Some doubt remains as to where it comes from[i], but most of us will recognise this truth
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
No amount of good plans will deliver change unless underpinned by consistent and appropriate behaviours and values. The lockdown has got us all thinking, I suspect. #BlackLivesMatters and national events of international importance like the US Presidential election must drive us to reflect long and deeply about our driving principles.
I have enjoyed the opportunity recently to read others’ views, particularly of those who offer knowledge, not just opinion. Chief among these has been Dianne Greyson in her book Business Culture Review.
51 pages, 19 articles, 1 powerful collection.
I have never had the pleasure of meeting Dianne, but we follow each other on twitter. When I learned about her book, I did not doubt that it would stimulate and challenge. And so it has been proved.
Dianne published her collection in 2018, but fast forward two years, press play and, sadly, there is too much that still sounds far too loud. The articles are a rap sheet for today’s failings and challenges: ‘Leadership’; ‘Equality and Diversity’; ‘#EthnicityPayGap’; ‘(Dis)Ability: Untapped Talent’; ‘Bias or Unconscious Bias, That Is The Question’.
There is something in the collection of relevance to all ten of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010[ii]. Recent events, and one-to-one conversations with a rightly challenging former colleague, have pushed me to recognise and address my white privilege, but Dianne goes one step further[iii]
To succeed, we must challenge every aspect of negative behaviour, both individual and organisational. It is time to stand up and be counted so change can happen
As a teenager, I was paralysed from the neck down and wheelchair-dependent for several years. As a student and into my twenties, I took that experience, turned it into a mix of determination and targeted anger, and did something positive with it. I now have to admit that I’ve lost some of that energy; worse, I have to acknowledge that I've grown to accept second best. Dianne has reminded me that that isn’t good enough.
No article takes more than 5 minutes read, but every article needs several hours to absorb. Fast food, but with slow-burning nutrients for the mind and soul. There’s wisdom on every page, but I’ll shine a light on just two of the articles.
Firstly, in ‘Leadership’[iv], Dianne extols the virtues of thoughtful leadership. We’ve heard a lot about thought leadership recently – offering solutions to a wicked global problem – but the standout difference has been seen in the thoughtful leadership of people like Jacinda Ardern. The world, countries, organisations, communities need more Jacindas and Gretas and Malalas (anyone notice a common trait there?). People who lead with integrity and compassion and intelligence.
Secondly, in ‘Bias or Unconscious Bias, That Is The Question’[v], Dianne provokes us to confront an unavoidable truth. Unconscious bias may be so deep-seated that we are not aware that we are doing it - a reason but not an excuse, and prejudice nevertheless. But there are still far too many examples of conscious bias – overt or covert discrimination based on individual or organisational standpoint.
Dianne describes this as “inherent bias”, a permanent characteristic informed by nature and nurture. We may never eliminate such innate attributes, but we must never accept them by softening their reality or ignoring their impact. I’ve mused previously about the need for self-reflection, and Dianne reinforces this point[vi]:
Inherent bias is a strong and definitive way that shows people where their bias may stem from. If you get people to look in the mirror, they can then view the change they need to make
Dianne’s collection leaves us with a passionate and persuasive call to action. In ‘Accountability’[vii], she advises that equality and diversity will only come through collaboration and that if we fail to call out poor behaviour, we give it our tacit approval and become equally complicitous.
It made me think immediately of another thoughtful leader who has always been a personal inspiration. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter
This is an independent review, which I was neither asked nor paid to write. You can buy Dianne’s book in either Kindle of softback version.
#ForAChangeFriday – longer posts that encourage self-reflection and consider what’s needed to make change stick
[i] https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/05/23/culture-eats/ [ii] Age, disability, race, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, gender reassignment, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and maternity [iii] ‘Organisational Context’, p3 [iv] Pg 8-10 [v] Pg 35-37 [vi] ‘Bias or Unconscious Bias…’, p37 [vii] Pg 49-51