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How to Talk About Race, Religion and Politics at Work

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Politics, religion, race—we can’t talk about topics like these at work, right? But in fact, these conversations are happening all the time, either in real life or virtually via social media. And if they aren’t handled effectively, they can become more polarizing and divisive, impacting productivity, engagement, retention, teamwork, and even employees’ sense of safety in the workplace.

As a thought leader in the field of diversity and inclusion, Mary-Frances Winters has been helping clients create inclusive environments for over three decades. In her new book, We Can’t Talk About That at Work: How to Talk About Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics she illustrates a model for these difficult conversations. In this concise and powerful book, she shows managers, HR departments, CEO’s, and VP’s how to lay the groundwork for having bold, inclusive conversations in the workplace. According to Winters, competence and preparation are key.

I contend that the reason we are not further along—and perhaps regressing—is because we have not approached this work in a developmental way. We have failed to fully realize and understand that not everybody is ready for bold conversations,” says Winters. “If we were to approach this work developmentally, we would meet people where they are, not expect them to necessarily see the world from our view, and acknowledge that while one may be learning, mistakes are inevitable.

Winters’ book offers exercises and tools to help organizations become aware of how cultural background has shaped perceptions and habits.  The book will help readers increase their understanding of how people from other cultures may differ from themselves, particularly when it comes to communicating and handling conflict. A downloadable preview of the book is available, here.


Mary-Frances Winters is founder and president of The Winters Group, a global diversity and inclusion consulting firm whose clients include major firms like Sodexo, Disney, SunTrust, United Way Worldwide, International Monetary Fund, MassMutual, Yum! Brands, and Fannie Mae. She was named a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal and is the recipient of the prestigious Athena Award, as well as the Winds of Change Award conferred by the Forum on Workplace Inclusion.



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