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Leadership Interventions and Inclusive Practices: Lessons From The Potato Corner Controversy

Updated: Sep 20, 2023


Potato Corner controversy

It has recently come to my attention that, in an era where diversity and inclusion are paramount considerations for organisations worldwide, very few do much to enforce it. Even more unsettling is the presence of instances that appear to disregard these values entirely. Henceforth, I give you…


The Potato Corner Controversy:


Just last Monday, during my routine weekly scroll through LinkedIn, I stumbled upon a job posting from a company called ‘Potato Corner’. At first glance, it seemed like a typical salesperson job advertisement, but it quickly became evident that it had sparked quite a controversy. Intrigued, I clicked on the post to uncover the deep-seated issues within our organisations that we often choose to overlook.


The job posting, which has since been removed, elicited numerous discussions and debates for several compelling reasons:


1. Ageism – the first requirement entailed a preference for younger candidates.

2. Gender-based discrimination – the posting stated ‘preferably female’.

3. Body shaming concerns – the demand for applicants to have weight ‘proportional to height’.

4. Racial discrimination – perhaps the most troubling requirement was for someone with a ‘clear complexion’. In many countries, including the one in question, there exists an unhealthy obsession with skin tone, often fuelled by a booming market of skin whitening products. Including such a condition in a job posting only exacerbated issues of racial bias.


In response to the public outcry, Potato Corner issued a public apology, pledging their ‘commitment’ to diversity and inclusion… I know we are all thinking the same thing -


This is by far the most overt and egregious example I’ve personally come across. It is indicative of the broader issue that persists in many workplaces today and needs to change. Now you’re probably wondering how we can improve this in workplaces considering so many are failing at it.


The secret to incorporating inclusive practices following the Potato Corner controversy:


Leadership Commitment:

Inclusivity starts at the top. Leaders must be genuinely committed to fostering an inclusive culture. It’s essential for leaders to lead by example and communicate the importance of inclusion throughout the organisation.


Diversity and Inclusion Policies:

Develop clear and comprehensive diversity and inclusion policies that outline the organisation’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment. These policies should be communicated to all employees and integrated into HR practices.


Education and Training:

Offer regular diversity and inclusion training to all employees. This should go beyond mere awareness and focus on building empathy, understanding biases, and promoting inclusive behaviours.


Long-term Commitment:

Understand that building an inclusive culture is a long-term endeavour. It requires ongoing effort and adaptation to changing circumstances and employee needs.


External Partnerships:

Collaborate with external organisations (may I recommend MetaMind Training?) that specialise in diversity and inclusion to gain insights and best practices.


And this is where MetaMind Training come into play. Our team specialise in leadership intervention and inclusion practices, specifically designed to address diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns within organisations.


Our leadership interventions have three elements to them which can either take place in three 2-hour sessions or in one full-day session. They aim to ensure that all leaders get it – after all, change must start at the top. We create a safe space within leadership teams to not only raise awareness but also transform mindsets and behaviours by encouraging open discussions of sensitive issues.


It is both disheartening and frustrating to witness neglect towards diversity, equity, and inclusion practices such as the Potato Corner controversy. This is precisely why MetaMind has developed six diversity and inclusion interventions. These interventions are designed to help workforces comprehend that it’s not merely about recruiting individuals from diverse backgrounds; it’s about embracing and celebrating the uniqueness of each individual, regardless of their background, identity, or appearance.


So don’t be like the Potato Corner controversy. Instead, be the organisation equipped with the right tools and training to ensure that your staff feels genuinely valued and respected, because, let me be clear, words alone hold little weight without corresponding actions. True trust is built by consistently aligning our actions with our words, day in and day out, rather than when it just serves our image.

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