I am currently experiencing the thrills of having a 4 year old old grandson running around the house. This is an experience, which I have not had to deal with in over forty years since my sons were born. But the events of this past week make me stop and wonder what type of organizations or society are we leaving for him, as he grows older?
In working with clients I advocate that in order for continuous process improvement efforts to be successful, your organization needs to become one of total involvement of the entire organization. How do you do that when under the surface you are harboring ill will towards your fellow workers because of their religion, their race, their color or their sexual preferences? How do you do that when you feel perfectly comfortable with inflicting harm to your fellow workers because they dare to think and believe differently then you do?
As a former educator I have become convinced that back in the 1990’s this country made a grave error in judgment when in the name of a societal target we eliminated the teaching of civics. When we believed that the past two generations did not have any need to learn the lessons of the past. But now those lessons from the past are coming back to haunt us. The world is changing and we have no clear way to stop the change. We are entering a new world and we can’t and in many cases don’t want to try and reverse time back to the pre-civil rights act era. We don’t want to, despite the rhetoric coming out of certain factions in D.C. want to go back to telling citizens we don’t want their involvement in our organizations or societies. We don’t want to go back to the era where your health and safety are in danger because you assist someone to become a contributing member of society by registering to vote. You have present in your organizations a large group of human capital assets called millennials who won’t tolerate that thought line.
At age 15 I wrote a letter to the local newspaper condemning Mayor Daly and his trained mob for the treatment of citizens choosing to demonstrate at the Chicago Democratic Political Convention. I worked on campaigns through the Goldwater era (I liked William Miller’s teen-age daughters better than Goldwater or his running mate). Went through school with a wide assortment of classes under the umbrella of Social Studies. We learned the fallout from the type of rhetoric we have seen over the past several days. We have seen the affects of leaders who proclaimed the virtues of having a homeland for a “pure civilization.”
The events in Minneapolis need to be an alarm going off in our heads and hearts that we are on a wrong course. It needs to be a sign we need to carefully review our hiring procedures to make sure we are encompassing, not exclusionary. Every day I receive notices of actions from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of organizations within this country that are trying to do just the opposite usually resulting in high financial risks to the organization It needs to be an alarm that our position as a great power in the world is in jeopardy. It is time that we change our modus operandi and recognizes the value of each and every person whether it is in our office, in our neighborhoods, or in our schools. We will succeed in our businesses and in our change initiatives as long as we recognize that every part of the organization has value. It is the value of the ideas that we bring forth that resolves organizational issues not the color of their skin, their religious beliefs or where they came from.
It is time that as Americans we tell the world we know that we are better than that. It is time we told the world that we recognize the value of human worth. It is time we told the world we have learned our lessons from the past when someone tried to create a “pure civilization.” We are only as good as the sum of our total parts. Each and everyone of us bring a vital part to the success of our civilization and our economies. It is time that we stop creating a de facto caste system in this country. It is time that we remember that snap judgements about people or ideas leads to disasters.