Detroit Free Press
Nov. 12, 2022
Delta Dental’s Margaret Trimer is laser-focused on civility in the workplace as something critical during these too often incendiary times — not only to the health and well-being of the company’s employees but its bottom line, as well.
She’s also been involved with programs and events in Michigan and other states she works in to help other firms confront contentious issues and learn from one another on how to effectively have productive conversations.
Much of the problem with workplace communication stems from the fallout of politics, which has been tough in recent years for businesses as it consciously or unconsciously trickles into conversations at the water cooler and even in Zoom calls. And civility also has to do with celebrating and encouraging conversations about differences with diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Today’s political polarization can seep into the workplace and hurt culture and, ultimately, productivity,” said Trimer, vice president of strategic partnerships at Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. “We believe in finding common ground and uniting around that. At work, the common ground should be easy to find. It’s our mission and our strategic plan.”
Delta Dental has been a sponsor of the Great Lakes Civility Project, started by Detroit journalists Stephen Henderson and Nolan Finley, to encourage such conversations to help the region. The Civility Project provides workshops and resources for businesses. Trimer added, “We are encouraging tolerance and teaching active listening, which are key to problem solving.“
She isn’t alone as other influential business leaders are working to encourage dialogue, too, about civility inside businesses and across the community that ultimately impacts our region.
“Civility is the cornerstone of good public policy – too many Michiganders don’t feel comfortable engaging anymore and this polarizing climate is pushing away so many who can contribute to conversations and solutions in a meaningful way,” said Jim Holcomb, CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “It’s incumbent upon us all to put the campaign season behind us and work collaboratively to grow a robust, resilient economy that works for everyone. Fostering this civility is going to continue to be a top priority of the Michigan Chamber.”
Holcomb, a longtime Chamber employee who took over the Chamber’s top job Jan. 1, has made this issue a cornerstone of his leadership of the group. He’s been traveling the state, giving speeches and holding meetings.
The Chamber also partnered with the Great Lakes Civility Project and held a virtual event on Oct. 4 called “The Power of Perspective: Talk, Listen, Respect, Repeat,” which was part of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. It was timed to be held just before election time kicked into high gear, knowing that employees’ water cooler talk might fester. The event featured Henderson, Finley and others. Over 240 people, including Chamber members and other businesses and organizations, attended.