We’ve heard from team member Ruth Ramos in the past through posts like The Beginning of Healing and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But now,  I’d like to introduce you to her and her work to kick off our new interview series.

RW: Tell us more about what you do.

RR: Compass Consulting Services is an organizational development firm which specializes in customized training in the areas of diversity and inclusion management, conflict management, communication, leadership and team building. I am also trained to facilitate groups and coach managers. Finally, I have several years of experience in diversity sourcing for corporations.

RW: How did you get involved in respect issues/diversity initiatives?

RR: I wish that this were a short answer but it’s really not. Growing up, I was in a neighborhood that was predominantly white and being Latina, I never fit in. After I graduated, I went to Cleveland State University where there is no lack in diversity. But because it was so different than how I grew up, I still didn’t quite fit in. It was after an experience that I had with the National Hispanic Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. that I realized that there were other Latinas just like me all over the nation. It was the first time that I ever felt included and visible. It was so impactful in my life that I thought to myself, “if I could do this for someone else, I think that I’d really enjoy that and find it rewarding.” I then learned of the Diversity Management Program at Cleveland State University. While getting my graduate degree, I learned about so many injustices in the country and my ears and eyes (and heart) became sensitive to respect and equality for all and unconditional acceptance of all. My desire changed from helping one person to changing the world by bringing healing to families, organizations, communities and nations that are so divided by our differences.

RW: What types of clients/groups have you worked with?

RR: I have had the amazing opportunity to work with organizations of all sizes and in all sectors. I’ve worked with organizations as small as 3 individuals to national and international organizations. I’ve enjoyed working with non-profit organizations of all sizes, as well as have worked in K-12 schools. I have a strong passion around this work so I am open to any opportunity that I have to teach and bring awareness around respect issues and diversity initiatives.

RW: What can organizations do to build and foster a more respectful workplace?

RR: Organizations have to keep in mind that there are different levels of systems. It’s great that there is work being done on an organizational level however there needs to be a focus on individuals and teams. ALL employees need training on behaviors that foster inclusion. I also believe that organizations should have an awareness around respect and what it is. Respect is different for all individuals.

RW: What issues prevent organizations from creating respectful workplaces?

RR: Ignorance. Unfortunately, we have stereotypes and prejudices against certain groups because we haven’t had the exposure necessary to really understand the groups that we have these ideas and beliefs about. Imagine a manager or supervisor who has a strong prejudice against a certain group. That prejudice will certainly affect the rest of the team and can affect the organization.

The reason that we don’t expose ourselves to those groups that we have certain ideas and beliefs about is because of fear. Fear of going outside of our comfort zone, fear that the ideas that we’ve had our whole lives aren’t true. How does your fear interfere with creating a respectful workplace?

RW: Why is creating a respectful/diverse workplace so important?

RR: If you want to maximize your employees’ potential, then you must create a respectful workplace. It’s only when an employee feels appreciated, valued and respected that they will perform at their optimal level.

RW: What does a respectful workplace look like? Have you seen individuals and organizations that are getting respect right? Could you share an example?

RR: I am not sure that I’ve had the opportunity to see an organization effectively create a respectful workplace. I’ve seen teams that have created their own team culture that fosters a respectful workplace. When it’s done well, employees feel empowered, acknowledged, welcomed, supported, seen, confident and ultimately loved.

RW: Thanks Ruth!