Team Work
© 1998, CBS Inc.
Managing Race Relations in the Workplace

Mr. Charles Osgood: The Osgood File. I’m Charles Osgood. America’s the land of opportunity. Fair employment is officially the law of the land, but that does not mean we’re all one big happy family in the workplace. Some people aren’t quite ready for that.

Ms. Joyce St. George: What do you do with a person who says, “I refuse to work with women?” What do you do with somebody who says, “I refuse to work with white people?”

Osgood: The mostly white, mostly male work force is a thing of the past in America. Demographic projections show that in two short years, 85% of all new workers in this country will be women or minorities. But the mix still causes awkwardness, conflict, even violence sometimes. Joyce St. George runs an organization called PACT Training. It helps workers learn how to get along with each other better by putting on simulations.

Excerpt from simulation

Female PACT Trainer: Oh, Jeff…

Male PACT Trainer: What’s going on? The Baker account failed and it was your fault.

Female PACT Trainer: What?

Male PACT Trainer: OK. OK.

End of excerpt

St. George: We create what’s like a flight simulator for people. They get to come into these situations these staged situations and they get to practice and refine the way they interact with one another, the way that we all try to manage conflicts.

Osgood: shows people how to deal with such delicate situations as an employee saying she didn’t get a promotion because of race or gender, or an older worker having trouble with younger co-workers. Joy Williams, who works at a management consulting firm, says PACT helped her figure out how to deal with the tension from perceived racism or sexism.

Ms. Joy Williams: They do it with a sense of humor that’s non-threatening, but they’re getting across very important points.

Osgood: trainers act out workplace situations and the audience talks about what they’ve seen. In one play, a white manager is confronted by his black employee:

Excerpt from simulation

Female PACT Trainer: I could never figure out why you could never find your way to coaching me, but now I see it. It’s obvious that you have a problem.

Male PACT Trainer: No, don’t say please don’t say that. Don’t say that. It has nothing nothing to with the fact that you’re black nothing.

Female PACT Trainer: I was going to say that you have a problem with my personal style, but thank you for telling me the truth.

End of excerpt

Osgood: Joyce St. George says she tries to make nobody feel guilty or defensive, but she says it’s good business to get rid of racism and sexism.

St. George: What can you hope to gain by hanging on to that, and what are you losing?

Osgood: And she says that business is changing as America changes, and the bottom line is that we all have choice but to face up to it and get along with one another.

St. George: We are diverse and we are different, and we are growing even more differently. And so it’s not even, “Is it good? Is it bad?” It is.

Osgood: The Osgood File, Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.