Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Do for Diversity: Dialogue and Develop

Yes, it is promising that the UN has inspired a World day of Cultural Diversity Dialogue and Development intended to provide an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the cultural diversity values and how to learn to live together better. Out of this came the slogan ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion.’ 

However, I am intrigued that  ‘dialogue’ does not seem to be acknowledged in a way that will evoke the change we need from this potentially powerful mantra.  Rather, examples on the website mainly focus on only the doing by exploring different cultural foods, art or theatre.  So where is the dialogue?

To begin with the roots of the word dialogue come from the Greek words dia and logos . Dia mean 'through'; logos translates to 'word' or 'meaning'. In essence, a dialogue is a flow of meaning.  In the ancient sense, it also meant a coming together perhaps as community, which we can infer as having relationships.

Consider how frequently at work or in the media does the word ‘dialogue’ appear.  And yet how often do we stop and reflect on what the word actually means …and the possible positive implications?

William Isaacs Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together writes that:

“Dialogue... is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channeling it toward something that has never been created before” … and I would add, to achieve something better than even imagined; the benefits of actualizing dialogue.

The question is how does one dialogue respectfully considering that respect can look so different in a multi-cultural world? That’s where developing your Cultural intelligence or CQ in the four capabilities of drive, knowledge strategy and action is essential.  A strong CQ enables each of us to function effectively adapting across various cultural contexts (national, ethnic, organizational, generational, etc.).

( Soon Ang and Linn Van Dyne, “Conceptualization of Cultural Intelligence” in Handbook of Cultural Intelligence: Theory, Measurement, and Applications (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008), 3.

Let’s assume you are motivated to ‘do for diversity’ with the goal of achieving an enhanced understanding of another, thereby strengthening your relationship. Consider reaching out to some one different than your own cultural background and invite them for a coffee. The invitation is to mutually explore each other’s culture through a dialogue of respect from the each other’s perspective.

How to begin? Given your drive or enjoyment, confidence and understanding of the benefits to this dialogue is already strong, start with some research to gain knowledge about the person’s cultural value dimensions. Think of these dimensions as a range of possibilities- neither end being better than the other and only a starting point of awareness on how to act or behave.   For example, there are values on time, family, status and risk. Values such as ‘low context’ express an emphasis on explicit or direct communication that rely on words, while a ‘high context’ stresses indirect communication that is subtler in tone and includes elements of silence.

However knowing is not enough.

Plan your strategy with the awareness and intent to adapt your actions because:

  1. Research proves we all have biases- both unconscious and conscious (Source: Blind Spots M Banaji A Greenwald). Do the Implicit Association Test to find out yours.
  2. ‘Checking in’ with your self and your colleague will identify for example, the context distinction: what you will ‘hear’ and learn about the content of the answer is different from listening for how it is delivered.

Bottom line:

Uusing the four CQ capabilities of Drive Knowledge and Strategy enables you to Act with more respect having authentically dialogued with an openness to the center. Experience the delight in achieving a meaningful  multi cultural connection!

Just doing it as in Nike’s powerful slogan simply does not cut it in today’s world of global connectedness and conflict. Developing your Cultural Intelligence to Do for Diversity: Dialogue and Develop is the only way to go!

World Day for Cultural Diversity and for Dialogue and Development

In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in December of 2002, the UN General Assembly declared May 21st to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, in order to promote tolerance and further our global commitment to cultural diversity. The Universal Declaration was created in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001 at the UNESCO general conference to make the assertion that “respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are among the best guarantees of international peace and security, on a global and international level”. UNESCO’s Universal Declaration lays the groundwork for implementing Cultural Diversity through 12 articles, each comprised of a paragraph or two focusing on a specific aspect for furthering this global initiative.

Over the past few years there have been several efforts to promote and raise awareness through this international day of action. Most recently in 2011, UNESCO and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNOAC) started a grass roots movement, by the name of “Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion” that featured a Facebook page dedicated to individuals and organizations who are taking steps to create more diversity in their lives and leading by example. Since its start, the page has supported things like the Intercultural Innovation Award, the “Do One Thing” video contest, and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Summer School.

This June 2015 the UNOAC along with Education First (EF) will host the third edition of their “Youth For Change” Summer School program, that that brings together 75 youth leaders from around the world to “engage in dialogue across borders, focusing on how to better understand, manage and promote diversity, while also learning how to leverage differences in identity to shape a world that is healthier, safer, more peaceful and inclusive”.  It can give us such great hope to see the kind of passion and dedication that many youth have today, as they set out to lead our way towards a more tolerant and diverse world in the future. As the Director- General of UNESCO Irena Bokova so eloquently explains, “it is our responsibility to develop education and intercultural skills in young people to sustain the diversity of our world and to learn to live together in the diversity of our languages, cultures and religions, to bring about change”.

