The Challenge

Definition of respect: Respect is an active process of non - judgmentally engaging people from all backgrounds. It is practiced to increase our awareness and effectiveness, and demonstrated in a manner that esteems both us and those with whom we interact.

According to statistics published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. corporations paid $445.8 million to settle discrimination-related violations in 2012.

When combined with settlements paid outof court, attorney’s fees, time and other expenses, estimates put the amount that U.S. businesses spend at over $2 billion to settle claims of disrespectful, and typically unlawful, behavior. You don’t have to be a finance major to be impressed by the potential cost of disrespect, either individual or systemic. When you add low productivity, absenteeism and high employee turnover to the monetary mix, company leaders have a real problem.

The greater the authority a person has in an organization, the more damage they can do.

A single act of disrespect can have profound consequences. It can devastate a relationship that took years to build, with the primary casualty often being trust. Damaging behaviors can include, among others, stereotyping, verbal taunting, gossiping, dishonesty and public humiliation. Meshanko points out that the greater the authority a person has in an organization, the more damage they can do. For those employed in a workplace where hostile behaviors are openly tolerated or even encouraged, there is no doubt the damage such behaviors cause to work productivity. Energy spent perpetrating or deflecting hostility is energy that can’t be spent doing the work individuals are hired to do.

Classroom training and follow-up are an important component to cultivating respectful workplaces, and these efforts need to be reinforced. Meshanko empowers readers by providing an amazingly simple and logical addition. When leaders have the power to influence their employee’s levels of engagement and esteem through their own actions, the resulting changes are more permanent. By taking the focus off diversity as solely a workplace training issue, change is inspired and led through behaviors that can be applied to every aspect of our lives.