Photo Credit: ProExcell, Eclassified
Is being multiethnic part of your organization’s DNA or core values?
Whether a part of a Fortune 500 company or a megachurch, or whether just beginning a small business or a new church plant, our values are soon exposed. First, by our goals and then by our makeup.
“Like begets like”. For better or worse.
So…what if we see the value of multiethnicity in our organization, is it apparent in our makeup?
A quick assessment can come out of the 80/20 rule: when one racial group accounts for 80 percent or more of the membership (or organization).* In the US, if our company has 100 employees, and 79 or fewer are white, we are moving in the direction of being multiethnic in our makeup. Easier than counting through employees, just look at the makeup of the leadership team. That readily speaks to the direction of the organization.
I’m not talking quotas here, at all. Racial diversity is probably not the ultimate goal. It can, however, be a part of the goal.
If we are part of a mono-cultural (a racial majority) organization, there is benefit in asking these questions: Should we look more like the rest of the world? What do we communicate when we don’t? What problems do we make for ourselves in keeping the status quo? What positive impact can we have on the present and future, if we do act, moving toward multiethnicity, with intentionality?
For starters, let’s examine the components of a multiethnic organization – color, culture, compromise, and community.
Color and Culture – Pastor and writer Bryan Loritts gives perspective in his book Right Color, Wrong Culture: The Type of Leader Your Organization Needs to Become Multiethnic (A Leadership Fable). Written in the style of the great Patrick Lencioni leadership books, it’s a fast and fascinating read, with much to mull over afterward.Photo Credit: Cedarville University
In his book, Loritts paints a clear picture of color and culture as he defines 3 types of cultural expression.
C1 – Persons within a certain ethnic group who have assimilated into another ethnic group. Loritts uses one such example from our TV pop culture of a few years ago: Carlton Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air -and the It’s Not Unusual dance. On the surface, these persons would seem to easily blend into an emerging multiethnic organization. They bring racial diversity without rocking the institutional boat. Will just considering skin color get us to goal?
C3 – At the other end of the spectrum, the persons within an ethnic group who absolutely refuse to assimilate within other ethnic groups or cultures. Again, from the same 90s TV show, Loritts uses a different character as a light-hearted example: Fresh Prince Will Smith Dancing. C3s do not blend into the majority ethnic group and have no intention of doing so. What they bring to an organization is ethnic definition.
Hang in there with me. Especially if you’re thinking this has nothing to do with competence or corporate excellence. There’s more.
C2 – Those persons who have the unique ability to go from one culture to another, without compromising or losing who they are in the process.
Who did Loritts give as a person we can all recognize as a probable C2? Denzel Washington. When you look down the 30-years-plus of Washington’s films, he chose to portray a wide range of characters at which we watched and wondered. C1s, C3s, and, of course, C2s. Washington is a black man with the wisdom and understanding of one who will bring his best to any situation, without losing himself.
This breakdown of cultural expressions made me take a long, hard look at my own life – if not my preferences, definitely my default. I’m a C2 wannabe in a C3 life AND organization. In earnest, I do want to be a C2, but too many actualities in my life point to the fact that I’m not there yet…but “there” is my goal.
We need C2s to grow into truly multiethnic organizations.
Compromise – To move our organizations toward a goal of multiethnicity, compromise, in the best sense of the word, will be required. As we look at our makeup and our market, we must ask hard questions of ourselves. What are we really willing to invest to get to a multiethnic leadership and true organizational partnership across cultures?
Community – With intentionality and the willingness to give space to other ethnicities and cultures, our organizations can look like and identify with the world we serve. Our products and identity can communicate both excellence, relevance, and highest humanity as we become more multiethnic. In fact, while we may strive toward diversity or multiethnicity… really the goal needs to be multiculturalism…enriching and empowering each other personally and organizationally.
While cultures are defined by their distinctiveness, community and interaction rely upon commonalities to establish unity. In order to have intercultural relationships, some accommodation must be made on one or both sides of the cultural divide. But the act of accommodation represents, to some degree, a compromise and loss of cultural values. – Mark Naylor
Where will these kids work, serve, and do community one day?Photo Credit: Flickr
[Postscript: Pat Lencioni’s most recent post popped up in my email this morning, a day after my weekly post went up. He adds one other “C”: Conflict – check out his read on Diversity’s Missing Ingredient.]