CANCELLED - Navigating Cultural Fault Lines Virtual Working Group | September 23, 2021

Thursday | September 23, 2021

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Navigating Cultural Fault Lines Virtual Working Group
September 23, 2021 | 1:00-2:30PM (ET)

A year of global pandemic, civil unrest and political schisms created unprecedented stress in the US and around the world. As people processed a barrage of conflicting news and opinion, they were isolated from their work environments, where they normally interact with a cross-section of viewpoints. They were left to consume information that felt comfortable and to correspond via Facebook and other channels with like-minded people. Opinions and emotions calcified, creating deep cultural fault lines.
As employees return to in-person work, their beliefs, emotions, stresses, fears, political points of view and pandemic isolation impacts return with them.  Employers must create work environments that ensure engagement, inclusion, productivity and safety.
This working group will examine how companies are navigating these cultural fault lines.  The session will kick off with Cornell expert Lisa Nishii (see bio below) sharing insights on human behavior in intensely partisan environments and what actions help mitigate or conversely magnify the effects (30 minutes).  William J. Conaty Professor and CAHRS Academic Director, Brad Bell, and the Director of Cornell’s Executive Masters in Human Resource Management (EMHRM) Program and former GE HR Executive, Susan Beauregard, will lead CAHRS participants in the sharing of examples of recent experiences/actions, then prioritize the issues to be discussed in future sessions (60 minutes). Potential issues and questions that may be explored include: 

•    Should companies/leaders overtly acknowledge the strongly differing opinions/tensions and attempt to work through them with dialogue — or just say ‘leave it at the door’? Approaches?

•    What new skills do people leaders need in this environment?

•    How can we prevent political positions and the cancel culture from creeping adversely into core processes – pay, promotion, selection and hiring?

•    How will conflicting opinions and emotions impact Diversity and Inclusion goals?

•    How can companies balance their rights and obligations with employees’ personal freedom expectations, i.e., employee off-work actions/affiliations, workplace safety requirements?

•    What are the workforce considerations for companies’ public postures on controversial issues, e.g., suspending political donations, declining certain business, supporting climate change initiatives?

•    How can companies engage employees in the merits of their strategies amid negative counter-information?

•    How can a company protect/maintain its own culture/values amid the external storm?

Our virtual working groups are kept small (20-25 participants) to allow for rich discussion and best practice sharing.  Given the limited size of each session, we ask that you only register for a session if you will be able to attend for the duration. We will initially be limiting signups for this session to one person per CAHRS company.  Additional registrants from a company will be waitlisted and added later if there is space remaining.  Our goal is to try to have as broad a representation of CAHRS companies as possible in this first session.

Prior to the session, attendees should give some thought to the questions included in the description, so they are prepared to share with the group.  We also strongly prefer that participants be on camera during the session to allow for more engaging interaction.  If for some reason after you sign up for the working group, something comes up last minute (especially while many of us are working from home), it would be great to get even a last minute e-mail advising us that you cannot attend so we can invite someone from the waitlist to join.

Lisa Nishii – Associate Professor and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Lisa Nishii joined the faculty of the Human Resource Studies at The ILR School, Cornell University after earning her Ph.D. and M.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College. Nishii is an expert on inclusion in organizations. Her research focuses on the complex interplay of organizational practices, leadership, and collective norms on experiences of inclusion. She is most passionate about workplace climate/culture, which is known to be one of the strongest determinants of human behavior at work. Her research – which has been funded by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education as well as private foundations – has shown that individual experiences of bias and harassment are largely eliminated in inclusive workgroup climates. Moreover, by developing and leveraging positive, heterogeneous network ties and reducing negative ones, people working in inclusive climates more successfully integrate diverse perspectives in ways that promote higher quality decision making. Given the strong evidence she has found for the benefits of cultivating inclusive climates, she is currently conducting an ambitious quasi-experimental study to test the effectiveness of interventions designed to teach leaders how to be “climate architects.” Nishii’s research has been published in top-tier management and applied psychology journals and has been recognized with numerous awards. Like other experts in the field, Lisa as actively engaged with both government agencies and private corporations and has served in numerous executive leadership positions for the Academy of Management as well as editorial roles for academic journals. As Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Cornell, Nishii oversees a wide range of initiatives and programs across all eight undergraduate colleges and schools, ranging in focus from curricular and pedagogical innovation to student success, equity and inclusion, learning analytics, student advising, and beyond. Nishii has been a key player in the university’s crisis management team in response to COVID-19; she co-authored Cornell University’s ambitious reopening plan for the 2020-2021 academic year and has been in the front lines of its implementation.