“Everybody’s talking ‘bout Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m.” – John Lennon, “Give Peace a Chance”
We live in dichotic times. On one side, it seems, we have social justice warriors and humorless “snowﬂakes” incessantly complaining on Twitter and protesting at human rights rallies about the suffering of every marginalized population known to humankind. On the other side are exasperated patriots and suck-it-up-buttercup “deplorables” sick and tired of the accusations of cultural appropriation, political incorrectness and — worse yet — sexism, racism and ageism. You name the -ism, the latter group has been accused of it.
It’s hard to ﬁnd middle ground in a society where the taboos of old have been replaced by new and forever-changing boundaries of what we should and should not accept. What we should tolerate. What we should discourage. What we should celebrate. What we should forbid.
Each worldview passes through a prism shaped by an individual’s experience. We may think we are enlightened, that we embrace our many differences. Yet we are blind to our unconscious bias. We can’t see the forest for the trees. Or to apply that idiom to the workplace: We can’t see our culture for the faces. And amazingly enough, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s to come.
Workspan staff has embarked on a self-driven editorial initiative in 2019: Cover as many angles of workplace diversity and inclusion as possible. This isn’t about choosing sides and exploiting the divisions of our labor. It means shining a light on the workforce and reaching conclusions by examining why diversity can, in fact, help companies achieve a competitive business advantage.
This month’s cover package, “Not Your Father’s Workplace,” begins with a bottom-line case for cultural intelligence, or CQ. The article, written by contributing editor Jim Fickess, makes for a ﬁne introduction to a trio of features that illustrates the beneﬁts of hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the hidden talent of introverts and the wisdom of capitalizing on the skills of older workers.
Sure, it may be easy to hire and promote talent who rise to the top by virtue of their impressive credentials and performance. But it’s a whole different story when you recruit and reward candidates who often get overlooked (and, yes, shunned) because of myriad factors, many shaped by their outward appearances and lifestyle choices.
Think of this month’s issue of Workspan as a ﬁrm nudge to recognize an introverted co-worker’s inner brilliance. That white-haired colleague with the wrinkled brow? He has become wiser with age. And you know that mysterious woman with the neck tattoo? I challenge you to ﬁnd someone better at data analysis. (You can’t do it.)
Stereotypes, indeed, be gone.