The past few years my company has enjoyed an influx of talent from the coasts of our country to our office here in the Midwest. Super-talented men and women have agreed to move their families from diverse coastal cities to Indiana, and it has been exciting seeing the exchange of ideas and experiences inspire change and innovation that is moving our business to the next level. Especially wonderful for me and my children has been making new friends with different perspectives and backgrounds. It’s true that we don’t know what we don’t know until we gain exposure and start learning!
Over time, I have become privy to the microaggressions, or subtle or unintentional discrimination, (the new residents) have experienced while looking for housing and acclimating to our city. I’m sure what I know only scratches the surface. One friend was confronted by an older white-haired woman at a gas station in January and asked why “you people don’t keep your cars clean.” Another friend was exploring model homes in a gated west Carmel neighborhood and the sales associate created an awkward experience talking about the security guard looking like Obama, the unavailability of the builder to meet with them and showing clear reluctance to close the deal. “You don’t want to make a decision today, do you?” This was a 2019 Business of Integrity! Three of our new team members visited this community and had the same experience.
I love Carmel, and I believe you are feeling the same mix of surprise, sadness and shame I felt hearing these things. We value people and believe kindness matters. We are generous and welcoming. Except when we’re not. So, how do we get better? By making a choice every day to be an ally (someone who doesn’t identify as a member of a minority group but seeks to understand their experiences) to minority groups through personal connection, awareness and a willingness to speak up.
We can absolutely affect change within our individual scope of influence when we point out bad behavior and say it’s not OK. So, to the leadership of that beautiful community: You are not honoring Carmel and we will not tolerate this. Please train your sales team on unconscious bias and make your values and sales principles crystal clear. If you don’t know where to start, check out Equality Ally Strategies and Equality Inclusion Challenges at trailhead.salesforce.com/.
Carrie Maynard, Carmel