By Melissa Lamson & Jennie Walker
Are you a global leader? In the increasingly globalized business environment, employees across organizations often work with teams of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and locations - a recent survey revealed that 89% of employees say they work “at least occasionally” on global teams. The concept and practice of leadership itself has also evolved, transcending hierarchy and role in many organizations to promote accountability, collaboration, and innovation at all levels. So, whether you’re working for a local or international company, as an executive or employee, you’re likely a global leader.
Research continues to find that working with diverse groups requires a global mindset – the agility to quickly recognize different beliefs, values, and approaches across cultures and to adapt behaviors accordingly. For example, when I (Melissa) travel to Singapore, I know I need to adjust my sense of time (not show up too early to the office), get to know each member of the team personally (start the day with a tea or coffee together), and ensure I have asked for and received input from all team members in meetings to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. These adjustments to my typical U.S. working style allow me to connect with people in Singapore. The awareness of needing to make adjustments to how I approach time, interpersonal relationships, and team meetings reflects my global mindset, which in turn allows me to make appropriate behavioral modifications for each new cultural experience I enter. The adjustments may seem small, but they are critical, taking different shape in different cultures. But what about my need to learn and adjust to diversity within my own U.S. culture?
Research shows global mindset skills can be built, and we are here to help! Join DeEtta Jones & Associates virtually July 7, 2022 (12-5 p.m. ET/9-2 p.m. PT) for an immersive, interactive conference on Next Generation Global Leadership: Rising to the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Challenge Locally & Globally. Here’s a brief video of our esteemed keynote speaker, Dr. Mansour Javidan, discussing his research on global mindset. He’ll be presenting new research on building trust across cultures. Conference topics include the state of equity, diversity and inclusion work locally and globally, integrating local and global EDI approach, critical intercultural dialogue, and more. You’ll also have the option to assess your own global mindset through the Global Mindset Inventory.
Trends in societies and business underscore the importance of an integrated approach to equity, diversity and inclusion when working locally or globally:
Locally, many societies are becoming more diverse. Global migration has increased. Pew Research Center found in a 2019 multi-nation survey that most people perceived increased diversity in their local cultures. For example, in the U.S. immigrants were found to be driving overall workforce growth, and Germany, United Kingdom, and France are in the top countries for highest number of foreign-born residents. However, migration alone doesn’t paint the full picture. Diversity within cultures is indeed changing both in actual representation and as a broadened array of ways in which people self-identify, beyond the confines of Census Bureau and other predetermined categories. For example, in the U.S., people identifying as multi-racial are the fastest-growing demographic in Census data. This growth in multi-racial identifying people spans beyond the U.S. and to many parts of the world, revealing increasing interaction between cultures within society, such as interracial marriages and families.
Across the globe, an increasing number of companies are doing business internationally. More than 68% of the top 250 U.S. companies have foreign operations, and iconic brands such as Burger King, Budweiser, and Purina have moved abroad. While more industrialized nations have been participating in the modern era of globalization for some time, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by fusion between digital and physical worlds, has facilitated the ability for more people and companies to bridge geography and culture. The Brookings Institute, for example, projects that Africa will become a global powerhouse during this era. Even in the midst of a global pandemic and world turmoil, the World Trade Organization (WTO) predicts that global trade growthacross nations will exceed expectations. The rise in distributed workforces has created ease and speed in recruiting globally for talent for jobs, whether full-time, flexible, or gig work.
Integrating local and global approach is an organizational and social imperative.
Historically, organizations have separated their local and global operations with ‘international’ divisions, ‘field’ operations, ‘global HR,’ and employee resource groups divided by geography or culture. McKinsey & Company analyzed the evolution of organizational and operational divides over the last 50 years, saying that international operations were often treated as an afterthought with progress toward integration only picking up momentum in the 1990s. However, we continue to see these divisions today in HR, talent management, and DEI strategies. In Deloitte’s analysis of HR operations globally, they confirm these ongoing divides, finding that they were not optimal for efficiencies or for impact. The organizational case for integration is clear. The social imperative has long been present but has only recently gained critical mass through succeeding waves of calls for social justice across societies, the pandemic, and heightened scrutiny of commitment to social sustainability.
Cultural bias must be acknowledged and attended to both within and across cultures.
In my coaching practice (Jennie) preparing leaders to work in other countries, they are often eager and open to discussing cross-cultural difference, taking copious notes, and making development plans to learn the language and practice new social behaviors, like greetings or gestures. Discussions of bias and oppression in ‘those’ societies are often passionate and supportive to lead with DEI at the forefront. However, these same topics of discussion when applied to their own culture in terms of equity or inclusion often take a more reserved, cautious tone. Acknowledging cultural bias is hard, either because we take for granted our own cultural lens (unconscious bias), aren’t accustomed to addressing it, or must grapple with realizations that are uncomfortable. Cultural bias exists both within and across cultures, and bringing these discussions together is an impactful way to impact beliefs and behaviors in a much deeper way in diverse organizations today.
Integrating the local and global lens for equity, diversity and inclusion widens the aperture for reflection and behavior change. This additional illumination can open conversations further, break down unspoken barriers, and ultimately help global leaders at all levels create genuine relationships within and across cultures. Engage further in this discussion by joining us at the conference, where we will both be featured speakers. We look forward to seeing you there!
Melissa Lamson, M.A.
Leadership & Organizational Development Consultant, Certified Coach, Diversity Expert, Licensed Insights Practitioner
Melissa has built and run companies both in Europe and the US. She has partnered with successful leaders and companies across all industries around the world. Her leadership programs are used at Accenture, IKEA, Linkedin, MTV, Porsche, Ripple, SAP, Space X, Unity Point Health, WalkMe, and many other firms. She has served as interim Head of Global Diversity. Melissa has her Masters in intercultural relations, specializing in diversity management, and has authored six books on global leadership and DEI.
Jennie L. Walker, Ph.D.
EVP, Strategy and Global Leadership Development, DeEtta Jones & Associates
For the past 20 years, Jennie Walker has provided professional education and coaching in leadership development, talent management, and organizational effectiveness within Fortune 500 organizations, as a professor and executive in higher education, and as a consulting partner to many organizations across the world.
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