Did you know International Children’s Day is celebrated every year on June 1st and Universal Children’s Day on November 20th? While the focus of these days is to internationally celebrate the youth in our lives, it was the phrase itself “international children” that really caught my eye. The very first image that popped into my head was that 70’s elementary school decor of cardboard cut-out multinational children with their hands all thumb-tacked together to form a love-chain, generally posted on the wall of a grade one classroom. We’ve all seen them: little boy in a Sombrero, little girl in a Kimono, young Dutch in wooden clogs and Inuit children in fur-skinned hooded coats, with charming cold red noses.
In the last few decades, those children have leapt from the wall and into the seats of the classrooms here in North America (minus the sombreros, kimonos and clogs). With population and classroom diversity consistently on the rise, now your child’s living, breathing, multinational view is forever expanding right from their very own desk.
As it does for all of us, the view from our classroom desk all too quickly becomes the view from our work desk. Workplaces are consistently echoing the growing diversity of our classrooms.
Fact: Almost all children are destined or have the potential to be the future workforce of our planet.
The phrase “international children” and the understanding of workplace/classroom multicultural symmetry led me to the following thought: despite all the differences between our students, colleagues, employees, and employers, a singular commonality is that we were all children. What a highly influenced thread that just so happens to seam us all together.
Fact: Children will inherently develop their own understanding of what diversity means based on their environment.
There is no way around this one. As a child, you witness the various views of social diversity that are expressed by the adult figures in your life. Whether it is at home, at school or in any number of environments, you grow to either appreciate and agree with those views, or do everything you can to run in the opposite direction. Regardless, whether you like it or not, your appreciation for diversity, your lack thereof, or your possible complacency will almost always stem back to your childhood experiences.
Fact: Diversity is continuously proven as a necessity to the fundamental core values of the global business community.
Here we are in 2011, and we are swimming in examples of how diversity has become such an integral part of all areas of business. Whether it be the bank that was just purchased by an international company, the medicine you take that was developed by a Japanese scientist in a German laboratory, or the bi-racial couple in that fast food commercial, multiculturalism is now an official part of our business decision-making. Diversity is represented throughout the entire journey from producing to selling to buying.
So and if:
· All the world’s children have the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow;
· To efficiently navigate as a leader in today’s business world, but more importantly tomorrow’s, one must have a sincere understanding of diversity;
· All children develop their initial ideas of diversity while they are young;
I am then left to ask this question:
What are we, as a global society, collectively learning and in turn teaching the children of today about diversity and inclusion, with the understanding that it will directly affect the world’s business dealings of tomorrow?
I’d say a large percentage of the global corporate executives of today are children from the 1950’s and on. These men and women (fewer women than men, but that’s a whole other blog!) comprise the senior executives and top level teams of all the major corporations you come in contact with every day.
Remember: The senior corporate executives of 2062 will be born this year.
A parting thought: The further we can expand a child’s educational exposure to diversity, the greater the opportunity and ability of our societies to thrive and innovate in the future.
“A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.” ~ George Santayana