When we break it all down Dialogue leads to Action, and Action leads to Change! When we begin the conversation about cultural diversity and inclusion with those around us we put into motion the gears of possibility. By coming together to understand one another’s culture and background, of what makes us unique, we begin the journey of bridging the gap between nations, coming together for a common goal, a common good. Often when we begin to celebrate each other’s differences we begin to realize that we have more things that unify us than separate us.

Interested in learning more about cultural diversity, contact us today. 

The Global Learning Newsletter: May 2015

Welcome! Global Learning has been keeping busy this last month, as we get set to release our new and improved website in June.  Stay tuned for this exciting launch. We’d also like to extend a warm thank you to our valued strategic partner CAMSC, for including Global Learning in their annual Procurement Fair. 

To read, download, or share the May 2015 Global Learning Newsletter - click here.

Should you have any difficulty accessing the newsletter, contact info@egloballearning.com, and we can email you a pdf version.  - Thank you !

Global Learning Infographic: International Day Against Homophobia 2015

Monday, 11 May 2015

Getting to Know You: Shawn Mintz, MentorCity

This month we had the opportunity to interview Shawn Mintz, the founder and creator of MentorCity, and Global Learning’s newest strategic partner. It was such an honor to speak with Shawn, a brilliant man, with an inspiring story about chasing your dreams and doing what you love. When Shawn begins to tell you about mentoring and the passion that he has for it, you immediately get a sense that he has found his calling and he is truly living it!

Shawn spent the first 13 years of his career in the non-for profit sector, working for an organization that helped newcomers to Canada to get their first job. He was hired by the company as a career counselor, but soon went on to create an entire marketing department for the organization. A few years later he developed and established his first “mentoring initiative that was offered on a regular basis, sometimes up to three to four times a week”. Shawn recalled those first mentoring sessions and how, “whenever I could I would just sneak into the room and I would just watch people. I loved their hand gestures, their facial expressions and how excited they were when they were having those mentoring conversations”.  He loved how “at the end of every single event, the mentees were ready to take on the world, and the mentors also felt amazing because they were able to pay it forward and really give back to the community”.

“Everyone was so excited during those mentoring sessions, that the energy literally filled the room”.

That was the moment when Shawn realized that if mentoring had that kind of impact on people’s lives, he wanted to do more of it! From there, the spark was ignited, and he started to write about mentoring and later began writing a book. It was around this time, while preparing to have a meeting with one of his own mentors, that he had an idea.  “I realized that there were just so many books out there about mentoring but there really wasn’t anything that actually matched people to mentors, like an E-Harmony, but for mentors”. Shawn shared his idea with his own mentor, who responded with great enthusiasm and basically gave him the confidence and encouragement to begin pursing his idea. It was from that mentor meeting that “I just really started focusing on the business plan and turning it into reality. So I left my fulltime job and followed my dream. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I jumped ship to create a dream company”

Shawn went on to tell me about his company and how his mentoring program works. MentorCity, which was founded in 2011, offers private mentoring programs to companies and is designed to connect employees within a particular organization to one another, by matching mentees to mentors, and then leading those matches through the entire mentoring process. For instance “if you were an employee you would go onto the site, you would fill out your profile which is all LinkedIn compatible, and include all of the skills that you are interested in developing. Whether you want to improve your presentation skills, or your self- confidence for example. Then you could search through a bunch of criteria based on what kind of mentor you’re looking for. Whether you want to find someone who has a similar job function, a different job function or a mentor who has experience in another industry all together. Finally you would click on save and search, at which point you would receive your most compatible mentor matches. You could then look through their profiles and invite someone to be your mentor”.

The site takes the process one-step further by helping you to input your mentoring objectives and goals, enabling you to talk back and forth to your mentor or mentee to arrange meetings, while giving you a place to track those relationships at the same time. In addition to this, as an administrator or as one of the companies that has purchased the MentorCity program, “you are given the ability to build a successful and effective mentoring program that really works, a mentoring program that leads their employees through the entire process, that is easy and comprehensive, while always keeping things on track by sending regular remarks, and reminders”. Shawn also mentioned that MentorCity offers a public website that is available to anyone in the world, and is their way of giving back.  Case in point, “if someone doesn’t belong to one of the companies that has signed up with the program, they could sign up on the public site and find a mentor from anywhere around the world”.

When asked what some of the biggest benefits are from implementing mentoring programs, Shawn responded by saying that so much of it has to do with employee engagement. “When you have a mentor in the company where you work, you are going be more involved, feel so much more included, committed and less likely to leave that company. Mentoring is about recruiting talent of course, but it is also about keeping that talent within your organization. As a result mentoring can have a positive impact on employees as well as the company as a whole.  “Mentoring is also good for a company’s ROI, based on the fact that if an employee leaves who you have invested a lot of money, resources and time into, you could end up losing up to $20,000 just replacing that one person, depending on their level within the organization”.  A mentoring initiative will help you to keep those valuable employees while helping more people to really reach their full potential within their company.

