Category Archives: Diversity

Cultural Quick Tip: Understand Your Expertise

The average margin of victory in a Formula One race is 10 seconds, thus victory is dependent on every second spent on the track. During a pit stop when all four tires are changed, the pit crew must exercise over 50 maneuvers  in an average of 7 seconds. Many Formula One races are won or lost by the pit crew’s speed, skill, and execution. Successful collboration on the track or in an office requires a team with diverse roles and skills working in concert. Diverse teams with members from different backgrounds will offer an even greater variety of expertise and personalities. While it may take an increased amount of respect and awareness to work in concert, the team has a greater potential for victory.

Action Step:
Understand the expertise you bring to the team and commit to performing your role with confidence and skill.

Cultural Quick Tip: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

When new parents first bring home their baby, they are faced with many new communication challenges as they try to understand and meet the needs of their newborn. Without verbal communication parents must rely upon observable types of communication in the form of facial expressions, cries and body movements. Parents have a vested interest in learning to decode their child’s nonverbal communication, as it will help them to raise a healthy and happy baby. While your colleagues in the workplace communicate both verbally and non-verbally, understanding how to interpret their nonverbal communication can be a great advantage. Keep in mind that the meaning behind body language and facial expressions may vary from culture to culture, so it is always good to check for understanding.

Action Step:
Research communication etiquette from other cultures to aid your understanding when communicating with people from outside your country or culture.

Generational Quick Tip: Generational Motivation

Each generation is inspired by different values and incentives in the workplace that encourage them to work productively and enthusiastically. Traditionalists are motivated by being respected and told that their experience and contributions matter to the company. They are also motivated by the promise of job security.  Baby-boomers appreciate being told that they are of value to a company and that their skills are needed in order for the company to be successful. They are also motivated by the opportunity to earn high wages, raises, promotions, and benefits. Getting time off and the freedom to complete tasks and projects independently without micro-management or strenuous rules, motivates Generation X. Generation Y is inspired by training opportunities, working in dynamic groups, and flexibility in scheduling. They greatly appreciate time-off, as well as opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community. Understanding how to motivate employees from different generations is important in successfully hiring new employees, improving retention rates, and increasing overall productivity.

Action Step
If you are a manager, at your next check-in with your employees ask questions to assess their current motivation level.  Investigate if there is anything that you can adjust in order to connect the employee with a cause that motivates them and helps them to do their best work.

Significant People of a Generation: Gen X – Michael Jackson

   “Think about the generations and to say we want to make it a better world for our children and our children’s children. So that they know it’s a better world for them; and think if they can make it a better place.”  Intro lyrics to “Heal the World” from Jackson’s 1991 album Dangerous

Michael Jackson is an American music icon, who rose to unbelievable fame during the 1980s. Know as the “King of Pop,” Jackson was an inspiration to people of many races and generations, but particularly to the Gen X generation, who were coming of age during the height of his career. If Generation X was the MTV generation, Michael Jackson is accredited as being the first artist to use the music video genre to break racial barriers and produce a stylized art form.

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. He was the eighth child out of ten children: Maureen “Rebbie,” Sigmund “Jackie,” Toriano “Tito,” Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Brandon, Michael, Steven “Randy,” and Janet. The Jacksons were a working-class family, sharing a three-bedroom house. In 1964, Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed a band called the “Jackson Brothers” later called the “ The Jackson 5.” Their father, Joseph, was known for using abusive and brutal tactics during rehearsals. Later in life, Jackson attributed many of his psychological issues to the abuse he received as a child, but he also argued that his father’s strict discipline contributed greatly to his success.

At the age of eight, Michael Jackson began to share the lead vocals with his brother Jermaine. In 1966, the “Jackson 5” won a major talent contest in the Mid-West and recorded several songs for the local Steeltown label in 1967, followed by a contract with Motown Records in 1968.  The group set a record when their first four singles (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There”) all skyrocketed to number one. As lead vocalist, Michael was praised as being a prodigy and his charismatic and magnetic personality on stage made him a nationwide star.

