We continue to explore humanist commitments; last week focused on humility, and we will be looking at peace and social justice this week. A previously shared definition of peace and social justice is "I will help people solve problems and handle disagreements in ways that are fair for everyone." To maintain a just work environment, we need to eradicate any level of injustice occurring to our internal and external stakeholders. We need to build a fair and equitable society for all individuals impacted by our business operations. The work needs to attain peace through effective and efficient conflict resolution, leading to restorative justice when harm occurs to individuals or groups.
"Our hopes for a more just, safe, and peaceful world can only be achieved when there is universal respect for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family." – UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
A 2003 article shared a difficult statistic that over the past 3,400 years, the world had entirely been at peace around the globe for only 268 years– that is, only eight percent of the years of recorded history. While peace may not be the norm for us, it is good to have relative peace within our manufacturing operations. Social justice is considered a new concept born of the industrial revolution struggles. While social justice has not been a forefront concern for many manufacturing operations, there is tremendous potential to positively impact global citizens needing our support.
The company we choose to work in is typically a group of people that we did not choose to be our co-workers. So while we can generally decide whether to stay or leave, it would be helpful to develop our awareness of the need for peace that is then valued and nurtured. Deepak Chopra offers seven tips:
1. Don't be a stressor for other people – We must see ourselves as a solution to develop an environment of peace in the organization. We should create a workplace that eliminates cliques, gossip, office politics, and unresolved tension, which is essential to creating an optimal stress level for your manufacturing operations.
2. Examine your behavior in the light of how it affects others – There is a need to examine our role in creating unrest in our companies. Are we overall demanding with an expectation of perfection? Do we openly criticize others in public? What negative behaviors are we exhibiting that harm our relationships?
3. Keep lines of communication open - Leaders cannot isolate themselves from the workforce. Therefore, there is a need for ongoing dialogue that keeps the employees current on what is happening. The communication should be appreciative, supportive, and reciprocal.
4. Establish trust and loyalty – As one climbs the ladder, there is an increasing need to be trusted by those in your care. Additionally, the workforce experiencing dedication from company leadership will feel more secure in the future with the organization.
5. Be aware of other people's needs – Each person in your employment needs something different to maximize their potential fully. Everyone should have an opportunity to be heard, treated fairly and equitably, and feel valued.
6. Turn empathy into bonding – While a delicate task, it is vital to be actively empathetic in an environment where bonding can occur on a safe plane that encourages hidden aspirations and creativity to emerge.
7. Be the change you want to see – The saying that they do not listen to what we say but watch what we do comes to mind. If we want an environment of peace, it begins with us changing ourselves to exhibit the actions we expect of others.
Creating an environment of optimal peace is not easy. If it were, we would have been at peace more than eight percent of the time in our world's history. However, creating an ideal environment of peace will generate positive results for the organization.
The current structural inequities and short-term thinking in manufacturing need to shift to create the vision of a just world where all global citizens can meet their basic needs. We need to develop a new social contract where equity is a priority, and there is a shift to long-term thinking requires the adoption of five principles:
1. Stakeholder capitalism – Shifting to a multi-stakeholder model that shifts from short-term profit maximization to long-term value creation of all stakeholders.
2. Skill development and career pathways – Creation of a learning environment that allows employees to achieve sustainable livelihoods in alignment with workforce needs of the organization adaptable to an ever-changing competitive business environment.
3. Economic security and mobility – Establish a solid and modern economic and social safety net to ensure and promote mobility and security.
4. Just transitions to net-zero GHG emissions – Support for displaced people as the net-zero greenhouse economy requires the opportunity for employees to transition into high-quality green jobs.
5. Worker data protection – Implementing new technologies and strengthening existing ones to align them with the international human rights standards.
Many more opportunities exist to create an organizational impact that promotes greater social justice for internal and external stakeholders. The critical point is to recognize the significant potential for the manufacturing sector to improve social justice around the world.
Arconic Corporation produces innovative architectural products and aluminum sheet, plate, and extrusions, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. They developed the Grow Together program to create a collective initiative to engage their employees to learn and act on social justice issues of importance to them. Additionally, they have partnered with nonprofits aligned with the social justice issues of concern to Arconic and the Arconic Foundation. Furthermore, the foundation pledged a $25 donation to one of six nonprofit organizations for each employee action chosen from among three donating, learning, or volunteering options. The Arconic Foundation coordinated with employee resource groups to select the six nonprofits. Arconic is only one example of many other manufacturing operations committed to social justice improvement initiatives.
Ultimately an ideal state is a workplace of optimal peace and social justice. Imagine an inverse "U" where at the bottom of the left is the complete loss of peace and social justice, and at the bottom right is absolute peace and social justice. An ideal state is at the top of the inverse "U," where both are present but not taken for granted. We should continually work to get all citizens to that optimal point on the curve.
Peace and social justice are timely topics given the various movements occurring across the U.S. and worldwide. An article that can help leaders put a program in place to provide an optimal state in the workplace is content in the article Social Change in the Office. The authors offer four advocating, subverting, facilitating, and healing strategies to create a "top of the curve" workplace.
I appreciate the individuals and groups that have appropriately heightened the lack of peace and social justice in their workplaces. For too long, it has been an unequal playing field for several members of society. So it has been great to see more businesses stepping up and doing what several exemplars have been doing for years.
Next week's blog will integrate humanist principles into leaders' roles, shifting from understanding the importance of peace and social justice to responsibility.
To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit emmanuelstrategicsustainability.com.
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