Corporate world, workplace discrimination responses mirror Restorative Justice.

Today is the day.  I knew studying for my PhD would weave into the blog.  Here it is a post with a reference.  I held out for over 3 months, I didn’t want to change the “voice” of Circlespace.  However, I ran into something to good, to not share.

I was reading TARGET PRACTICE: AN ORGANIZATIONAL IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT APPROACH TO ATTRACTING MINORITY AND FEMALE JOB APPLICANTS.  The article was speaking about how companies/corporations can use 6 tactics to restore a damaged reputation.  The first of those 6, is “accounts”, there are then 4 ways to respond to accounts.  The options are 1) Denial, 2) Excuses, 3) Justification and 4) Apology.  The article said that the most common, is denial.  Acknowledging is more favorably received and apologies and explanations work to re-establish cooperation and promote (improve) positive reactions.

My restorative justice bells and whistles went off!

How often do people who have caused harm try “it wasn’t me”, or “I didn’t do it”.  Our legal system promotes a not-guilty plea as part of the process.  I believe the fear of getting in trouble, trumps telling the truth.  If you don’t feel safe enough, or your fear of the punishment is too great, you aren’t likely to even acknowledge a mistake, let alone a harm.  Not acknowledging, is the same as denial.  Intentional or unintentional, denial is denial in the eyes of others. 

The next two responses Excuses & Justification – are things a restorative practioner works on with the party that has caused harm.  You want to make sure that you hear, what, how and why the excuses and justification developed.  A good restorative justice practitioner can dig into the situation, explore the beginning the middle and the end.  You have to come from a mindset that all behavior has purpose, and what was the purpose of the behavior.  You carefully hold non-judgement on this information.  Once heard people can usually go to the next step, and the next step is the first step of restorative justice accountability: Acknowledging you caused the harm.

I believe people find justifications for behavior.  Once you get at the underlying “justification” you can help people change their lives.  Here is an example and how SCVRJP uses Circles to change behavior. 

Justification:  All college students drink hard, I’m no different than anyone else.

Reality:  Over consumption can have serious risks/harms to self, family, society. 

Demonstrated change:  95% said the session would reduce exposure to risk of alcohol (5% said probably not, 70% said definitely, 25% said maybe)

90% said they would change (60% definitely, 30% maybe) and those that reported the session would “probably not” change behavior: 10% .

Restorative Justice Circles create a safe place to acknowledge harm.  It does help that those attended , have been sent to us by the courts, it is kind of hard to deny something after that process.  The use of community members, storytelling and real life examples hits the heart and promotes change.  You can’t argue with an experience.

Perhaps more companies will step towards workplace restorative justice, so people can get to more productive and healthy environments.  Handling “accounts” with denial, excuses & justifications aren’t the only options.  (I left out apology on purpose, since it is not a primary focus of RJ).   If  Restorative Justice can promote change for underage drinkers, I think it can restore corporate world reputation issues.