Who is Society?

My musings this weekend take me back to a quote from an article I read during the week. I can’t remember where but I do remember it was about policies in the workplace. I remember the quote because I wrote it on my wipe board!

‘It is society’s barriers that are disabling people rather than the disability itself’.

I found myself asking ‘who is society?’ we treat this word as if it is a mythical third person. But it can’t be! I am society and YOU are society. We make up the population of the world, so this must be so. This word is usually partnered with ‘Culture’. The ring ting word we consistently hear in the workplace….’We have a culture of openness and equality’, another mythical third person.

Have we created society and culture as a ‘third person’ or entity when we didn’t want to take responsibility for what it meant in our world and now in our workplace? These two words have become company ‘Values’ and we write policies to show that a business has honorable rules. We blame the ‘big boss’ or the board if something happens in middle management such as bullying and accuse them of creating a bullying culture. 'It has to start from the top down'. Yes, but.....

It reminds me, way back during my studies, I delved into nomadic tribes. Once a tribe hits about 100 people, a natural occurrence takes place. One person breaks away and starts up his own tribe, usually from a disagreement around a belief. (This person would typically have shamanistic tendencies, these days we would probably call them leadership qualities!). This evolved naturally as it was too difficult to manage more than 100 nomadic people. The tribal members would decide to stay or go. I believe that this is how different tribes emerged with different belief systems.

And so, it is with our businesses. It is easy enough to employ people who have similar ethical beliefs when the business is under 100. Above this, it is far more difficult. What we end up with is pool of culture and belief systems from different experiences in ‘society’(which I embrace). However, we have board members who write policies that are related to what they believe, and what ‘society’ wants in a workplace, without understanding the existing belief system and what their current employees need or want in the greater business.

There lies the problem. Is it realistic for us to expect our leadership team to know what its employees want? Do we not all turn to leaders for guidance….in almost everything? And of course, hammer them when all goes belly up?

Well for me, I am society and I am the culture of my world. I must be, and you must be, we are the one's who have influence here as we are both part of the same. We must own this responsibility. So, to change society and to change culture, from a business level and beyond, we must be honourable role models to each other. Ditch the third person and take responsibility for what we like and do not like in our workplace and demonstrate to each other how it should be done.

No policy is ever going to do this…. just us.

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