“Leadership works through people and culture…” – Michael McGrath, inspirational speaker, performance catalyst and change agent
Let’s take a look at a case in question in the story below to help en-flesh the quotation above:
On the 11th of February, 2010, the Economist in an article entitled: ‘Toyota – Accelerating into trouble’, reported the woes of Toyota showing the failure of the Japanese Board to spot a mechanical fault with the new Toyota Prius’ run-away acceleration and braking system. The fault lead to customer complaints and law suits that is reported to total approximately $5 billion, with Toyota having to recall approximately 8 million vehicles world wide. The overall market value loss totalled approximately $30 billion according to suggested figures. In its overall evaluation of what might have gone wrong with Toyota, the Economist highlighted a cultural issue where leadership was based on “a rigid system of seniority and hierarchy” which prevented “new ideas” from questioning “the way things worked”.
In a nutshell, what supposedly went wrong with Toyota was the fact of the existence of a culture where Toyota staff ‘on the ground’ were disconnected from their leadership, such that the over-respectability for leadership, a culture perpetuated by the leadership themselves, prevented the sharing of basic information on the goings-on ‘on the ground’ that would have gone a long way to nipping the arising problems described in the bud had their existed a culture where leadership worked in, with and through its staff. Continue reading
As a ‘diversity professional’, some may question the reasons for engaging the chosen topic as it may appear to inadvertently question the very profession I have chosen as my area of expertise – which ultimately puts bread and butter on my table every day. Indeed, given reported cuts to the ‘diversity agenda’, diversity training programs, coupled with the fact that a good number of diversity jobs were amongst those cut off the back of restructuring programs in response to prevailing economic conditions, should this be a topic that we address at this time given clear sensitivities??
I think so. Indeed, the demise of diversity managers as explained above, itself serves as the precise reason for taking a step back to reflect on what may have gone wrong with regard the actual value organisations perceive diversity brings, which may have lead to the cutbacks in the diversity profession, and by implication, its initiatives and key services.
But before proceeding, there may be a need to address a key aspect of this question: What is the ‘21st century organisation’? What does it look like and what are its prevailing needs?
The 21st century organisation is symptomatic and characteristic of the following post-modern realities: Continue reading
I liken the above topic to the following story:
Two friends, Jack and Jill were on their way home from a party in the early hours of the morning. As they sat in their cab ride home Jack said to Jill, “Remind me to get some milk at ‘The 24hr Shop’ around the corner from home”. Jill replied: “We’re at least 30mins away from home, its 2am, will it be open?” Jack looked at her disbelievingly and responded: “What kind of a question is that Jill? It is called ‘The 24hr Shop’. Of course it will be open!!”
I have often wondered why many organisations remain hesitant at placing Diversity at the very heart of overall business strategy. Indeed, many organisations request a business case for diversity to further justify reasons for ‘engaging’ it as a business area. What this may point to, I suggest, is a gap in understanding. It is not business that creates diversity rather it is the very fact of diversity that creates business. Diversity is the coming together of different individuals from cross socio-cultural backgrounds and the different creative ideas they possess that leads to the development of new and fresh strategies needed to create, and keep businesses afloat so that they remain sustainable and competitive.
It is little wonder then that organizations that do not see the fundamental connection between diversity and overall business strategy commit a fundamental flaw in the logic of business strategy akin to the story above: Just as ‘The 24 hrs Shop’ implies within its title that it ought to be open for 24hrs, so too business practice ought to imply the practice of diversity as fundamental to its very existence. Indeed, a 24 hrs shop that is not in fact open for 24 hrs creates a logical absurdity in our minds regarding the choice of the name of the shop. In the same vein, I argue, businesses that do not have diversity as fundamental to business practice commit a logical absurdity in understanding business creation, development and continued sustainable operational success. Continue reading
In attempting to develop an understanding of the meaning of the concept of ‘diversity’, it is arguable to suggest that the best place to begin is by attempting an answer of the following 3 core philosophical questions: “Who am I?”, “Where am I going”?, “What does existence mean?”
Attempts to answer these questions can be traced back to a number of known philosophical thinkers: Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Martin Heidegger, Tielhard de Chardin, John Paul Sartre, etc – all of whom dominated the ancient, medieval and contemporary and modern philosophical periods.
But what was the common denominator running through the varied arguments each thinker posed? Arguably, I suggest it was attempting an understanding of the meaning of ‘existence’: What was it? What did it mean? Indeed, how am I connected to it?
I remember when studying philosophy at university, I was particularly interested in the theories of ‘identity’. The existentialist philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre took my particular fancy. Continue reading
The focus of our past discussions on this site has been all about attempting to explore what diversity is…
An ancient Greek school of philosophical thought suggested that the best way to discover what a thing is, is to proceed by a process of logical elimination, stating what the thing in question is not, in an attempt to truly find out what it is – hence our approach adopted below in trying to understand what diversity is…
Diversity is not…
- about race
- about the ‘symptoms’ of equality otherwise called ‘the 7 strands’ (race, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment), etc
- about being compliant or meeting set equality targets
- about equal representation
- about ‘minorities’ or a ‘majority/ minority divide’
- about recruiting untalented, unskilled or unqualified people into an organisation to balance workforce databases
- about being tokenistic
- about doing a ‘favour’
- about doing a ‘good deed’ as part of an organisational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy
- a ‘bolt-on’ to add ‘value’ to business strategy or organisational process
- about discrimination
- even about positive action
- about businesses becoming diverse – diversity creates businesses!
….so what is diversity actually about??
This is a question for you to continue to think about as we start the week… indeed, do let us know your thoughts regarding it.
NB: Watch out for a forthcoming article entitled “On: A Philosophy of Diversity” where we will take a look at the concept of diversity purely from a philosophical perspective the aim being to begin attempting to unravel an answer to the question posed above…
Let’s begin with a clarification of terms: ‘Diversity agenda’? What does that mean? This article is not about pointing the ‘castigating finger’ at Test Publishers. Nor is it about attempting to juxtapose the ‘diversity agenda’ over-against the ‘agenda’ of Test Publishers as though they were in fact distinct agenda’s. If diversity is fundamentally about the effective management of all people, regardless of background, then the ‘diversity agenda’ alluded to in our topic above, is in fact at the very heart of Test Publishers agenda – whether this is understood or not. Continue reading