Values Clarification Exercise
Read the Story:
(you can refer to the list of characters below)
Bill, a new Black mid-level leader (use whatever job title works for your group such as supervisor, Department head, clerk of a Monthly Meeting, etc.) is starting a Leaders of Color Support Group in the organization.
He begins by asking Sydney, a white man who is in the upper management, (COO, President, Dean, NEYM Secretary, etc.) for permission to organize the group, including advertising on bulletin boards, putting notices in the newsletter, and meeting in a room at the organization’s headquarters as well as travel expenses. Sydney approves the request. Fifteen managers of color sign up for the group.
(This can be a teachable moment as some places this workshop has been done have difficulty imagining that many black people in leadership. The logical question is why is this so hard to imagine given the actual percentage of black people in our society.)
As word about the support group begins to spread, several other mid-level leaders all of whom are white, make comments at lunch. Jerry jokes that they should form a “White Managers Group.” Ellen, seated at the table, thinks this is in poor taste and understands the need for a leadership group for people of color but is concerned about staying neutral and nonjudgmental so says nothing. Sarah also understands the need and she speaks in support of a Leaders of Color Support Group, mentioning how important it will be for her friend, Alicia a black mid-level leader.
One other white mid-level leader, Mark, openly complains to Sydney. He says that having such a group is divisive, injects race into the process and is contrary to equality, and may in fact itself be racist. Mark also accuses the black leaders of “playing the race card” and lobbying for “special privileges.” He is especially bothered that the group is sanctioned by the organization, is allowed to meet on the premises during work hours, and gets travel monies – clearly preferential treatment based on race, he argues.
Sydney is uncomfortable. He wants to diffuse the growing controversy and after consultation with a mediator group, reverses his initial decision, telling Bill that the organization can not explicitly endorse his group. They cannot advertise or meet in the building or get travel monies. He says that while he supports the idea, it would be unfair to the white people in the organization to actively sponsor a group designed only for certain managers. He advises that of course, they can do it on their own.
When Bill relays this information to the group of black mid-level leaders, Alicia is very upset. Sarah speaks to Sydney about how important it is to support the leadership of people of color but Sydney doesn’t change his/her/their mind. Sarah also talks at length with Alicia. Later Alicia takes a marker and writes the word RACIST on Sydney’s door, an act that will ultimately get her fired (discharged, disowned from their Meeting).
(A very successful workshop idea is to provide name tags, and assign roles to each participant giving them a description of their character asking them to act out the story. It is particularly interesting if the role of Sydney is played by a person of color. Then try to get the group to agree on which person’s behavior was the best and which the worst.)
Rate each person in the story
Ask people individually to rate everyone in the story on how justified was their behavior on a scale of 1 – 6 —
(best (rate a 1) to worst (rate 6), in the middle (3), etc. (form for this that may be printed is at the end)
FORM TO RATE PEOPLE IN STORY
Bill, Black mid level leader _____________
Sydney, a white man in the upper management _____________
Jerry, white mid-level leader __________
Ellen, white mid-level leader ____________
Mark, white mid-level leader___________
Sarah white mid-level leader_____________
Alicia, Black mid-level leader _____________
Local Organization in general _____________
(rate everyone on a scale of 1 – 6 —– best behavior (rate a 1) to worst (rate 6), in the middle (3) etc.)
When everyone is done get people together in groups of 3-4, discuss answers and try as a group to come to agreement as to the rating of the individuals in the story.
Then get together as a whole, debrief.
consider how do you think your own actual local group as a whole would react?
Other discussion questions
Think about then share the 1st time you saw a person of color in your organization. Describe the situation and your reaction if any. Did or does it seem like they are ignored or a source of pride? Did/do they stay in the organization or is there a high turnover?
What is your group’s reaction to consider why there are not more people of color?