You may ask yourself, who writes a blog on a Sunday morning and, one or two thoughts might even spring to mind about this woman: is she childless and partnerless; confusing down time for share time; a sad individual to think about business issues over the precious weekend; addicted to social media; have even a life, or all of the above?
Or perhaps, just perhaps, she values the space and the quite time to both reflect and contemplate? For I believe that reflection and contemplation are important. It gives me the opportunity to find myself in this crazy world. A world where it feels as though humanity is rotting away to the core.
Humanity is becoming seriously discombobulated. Discontent, angst and frustration with the current state of the world rumbles on and frequently boils over as we continue to see, hear and read about worrying incidents and trends. For just in the last 12 months we have witnessed:
- Rising violence against emergency and key public sector workers
- An increase of disturbing crimes such as acid and racial incidents
- Three terrorist atrocities in three months
- The worst fire in London since the Blitz - Grenfell tower
- A loss of decency where all are open to be targeted via both printed and social media magnified in the case of Baby Charlie Gard and GOSH as well as, a spate of vicious attacks on female politicians
- A collapse of trust by the public resulting in a fashionable dismissal of expertise, facts and evidence
- The rate of inflation continuing to outpace the wage growth contributing to growing poverty and perhaps tipping us towards recession
- Economic inequality trundles on and added to this, an 18% gender pay gap glares at us
- Continuous global and existential challenges such as the threatning manoeuvres of Russia and North Korea, Islamic State, the unreliability and instability of the Trump administration and migration
- A worrying tend in the dumbing down of complex and key issue where perspective has been corrupted and what is appropriate oscillates loosely between illusion and confused moral boundaries.
We are living in a society that is wrestling and swinging between fear and reactivity with fear paralyzing and activating us all at once. Our sense of meaning and fulfilment is evaporating. Our sense of purpose and belonging is dwindling. And I wonder, are we in the middle of a collective nervous breakdown? How do we not look back or forward in anger?
I believe that this state of unrest centres on one main issue: that we have become defenceless to stupidity. We live in an era where each week world leaders spout invective. Invective marked by vulgarity, disrespect, incompetence and sometimes a combination of all three. Our leaders are rewarded for blatant lying (e.g. Foreign Secretary Johnson and US President). What is worse, by not holding our leaders to account and penalising them for irresponsible decision making, in essence, we have given them permission because we tolerate and excuse their poor behaviour.
For instance, the UN twice reported on the UK government in 2016. And it found that the Tories had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights; while also eroding the rights of single parents, minority communities, and the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. Just this week the Supreme Court has ruled that the UK Government acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced legal fees for employment tribunal claims thus denying individuals their legitimate right of proper access to justice. Also, the Metropolitan Police are now saying that they suspect corporate manslaughter in the case of Grenfell Tower. A building that has come to be symbolic of gross social inequality.
As for Brexit, The Independent’s Steve Bullock’s argues that as ‘the UK Government continues to blithely march the country towards consequences that they don’t even themselves understand is an appalling dereliction of duty.’
Alas, since Donald Trump became president, the rhetoric he has spawned is horrifying and discouraging. For all who believe in freedom and human dignity should be gravely troubled by his diatribe and his inconceivable ideas ranging from immigration, to health care to LGBTQ rights. The Trump administration is diminishing the essence of humanity before our very eyes. Yet it still stands and we hope that in the words of Martin Luther King – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
If you’ve been following my blogs you might be asking why the change in content from organisational issues to worldly issues? Why has she moved away from writing on diversity, leadership and change? Not so, you see I believe that these three areas are strongly aligned to a societal breakdown. In fact, The World Economic Forum agrees with me for they assert that the sustainability of corporations and society at large are interdependent.
I’ve made known my opinion on diversity. I believe that for an integrated diversity strategy to be fully effective and so that organisations are truly reflective of the consumers that they serve and of society at large, then organisations who continue to dismiss diverse workforces should be exposed, fined and quotas implemented so that critical mass, transparency and accountability becomes common place and diversity equity is achieved. As Baroness Oona King said “sometimes you have to tick the box to smash the box."
But diversity is not enough. Diversity without inclusion is like having a foot without a leg. As Vernã Myers said: “Diversity is about being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Creating a culture of inclusion requires a knowledge of systems. Working with individuals from all walks of life in a global society requires relationship building, problem solving, conflict resolution, and a personal commitment to continuous learning across dimensions of diversity such as structural, cognitive and behavioural.
The culture of a company is like the character of a person – it changes very little over time. But like a person, it can make and own its choices, be adaptable and be flexible. It can choose to have a sense of purpose, create a sense of belonging and to act with justice.
Yet, we continue to isolate ourselves from the collective and perform in an individualistic state. We continue to practice bias, judgement and prejudice. Individuals have become increasingly self-absorbed and delusional, moving one step closer to hoisting the status of celebrity upon ourselves: self promotion, self branding and self grandiose are now all a part of the individuals’ game. This is played out through increasingly convoluted job titles, and the willy-nilly distribution of make-up awards and honorary degrees that are often bought by the individuals themselves.
Operating within this very individualistic society are our leaders. Leaders are the architects of our organisations and countries. Organisations and countries exist within complex and multi-stakeholder systems. Therefore leaders need to place the needs of these systems above their self-interests. They need to activate dispersed leadership so that all are accountable and responsible. As someone once said, "no one individual has ever done it by himself or herself, no matter how great." John Buchan reinforces that "the task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there." And Winston Churchill articulates the balancing act for leaders as courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
Underlining all of this is the speed of change that we are going through as we hurtle towards the 4th industrial revolution. As with all good change management practice, we need visionary leadership, consistent, simple and clear communications, inclusive engagement, and collective and unified action. We need the courage to do the right thing. As Debra J. Levin says, “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
In these times of change doing the right thing is hard and often, not valued. And for the few, who speak their minds they can be both penalised and demonised. I came across an apt account of these: “brilliant but polarising individuals who speak their mind, don’t mind who they upset, dare to be different and fly so close to the sun they get regularly singed by the scorching rays of those who never have the guts or desire to break out of the box marked: ‘Conventional.”
We can’t all be Psychologists, Sociologists or Anthropologists who between them command sound knowledge and insight of behaviour, mental processes and societies but surely, organisations and societies should be seeking the help of these experts who can provide insight and guide us so that we can begin to halt the onslaught of a decaying society.
I appeal to us humans to have the grace to acknowledge and accept the simplicity that humanity speaks to humanity. That we find the courage to do the right thing, to practice introspection, and to care for each other, the environment and society at large. Most importantly, to stop the steady demise of humanity –humanity that is rotting away to the core. I leave you with a final quote to reflect upon:
“Genius has no race. Strength has no gender. Courage has no limit.” - Hidden Figures