Diversity FAQ’s No 18: How is Diversity connected to ‘Globalisation’?

Globalisation refers to the process of the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or of ‘popular culture’ through acculturation (or the assimiliation and association of cultures), driven by economic unification – making the world move into the proverbial ‘global village’.

Diversity is connected to globalisation through the following 4 main 21st century realities or drivers:

  • The Phenomena of ‘World Immigration’,
  • New Technologies
  • The Internet
  • The breaking down of geo-political borders between countries

The Phenomena of ‘World Immigration’

In the 1980’s and the early 90’s, most ‘talk’ on immigration tended to focus and convey pictures in our minds of ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’ and those that were ‘economically displaced’ as a result of war, etc.

This thinking has now radically changed: With globalisation now a full reality of the modern world, the migration of people from across all cultures driven by the ‘processes’ of globalisation as they interconnect with the social, political, economic and cultural dimensions of countries across the world, what I call ‘world immigration’ has naturally sprung up and gradually replaced the traditional conceptions of immigration we previously tended to have.

Indeed, as of 2005, the United Nations found that there were nearly 191 million international migrants worldwide, about 3 percent of the world population, and an increase of 26 million based on figures taken in 1990. Furthermore, in 2009, a world-wide survey conducted by Gallup revealed that of those surveyed, 700 million adults stated that they would like to immigrate to another country if they had the chance.

With the ‘face’ of the world radically changing and having a consequent impact on the demographic, ethnical and socio-cultural values of societies and countries, it is not surprising that the link between diversity and globalisation has naturally crystallised itself not just in our minds, but visibly through our ‘ways of doing’, our practices and in our societal structures.

The Internet

The first email was supposedly sent approximately 40 years ago on April 7th, 1969 – way before my time! Prior to that, if a person in England wanted to converse with say, an individual in China or the Middle East, a telegram would have been the solution. Now the internet has literally opened up the avenues to intricate and complex communication methodologies far and wide via the simple click of a button!

Sharing ideas using Facebook, with it’s 250 million users, Twitter with its 145 million users, and millions of others using communication portals like Yahoo, Hotmail, YouTube, MSN, LinkedIn, Skype, etc, the opportunities to connect, share  ideas, network, build online business processes using the talents of people from a range of backgrounds is an overtly clear sign of how the diversity of individual ideas is maximising and driving the processes of globalisation.

New Technologies

Think of the iPad, itouch screen phones, Android technology, tailored phone apps, web video – connecting straight to your TV, mobile phone wallets – instead of using credit cards, context aware apps – that enable you cut through excesses on the internet, cloud technology – which will see information processing done via satellite instead of on your phone or laptop such that your operating systems are able to access data with greater ease…and the list goes on

We haven’t even mentioned Green Technologies which eventually may see cars running on water not fuel or even electricity! I am not a ‘techy’, but one thing is clear to me, the technological change the world is currently undergoing is unrivalled. Indeed, I believe we are living in an age akin to the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s, where steam engines are not the drivers of change; the unification of diverse ideas are…

The breaking down of geo-political borders between countries

The effects of globalisation leading to greater unification of ideas and peoples can be clearly seen in the collapse of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November, 1989, the dissolution of the Soviet Union between Jan 1990 and December 1991, the birth of the European Union in 2005, the opening up of trade markets with China such that it is now seen as the new hub for business, trade, and investment.

Indeed, we can also see the effects of globalisation driving the political emancipation movements of peoples in the Arab world from Egypt, to Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc. All these political changes, some of which have had social networking as key to their uprising, is symptomatic of the drivers of globalisation intricately associated with the diversity of ideas acting as the fuel behind such changes taking place.

…so here’s the question:

Bearing in mind the above, and viewed from an organisational perspective, these processes of globalisation play themselves out through the diversification of talent and the sourcing of specialist skills businesses need in order to meet the ever changing demands of their diverse customers – thus ensuring they remain relevant in the production of goods and services in the ‘global market place’. What we are talking about here, in a nutshell, is organisational sustainability.

So the question bearing in mind the above is: What are we as people professionals doing to incorporate these drivers when designing and developing our business strategies to ensure sustainability? Indeed, how reflective are our businesses of these drivers ensuring that services delivered actually reflect the needs of the ‘global individual’?

These are questions we shall attempt to answer in the next FAQ: “How is diversity connected to business strategy?

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