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Respect in the Workplace: Addressing Inappropriate Behavior Towards Dignitaries and Executives

Photos from Twitter and AP via Daily Mail.

As professionals, it is important to uphold a level of respect and decorum when communicating with dignitaries, especially in the public eye. Unfortunately, there have been instances where individuals have crossed that line, leading to negative consequences. Recently, a Dallas Morning News reporter, Megan Mangrum, was fired after calling Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson "bruh" in a Twitter post last month. While some, especially Mangrum, may argue that this was a harmless comment, it is important to recognize the implications of familiarity or lack of respect for dignitaries.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for minorities to be on the receiving end of this type of disrespect and unprofessionalism. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than White Americans to say they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. In a professional setting, this can manifest as individuals feeling that they are not given the same level of respect as their counterparts due to their race. It is important for all individuals, especially those in leadership positions, to be aware of these dynamics and take steps to address them.

In the workplace, it is crucial for executives to set a tone of respect and inclusivity. This means not tolerating any form of discrimination or microaggressions towards employees based on their race or ethnicity. It also means actively promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and seeking out diverse perspectives and voices.

It is important to address this inappropriate behavior and give executives of all walks of life the respect they deserve, regardless of any perceived "generational" differences regarding professionalism, as Mangrum mentioned in her defenses.

Here are some suggestions for addressing this issue:

  1. Education: Employers can provide training and education on professionalism and cultural competency to ensure that all employees understand the importance of respect and decorum in professional settings.

  2. Clear expectations: Employers should clearly communicate their expectations for employee behavior when interacting with dignitaries or public figures.

  3. Accountability: Employers must hold employees accountable for their actions and behaviors, especially when they violate professional standards.

  4. Diversity and Inclusion: Emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace to ensure that all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

  5. Leading by example: Executives can set an example for their employees by demonstrating respect and decorum in their interactions with others, including dignitaries and public figures.

As Christians, we are called to treat others with respect and love, regardless of their position or background. In Colossians 3:23-24, we are reminded to do everything as if we were doing it for the Lord, and not for people. This includes our interactions with others in the professional setting.

In conclusion, while it may seem like a harmless comment, familiarity or lack of respect for dignitaries can have negative consequences, especially for minorities who may already feel marginalized. It is important to address this issue and provide education, clear expectations, accountability, and a culture of diversity and inclusion. As Christian professionals, we must lead by example and treat all individuals with respect and love.


Dr. Wanita Mercer, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Lead My Heart, an executive coaching and consulting company specializing in equipping executives and executive teams to live and lead with purpose, passion, and power. She has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in organizational leadership, and she is a certified life coach, change management specialist, project management specialist, and management executive. She has over 15 years of experience as an international educator, motivational speaker, author, and civic leader. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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