When my family moved to America from British Bermuda, I was still in elementary school, having completed first form, the equivalent of first grade, at the Bermuda High School (BHS) for Girls. Uniform and uniformed, I marched in step with the other girls, just as my mother had done through her entire schooling at BHS. Yes, I did stand out as the only Jewish girl in the school, or anywhere on the island. But generations of my family were well known on the island, so the singularity was tolerable. Inserted into a New York City suburb, I was delighted to find that this particular oddity was completely irrelevant. Unfortunately, an ongoing confidence crisis took its place.
The complex constellation of skills required for global leadership is continually morphing. The basic leadership competencies are only an axis around which revolve the specifics of local culture and the
analytics of the target culture globally. Therefore, not only does the knowledge management evolve, but so does the audience for global leadership development. At one time, the audience was primarily executives involved in international relocation. Over time, that group widened to include those who work with them: Human Resource departments, Supply Chain groups, and professionals with frequent contact, particularly in the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Today, in order to stay competitive in this environment, virtually every nation on the face of the planet is extending their global leadership training into new arenas. A key area is our youth, brought up on the internet with its impersonal speed and no-holds-barred communication style. The question now becomes, how can we capture the imagination, thought processes, and commitment of potential leaders in an arena with few quick answers or short tweets.
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?
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.
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.
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-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). Almost 50 year later, we are seeing another major societal and economic transformation that questions the role of an inclusive diversity.
Environmentalists may not be happy with some of the solutions to climate change. In a recent article in Wired Magazine, “Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green”, the top 10 ways to save the planet are likely to drive environmentalists crazy. Calling for Greens to unite around the issue of greenhouse gasses, the article makes the case for public policies that favor nuclear energy and urban density. The outcry from readers was memorable as they criticized the single mindedness of the article, its lack of supporting data, its in-your-face sensationalism, and overall creepiness. Yet, the discussion of climate change and public policy does and should raise these most difficult issues as new reports show irreversible damage.