by Judy Ryan
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of is individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
— Martin Luther Kind, Jr.
What a noteworthy time to be a business leader, witnessing significant contrasts of thought and diverse paths regarding interpersonal dynamics. I am inspired to write this article about inclusiveness based on three recent instances that touched me deeply and reflect my own value system and convictions. I see a movement of people waking up to the value and commitment of win/win and inclusive practices, even as others fear the opportunity.
One example is Dan Price, a thought leader who heads up Gravity Payments, a credit-card-processing company. Like any significant change agent, he is both revered and scorned. Whether he intended to or not, he has disrupted the status quo by taking time to consider the needs of every employee and increasing the minimum pay of all his staff to $70K per year or more, out of his own pocket. He models social interest: thoughtful consideration of consequences that he causes others. Price includes practical care for all in proximity to him. Not only has he tripled his business, he has created a community of caring and service-minded people who adore him and care about others, too. Price knows that when everyone wins, extraordinary things happen. He has created a radically inclusive culture by believing in people and in enough: enough money, time, ideas, joy, and love.
Next, I watched The Queen’s Gambit, a powerful series on Netflix about a chess genius who commits to her passion and overcomes many obstacles to succeed at the highest level. A notable moment is when another chess grandmaster (probably second to her in skill) says, “The Russians have an advantage over us Americans because they help one another succeed. We in the US are so wedded to our precious individualism, we don’t appreciate and allow for mutual support.” The conclusion of the program is the breaking of that individualism, as a team of encouraging supporters ensure her incredible success.
The third example involved a social media clip of State Representative James Talarico from Austin, Texas. He offered a prayer on the floor of Congress, something that usually repels me, especially because such activities often communicate, “Our faith is right and yours is wrong.” This often causes separation and an ‘us’ against ‘them’ experience for many. I heard his prayer naming and honoring multiple faiths at their best, indicating their equally important contributions to love. To my surprise, many people vehemently reacted with outrage to his mutual inclusion of multiple faith traditions.
Too often leaders, including business leaders, have bought into the notion that issues of humanity and mutual benefit weaken results. Then we preserve systems of conventional separation across levels of archaic and oppressive hierarchies. This misconception is common: the valuing of inequality that results in insecure, discouraged division between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ Not only does such divisiveness hurt the ‘have-nots’, it hurts everyone. Repeatedly, we see that such separation leads to losses and inefficiencies, even though the illusion is gains which are passionately pursued by those wedded to ‘dog-eat-dog’ and ‘what’s in it for me?’ Contrary to this scarcity idea, many are waking up to the truth that by investing in all people, only then can extraordinary, positive outcomes occur.
In our work with culture transformation, we support and prove that conditions and conversations prioritizing mutual respect, psychological safety, shared power, and equity and inclusion for all (from CEO to front-line staff) bring about productivity and generosity at unseen levels and with untold value. Our goal is to build on the momentum of new initiatives to create inclusive systems despite encounters with people who cling to outdated, oppressive systems of coercion and callousness. If you are at the point of realizing inclusion is a fulfilling and rewarding path forward for you, you may not know where to start. We can help. Let us.
Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!