Self-awareness is an important trait in the workplace and, as CNBC’s Shepherd Smith says, a potentially double-edged sword.
“I’m not here to be your token,” Smith recently told the LGBTQ Journalists Association. National Conference 2021. “I don’t want to be a gay journalist, I want to be a gay journalist.”
Smith, a longtime Fox News reporter who joined CNBC last year to host “The News with Shepard Smith,” didn’t publicly reveal his homosexuality until 2017 – but close friends ten years ago. And began to tell his colleagues. Since then, he said, he has been made “token homosexual” at work on several occasions. “You know how they stereotype us [gay men]”Smith said.” We’re emotional, we fly by the handles, we have chips on our shoulders. “
During his fireside chat, Smith pointed out that everyone, regardless of who they are, should keep an eye out for symbolism in the workplace, when a manager expects you to be representative. of your entire community. The moment you start to feel like you are in office, Smith said, it’s time to meet your manager.
In such moments, Smith said he keeps his message simple: he’s a professional, there’s a job to be done, and nothing else should matter. Here are his tips for dealing with similar situations no matter what stage of your career you are at.
Build a solution strategy with your manager
Have an honest conversation with your immediate supervisor, Smith advised: Keep the discussion quiet and preferably not by email. “You don’t fly by the handles, you don’t talk about it behind people’s backs, and you don’t enter your cliques within the environment you work in,” he said.
During this conversation, you can point out specific stereotypes that you’ve noticed others telling you, and help your boss understand that these stereotypes don’t represent your entire community. You can also tell your manager that the diversity you bring to the team is “a bonus,” Smith said, but at the end of the day you’re supposed to do what’s written in your job description. And that can involve more than what your manager asks you to do.
“I think you have to get up,” Smith said. “I love to cover gay issues just like I love to cover BLM [Black Lives Matter] and I like to cover everything related to inclusiveness.
It is also up to the owners to create an environment where these conversations can take place. Whenever a member of Smith’s production team has a problem, he said, he is encouraged to report it: “When our staff have a problem of any kind, we do things. like that. Want here. Let’s talk about it.”
Knowing whether your conversation will actually solve the problem can be a real challenge. According to a 2019 research report from the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly one in five employees left their jobs between 2014 and 2019 due to toxic work cultures.
“We need to determine a realistic focus for this conversation,” writer and speaker Kwame Christian told CNBC Make It last year in a conversation about racial equality in the workplace. “If it’s just listening to you, great, that’s all we can do. If we are to talk about what we can do to have meaningful conversations about this in the workplace, we need a solution. You have to develop a strategy. “
Smith said if your initial conversation with your manager doesn’t resolve the issue, you can escalate the discussion “to the top of the human resources ladder” until success is found. “I guess you have to get up,” he said. “Sailing these waters is a new thing, and the things people said 10 years ago are not acceptable today – and were not then.”
The burden of initiating these conversations often falls on the shoulders of employees. For Smith, the key to motivating a two-way discussion is simply to provide a catalyst – and to empower leaders to do things right, when they are aware of the problem.
“I discovered that most of the people who are outside of us [LGBTQ] The community wants to do it right, ”Smith said. “And sometimes they want us to learn to help. “
Watch “The News With Shepard Smith” on CNBC, Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
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