In 1975, the Jackson 5 left Motown and Michael separated to pursue a solo career. In 1978, he partnered up with songwriter Quincy Jones, a musical collaboration that would last for the rest of Jackson’s life. Together they produced several albums that skyrocketed Michael Jackson’s into the position of pop superstar. Off the Wall, their first album recorded in 1979, included contributions from famous artists such as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney and won Jackson three awards at the AMAs. In 1982, his album Thriller was released, and quickly became the best-selling album of all time, selling 42.3 million copies. The album included such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “P.Y.T” and earned Jackson seven Grammys and eight AMAs. The music video for Thriller was the first and only music video ever to be inducted into the National Film Registry.

In 1983, Michael Jackson performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever TV special. The legendary performance debuted Jackson in the iconic sequined black jacket, single rhinestone glove, and introduced his moonwalk dance move to the world.  The impact of the performance has been compared to the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show.  Michael Jackson was famous not only for his catchy songs and singing voice, but also for being one of the most talented dancers, choreographers, and overall performers of all time. Many considered Michael Jackson’s music videos and stage productions to be works of art.

As well as becoming a superstar during the 1980s, Michael Jackson devoted much of his influence to philanthropic causes. He donated $1.5 million to the creation of the “Michael Jackson Burn Center” in Culver City, California, after a pyrotechnics accident left him with second-degree burns on his scalp. In 1985, Jackson and Lionel Richie released “We Are the World,” a charity single created to raise awareness and money for people suffering from poverty in the U.S. and Africa.  Other songs, such as “Man in the Mirror” 1988, “Heal the World” 1991, and “Black or White” 1991 are examples of Michael Jackson’s inspirational musical contributions towards social equality and change.  In 1992, Michael Jackson founded the Heal the World Foundation, which donated millions of dollars to help children in poverty around the world. He was also one of the first major celebrities and public figure to speak about AIDs/HIV and to publicly promote charities and research in a time when the stigma surrounding the topic was very controversial.

Along with his great musical and philanthropic successes, Michael Jackson suffered many personal controversies towards the end of his career. Rumors and speculations about his bizarre private life, plastic surgery, and skin color, painted Jackson as mentally unstable. Allegations of pedophilia arose during the 90s, and reemerged in the 2003 People vs. Jackson trial, which found Jackson unanimously not-guilty on all counts. However, despite his health issues and unfavorable public image, Jackson planned on completing his final world tour This is It in 2009. The concert had record-breaking ticket sales, selling over one million tickets in less than two hours.  However, on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died suddenly of cardiac arrest in his bed in a rented mansion in L.A.

When news of Michael Jackson’s death surfaced, the immediate response of fans and media worldwide was monumental. The overload of simultaneous website searches resulted in crashes for major media sources such as twitter, Wikipedia, TMZ, and the LA Times. News coverage lasted for weeks, tribute concerts popped up all over the world, and over 31 million people tuned in to watch Jackson’s memorial service. Posthumously in 2009, Jackson became the best-selling album artist and was the first artist to sell over 1 million song downloads in a week.

Over his career, he was awarded the World Music Award’s Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards), and has earned 31 Guinness World Records. Many fans and critics believe that Jackson was a genius and one of the most influential artists of all time. For the Gen X generation that witnessed his amazing accomplishments and listened to his messages of hope, he was a beloved and mysterious icon, linked intrinsically with their coming-of-age.

Generational Quick Tip: Taking Risks

Whether or not a generation is prone to taking risks is a part of their cultural filter.  Being an “intrapreneur” means being an employee who brings an entrepreneurial spirit to a company and is not afraid to spend time working on “risky” projects: exploring uncharted territory and taking on challenging projects outside their area of expertise. But how does each of generation stack up when it comes to viewing themselves as entrepreneurs? According to a recent study, 45% of Baby-boomers believe that they have an entrepreneurial spirit are willing to take risks, while 42% of the Gen X generation feels they are entrepreneurial. However, only 32% of Gen Y identifies as being entrepreneurial.

Action Step:
To foster “intrapreneurial” drive in your company, create mentoring pairs between Baby-boomers or Gen X with a Gen Y colleague to help Gen Y increase the confidence in their entrepreneurial spirit and to bring a fresh perspective on projects.

