Monday, March 30, 2009


The above article details the recent wave of high-level resignations at the Equality & Human Rights Commission. This is a body set up to enforce equalities legislation in this country and is now itself in crisis, in some cases because of unfairness and inequality.

In Britain, the issue of race will not go away unless Britain addresses its deep cultural 'will to power'. There is a strong desire for people to have power over others and control them so that they themselves can rule the roost. As long as this cultural trait prevails, there is very little chance for ethnic minorities to progress, except in very competitive commercial organisations or in their own 'ghetto' businesses and bodies. And paradoxically, most ethnic minorities are not after power - in fact, in their cultures, power is seen in a very different way. In my own culture, power is not over others, but it is sought to overcome one's own inner vices and greed. This is the key to lasting freedom and happiness, not the temporary and fragile power over others.

Diverse Ethics can help guide leaders in organisations to overcome this will to power. In fact we are already successful in doing so with some significant national organisations. However, we can only do so if the leaders make a determined effort to re-create an organisational culture toward sustainable values and ethics. We can draw on differing ancient wisdoms on power to show how its fears and insecurities can be overcome to create a new dawn for the individual and the organisation.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I have become hooked on the above new BBC TV series, 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith. I have seen many series on crime, but this one is striking because it is set in Botswana with all the colours and the different scenery, the actors are non-white, and the plots are so simple and realistic. I often find that with crime fiction, the modern approach is to show power, use all the weaponry and science to commit or decode the crime, and show a clear divide between the criminals and the good people.

Here on the other hand, the detective has a small pick-up car, is a 'fat' woman, and charges based on the ability of the payer - sometimes doing work for free. Also there are children involved throughout, there is very little of the usual sex and violence formula, and the approach is to use imagination rather than powerful and expensive resources. No attempt is made to ignore or bypass that which is not 'normal' and instead every attempt is made to be inclusive. Also in one episode, there are three or four crimes solved, so it is diverse in itself. The first pilot film was shot by the late Anthony Minghella and he did a superb job. The series is really living up to his high standards of production and direction.

To me, this series shows the power of diversity and the mosaic it weaves through everyday life. Without it, life would be so dull. I strongly recommend it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


There is a lot of ignorance about the true benefits of diversity. If asked, people might define it as equal opportunities, equal chances, fair treatment, respect. I have even encountered educated people who ask me 'what's diversity'!

In truth there are no short answers. But if we recognise that all organisations depend on people and their quality and integrity as its very core, then diversity starts to take a whole new world of meaning. Because if we are dealing with people, then we need to understand what it is that really stirs them from the inside - what they believe in, value, like, dislike, and so on. Until we understand that and acknowledge it, we will be working superficially rather than holistically. In reality, this is where most organisations operate - they have a goal, and want to use people to get there. They feel dealing with people's cultures and values is messy and for some, maybe even a breach of their privacy.

Let us take the example of the current financial crisis. How much emphasis was given to evaluating the ethics of bankers, their integrity? What about the economists who teach and write on banking matters - how much do they care about the impact of their writing on society? Are they doing their work just for themselves?

Diversity is about understanding and respecting culture, harnessing the variety of opinions for the steering of the organisation, and building trust and values to make the culture truly global and open. It is not about 9-5 but 5-9 - what the employeed lives and breathes outside of work and how those passions can be harnessed. It is by nature soft, non-mechanical, even unpredictable, but therein also lies its strength. Diversity can cushion an organisation during difficult times, opening new horizons, new ideas for getting out of the mess.

Yes, organisations need to do cultural hedging, improve cultural competence, and see culture as a way of building sustainable wisdoms.