Saturday, October 11, 2008

DiversiTea! Jenifer Grady

Jenifer Grady, Director of the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, spoke on a variety of workplace issues and missed opportunities. She told a story of talking to some kids at 73rd and Stony Island who were using degrading language.* Just letting it go would be a missed opportunity to help the kids learn. Other missed opportunities include when people own stock but they fail to vote on the investment boards that could have shaped the direction those companies take.

In the workplace, genetic discrimination now includes DNA and health issues. She gave a hypothetical example of an employer not wanting to hire certain people because they might get arthritis. Another example of diversity that people may overlook is someone coming from a big city and going to a small town.

The ALA-APA has information on competencies for public libraries for managers. Grady explained how professional development can be an equalizer. There are, however, only six African American librarians in leadership positions in Illinois. But, that means we “have room for you.” For salaries, even if some salaries go up one at a time, that does raise the overall salaries in the state. She emphatically emphasized that comparing librarians’ salaries to those of social workers and teachers needs to stop. She suggested that more people should be involved with negotiating salaries.

Grady mentioned three other factors that would help improve the workplace. When new employees start, there is a need to introduce them to all of the staff all of the time. Next, there is a need for people to mentor and coach employees. Lastly, everyone needs to document accomplishments.

For more information on the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, please see the Web site at:

For more information on Jenifer Grady, please see the ALA Wiki at:

*For our international visitors, 73rd and Stony Island is on the South Side of Chicago.


Kay Shelton said...

The issue on discrimination based on health issues is very real. I also work in a pharmacy and a couple years ago, one of our customers developed diabetes and her doctor gave her new medication. We encountered trouble with her prescription insurance account and she needed to talk with her benefits coordinator at work to get it straightened out. She returned the next day to get the medicine and paid the full price for it because her employer fired her on the spot after they found out she had diabetes. Something like that is very wrong but not everyone has the time and resources available for lawsuits to make that kind of behavior stop.

Kay Shelton said...

Here is an article which supports Jenifer's talk on investment voting:

"Corporate Diversity in the Boardroom Comes Into Focus" by Roger O. Crockett in the October 7, 2008 issue of Business Week.

It is linked from here, at least for now. I had a little trouble getting it to work.

Investors often have an opportunity to vote in the boards as well as vote on shareholder and corporation proposals. Those are opportunities not to be missed.