Diversity Statistics

  • As of 2010, the most diverse communities in the US are disproportionately western, southern and coastal metropolitan areas and their principal cities and suburbs.
  • In 1900, only 1 in 8 residents of the US claimed non-European origins. Today 3 in 10 do.
    Source: 2010 Census

Growth of the Hispanic Population by County from 2000 to 2010
Top 5 Counties:
1) Stewart County, GA            1740%
2) Telfair Country, GA            842%
3) Beadle County, SD              762%
4) Adams Country, MS             687%
5) Trempealeau County, WI    594%
Source: Pew Hispanic Center analysis
of Decennial Censuses

Latinos are the nation’s biggest and youngest minority group.  They make up:

  • 16% of the total US population
  • 18% of all 16- to 25-year-olds
  • 20% of all school age children
  • 25% of newborns

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

2010 Census Demographics

  • 308.7 million US residents
  • 16% of US population Hispanic
(50.5 million)
  • Hispanic population grew by 43% from 2000 to 2010
  • White non-Hispanic population
grew by 1% from 2000 to 2010
  • 97% of people reported belonging
to only one race72% White alone (223.6 million)
  • 72% White alone
(223.6 million)
  • 13% Black or African-American alone
(38.9 million)
  • 5% Asian alone (14.7 million)
  •   0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native alone
(2.9 million)
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (500,000)

Source: US Census

Generational Quotes

“Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations. All this is put in your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children.”
-Albert Einstein

“Anyone who stops is old, whether at 20 or at 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
-Henry Ford

“If future generations are to remember
us more with gratitude than sorrow,
we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as
it was created, not just as it looked
when we got through with it.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th US President

“Use your lives wisely, my friends, and conserve these precious freedoms for future generations.”
-Ted Nugent, Musician

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them
to do the same.”
-Ronald Reagan, 40th US President

Cultural Quick Tip: Use a Mediator to Help Stalemates

A referee’s job requires them to be an impartial expert on the game, clear headed and capable of fairly applying the rules. During games, it would be impossible for coaches, players, and fans to make unbiased calls without a referee. Similarly, in high-pressure work environments, differences between colleagues may lead to disputes that make it impossible for them to see past their biases, resulting in a conflict or stalemate. In these instances, asking for the assistance of a ‘referee’ or a neutral, third party colleague, may provide the necessary insight to tease out the cause of the miscommunication, which could be rooted in cultural, generational or personality style differences.

Action Step:
Reach out to an impartial referee to help resolve communication conflicts in a productive way when an impasse occurs.

Cultural Quick Tip: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

When new parents first bring home their baby, they are faced with many new communication challenges as they try to understand and meet the needs of their newborn. Without verbal communication parents must rely upon observable types of communication in the form of facial expressions, cries and body movements. Parents have a vested interest in learning to decode their child’s nonverbal communication, as it will help them to raise a healthy and happy baby. While your colleagues in the workplace communicate both verbally and non-verbally, understanding how to interpret their nonverbal communication can be a great advantage. Keep in mind that the meaning behind body language and facial expressions may vary from culture to culture, so it is always good to check for understanding.

Action Step:
Research communication etiquette from other cultures to aid your understanding when communicating with people from outside your country or culture.

Diversity Fatigue Blog Series: Seven Causes of Diversity Fatigue

Diversity Fatigue

Over the last decade more and more companies have launched diversity initiatives and incorporated key concepts of diversity management into their organizations.  These efforts were initiated with a great deal of enthusiasm and quality work was accomplished. What organizations are discovering now after years, or in some cases, decades into the work, is that there is diversity fatigue in the workplace. Their programs are not as well attended, senior leaders are not as engaged and employees are not as involved.

This blog post series explores key causes for diversity fatigue and it outlines steps that organizations can undertake to address the fatigue and to jump start their diversity programs with renewed energy and focus.

What is Diversity Fatigue?

Diversity fatigue is best described as a sentiment of disinterest and even dislike of diversity activities that are taking place at an organization.  Diversity fatigue should not be confused with the general resistance to change that many people have.  Diversity fatigue occurs after the launch of a diversity initiative at a company followed by months or years of diversity programming.  Only after a concerted diversity effort has been made can there be fatigue, otherwise the challenge that your organization is dealing with may be something else altogether.

