Partner Track is a new series on Netflix. The R-rated series showcases Ingrid Yun (of Asian descent) as the main character, vying for a partnership opportunity in a law firm. The cast is diverse (i.e., Black, LGBTQIA+, gender, etc.), navigating a predominantly white institution and field. Ingrid must tackle numerous obstacles to prove her worth and, ultimately, gain the highest position in the firm. Although there's lots of entertainment and romance in the series, there are also a lot of Inclusive Leadership Lessons to take and apply to our everyday lives. Who wouldn't want to learn how to be a better inclusive leader in a fun and non-threatening way? I suspect most of us would answer in the affirmative. So let's talk about some key takeaways from the series that may encourage us to leverage our free time to evolve our inclusive leadership skills.
Gain A Primer on the Existence of Microaggressions in the Workplace
Harmful blunders are front and center in this series, so take notes on what not to do. Our definition of microaggressions is behavior that challenges the inclusion and belonging of others. In one instance, Ingrid quips, "you have no idea how hard it is to be a person of color at this firm." With the constant struggles in the workplace, it is clear this is not a fictional example and that organizations and leaders struggle to provide less challenging environments for people of color in the workplace. Inclusive Leaders should heed the following advice.
Affirming stereotypes can be harmful to employees. In Partner Track, Ingrid's manager manipulates her to perform tasks in service of the company's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. Quickly, it becomes clear that this organization is not living up to its promises. There is an assumption that because she's of Asian heritage, she should be the one to perform. Let us not make this mistake of honing in on marginalized groups to navigate and deliver on DEI goals.
Leveraging humor as a weapon is a no-no. For example, during a company retreat, an employee does a standup routine teaching others about white privilege. During the performance, numerous offenses occur against marginalized groups. The takeaway here is to take charge as an inclusive leader by ensuring a complete understanding of the impact of content. In addition, remaining mindful of how our actions resonate with others is a proactive measure. Instant feedback indicates corrective action, even if it means stopping mid-joke.
Learn Leadership Lessons on Handling Diversity Challenges in the Workplace
Leaders who turn a blind eye to apparent inclusion blunders suffer in the long run. For example, in the series, the lead partner witnesses poor treatment of Ingrid and others but turns a blind eye in service of revenue gains. Unfortunately, this strategy continues for most of the series but eventually tarnishes the employer brand, causes attrition and impacts the company's bottom line due to loss of revenue. What's the lesson here? Create a safe environment for employees. Provide transparency in the promotion process. If something is amiss, take action to investigate, clarify, and resolve it. Failing our responsibilities means there are consequences.
Leaders who threaten their employees are in ethical violations but also go against diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. What's the lesson here? Lack of accountability for leaders higher in the organization is problematic for everyone. In Partner Track, the highest leader seemingly makes all decisions were not held accountable for his poor leadership behaviors. The checks and balances in the process were lip service because, despite HR's due diligence and recommendations for employee probation, the organization took no action to set a standard for leadership
So, who's ready to watch? There are ten episodes with lessons. Let's go!
This article was originally published in Forbes.