Ah, the good ol’ days!
We recently participated in a session for the UK National Health System (NHS), on a subject that isn’t discussed enough: civility.
Yes, that quaint old concept of ‘how to be a polite, decent, human being’.
The session was fun and well attended. We thought it was interesting that the NHS was interested in such an idea because it ties directly to such trendy organizational concepts as psychological safety and even more timely, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As organizations shuffle from minority to minority, demonstrating how much they care & how inclusive they are, what is completely overlooked is the unsexy conversation about being nice, respectful, and kind, treating others fairly, and a hundred other courtesies that our moms taught us, or should have.
Everyone wants to be heard, people want confirmation that they are accepted, that there is no bias, and that fairness will reign. The responses are mostly cosmetic with XYZ Heritage Month, or ABC Week, or whatever.
The point is that acceptance, kindness, and warmth, are cultural attributes. They are about establishing norms that bring people closer. The point of culture is to find that which unites us all.
Right after that session, an article in the WSJ caught our eye, titled “An Old Ohio Code of Conduct has a Point”.
It discussed the Fostoria, Ohio, 1980s-era Code of Conduct. “The code was just a polite request from the city. It was a matter of the city asking people to try to be more civil and considerate to their fellow Fostoria citizens.” Isn’t it odd that we have the need to ask people to be more considerate? The odd part is that we haven’t created environments where people feel the social obligation to be considerate, civil, and caring.
A feature of much of the DEI discussion is that it tracks directly to this idea of ‘being a decent human being’. Being thoughtful of others, not being crass, coarse, or disrespectful. Truly understanding the fears, aspirations and wants, and concerns of others.
We see much of the DEI challenge as not telling people how to behave, and *definitely* not training for unconscious bias, but as resetting the norms about civility, and literally how to be a ‘decent human being’.
So here we are. Post George Floyd, post #metoo, possibly mid/late-Covid. What has changed (besides what has been forced upon us- social distancing, etc.) is objectively, not much. More risk management, lots of training, and discussion, but what we really need to see is more deep consideration about reshaping beliefs and mindsets.
The creation of new norms that actually DO change what ‘normal’ is to flesh and blood people.
Apologies for the rant, and we wish you all a pleasant day.