When diversity is positioned as an “add-on” for an organization, there will always be fatigue.  Something that is not central to my work is an added burden and nuisance.  Something that is central to my work must be cared about otherwise I will fall short with my performance and my goals.

7 Causes for Diversity Fatigue

While there are many reasons for diversity fatigue, here are 7 that we feel encompass many of the issues:

1. Lack of Senior Executive Endorsement and Involvement

2. Lack of a Diversity Plan

3. Diversity Activities Are Not Connected to the Business Case

4. Activities are Sporadic

5. Flavor of the Day

6. Lack of Communication

7. Lack of Manager and Executive Accountability


Diversity fatigue occurs when there is confusion and disinterest in the diversity activities that are taking place at an organization. In the next installment of this blog series we will discuss the 3 steps that your company can take to effectively address and curb diversity fatigue.

For more information on diversity fatigue and effective diversity initiatives visit our website:

Workplace Diversity Training: Business Case for Diversity

The Business Case for Diversity

While the term business case for diversity may sound more like a business tool that should be used by big corporations, in reality every institution needs a business case, or benefit case, for diversity.  The business case for diversity is an invaluable opportunity to illustrate the relationship that diversity has to the long term success of the organization.  We have found that this is an essential step to the process of taking diversity out of the category of a “feel good” program and into the category of “essential for business success.”

The Business Case for Diversity By Industry

How might a business case for diversity differ by industry?  Here are a few ideas to consider:

1.    Healthcare

The diversity in the patient population is driving a great need in healthcare for diversity, or as it is more commonly called in healthcare, cultural competency. The Joint Commission, the CLAS standards and other regulatory industries are all focusing on the topic and linking this to a hospital’s business case for diversity provides an important strategic connection.

2.    Higher Education

Generational diversity is a key component in institutions of higher learning due to the student population. As schools are attracting students from around the world and from a variety of backgrounds, the business case could also include cultural and religious knowledge for staff and faculty.

3.    Non-profits

For non-profit organizations, the business case for diversity if often linked to their mission. If they are serving a diverse client base than there can be a need to have employees reflect the populations being served, so the business case for diversity might be about creating an awareness and understanding of the diverse backgrounds in their target communities.

4.    Corporations

For companies, the business case for diversity is impacted by the changing demographics that are impacting customers and employees. Companies want to tap into a diversity of background to drive innovation and also to use diversity as a way to increase employee engagement. 

Build Your Own Business Case for Diversity

Every organization that decides to undertake diversity training will have a unique business case for doing so. The uniqueness occurs because the heart of a business case for diversity highlights the operational, financial and competitive impact that diversity is having and will have on the organization. And these impacts will differ depending upon the business model for an organization. There may be common themes from one organization to the next, such as having employees that reflect the changing demographics of their customer base, the organization’s culture, long term strategies and employee base will all impact what the business case is for that organization.  A generic business case for diversity training will help to raise awareness, but a specific business case for diversity will help to fully engage senior leadership and employees in understanding how diversity training will help to achieve both organizational and individual goals.

Some questions to consider as you build your own business case for diversity:

  1. What are your key strategic goals and how could diversity help you to achieve those goals?
  2. How is diversity impacting key operations at your organization? For example, customer service interactions? What is the opportunity there?
  3. What changes in demographics are impacting your client/customer base? How does this impact the work that you are doing overall and more specifically work you are doing around diversity?
  4. How are your competitors responding to diversity or using diversity to distinguish themselves competitively?

Pairing diversity training with a strong business case that is linked specifically to your needs strengthens the diversity training and also helps to ensure that those taking the training understand why it is important to their work and to the organization’s goals.

Keep your eyes out for the next installment of the Workplace Diversity Training blog series that will be published within the next couple of weeks.  For more information on Diversity Training visit the Culture Coach International website:

Read the other installments of this series:

Why your company needs a definition of diversity

Top ten tips for making diversity training great

Workplace Diversity Training: Top 10 Ways to Make Diversity Training Great

Top 10 Ways to Make Diversity Training  Programs Great

Diversity training is a great tool that companies have to communicate the values of their diversity initiative and to help employees gain valuable diversity and cultural competency skills.  In this blog series Culture Coach International will pass along our best advice and guidance for making diversity training at your company a huge success that achieves all of your goals.

