So here’s the issue for today’s blog. The fallout from the 2020 American Election is incredible. I dislike immensely “time stamping” my blogs, but this one is being written when a winner of the Presidential race has yet to be confirmed! Emotions are through the roof, especially South of our Canadian border! Politics ignites an explosive division in our humanity and not just in the “United” States of America, which is clearly becoming
“The Divided States Of America”! But I have no intention of exploring politics today. That’s like walking through a minefield.
As a professional speaker, I have many focal points for my material and it’s dictated by the “diversity” of my audience. So a question…what was your first thought when I used the word “diversity”? Did you think of the politically correct version? It’s funny. When “I” contemplate the word, I come up with what may appear a self-serving observation.
In November of 2018, I had an incredible three weeks. On three successive Friday’s, I was a Keynote speaker for the most “diverse” of groups. First was 2,500 professional hair and aesthetic stylists for one of the most significant industry events called “Inter-coiffure” in Manhattan. It was on par with the Paris runways for models.
Second, was the Caribbean Banking Association in Nassau, Bahamas and this was 200 financial executives from across the Caribbean. And then I wrapped up the following Friday with GolfTec in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was a largely male audience of Golf Professionals who use the latest digital technology to assess and coach golfers.
What did these three groups have in common? First…Me! Each group had me as their Keynote and they chose me not for my expertise in hairstyling, banking or golf! Second, they had in common their professional lives, which is the essence of these events. I often like to tell these groups, nobody on Planet Earth knows how it feels to do what you do more than the people in this room! Many things bring us together as a society. Our jobs, our kids, our communities we live in.
Powerful Business Strategy
It’s the third item of commonality I get most excited about. My clients are simply the best. Even the simple notion that they bring in guest speakers for their people speaks volumes. They want their people to grow individually so their organizations can grow, but that’s not just a warm and fuzzy observation.
To me, that’s “Diversity”! Not gender. Not race. Not even people with disabilities, which I clearly qualify for by the politically correct definition! I also view diversity as a powerful business strategy.
Today’s new corporate world has more challenges than ever. Increased competition, decreased profit margins and most importantly, huge pressure on the leadership and on Human Resources departments to cater to so many new truths. As Nelson Mandela called it after his shocking election in 1994,
“The Rainbow Nation” wasn’t just about sexual preference that may be evoked today.
It was about all the “differences” that needed to be addressed and embracing our common humanity was the key! But the ultimate objective of today’s new HR World is making the workplace a “Safe Space” so all employees come to work feeling completely comfortable in being their authentic self. And yet, one element is often missed in this dialogue.
What does your customer or client feel about your organization? Do they see it as a “Safe Space” to bring their money? Some cynics would answer, “I could care less about what HR does for this company, all I care about is the best deal, period!” Fair enough. But that’s not my approach and it’s not the approach of the thousands of organizations I’ve spoken for in 40 years on stage. My client list includes some of the most successful on the planet, and their care for their people and customers is why they succeed. They are masters of “Diversity & Inclusion” and while bottom line matters, people matter more!
By the way, the first time I examined the expression, “Safe Space”, I disliked it immensely. Honestly, my first reaction was directly linked to a huge pet peeve of mine, overprotective parenting! My research showed that the “Safe Spaces” concept had various origins. Please do some of your own as it’s a bit confusing. But I remember it catching my attention when Universities used the safe space excuse to ban controversial guest speakers and censor some books reflecting racism in particular. For me, that’s just plain wrong! Some concepts may make us uncomfortable, but so many of them evoke essential changes to the status quo!
Remember when mixed race marriage was taboo? It’s insane to consider some countries still make homosexuality a crime and if anyone even speaks against the policy, they are jailed without a trial! That’s just plain wrong. But you see why even blogging about this is tricky.
Maybe we need to come up with a different expression to describe policies that to me, define the new truth. Maybe you can send me some of your “ideas”! Isn’t that the essence of “Diversity”?
Define The New Truth
And the essence of a well balanced work place as well. A place where people can come to work completely comfortable with who they are and can feel “safe” to speak their mind, contribute concepts and perspectives that are what make each of us so vital and relevant to humanity.
Last thought. I would never, ever, advocate a “Culture of Clones” so when we have any election, anywhere, we must be allowed to exercise our democratic right of choice. But when the winner is revealed, it’s essential to respect the Victor. We may not like the results but they reflect society and all its “Diversity”! Isn’t that what makes us “Human”? All of us!