Culture and Diversity: No Drama Obama – Umbrella Politics

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm
The Power Dynamics of Umbrella holding 
I have to say that until today I hadn't given the socio-political ramifications of holding an umbrella much thought. 

That is until I read this article on the China Daily.

In China, part of wielding power is pageantry. 
Most presidents and by this I mean people in charge of anything ( school-boards, factories etc.) would have a flunky to do the job of shielding them from the rain.

By holding his own umbrella Obama was signalling that he is a man of the people. 
Was this a state department decision or just a spur of the moment thing?

Cultural symbolism matters, especially when you are sending a message to a questioning public in a foreign land.
Chalk this win up to serendipity if you like but I think it had more to do with savvy political handlers on the White-house team.

Culture as a dimension of Diversity
It's not just politicians that have to pay attention to culture.
Culture is one of the the dimensions of diversity most overlooked in organisations. 
The usual reason for this is it's simply less visible or less obvious.
Every organisation and every individual is embedded in a culture that colours expectations and perceptions. 
Like a fish in water, it can be hard to see what we are swimming in. 
To us our culture is the Norm and thus invisible.

If cultural norms differ there is greater scope for unwanted misunderstanding or even conflict. 
The key is to understand it as a possible issue and to be open to acting differently.

It's not about blankly accepting inappropriate behaviour or changing to match a minority; its about being aware of the possibility of the unexpected.
Many people take for granted that being fair means treating people the same. 
It doesn't.
Sometimes to be fair means treating people differently.

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic


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