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Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights

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         Employment: Exclusion or Inclusion


Employers can act in ways that help workers feel like valued employees or alienated workers.
When cultural stereotypes continue unquestioned in business, exclusive behavior towards people can result. Firms that make an effort to value all workers tend to incorporate inclusive behavior practices into daily routines. Below are contrasting lists of exclusive and inclusive behavior that alienate or support employees.

Exclusive or Inclusive?


Exclusive Behavior

Inclusive Behavior

Harassment by workers and supervisors.

Respect for and among workers. Company and workers value differences.

Secrets: Withholding the knowledge needed to do the job; invisible rules.

No secrets: Invite to meetings, lunch, informal gatherings; coaching, mentoring, taking under one's wing, showing the ropes, training.

Isolation: Occurs
When a company hires only a token person or a few minority individuals who are then located in widely separated work places;

When a member of a minority is always given assignments regarding other members of the same minority.

Facilitating networking: Within minority group and outside minority group.

Represents minority group: Failure is seen as group failure. Success is viewed as an exception. Increases likelihood of burnout, as token person is placed on many committees.

Represents self only: Enough employees belong to the minority group so the same person doesn't have to represent the group on every commitee.

Limited advancement by not being given challenging work or training. Person is under-valued and under-utilized. Not held to standards.

Given opportunities to grow. Given challenging tasks, support and training. Held to standards.

Results in high turnover.

Results in high productivity.

Summarized from "Valuing Diversity" Teacher's and Trainer's Guides, Copeland Griggs Productions, Inc. 1991.

A Guide to Polite Behavior
People offend one another without intending to. This may sometimes be due to:

  • having a lack of knowledge and information,
  • responding unthinkingly to stereotypes deeply imbedded in us from childhood,
  • not putting ourselves in the other person's place to understand how he/she feels.

Click on the following links to find out words, actions and assumptions that may offend people who are different from us.

People of Color: False Assumptions

Respect My Identity, Both My Physical and Cultural Inheritance
Respect My Culture
Neighborhoods: False Assumptions:
Mistaken Identities
Watch Your Language
We Gather Together

People of Color: False Assumptions

  • Yes, I do blush, bruise, tan and sunburn. Everyone has these responses.
  • I have natural rhythm. Doesn't everyone?
  • Don't touch me without my consent. On the other hand, if you ask, I may feel uncomfortable about saying no, but want to say no.
    (Back to Selections)

Respect My Identity, Both My Physical and Cultural Inheritance:


  • I am not an exception to the group I belong to. Telling me this is not a compliment, because you are saying you don't like my inheritance.
  • When I share with you my opinion on being oppressed by others, don't tell me I am mistaken, paranoid or overly sensitive.
    (Back to Selections)


Respect My Culture:

  • Remember, English is a living language. Much standardized English today was once slang and improper.
  • Don't mimic my language, accent or mannerisms.
  • Clothes from other cultures are not costumes. People who wear clothes from their homeland are not exotic.
  • A person's culture has developed out of ancient and meaningful history. Wearing a piece of that culture, even if it has become an American fad or fashion, trivializes it. Sports teams should not be named Indians, Redskins or Braves any more than they should be named the New Haven Honkies or the Minnesota Ministers. Sacred elements of the Native American culture should no more be in the cheers, mascots and symbols of sports than the Lord's Prayer or crucifixes should be.
    (Back to Selections)

Neighborhoods: False Assumptions

  • Don't assume I want to live where you live, that I dislike my neighborhood or that I would consider your neighborhood as a safer place for me and my family.
  • My neighbors may not want your old clothes.
  • If you don't want to visit my home, I might not wish to go to yours. If you would like to visit with me, offer an invitation to your home. If that doesn't work, try lunch out together first.
    (Back to Selections)

Mistaken Identities:


  • Don't assume just because I am a member of a minority group that I am not the person with power and in charge.
  • Don't assume if I am walking towards you on the street, I want to mug, solicit or rape you or if I am running, I just committed a crime.
  • Don't assume that what I have in my possession, I couldn't have bought.
  • Assume I would like to be treated with the same courtesy and respect that you would demand for yourself.
    (Back to Selections)


Watch Your Language:

  • People of color and other oppressed people do not want to hear how in the past you acted in oppressive ways nor how much you disapprove of the oppressive behavior of people you know. People have enough oppression in their lives without adding to it.
  • Members of my group may use terms about ourselves which we would find offensive if an outsider used them.
  • Minorities and women, in order to be accepted by others, should not have to endure informal testing by being forced to listen to or find humorous ethnic, racial or gender jokes.
    (Back to Selections)


We Gather Together:

  • Sometimes people of color and women prefer to gather together with members of their own group. It is a strain to live every day in an under-supportive environment. People need "time out" from the majority culture for mutual support and strategizing and to be in a freer space not limited by outsider definitions, influences, pressures, values and rules.
    (Back to Selections)


Ideas from "Cultural Etiquette" by Amoja Three Rivers, 1991, Market Wimmin, Box 28, Indian Valley, VA 24105.


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