Striving for A Healthy and Profitable Workplace -- Leading Sex, Politics and Religion at the Office

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Everyone is striving for a competitive advantage. Wherever you work and no matter what type of work environment you work in, there are people with values and beliefs, sexual orientations and experiences, political ideologies, and religious and spiritual practices and traditions. Now a new book by two of the nation’s top corporate and legal consultants, Sex, Politics & Religion at the Office: the New Competitive Advantage, sheds new light on what it takes to achieve a more profitable style of leadership in the ever-increasing diversity of today’s workplace while staying within the law and keeping your employment lawyer happy.

Unless you are leading healthy sexuality, politics and religion in your workplace, you are losing opportunities to vault your company ahead of your competition

What’s it like where you work?

An openly gay middle management candidate with exceptional credentials and a track record is the best up and coming employee for the new Director position in your company.

A Middle Eastern computer programmer with all the right degrees and ten years of unbeatable training and experience is your top candidate. Only he wears a turban and speaks with a slight accent…

Two of your best ten-year employees are talking about marriage, but they are the same sex.

How do you deal with and manage the three most powerful element of human nature -- sex, politics and religion?

Are the tensions and conflicts in your office ready to explode?

Or is the respect you feel from the people around you one of the most important reasons why you love working there?

Everyone is striving for a competitive advantage. Wherever you work and no matter what type of work environment you work in, there are people with values and beliefs, sexual orientations and experiences, political ideologies, and religious and spiritual practices and traditions.

Now a new book by two of the nation’s top corporate and legal consultants sheds new light on what it takes to achieve a more profitable style of leadership in the ever-increasing diversity of today’s workplace while staying within the law and keeping your employment lawyer happy..

In Sex, Politics & Religion at the Office, John F. Boogaert and Douglas E. Noll point the way to a new competitive advantage. Their process creates a healthy workplace environment where diverse and divergent views of sex, politics and religion are recognized, welcomed, appreciated, respected and are integrated right into the corporate culture.

Is your company a healthy workplace, where sex, politics and religion are led with honesty, sincerity, openness, maturity, and integrity?

Or are these issues considered verboten topics for discussion and are viewed as annoying and painful, with policies and procedures designed almost totally by lawyers or outside consultants to address lawsuit avoidance?

“Unless you are leading healthy sexuality, politics and religion in your workplace, you are losing opportunities to vault your company ahead of your competition,” they say. “The working climate and atmosphere where your people work is what determines their happiness and productivity.”

Firms that can create the healthiest, most positive attitudes towards sex, politics and religion in the workplace will optimize internal coordination and collaboration, make organizational learning a normative value, and unleash creative innovation.

What’s going away: suits, ties, time clocks, coming to the office five days a week (usually Monday through Friday), homogeneous workforce & culture, middle management supervision and arrogant, authority-based leadership.

What’s coming -- People working all hours of the week, working more hours often at home and not in the office, innovation expected as a continuous part of corporate profitability, and total acceptance of a much, much, much wider range of people with highly varied social, sexual, religious and political preferences and characteristics.

“You’ve got to get way beyond thinking that requiring managers to take anti-harassment training will do the trick. Compliance training isn’t the answer since it implies mandated behavior, change and inconvenience.”

New effective leaders understand the basics of sex, politics and religion and how to utilize them daily to inspire the best from everyone in the workplace.

Boogaert and Noll offer simple, easy to implement strategies and solutions to the many problem situations that managers can face. Here is a sampling of the many valuable ideas they pack into the book that business leaders can use to get things going in the right direction quickly:

Start small, but think big picture.

Recognize that everyone has something to contribute. Ask for ideas and opinions.

Take input seriously… listen carefully and really think about what you are hearing.

Look for opportunities to open communication. When you see them, take them.

When you hear stuff you don’t like, ask what’s hiding inside you. Challenge yourself!

Ask questions, don’t answer them. But don’t use questions to interrogate, argue, or make a point.

During sensitive conversations, eliminate distractions such as cell phones, PDAs, and Blackberries. Shut the door, turn them off. Pay attention. Real attention is truly the gift.

Know the Rules well. And make sure the Rules really fit. If applying the Rules gives you a bad answer, think about changing the Rule.

Create safe conversations with good ground rules. Use the ground rules consistently. Reward success.

Create a Global Positioning Statement on sex, politics & religion that allows people honest open recognition and safety and provide high moral integrity for all involved and touched by the policy.

Look at conflicts over sex, politics & religion as energy points to harness. Make the most of the opportunity they present to make progress in the development of a new culture.

Stop feeling like a victim. Be seen as leading, facilitating, and committed to a healthy, constructive and lawful solution. Use your best skills and leave your ego in the locker room. Make decisions that will be respected by all.

We’ve spent the last 150 years creating laws to get rid of harassment discrimination and inappropriate attitudes in the workplace. Now what we need to do is teach people how having healthy attitudes towards sex, religion and politics in the workplace can be one of the most important competitive advantages a company can have.

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Douglas Noll
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