In the current climate we are in we can have fundamentalists who openly target those who differ in our views. We are in a climate where if you do not believe there is a place for views that are not our own you are cast as out of touch. This creates a very dangerous environment as shown in the views from the Re-Open rallies.
Move for a moment from the streets of this country to the halls of our workplaces. When we create or update our policy manuals it is mandatory that we include statements regarding workplace violence. Do we want to? Probably not. Do we have to? This course of events dictates that we have no choice.
I am uncomfortable having to make the suggestion, but it is critical that as human resource professionals, we need to do everything we can to influence management and the employee population to appreciate that we are a nation of ideas. That while discourse is vital, lack of patience and respect for the other views is should not ever tolerated and needs to be explicitly stated in corporate visions, missions, policies and attitudes
The presence of anyone who purposely enters into a dialogue aimed at singling out another’s views should not be tolerated. HR must be absolutely steadfast in removing any employee who would disrupt our workplace by inferring either directly or indirectly that either you think like they do or there is no place for you within the organization. There should be no tolerance for anyone, no matter what the position within the organization who displays this behavior. It should be grounds for immediate dismissal and reported to the appropriate law enforcement.
I am probably going to get some pushback, but during my lifetime I have seen too much senseless violence within our workplaces. Violence in the workplace whether it is the innocent victims in Tucson or the likes of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Ronald Reagan is plain wrong. While I believe in the basics of our democracy, including the right to bear arms (not that I own any) the fundamentalists that believe that this right is infinite should take the time to reconsider the affect that these views have on our lives. They need to take responsibility for fostering an environment where this violent event is tolerated without control. Their views spread into our workplace and jeopardize the sanctity of that environment.
My final thought is that we need to begin a dialogue in our personal relationships and the workplace to begin to understand the diversity of ideas. We don’t become a better organization or society when the resolution of our problems is to pick up the nearest weapon and use it against our neighbors. Begin to recognize that we only become enriched when we realize that the wide expression of views of the issues before us lead us to be better people and organizations. The time when we can directly go out and dismiss those alternate views should end. The dismissal of those ideas is not how we get to an empowered and engaged organization.