After the Webinar: Beyond Racism. Q&A with Dr. Kimberly Miller

Webinar presenter Dr. Kimberly Miller answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Beyond Racism: Identifying the Roadblocks, Barriers, and Blind Spots that are Holding Your Organization Back. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: How do you do a cultural assessment? And maybe when you answer this question, could you start with what exactly is a cultural assessment and what’s included in it? 

Kimberly Miller: Sure. So, there’s not one way to do it, so I appreciate that you asked the question. But it is ideally, in my mind, now, this is me. It is a comprehensive assessment of how things are done around here. So, I would start with those six other things that I mentioned, your hiring, your promotions. All of that stuff we talked about today, communication, leadership, I would assess all of that. But the other stuff a lot of organizations already do, what’s called a climate survey. So, that’s looking at attitudes. Do you feel welcome? Do you feel safe? Do you have a best friend at work, do you feel supported, all of that kind of stuff? So, like a climate survey, I think, can be part of a deep dive into the culture. But oftentimes with climate, there isn’t a conversation at these other levels in terms of our hiring practices. And even talking to new employees or even senior employees and saying, what was it like when you first came here? What was the training like? What was your first experience with supervision like? Do you feel like you were well equipped for that? So, it can be this really bear of doing the work, but it might even take depending on how big your organization is, months and months to fully do it. But I will tell you, it’s so worth it when you can just sort of piece apart all the different dynamics of your organization. And what’s really happening. How do people really feel? What are the explicit and implicit messages people are sent? It can really illuminate and root out the problems that you have. Some that you might know about. And, again, some you might not know about, because I can guarantee you that, for my colleague, that’s African American, I can guarantee you, her CEO of her organization has no idea that that’s happening. I can guarantee you, he does not know. Because he would absolutely not be okay with it, but that’s been happening for 25 years. And that’s one of the sort of lesser said, not spoken about things, that’s culture, that would need to be addressed. So, I don’t know if I’ve fully answered your question, but it can be this comprehensive thing, or it could just be a client’s climate survey of your organization.

And if you have other questions, please feel free to shoot me an email, and I’m happy to chat with you about it.



Audience Question: How do we share what we’ve learned during today’s webinar? How do we share this with our supervisors? Now, I know my take would be to maybe invite them to the next, you know, August 12th webinar and then use that as a springboard for fostering the conversation. But maybe they can’t wait that long. So, Kimberly, what would you say? What would you recommend that Courtney do to be able to socialize this idea of change with their supervisors? 

Kimberly Miller: So, I think having a conversation is the first thing. And I don’t know your relationship with your supervisor or how open he or she is to change. But what I might say is, go and talk about it from your perspective and you’ll know better how to sell to them than I do. But I would say something like, Oh, my gosh, I was on this really great webinar today, and you know what occurred to me about our team, our hiring practices, the way we do promotions, how we pick a trainer. Like, whatever is the thing that occurred to you and is the sort of the big light bulb thing, that this is key, that you think your supervisor would listen to and agree with because there might be 20 things you want to talk to him or him or her about from this webinar. But I would start with the thing that they could easily buy into. So, they might say, “You know what? We do pick heartbeats, we have been desperate. You’re right. So, how could we do that better?” So, I would start with the thing that’s easier for them to say yes to, easy for them to be listening to, and then start the conversation. Because if you start with the biggest, most intimidating, scary things that they might wildly disagree with you on, they’re going to shut the conversation down. So, start with something small and easy. Have a conversation with them. Certainly, invite them to the next webinar on it, where they can talk about a deeper dive and how do you actually make all this stuff happen. But I would start with something small, see where it goes. See how you can maybe make a small change, get some wins, get some positive momentum. And then, bring up other things. So, that would be my initial thing. But, of course, if you want more specific advice, shoot me an email.

Host: I’m just going to piggyback on that on that question that she shared. I’m betting also that dumping 20 ideas on them probably isn’t the best tactic to pick one idea and as opposed to a whole bunch of ideas.

Kimberly Miller: Yes, because, and I’m guilty of this too because I can overwhelm people with all of my ideas all in one. And people are like, “Okay, can you pick one?” But I have 20, I’m going to tell you all that and they’re like, okay. You’re aggravating and you’re freaking me out. So, from my own experience. Pick one, pick an easy one that they could buy into, and go from there.



Audience Question: Do you have any pointers on how to address hiring practices that promote diversity in unseen areas, such as sexual orientation and religious backgrounds, things, especially since we can’t ask questions about that in the process?

Kimberly Miller: So, one of the things I would do is, make sure that in, and you might already have this in your hiring materials, that you make sure that you are an inclusive environment. You welcome and encourage people from all diverse backgrounds to apply. You make sure, and this is key, that, number one, that’s actually true. And if somebody applies, they’re going to feel welcome. Because, the worst thing to do is say that we have this inclusive environment and we’re very welcoming for people from all diversities and then, they come in, and they’re not welcome. That’s the worst thing. So, first, make sure the culture is welcome, and that’s true. But then, the other piece is, do you know of people in your organization who are out about their diversity, or out about their sexual orientation, or out about gender identity? Or out about their particular religion? Then I would say, hey, can I just have a conversation with you about this? What’s been your experience here? Do you feel welcome? Do you feel like somebody from your faith would feel welcome here? And if not, or they’re unsure, say, I would go to those people. What do you think we could do to do more outreach to people with your diversity? What would be appropriate? Ask, because you won’t know, I mean, with anything we don’t know, and I’ll just use religion as an example if you want to have more diversity in religion. Have you ever asked the diverse people of different faiths in your organization how they feel? But the other thing is, I would just do outreach in your community no matter what your organization is. Reach out to faith communities, reach out to the LGBTQ community. Reach out to them, go help them, go support them, go participate with them in events, have conversations with them. So, it’s all about, in life, really, everything’s about relationships. So, I would go have conversations, get involved with community groups, learn, and then, number one, make sure your culture is actually welcoming first.