Great Diversity Training in Ten Steps

Great Diversity Training in Ten Steps

1.    Senior Executive Support is Critical 

It is important to get senior level support for any diversity training that you are going to do. If they are supportive and help employees to realize why it is important, than this will set the tone for your diversity training program.

2.    Have Senior Leaders Attend Diversity Training

If diversity training is important to the organization, than senior leaders can demonstrate how important it is by attending the same training program as employees.

3.    Build the Business Case for Diversity

It is important for employees attending diversity training to know why it is important for the organization and for their jobs. Including a business case for your organizations helps employees to understand why diversity training is an important investment of their time and why they need to use the information that they learn in the diversity training to improve their interactions with others.

4.    Use Experiential Techniques 

Diversity training is more effective if the people attending have a chance to practice what they are learning and to interact with other people. In person interaction helps people to learn about people that they work with, it helps them to better frame their own experiences and it helps them to gain “aha” moments into how they see the world. 

5.    Adjust for a Diversity of Learning Styles 

People learn in different ways. It is important that diversity training use a variety of techniques that help people to learn in a way that helps them to understand and retain the information.

6.    Everyone Has a Personal Story – Incorporate These Into Diversity Training

Everyone comes to diversity training with unique backgrounds and stories to tell. These stories can be powerful learning opportunities and if you incorporate these into the diversity training they can provide meaningful conversations and connections.

7.    Allow Time for People to Process

Providing diversity training is not like providing computer software training. Diversity training often raises issues for those participating that can be emotional. Thus, it is important that diversity training allows time for people to think about and process what they have learned and how this will impact their work.

8.    Tell People How it Impacts Their Role Diversity training

When people attend diversity training they want to know how what the knowledge that they are gaining will impact their work on a daily basis. Thus, it is important to help employees make the links between the diversity training content and their role in the organization.

9.    Make it Practical 

Too often diversity training is abstract in nature and short on practical tips for implementation. Provide time in the training program for participants to think about and discuss how they can use the training content on a practical level.

10. Follow-up 

Wonderful diversity training with little follow-up is not as effective as diversity training that is done within a larger diversity initiative that builds in numerous opportunities for people to follow-up on the core ideas presented in the training program. Repetition of ideas introduced in training reinforces key points and helps to ensure that diversity training provides a higher return on investment for the organization.

Keep your eyes out for the next installment of the Workplace Diversity Training blog series that will be published within the next couple of weeks.  For more information on Diversity Training visit the Culture Coach International website:

Helping the International Athlete Succeed in a New Country – Part One

Helping International Athletes Succeed

International Athlete Jose Goncalves

International Athlete Jose Goncalves for the New England Revolution

From the minute an international athlete steps off the plane, they are expected to perform at a top level in a new league, with a new team, in a new city, in a different language and with a new culture to learn.  The adjustment to playing in the US can be challenging for athletes. For teams that are seeking to make the most of their investment into an international athlete, is it important to keep in mind how cultural adjustments will impact their international athletes. This is a series of blog posts on how to help international athletes succeed when playing on US teams. Check back for future blog post on this same topic.


Scouting international athletes in their home countries can lead to unrealistic expectations of what a player can do for a US team.  A player in their own country is typically playing with a team they know, in their own country and culture, speaking their own language and with a support structure of friends and family around them which helps them to be happy off the field and thus able to perform at their best on the field.  In essence, they are in the best possible conditions.  All of that changes when they are uprooted and brought to their new US team where they are in a new culture, with a new team, often without a support structure as they are far from family and friends. Many are also struggling with a completely new language so their ability to communicate with their coaches and teammates is very limited and their ability to settle into a new community is challenged greatly by this inability to speak the language.   If they have a family, a player is also struggling with either missing them as they are back home, or worried about their happiness and ability to settle into the new country where they are often isolated due to language issues. So how to improve the chances of an international athlete succeeding?

Before offering an international athlete a contract take into account the following:

• Have they lived and played abroad before? If so, were they successful?

• Do they have any English language skills? If not, are they willing to learn? Are you willing to provide the type of support needed to help them learn the language?

