We are constantly shuttling between local and global in our work today. Your markets may be in your home town one month, and across the country the next. Your consulting work can be on site around the corner, or across the country. Online night and day, we inform, coordinate, network, and market here at home and across the world. In the midst of massive information overload, the diverse team must have the expertise to cross cultures competently and the wisdom to make effective decisions quickly. In the future, the overload will only intensify. How will we master the global – local connection as it moves and morphs at lightening speed?
My kerfuffle with a department store floor ended with me lying on the floor. All that went through my mind was, “How will I get everything done for our Women’s History Storytelling celebration?” Part of me muttered, “We’re doomed!” But part of me said, “Ah, the Broken Bone Factor! This isn’t a disability – this is diversity at work! ”
This wasn’t my first experience with the Broken Bone Factor. Chicago 1990, I sat in my office, staring at the cast on my broken foot. I’d survived three years planning the National Workshop on Christian-Jewish relations, but oversee the actual 4-day conference was like running a marathon through the world’s hottest topics: Church-State issues, International wars, Life & Death. The convention center had just called yelling, “Extra security!” Sighing and muttering, “We’re doomed!” I hoped that maybe broken bones and breaking ground went together. Amazingly the planners produced the best religious diversity conference I’ve ever seen. Thank you, planning committee, always.
The president of the Chattanooga area Chamber of Commerce opened the combination reception, celebration, and press conference at Chattanooga’s Hunter Museum on July 15, 2014. The online invitations had gone out only 24 hours earlier, but the room was packed with 800 people. It had been six years since I attended the announcement of the Volkswagen plant coming to Chattanooga in this room. This year was noteworthy because of the wrangling over union representation, politics, state funding, and various personality driven conflicts that would determine whether Volkswagen would build a second car here.
A discussion of engineering careers for women was recently held at the office of the Interim Dean at the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Sciences/ University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The dialogue highlighted issues of work-life balance, career choices and STEM education. Convened by Lulu Copeland, the diverse discussion group included the following participants from the Chattanooga and North Georgia area.
The Double-Dog-Dare Challenge
One of the positive side effects of the recent, rather dismal, report on Google’s diversity workforce data is the determination to see it as “a double dog dare” challenge. When PBS NewsHour alerted me in advance of the airing of the show, I leaped at the chance to jump into the fray. My thanks to PBS for providing a transcript for “Google’s diversity record shows women and minorities left behind.” Here are highlights from the PBS NewsHour conversation on the diversity of STEM nationally and how Chattanooga is responding to that challenge on a local level.
For those who put themselves in harm’s way for their families, friends and country,
For those whose lives were taken in war-torn lands far from home And for all those who carry the wounds of war proudly and with honor,
Let us say a prayer of thanks and remembrance of courage and of valor.
To recall a war whose evil was heard around the globe and changed us forever,
To watch the destruction of civilization and hear the cries of the oppressed,
Is to know that good people cannot remain silent or deny commandments from above.
But must believe that “There, but for the Grace of God,” go you and I, and all we love.
As peaceful as this field of headstones As beautiful as the bouquets that mark your graves,
So may be – the rest you’ve earned so well,
While your lives touch our hearts with the stories that they tell.
Despite an increase in lawsuits related to religious expression and workplace discrimination, religious diversity is an area of Diversity & Inclusion often missing from leadership development. The silence is due to lack of exposure and to fear, perhaps well-founded, that religious diversity training may actually increase animosity in the workplace, rather than build bridges. Given the recent Supreme Court ruling sanctioning public prayer as an American tradition, a tradition that has often been Christian, the role of diverse religions in the US is increasingly murky and contentious.
Inclusion is not new
Six years ago, I described how Inclusion-related policies and legal regulations have long been part of economic and social change, and, at times, part of emotional and combustible debate. Inclusion took 50 years of wrangling after the first Women’s Suffrage conference in the mid-1800s to achieve a constitutional amendment granting women the vote. It took another 50 years for the Civil Rights Movement to seriously impact the workplace and establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Now, with COVID-19 and serious calls for racial justice, we are seeing another major societal and economic transformation that questions how we can achieve an inclusive diversity.