How do the new boy (and girl) networks coexist beside the old boy network that has historically existed and flourished for so long?

This question is especially relevant in South Africa, which is an emerging economy and transitional society. I have had some interesting conversation with various clients recently about ‘the diversity question’ within organizations, which got me thinking about what creating spaces for diversity really means.

We all know the world is changing and that if we don’t adapt we will get left behind, but there are interesting psychological games at play that underline the general conversations we have about ‘creating spaces for diversity to exist’; and that is what I aim to address in this Blog.

The challenging reality:

  • We have moved in to an era where the ultimate success of a business lies with the quality of people it attracts and retains. Inevitably if there is not some understanding of different perspectives; and if these are not nurtured, people will a) leave and b) talk about the fact that the organization is not somewhere you want to work
  • With so many channels for communication available to us and with so much information accessible to us, it is very easy to talk about an organization; and if you are not aware of what people are saying, you have no power to stop them or re-frame what they are saying
  • Relationship breakdowns are the number one reason people leave their place of work
  • In an outcomes based, time pressured work environment people have to work longer hours, in increasingly uncertain, turbulent, challenging, increasingly complex and diverse environments. This is no-one’s fault, but what is your organization doing to counter-balance this?
  • With a multitude of diverse perspectives, life needs, experiences and frames of reference how can you and why should you accommodate everybody?

There is no quick fix or on size fits all solution for some of the general or common problems that organizations face.  Each industry and environment faces its own challenges based on the demographic complexities that exist as well as the size of the organization. However, I would suggest there are a couple of commonalities to consider when addressing the reality that new boy (and girl) networks are emerging and will continue to emerge whether we like it or not.

  • What are you doing on the social media space? Do you exist there and if you do, are you able to quickly address what people are saying or not saying about your brand, both from a talent and client or customer perspective?
  • How much space have you created for collaboration within the organization to exist?
  • What scope do natural innovators have to be creative?
  • How much exposure does your talent have to information or workshops in order to deal with diversity?
  • How much of a voice does your talent have; and even if they do, are their views genuinely considered?
  • Is there somebody looking out the window at why and how the world is changing in order to consider what you can do to accommodate this change, before it really impacts your business negatively?
  • Have you considered what the biggest threats to your bottom line are? They may not be who or what you think they are…
  • How open-minded are you to change; and if you are not, what do you need to do in order to embrace change?
  • How informed are you on real issues like the impact of Outcomes Based Education on graduates’ skills set and capabilities; and what have you put in place to deal with this?

I have not necessarily packaged neat little answers, I realise this. I hope to have asked some relevant questions, however.

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