• Have they lived away from friends and family before?

• Do they have a spouse and children? If so, will they relocate with the player or will they

remain at home?  Are you willing to provide the support the family will need to settle?

in if they come with the player?

• Does the athlete have an outgoing, problem solving personality that will make it easier for them to make friends and to adjust to the challenges they will encounter?

• Is there a local community from the athlete’s home country near your team that can help the athlete to adjust culturally?

• Why does the athlete want to compete in the US? Is it because they think it is good for their career or because they really want to play in the US? A strong desire to play in the US will help them to be more successful.

Before Their Arrival

An athlete will be anxious about the move to a US team. Providing information ahead of time that helps to allay their concerns and apprehension will assist greatly in helping them to make an easier transition.   Give them information not only about the team and the other athletes they will be working with but also about the city and the local region.

Early Days

Once an international athlete arrives, their first few weeks with the team is a critical time as they settle into daily life. While it may seem like enough for the club to provide the basics like helping the person get a work permit, driver’s license and a place to live, this level is not sufficient if they want to player to really be successful.   Once an athlete has a place to sleep and transportation to get back and forth to practice, the next level of support is helping them to understand the basics of daily life.


This is the largest barrier to a athlete’s ability to adjust well.  The ability to communicate with team members and coaches is absolutely critical. While watching what is going on will lead to some comprehension, verbal communication is essential to a deeper understanding of the team, the style of play and the coach’s desires for the athlete.  It is important that a team use a professional translator as much as possible instead of fellow team members who may speak the language. A teammate may not know the vocabulary or may feel awkward giving feedback to a colleague. It limits the international athlete’s independence and his ability to seek and receive feedback from the coach directly.

Cultural Adjustment

Addressing the language barriers is the first step; the next step is helping the athlete to adjust to the new culture.  Culture is at its essence, the values and norms of a group of people. As such, each team will have its own culture and the athlete is adjusting to this culture at the same time they are also adjusting to the national culture of the country. People living in a culture rarely stop to think about their own culture.  How things get done is just “the way things happen.” But, to an outsider, this may or may not be the way things have been done in their home culture. In the US for example, there is a very direct communication style as Americans “tell it like it is.”  Many cultures around the world have a communication style that is much more indirect and thus, international players have to adjust to this new style of communicating. This is just one small example of the myriad of ways that culture impacts virtually every facet of our lives.

Many of these steps are not that time consuming nor expensive to implement. With the investment of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars that a team is already making in bringing in an international athlete, making a small additional investment in these extra steps can help the player to adjust better and in turn give his best on the field. This in turn this will result in higher player success, team success and league success.

African American Biography Spotlight: Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852 -1889)

Inventor who revolutionized the shoe industry

Jan Ernst Matzeliger: Inventer who revolutionized the shoe industry

Jan Ernst Matzeliger: Inventer who revolutionized the shoe industry

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo, Surinam (Dutch Guiana), South America. His father was a Dutch engineer who married a native Black Surinamese woman. At the age of ten, young Jan worked in the machine shops supervised by his father, where his talents and mechanical aptitude were nurtured. In 1871, at the age of 19, he sailed the world and settled in Philadelphia 2 years later.

Hearing about the rapid growth of the shoe industry in Massachusetts, Matzeliger went to Lynn in 1877 in search of a better job. He taught himself English and he eventually landed a job as an apprentice in a shoe factory operating various shoe making machinery during a time when most white people would look down on him because of his race. He was a devout Christian, teaching Sunday school at The North Congregational Church, one of the few churches in the area that would accept African-Americans.

In the early days of shoe making, shoes were made mainly by hand. For proper fit, the customer’s feet had to be duplicated in size and form by creating a stone or wooden mold called a “last” from which the shoes were sized and shaped. Since the greatest difficulty in shoe making was the actual assembly of the soles to the upper shoe, it required great skill to tack and sew the two components together. It was thought that such intricate work could only be done by skilled human hands. As a result, shoe-lasters held great power over the shoe industry. They would hold work stop-pages without regard for their fellow workers’ desires, resulting in long periods of unemployment for them.

