Wednesday, June 20, 2007



Diversity and inclusion is a key business imperative for any organization. The rich tapestry of our society reflects the diverse nature of our global business. In our setting it is essential that we understand the cultures, customs, and communities of our children.

In our efforts to create and develop champions to advocate for and nurture social justice issues, inter-culturalism, and ethical citizenship, we look to the workplace as the strongest leverage point for the efficacy of our work. Workplace diversity is not only a wellspring for organizational creativity, energy and innovation. It is the foremost potential source for the autonomous critical thinking and civic toleration skills that are vital to both businesses and the societies we live within. Globalization is proving to be a two-edged sword. The cutting edge benefits of lower-priced, high quality products and broader options for materials and resources are counter-pointed with the ragged edge of relentless disenchantment and increased anxieties brought about by being required to exist in an incessantly shifting landscape with a constantly expanding world of faces, voices, and ideas.

Educational and socialization processes, largely designed for a less precarious, more homogeneous world that is fast disappearing, fail to equip the vast majority with effective skills in confronting this disenchantment and anxiety constructively. This failure leads to renewed conflicts as issues of citizenship and justice become distorted. Once students leave formal schooling, where do most adults turn to improve upon and increase understanding and intercultural interaction skills? Work is the primary venue where adults spend most of their out-of-home lives. Work is where socialization and education continues after primary schooling. The pursuit of voice, communicative competencies, and constitutional citizenship skills grounded in ethics and justice has become critical. Crucially, there is a disheartening inadequacy in the resources, tools, advice, and literature available to those internal and external professionals who are struggling with these new and increasingly complex diversity and cultural issues as they arise in the workplace and in society.

In spite of vast strides made within many companies, problems and difficulties arising from diversity among the employee population continue to trouble numerous firms, including several who have been recognized for their commitment to creating a diverse workplace. In many organizations, diversity efforts are only beginning to focus beyond the most prevalent concentration on issues of race and gender to include other aspects of identity such as sexual orientation, age, management styles, and physical differences, much less the more complicated issues emerging today. And yet, things appear to be getting even more complicated. As we move further into the 21st century, we are seeing previously latent aspects of employee identity such as language, ethnic assertiveness, xenophobia and religious fundamentalism become more visible and more vocal. With issues from multimillion dollar lawsuits to persistent marginalization and fragmentation unabated, it is clear that we have far to go before all of the potential benefits of a truly inclusive organization can be realized by the vast majority of businesses, and hence to the societies that we work and live within.

It is imperative that we move beyond the civil rights model of oppressor-oppressed to embrace pluralism informed by a relevant ethical framework. Therefore, my aim would be to educate, train, and certify a new generation of diversity, intercultural, and multicultural champions. I would provide practitioners with an alternative source of education, certification, and collaboration for their diversity and intercultural praxis such that workplace and societal issues of ethics, justice, pluralism, humanism, identity, autonomy, and dialogue, including communicative competencies, are made central. This alternative source would entail advocating a socially responsible stakeholder balance between employee autonomy and customer, supplier, financial, and community responsibilities. I would also provide orientations that would involve the latest theory informing the best practice methods directed at workplace intercultural social justice and intercultural dialogue.

1 comment:

Frank Watkins said...

The heart and mind are very important in a leader’s ethical decision making process both personal and professional. As a leader I must strive to be ethical in all my decision making whether at work or within my family or social environment. Ethics do not take a break. Ethics is a way of figuring out what we should do when faced with a problem. It consists of those morals and values that we hold dearly, and speaks volumes of who we are, and what we expect from others. It also provides continuity in making decisions.

As a leader, I see value added in myself through virtue because it leads to strengthening of honesty, integrity, independence, productiveness, justice, and pride in individuals. These elements become essential in personal and professional growth in trusting my actions as a leader; the acceptance of responsibility for those actions; and judging others through standards that are based on rational reasons. Applying these to everyday life assist me acting in the same ethical manner regardless of the different situations I must face in my various roles.

Forgetting the thinking process that keeps us align with our values can cause us to become ineffective as a leader and lose the trust we seek to obtain from others personally and professional. Therefore, as I see it, being open-heartedness is a foundation to ethical leadership as it helps to establish a link to our actions in public as well as in private.