Diversity: Let’s think about Fairness…differently – Part 1


All…people ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as is in my power, they, and all others, shall have” – Abraham Lincoln

When one looks at it, the term ‘fairness’ has been at the epicentre of some of the world’s key historical moments that span through the decades to the present day. Defined as ’the quality of being equitable or just’, a core issue fairness has to deal with is the apparent limitation of human experience to adequately ‘dispense’ fairness to others. This is not to suggest that we are unable or incompetent to be real ‘dispensers’ of fairness. It is rather to recognise that given the complexities of ‘difference’ and ‘sameness’ that are played out in the reality of each individual, being able to positively manage difference is an indispensable quality for adequately ‘dispensing’ fairness.

Positively managing difference is not rocket science. It is simply about recognising individuality. It means being capable and being predisposed to understanding people’s similarities as well as their differences as a matter of normalcy. A bit like holding a coin and recognising that though it has two different sides, it is still one and the same coin. Continue reading

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On: Executive Salaries – The Diversity Impact


http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/16144464

David Cameron stepped into the issue of Executive Pay last week on the Andrew Marr Show, and the topic has once again graced the media airwaves. Frustrated at what he called ‘excessive executive salaries’, Cameron argued that his concerns were not so much that Directors within the FTSE 100 earned what they did, but that they earned what they did despite clear corporate market failure. Here are some statistics: between 2008 and the end of 2011, a period of deep economic downturn, figures suggest that whilst pay for the average worker either fell sharply or at best flat-lined, that of Board Directors almost doubled, going up by 49%. Indeed, further evidence suggests that pay rises were born more out of the somewhat accepted state of affairs whereby fellow Board Directors simply rubber-stamped each others inflated s alaries or what is termed ‘Merry-go-round capitalism’  based on a cronyism of ‘old boys’ networks. Of course, this is all to be understood within the backdrop of the fact that executive pay in the UK over the last 20 years has gone up 8 times, the highest in the world, even more than America

The intention here, however, is not actually to directly castigate the practices described above – am sure this has been done several times over. Rather, I actually want to highlight the implications of such practices showing how they negatively impact the very fabric of business ethics. David Cameron used two very interesting words in this regard which rang true to me: ‘Transparency’ and ‘Fairness’. I add a third, ‘Inclusivity’. Continue reading

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3 tips for making a lasting change in 2012…


As we enter the New Year, talk about New Year Resolutions is all around us. “What are you giving up this year”, people ask? High amongst the regulars are giving up smoking, losing weight, going to the gym more regularly, and starting a diet or detox regime to get rid of the Christmas excesses. These resolutions are all good and great, and I wish you all the best as you set out to achieve them. Indeed, where these assist in facilitating positive change, they are to be encouraged.

But what about those resolutions that help drive real change and reform character? Those that promote the human spirit; that facilitate the opportunity for each individual to achieve their best in the workplace and society; that create an environment characterised by fairness, inclusivity and transparency leading to a new paradigm for positive human co-existence? What about these resolutions?

Here are 3 simple tips alongside the others aforementioned above that will assist in the creation of lasting change this year, and importantly, beyond: Continue reading

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A Theology of Christmas…


Christmas is here again!  Indeed, Christmas last year only feels like yesterday – the smiles, the food, the celebrations – by Christians and non-Christians alike. Christmas is an event that brings people together and has taken on pluralistic connotations such that its meaning now goes beyond parochial Christian specific interpretations.

Christmas, and what it represents – ‘the coming of the kingdom’ (Mark 1:15) – is theologically symbolic of human aspirations toward goodness, freedom and spiritual connectedness. Its significance and true meaning therefore is necessarily ‘religiously’ pluralistic in nature as it points to an ethic and value that is recognised as being endemic in all people, regardless of belief systems and theological predispositions.

Thinking of Christmas in this way is not entirely new. Karl Rahner, Richard Swinburne, and Walter Kasper specifically, all known contemporary philosophical theologians thought that the man, Jesus, also known as ‘the Christ’, is himself, an ‘event’ to be understood: his theological significance is the introduction of an aspirational new world order recognisable by all people. After all, the word ‘Christmas’ itself, derived from the Latin ‘Cristes’ for ‘Christ’ and ‘Missa’ for ‘Mass’ or ‘Eucharist’, literally means ‘to show forth the Christ’ – and suggests a coming together of world-peoples despite apparent differences, all of which literally dissipates and dissolves into nothingness, as we gaze at ‘the Christ’ and his universal symbolism.

I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, and importantly, tucking into the array of hearty meals that is typical of the Christmas festivities. This is what Christmas is about afterall! But as I look forward to doing so, I cannot help but appreciate and recognise how Christmas has been embraced all over the world; by varied peoples, cultures, governments, societies, political systems,  etc – a true symbolism of the strong thread of unity we share despite apparent differences.

