Published in HRD Connect on 08.03.19
As it’s International Women’s Day, we look back on the impact of the #MeToo campaign, and what this means for the corporate world.
The uproar generated by #MeToo has subsided somewhat. It is now taking second place behind other political agendas and of course Brexit and how it will shape the UK’s near future.
The claims were springing up and spreading like wildfire and at one point it truly felt like harassment and discrimination, as well as sexual violence, was everywhere.
To me, it seems that this was the awakening of the corporate world needed to the sign of our times. A time where information is being consumed and shared at an uncontrollable speed. Where arguments are made public and shared over various platforms, where having a disease, disability or trauma has become a trend. And it is true somewhat, a story of pure torment will entertain the masses. It does not, however, soothe and heal the individuals concerned, thus creating more angst.
You could literally feel the sheer weight of accusations seeping through the walls of our boardrooms and open plan offices. No longer is gossip shared at the coffee machine, it is available right in front of you 24/7.
Leaders, and everyone else for that matter, need to take personal responsibility for removing toxic behaviours and bringing more compassion and other wholesome behaviours to our business and personal lives. In an age where work/life balance is becoming little more than a sheer concept –it’s increasingly more difficult to leave our working lives in the office – we need to focus on bringing out the goodness in us as humans and celebrate all we can achieve when we do exactly that.
Otherwise, we are sitting on a mental health time bomb, which won’t benefit anyone.
Businesses can no longer operate in a ‘command and control’ manner, as the conventional means of applying such measures are no longer relevant and applicable. There is a need, especially from HR, to guide everything that is good about being human back into the world. This will enable us to compete with one another on a positive level rather than a destructive one.
Humans differentiate themselves from machines through empathy, creativity and an ability to operate in ambiguous situations. The latter characteristic is particularly important as we no longer operate in a black or white world. We need to be able to interpret and react to various shades of grey…and blue and green for that matter. The old conventions where a manager can dictate lines of responsibility and never communicate meaningfully with their team are long gone. Managers, leaders and corporate citizens need support in fine-tuning their skills to this new era. Where words such as love, gratitude and freedom can enter the business arena and be applied so that we have more positive and impactful leadership. It is a well-known fact that people leave jobs, more often than not, because of their manager.
As such, there is a significant opportunity for HR to address the Human agenda through corporate healing practices. Enabling company values and culture to be living concepts rather than mere text in a corporate brochure. Providing guidance and support to all, promoting flexibility in applying policies, empowering individuals to speak up in a mutually supportive manner and seek a positive resolution to any conflict. Being driven by the greater good, compassion and a true sense of purpose in order to generate results is a somewhat new concept for some but one that definitely has its place in corporate ranks.
As humans, we are genetically programmed to have an intrinsic need to do good for our environment – more and more people are taking on volunteering or community-oriented hobbies. Amidst all of the angst so currently prevalent in our corporate cultures, there is an uprising of a revolutionary spirit screaming out for more positivity in the workplace. Seeking to find new means of moving forward by enabling and empowering a more humane attitude, seeking win/win rather than win/lose is a means of moving forward and soothing this corporate un-ease that has been simmering for decades now.
The need for corporate healing is real and relevant today and HR needs to take front stage in enabling organisations to change their cultures from ones of command, control and competition for competition’s sake to ones where results are driven from a place of compassion, wholesomeness and healthy rivalry.