Shawn went on to explain that mentoring also becomes an important part of succession planning, especially due to the fact that so many people are going to be retiring from the workforce over the next few years. As a result, it is really important for companies to start transferring the knowledge from their senior employees on to the next generation. In addition to this, Shawn talked about how MentorCity is working with a lot of companies on their high potential programs. “Leadership development is huge and that goes had in hand with high potential as a lot of companies continue developing their future leaders”.  In this regard, a company would identify their high potential performers and then they would offer them a mentoring program to ensure that they continue their growth within the company.

Shawn expressed further how mentoring is also about diversity and inclusion and that MentorCity is “working with a lot of clients who are helping to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Whether it’s for some of their affinity or resource groups, or for women for example, they are creating mentoring communities to connect to other mentors within the organization”. Moreover “what is really amazing about mentoring, and really important for diversity and inclusion is that these mentoring relationships have the potential to turn into sponsorship relationships. A sponsor relationship is a little bit different than a mentor, in that a sponsor is the person who literally goes to bat for you. They help you get that promotion. So as a mentor it’s more about them helping you to get where you need to go by giving you guidance, encouragement and support. The sponsor on the other hand takes a more active role. That is huge for diversity. When you have those sponsors within your organization, those people who really believe in you, who really believe in your abilities, they’re going to talk to other people about you, they’re going to help you get that promotion. That’s what is key I think. Having those ambassadors, your own ambassadors within an organization, who are going to help you get to that next level.

“This invites companies to really open their eyes and explore other potential talent within their organization that they may have otherwise overlooked, if they didn’t have this sponsor, this advocate, this person who believes in them.  Furthermore “the power of mentoring is that those connections that people are making are totally game changing, because you never know exactly where a mentor relationship will lead, it opens up other networks, it opens up other opportunities, it helps develop your skill sets and your knowledge”.

Last but not least I asked Shawn to tell me about the brand new strategic alliance that has been created between MentorCity and Global Learning, and what it means to him. “What really excites me about this partnership is that together we can do so much more, in terms of really helping companies to leverage the diverse talent that they have.  At the same time we create meaningful mentoring relationships for organizations, while ensuring that each of their employees will have the opportunity to reach the level they want within their chosen field. I strongly believe with Global Learning’s strategy, their training solutions and their resources, together with MentorCity’s technology, we have the potential to change workplaces faster. Above all, MentorCity is not only passionate about making sure that every one of their mentoring program works, but also that every mentoring relationship works. I see this partnership working really well because our two businesses really go hand in hand.”

 If you’d like to learn more about MentorCity and how this resource can advance the relationships, collaboration, and diversity and inclusion in your organization, please contact Elaine Newman at 416-488-0175 or  enewman@egloballearning.com.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Flexible Work Arrangement Week 2015: May 3-9th

The concept of Flexible-work has become a rather hot topic over recent years with issues like job strain, role conflict and the difficulties that many individuals face when balancing their work and family obligations”. (1) At the same time more and more employers are recognizing the positive impact that flexible work initiatives can have for their employees by helping to promote better mental and physical health in the workplace, while increasing overall job satisfaction.

Achieving work/life balance is an increasing challenge today with “time demands, scheduling dilemmas, and the problems that arise when work spills into home life or when home demands spill into work life”. Furthermore, “crisis-oriented work patterns and chaotic work routines that demand workers’ constant presence, can make breaking away from work difficult, magnifying this strain. By measuring productivity and commitment based on “face-time”, rather than the amount of work that an employee has accomplished”, we can create further issues. (2) On the other hand, when we introduce alternatives to the “one size fits all” work model, we create the potential to improve the quality of peoples lives by allowing for more flexibility, while at the same time strengthening employee loyalty, creating less turnover, and ultimately increasing a company’s overall profits.

Flexible work arrangements can mean many things including:

  • Flextime- the variation of an employees starting and departure times.
  • Job sharing- where two employees share the responsibilities of one full time position.
  • Remote Work (or flexible work locations)- can be conducted either at home or off-site on a consistent or occasional basis.
  • A compressed work schedule- refers to a regular workweek in fewer days.
  • Telecommuting- essentially refers to working from home on a regular basis. (3)
Like anything else, flexible work arrangements can have both advantages and disadvantages. But with careful consideration, and a clear and comprehensive strategy, the benefits and possibilities are numerous.

