TED Talks to promote DE&I on your team
Funny how we’re comfortable discussing racial and gender realities everywhere – at home, on TV, on social media – except in the place where we could do the most good for the most people. That is, in the workplace.
Well-intentioned as corporate Diversity programs are, they often fail when it comes to promoting organic, free-flowing discussions. They promote learning at the expense of real understanding, and they can limit conversations as much as they enable them.
So the question remains; how do you facilitate these essential discussions without descending into tense, controversial, and potentially harmful arguments?
We’ve been leveraging TED Talks and other online videos to help direct our own discussions. Every Friday at 8AM we settle in for “Book/video club,” a surprisingly positive opportunity to discuss a given topic. In the past subjects have included religion, gender & sexuality, voting rights, allyship, race, microaggressions, etc.
Try these four videos to help get started:
1. “How to be a better ally” (Melinda Epler)
This is a particularly easy starter-video; it’s not controversial, is largely intuitive, and won’t create much (if any) dissent. On the other hand it will encourage employees to share what they are and are not comfortable doing, saying, witnessing, and experiencing.
2. “Religion and the law” (Branigan Robertson, Employment Lawyer)
We were hesitant to broach the subject of religion. Many religious beliefs can contradict one another, and can be even antithetical to a wider ethics policy. That being said, religion is a protected class and learning more about how our coworkers experience and organize their reality can only be helpful in the long run. So we opted for a legal approach; this video lays out how the law treats cases of religious discrimination and opens up the conversation to some interesting moral dilemmas. In the end we learned a lot about how religion plays a very different role in different peoples’ lives and we were all more empathetic for having had the guided discussion.
3. “Who’s allowed to vote?” (John Oliver)
TED Talks are an excellent source of information, inspiration, even imagination – but they aren’t particularly engaging. That’s what we loved about this piece from John Oliver; it kept everyone interested and sparked some pretty surprising (and intense!) debates about what is and is not revealed in the media (i.e. – does John Oliver cover the topic completely and fairly?). A great option in the weeks leading up to the election.
4. “I don’t lose me by hearing you” (Rabbi Adam Kligfeld)
Recommended by our Co-Founder Ingram Losner, Rabbi Kligfeld’s Yom Kippur sermon is less about religion than it is about empathy, curiosity, and self-actualization. The sermon highlights the importance of understanding alternate experiences (minority experiences; foreign experiences; different age group experiences; etc.) as well as the value of understanding dissenting views. It prompts us to ask questions, remain curious, and never lose our sense of exploration – for the human experience has infinite things to discover, if only we’ll take a moment to question.
Bonus: The Office’s “Diversity Day” episode (short clip– full episode on Netflix)
If you are the type to take things very seriously, do not watch this video. As with all Office episodes, the target and the subject of the joke are not one in the same. So give it a watch, enjoy some laughs at Michael Scott’s expense, and try to identify all the micro (and macro!) aggressions with your team. It’s sure to prompt a hilarious – but hopefully useful – conversation.