A very Merry Christmas to you!!

Jude-Martin is Director of Diversity is…a consultancy focused on providing a fresh and innovative approach to diversity through the provision of HR services covering Strategy, Assessment, and Development for ensuring effective people management in the 21st century global business context.

For more information contact: www.diversity-is.com judemartin1st@yahoo.co.uk or call 07738427180

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Who is ‘Jo(e) Bloggs’??


Over the last couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking about issues relating to ‘customer service’ and the direct impact ‘the customer’ has in driving profitability and competitiveness, particularly in the retail sector, more so as Christmas approaches. Indeed, whilst at a client meeting, when I inquired what the present key business challenge was, the answer was pretty direct: “…to increase sales, promote quality and drive down costs…” These challenges are similar across a multitude of industries and sectors, more so now than ever before, and are constantly reported in the media. Indeed, as I sit here typing away, I can hear the BBC News from my TV announcing in the background “…the British Retail Consortium announces that like-for-like sales in the UK fell 1.6% compared to this time last year…the weakest sales figures for 6 months…”.

I think it is correct to suggest that at the heart of the ‘drive’ to increase sales and drive down costs are the economic conditions being faced globally – particularly in Europe and America. The arguments for these are widely debated so we won’t tinker with them, but the pervading question remains: How do we begin to map a path toward a viable solution?? How do we practically go about increasing business sales and driving down costs? I think a good place to start may be by returning back to the very basics by asking ourselves the question: “Who is Jo(e) Bloggs”?? Continue reading

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Diversity FAQ’s 22: “How is Diversity measured in Organisations?”


Building an inclusive organisation is not just about the balanced scorecard data we track to measure progress…it is as much about our attitude and behaviours and having a sense of empathy for different experiences.” – Gwen Houston, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager,  Microsoft

This question is often asked alongside the following questions: “What is the business case for diversity”? “How does it directly impact the bottom-line?”  The business case for diversity has now been well established and there is so much evidence out there in terms of case studies, research papers, and published data on organisational metrics, so much so that when I am confronted with this question, an alternative question instinctively pops up in my mind which itself questions the very presuppositions of the question being asked: “Where is the ‘will’ or ‘readiness’ in your organisation to get the run started?”, I hear the voice in my head ask.

By ‘organisational will’ or ‘readiness’, I refer to the desire of an organisation to actually want to maximise the best of ‘people differences’ as part of a talent strategy linked to key business outcomes. This baseline understanding only arises out of an internalised appreciation of the ‘business case’ viewed from a broader context of creating a competitive advantage. It suggests a mental shift from seeing diversity as a ‘positive action’ and/or equality driven initiative aimed primarily at balancing workforce databases, to be actually about organisational performance driven directly by the effective and inclusive management of people.

Effective people management cuts across all organisational levels. Understanding how diversity can be measured therefore, must first and foremost begin with understanding the ‘complexity’ of ‘what’ is to be measured?? Measuring diversity is not simply about taking a look at observable ‘workforce representation’ datasets – that is a pretty basic measurement. It is rather, as Ed Hubbard, an OD Consultant suggests, about developing strategic tools for effectively measuring the following 4 key inter-connected layers – in tandem: Continue reading

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Reflections on Organisational Culture…


“Culture to an organisation is what personality is to an individual

Organisational culture can appear to be one of those ‘fluffy’ terms we hear spoken about in the workplace, but which tends not be given as much ‘air time’ as ‘Business Development’, ‘Sales’, and ‘Financial Planning’, etc. I often hear business professionals say, ” I really need to focus on the ‘bread and butter’ at the moment, all that other ‘culture stuff’ frankly can wait

A bit like a dog, dizzied by running around in circles chasing its tail, we can at times tend to ignore that which really matters and which has long term consequences, in favour of chasing the immediate and short-lived. Organisational culture is like the rails upon which a train runs. Though ensuring the comfort of passengers is of immediate importance, of even greater importance is the regular maintenance of the rails to ensure the safe and continuous running of the train. Indeed, where there exists a slight relaxing in the focus on the safety of the rails themselves, the consequences can be catastrophic for passengers – as we already know from unfortunate experiences.

These are economically challenging times: Europe is in a deep financial crisis – and the impact on organisations in the UK particularly, in terms of redundancies and reduced staff investment, is widely acknowledged. It is of course a natural human reaction of leadership to consistently focus, sometimes unknowingly, on the ‘hard’ bottom-line organisational functions which directly influence how the Profit and Loss Corporate balance sheet ‘looks and feels‘. But “what about the people”, I ask?? It is equally important to remember during these times that just like the train that needs a safe track to run on, so too do organisations totally depend on their people to ensure they emerge from through these challenging times – unscathed. Continue reading

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