An example of this potential can be seen in a recent sociological study that used an “already existing corporate initiative by the name of the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) to predict corresponding changes to health-related outcomes”. Collecting “longitudinal data from 659 white-collar employees, at the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company in the United States, the study looked at moving employees and supervisors away from time oriented measures of work success, to a completely results based appraisal of productivity and accomplishment”. The results showed “that by increasing the employees’ scheduling control and reducing their work-family conflict, ROWE innovation promoted employee wellness and increased productivity, while lowering the costs borne by employers for health care as well as absenteeism”.(4) In another study that looked at employees using flexible work arrangements, they found that “63% of workers said that they were absent less often as a result of their flexible work arrangement schedule”.(5) Furthermore flexible work programs enable employers to schedule work across larger portions of the day, while allowing them to make more efficient use of facilities, while often requiring smaller office spaces including less equipment.(6) Flexible Work Programs have also become an important tool for retaining valuable employees and attracting future talent.

However, one of the “challenges that companies sometimes face when implementing flexible work programs, is a hesitancy from supervisors to promote this flexibility, due to apprehension with regards to the impact it may have on work quality and productivity”. (7) What many have found is that this concern can be quite accurate when flexible work programs are not implemented properly. Another issue that arises when discussing the pros and cons of flexible work arrangements is with regards to accessibility, and whether or not the requests for such programs are well received by employers and management. In one study “78% of respondents feared that they would be perceived as less committed to their jobs by their supervisors if they utilized flexible work arrangements. Employees also reported frustrations stemming from inconsistent program implementation, and for some workers access to flexibility appeared to be based on the sole discretion of a given manager”. (8)

Accessibility and flexible work arrangements can also be subject to unconscious gender bias. In another noted study “researchers found that men in high-status, non-hourly positions who said they wanted to advance their careers were most likely to be granted a compressed work schedule, while women in similar scenarios seeking flextime were far less likely to get it. Meanwhile, men in low-status careers who asked for family flex time were more likely to have their requests approved than women in like situations. In this situation, managers tended to believe that women who asked for flexible working hours were more likely than men to use the time for personal, rather than professional, reasons and that this form of gender bias is often simply a reflection of antiquated stereotypes about men’s and women’s family roles”. (9) In this respect women are often assumed to have one foot out the door when they ask for more flexible work arrangements, while men are often perceived to have more job commitment. Despite this gender bias “it appears employees are the ones who are really driving employers’ policies and that in particular, young male workers are seeking to spend more time with their families. As a result employers are adapting. In a recent 2014 Catalyst report, they found that nearly four out of five respondents said their companies offered some form of flexible-work arrangements.” (10)

We summarize this acknowledgement of Flexible Work Arrangement week with a few tips from the HR Council on how to make flexible work more successful:

Maintain a high level of contact by encouraging a two-way flow of communication between management and the distance worker, and the distance worker and their other colleagues. This is especially important if an off-site employee is working on their own.

Use a combination of face-to-face communication, the telephone and e-mail. Face-to-face is best for key management tasks focused on motivation, team building, performance management and introducing changes in the work or the relationship with the employee. Telephone communications can be effective for planning, reviewing, and strategizing. E-mail is best for quick contact and confirming conversations.

Informal processes may need to become more formal. For example, comments and ideas made over lunch break or by the water cooler may need to be e-mailed to off-site workers.
Be super-organized and plan well. Reliance on face-to-face meetings often results from disorganization, with managers spending their days reacting to situations and solving problems that would not arise as often as they do if work were well managed.

Beware that “out of sight” can mean “out of mind”. Take care that off-site workers get access to training and promotion opportunities. Career development is important for all employees no matter where they work.

Ensure appropriate orientation for staff that work in the office so that they are assured that all employees – regardless of their work location – are equally pulling their weight.
Promote team building between on-site and off-site employees by inviting employees who work at home to come in for a special lunch, training or other activity.

Ask home-based employees to provide occasional office coverage to keep them in touch with the realities of the workplace. (11)

  1. http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/flexible-work-arrangements.html)
  2. Padavic, I., & Reskin, B. (2002). Sociology for a New CenturyWomen and men at work. (2nd     ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452233857
  3. https://www.hr.cornell.edu/life/support/flexible_arrangements.html
  4. Moen, P., Kelly, E., Tranby, E., & Huang, Q. (2011). CHANGING WORK, CHANGING HEALTH:  CAN REAL WORK-TIME FLEXIBILITY PROMOTE HEALTH BEHAVIORS AND WELL-BEING?Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52(4), 404-29. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/920095972?accountid=44262
  5. http://workplaceflexibility2010.org/images/uploads/FWA_FactSheet.pdf
  6. http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/workplaces-flexible.cfm
  7. http://workplaceflexibility2010.org/images/uploads/FWA_FactSheet.pdf
  8. http://workplaceflexibility2010.org/images/uploads/FWA_FactSheet.pdf
  9. http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/diversity/articles/pages/managers-distrust-women- aspx
  10. http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/view/story.jhtml?id=534357575
  11. http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/workplaces-flexible.cfm