Matzelinger set out to try to solve the problem of this stranglehold by developing an automatic method for lasting shoes. Over the course of ten years, facing much derision and sacrifice, he came up with a prototype for an automated shoe-laster. Matzeliger’s machine was able to turn out from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day compared to the 45 maximum limit completed by the expert hand lasters. By 1889 the demand of the shoe lasting machine was overwhelming. A company was formed, The Consolidated Lasting Machine Company, where Matzelinger was given huge blocks of stock for his invention. His machine had revolutionized the entire shoe industry in the U.S. and around the world.

Unfortunately, Jan Matzelinger didn’t live to see the fruits of his labor. Because he had sacrificed his health working exhausting hours on his invention and not eating over long periods of time, he caught a cold, which quickly developed into tuberculosis. He died at age 37 on August 24, 1887.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger’s invention was perhaps “the most important invention for New England because it increased shoemaking speed by 900%.” His invention was “the greatest forward step in the shoe industry,” according to the church bulletin of The First Church of Christ (the same church that took him as a member) as part of a commemoration held in 1967 in his honor. In 1992, the U.S. made a postage stamp in honor of Matzeliger.

Hostile Work Environments – How Workplace Incivility Impacts Business

How a Hostile Work Environment Impacts Business

A hostile work environment can greatly decrease employee productivity and raise stress. Building a work environment that promotes respectful behavior between employees is a business imperative. According to that recent WSJ article “How to Disarm a Nasty Co-Worker: Use a Smile,” networking-equipment company Cisco Systems Inc. estimated the cost of a hostile work environment in its organization to be over $8.3 million annually in 2007, a figure that takes into account “turnover, employees’ weakened commitment to the company and work time that was lost to worrying about future bad behavior.”  The article also sited a July survey of 1,000 people from public-relations firm Weber Shandwick, which found that 26% of respondents had quit a job because of a hostile work environment.

Hostile Work Environments - How Workplace Incivility Impacts Business

Having a hostile work environment negatively impacts overall business productivity

The problem with hostile work environments seems to be growing in an increasingly fast paced and competitive job market. Where technological advancement has helped to streamline business, it has also greatly blurred the line between work and life for many employees who now find themselves wired to the office 24/7.  The pace of work and hourly demands have increased overall workplace stress and this can lead to more hostile work environments.  A Harvard Business Review study “The Price of Incivility” which polled thousands of employees over the last 14 years has shown that the number of employees who felt they were treated rudely at least once a week has risen from 25% in 1998 to 50% in 2011. The same HBR study included a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries and found the following statistics for workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident.
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  • 66% said that their performance declined.
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.

The negative impact of a hostile work environment on employees and overall business productivity is unmistakable. The study also found that “one quarter of the offenders surveyed said that they didn’t recognize their behavior as uncivil” and that training, classes, and tools teaching civility can be essential to improving overall awareness of civility in the work environment.

 Culture Coach Diversity Training and Products for Improving a Hostile Work Environment


Culture Coach International is a leading expert in consulting, training curriculum, and employee engagement tools that help to build respectful work environments. Culture Coach has long understood the importance that building a respectful work environment can have for a company and has successfully worked with client’s to achieve their goals in creating more positive work environment. Our customized trainings and employee engagement tools empower employees to effect change by becoming more aware of their individual behaviors and actions in their work environment. Employees learn how small changes can go a long way, as they gain awareness about how their every day behaviors impact those around them.

An important key is consistent outreach and messaging. At CCI we work with executives to shift the company’s culture to one of respect and civility. We also work with companies to assess their particular problems and develop customized training modules or online training modules for managers and employees to create a positive workplace environment at every level of the organization.

Initiatives for building a more respectful work environment do not need to cost a lot to be highly effective. We also have a collection of stand-alone employee engagement and learning tools that can help to promote respectful work environments by raising employee awareness about important cultural and diversity issues. These are:

101 Cultural Quick Tips Book

Diversity Calendar (2014 Calendar coming soon!)

African American History Month Activities Toolbox

Disability Awareness Timeline

Cultural Quick Tip Subscription

Generations Quick Tip Subscription

For more information about how our tools can help you to create a more civil and respectful work environment, please give us a call. We are happy to help. 617-795-1688