Host: And I love that quote, I am writing it down. Everything in life is about relationships. I love that.



Audience Question: Help us understand what’s the difference between Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence? Are these two the same thing, or they interrelated, What’s the difference? Can you kind of define that for us? 

Kimberly Miller: Yes, so I look at it differently. I mean, you could look at a bunch of different definitions on it. I think they’re slightly different but very interrelated correlated. To me, social intelligence, is, in my mind, more about, can you read social situations? Can you pick up on obvious and subtle social cues? Like, for example, do you know when dinner is ending when you’re out with colleagues? Because I’ve been in circles, where dinners ending, we’ve all wrapped up the conversation. We’ll are starting to put our napkins on the table, and there are other people who are just still sitting there and look at us, like, what are you doing? And then we get up and we get our coats and suits, and then people go, Oh, is dinner over? And I’m thinking to myself: We’ve been transitioning for five minutes to dinner being over, but they don’t pick it up, they don’t see it. They don’t respond to it. So, to me, social intelligence is navigating social cues, really good at non-verbals, and determining do you know how to navigate social situation as well? To me, Emotional Intelligence, again, very inter-related. Can you pick up on the subtle and explicit emotions people have? Do you know how to respond to those effectively? So, here’s an example. You have an employee in your office and you’re giving them difficult feedback. You’re having that hard conversation, and they start getting upset. There are many people who have no idea what to do with that. Now, some are men, but some are women, and right were supposed to be stereotyped ???? when a woman or man ??? my office, I don’t know what to do. And I’m looking at them, like, how do you not know what to do? ???  to do, I just keep telling them the message. ???? do when someone is upset, or having a negative reaction, whether yelling or crying, or they’re angry. And the worst thing to do is just keep sending the message. Do you know how to stop? Do you know how to navigate through emotions? Do you know how to help deescalate? Do you know how to help navigate and sit with people in that? So many people in our world are so uncomfortable with anything except positive emotion? They don’t know how to navigate it. They can’t even navigate their own negative emotion, and they sure as heck can’t know somebody else’s. So, that’s how I would explain the difference.

Host: You just said something I think is really intriguing because so often when we think of de-escalation, we think of it as that frontline law enforcement officer out dealing with the public. And that there that’s absolutely de-escalation also. But de-escalation happens within inside our organization that deals with any time you’ve got two people who are on a different page, if you will. And that kind of ties into what you’re talking about on August sixth. When you start your two-part series, on de-escalation. It’s not just an external thing that happens with the public. It’s how it happens within our agencies as well.

Kimberly Miller: Yes, absolutely.



Audience Question: Kimberly, you talked about finding a mental health provider that is culturally competent. What exactly does that mean in this context? 

Kimberly Miller: So, it means two different things. Number one, being in the criminal justice profession, you need to make sure that you have a provider that is culturally competent and understands the criminal justice profession. Whether there is work in corrections, victim advocacy, mental health services. Because if you’re a mental health provider, you know how hard it is to find another mental health provider to be your provider or providers to your counselors. But, do they understand, if you’re in law enforcement, are they a police and public safety psychologist? Or are they not? Or they just a psychologist? It’s a big difference. So, they have to understand the culture of your job, of your profession, and get that, to get you. Second thing, you want to make sure that they are culturally competent dealing with a lot of different diversities. So, are they culturally competent dealing with people from all different religions, or they just a Christian counselor, right? Nothing wrong with Christian counseling, but if you have a bunch of people who are not Christian, they’re not going to feel safe going to just a Christian counselor. If you just have counselors who are white-skinned and not that counselors who are white-skinned can’t be culturally competent in other cultures, but if you just have people who look white, many of your people of color are probably not going to feel competent in working with them. Another example is, are they culturally competent in a different culture? Do they know, as an example, how to speak a different language if someone’s first language is not English, do they know how to speak another language? And do they understand the other language and the other culture so that people feel safe in having those conversations? So those are just a few examples of what culturally competent counseling might look like.


Audience Question: You talked a lot about the character during today’s presentation. What do you think are possibly like the three top character traits that employees should have or that we as employers, should be looking for, especially in today’s world with everything going on? 

Kimberly Miller: So, number one is integrity, and I’m going to cheat a little bit by saying, integrity is not just doing what you say, and saying, what you do, but it’s about honesty, it’s about truthfulness, it’s about all of that kind of stuff. So, I think integrity is number one. Number two is, and I’m, again, cheating, because I’m giving you more than one, is humility, curiosity, and openness. So, it’s that humble, I’m always willing to learn, I’m willing to own my mistakes, I’m willing to get better every day. And the third one, again, I admit, I’m cheating. It is kindness, compassion, and empathy, because I am sure, as you have seen around the world, we are in a character crisis. There is so much hate and judgment, there is no compassion. People are not kind. They don’t give each other grace and they have no empathy for somebody else’s journey. And what somebody else has been through, their selfish, they’re self-centered. They go, well, that didn’t happen to me, so it didn’t happen, I’m not going to listen. That’s not real. It’s not true. And it’s horrific, what we have become as a country, and as a world.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Beyond Racism: Identifying the Roadblocks, Barriers, and Blind Spots that are Holding Your Organization Back.



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