Welcome to this monthly newsletter, in which we explore topics relating to leadership and organisational culture, global diversity and inclusion, gender, culture, bias, and more.
In this issue:
- Generous Multiculturalism: Facts, Truth, and the Power of Stories
- Decolonising the Mind
- Inclusive Leadership: New Catalyst Report
I hope you find these sharings interesting and useful – and whether they are new to you or reminders, that they stimulate your thinking and your practice. If there are topics you would like to see explored here, feel free to contact me.
As we reach the end of a calendar year for many people in the world, here a few thoughts:
Focus on the positives. Being aware of bias is just the beginning. What’s important is that we use that awareness to change behaviour, Knowing that humans apparently have an inbuilt bias towards the negative, it’s up to each of us to make a conscious effort to balance that bias with a focus on the positive. A news service that does just that is Future Crunch, whose mission is “to foster intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future, and to empower people to contribute to a 21st century that works for everyone.” https://futurecrun.ch
Working together. The Dalai Lama reminds us that “It is a matter of great urgency that we find ways to cooperate with one another in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect.” In order to do this, we need a solutions focus. Look at what’s working and build on it – what are we doing that is already taking us in the direction we want to go? There are many solutions to global problems that already exist – we need to find, amplify, and build on them.
Sustainability and growth. The natural world shows us that all things change, and an excellent analogy is with breathing. Our lungs expand as we breathe in, and contract as we breathe out. Continuous growth is driven by a narrow view of having power over circumstances, our environment, and each other, rather than power with. So it is in life – as humans we experience the “ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows”; we experience joy and sorrow, hot and cold, darkness and light, sweet and sour. The richness of life is in the mixture of experiences we have, and we become more flexible, and more skillful, in our responses, when we bring a sense of equanimity and balance to all things. Our ability to respond with equanimity is like creativity – it ebbs and flows. We need fallow times – we can’t be at peak creativity all the time. By definition, the growth model that underlies much current thinking in business and economics – and that puts financial gain as the central focus of attention — is unsustainable and therefore needs to change. Such change will only come about through new perspectives.
The benefit of diversity is in the mixture. There is no automatic, intrinsic value in increasing the numbers of a specific group of people simply for the sake of increasing the numbers. The value is in getting more and different ideas and perspectives. Is diversity of thought more important than diversity of demographics or identity? The answer, of course, is that they go together. Our background, upbringing, education, cultural, gender, and other identities, all work together to give each of us a unique perspective. What’s important is that we find and use the benefits of the mixtures we create in order to transform the world for the better. So, diversity is not important for its own sake – it’s important because it will enable us to survive and thrive as a human species. I was reminded recently that all species become extinct. We humans are no exception. The question is – for humanity, as for each of us individually – how shall we live while we are here?
Some selected facts from The Economist Special Report: Migration (November 16, 2019)
- If everyone who wanted to migrate were able to do so, global GDP would double according to the Centre for Global Development
- Migrants are far less numerous than news footage suggests – the UN estimates about 3.5% of global population are migrants, barely higher than in 1960.
- For native born workers on the whole, the effect of migration on wages is largely positive.
- There are more rural-to-urban migrants in China than there are cross-border migrants in the world.
If there are so many positive arguments in favour of progressive and humanitarian migration policies, why do we see such resistance?
To read the full article, click here.
Decolonising the Mind
Following up on our mention of the excellent work by Natasha Aruliah (see The Power of the Circle in our August 2019 Newsletter) comes this reminder to check our fundamental assumptions from science and environment educators Carolina Castano Rodriguez and Laura Barraza.
How often do we consciously or unconsciously operate from a place or Eurocentrism? Rodriguez and Barraza “reject the term ‘Latin America’ and ‘Latinas/os’ to represent our cultural backgrounds as we consider they ignore our Indigenous and African heritage and privilege European heritage.”
Language can help decolonise our minds – it can wake us up and keep us awake to inclusion, and to the richness of human experience.
To read the full article, click here.
Leaders often tell us that they understand the theory of inclusive leadership, but struggle to put it into practice.
A recent report from Catalyst (Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership: Why Change Starts With You, by Dnika J. Travis, Phd, Emily Shaffer, Phd, and Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, Phd) helps address this issue.
Noting the benefits of inclusive leadership for team problem-solving, work engagement, employees’ intent to stay, and innovation, the report includes survey results from 2,164 employees from 15 global companies in 23 total countries.
The Catalyst model consists of six core behaviours : three for leading outward (accountability, ownership and allyship) and three for leading inward (curiosity, humility, and courage). The report explains that “Leading outward is what you do to ensure team members are treated fairly, empowered, and able to flourish. Leading inward requires a hard look at who you are and your inner ability to act courageously, learn, and self-reflect”.
For more information see https://www.catalyst.org/research/inclusive-leadership-report/
Upcoming events featuring Duncan Smith
The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 10-12 March, Minneapolis, USA
Duncan will be presenting “Both/And: Bridging the Gaps between US and Global D&I” with Naseem Yasin, and “Mobilizing DEI to Influence the Future” with Naseem Yasin, Natasha Aruliah, and Alejandra González Landero. https://forumworkplaceinclusion.org
DEI Future Fluent Summit – April 23-24 Delhi, India
Duncan Smith is an educator, consultant, advisor, and facilitator. Through ADC Associates, he helps people leaders work together more effectively, make better decisions, and create more inclusive cultures. For more information see www.adc-assoc.com.
Many of the ideas discussed above are addressed in the book Foundations of Diversity, available online or at www.adc-assoc.com.
If you have any questions or comments relating to this newsletter, please feel free to contact me directly. Please note that I do not engage in online comments or discussions.
We’ll be back next year with more.
All the best,