May 2020 Issue Number 238
Is a monthly electronic newsletter which links current events and issues to the daily challenges faced by fire and emergency services managers. Current topics in the areas of leadership development, workplace diversity, change management, and conflict resolution will be discussed.
I hope that you find the information here useful and provocative.
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Now available! On
the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda
F. Willing. This book features interviews with over 35 women
firefighters from the United States and Canada. The book is available
from major online booksellers, and signed copies may be ordered through this website.
Fire-Rescue International will take place in Phoenix, AZ August 19-21, 2020.
Women in Fire will hold an international conference in Spokane, WA September 23-26, 2020.
Diversity as Discipline?
An Indiana firefighter with over 20 years on the job publicly uses a racial slur while on duty, in clear violation of department policy. It is recommended that he be suspended for five days and serve a year probation as discipline for the offense. Then someone on the Merit Commission, which has the final say on disciplinary issues, has other ideas. Why not appoint the offending firefighter to be a liaison between a local diversity trainer and the department, for the purpose of improving diversity relations?
Is this a good idea? The answer to that is a very tentative maybe.
If the firefighter in question is truly motivated to make a change and help others better understand the value of diversity, and can truly and wholeheartedly commit to the new role, then maybe. Even if all these factors are in place, the move seems to undermine the fact that those who do diversity training and consulting are trained professionals with years of experience. Using that role as an alternative to discipline undercuts the value of that training.
But what if the firefighter in question is not really committed or even interested in taking on this new role? What if he pays lip service to it only, with everyone close to him aware of his true feelings? Then even more damage is done.
A subsequent report about this incident raises even more concerns. A month after the original deal was reported, the commission clarified by saying that the firefighter must meet with the fire chief every two weeks to be a reporter of any discriminatory remarks.
So now the newest diversity trainer-under-duress is really acting as a snitch? What could possibly go wrong with that?
Diversity training is important and when done right, can provide tremendous value to organizations. It should not be used as discipline. Ever.
Sources: Evansville Courier and Press, February 3, 2020 and 14news.com March 10, 2020