The exhaustion of fighting
It's been at least four years of continual fighting, from the riots of 2020 to the pandemic to the mandates that followed and the non-stop political battles. It's hard to pinpoint where the Culture Wars have not left us divided, discouraged, and exhausted. Companies jumped into the game of choosing sides and, despite the free publicity, did not exit the battle unscarred either. There is a cost to forcing people to choose sides. For companies, that cost has outweighed the gain of the publicity they garnered. While the great resignation is more encompassing, in part, the battles gave employees just another reason to leave. But it's more than employee resignations; the news has many examples of companies teetering on the edge of negative financial fallout from choosing to join the culture wars. Today's headlines with Twitter, Netflix, and Disney are prime examples. People are slowly waking up to the truth from St. Ambrose of Milan year 339.
No one heals himself by wounding another. -Ambrose
The battle to win
The battleground is shifting. The world is starting to wake up to the fact that in the Culture Wars, nobody wins. Companies are now entering the only real battle worth fighting. The battle for the hearts of people. While the media wants us to believe that we must choose
Black vs. White vs. Asian, Indian, etc.
Straight vs. Gay vs. Trans, etc.
Democrat vs. Republican vs. Libertarian
Male vs. Female vs. Fluid, etc.
These are merely labels. And labels divide us. And when we enter this battle, we are divided. We are weak - individually and collectively. There is a deeper battle—a struggle within our hearts. Although the media would like to keep us distracted by the labels, we all know that we are more than our labels. We are humans. At the heart of every human is the same thing.
At the heart of every human is a need for love and acceptance. A desire to fulfill their hopes and dreams, overcome their fears and traumas to reach their full potential. -Karen Zeigler
While the things humans care about are as unique as we each are, the need for care is universal. So how do we shift from culture wars to creating a culture of care?
Caring about what people care about
Companies are at an extraordinary moment in history. A moment where they can be a catalyst for positive change by caring about what people care about. Bill Schaninger, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Co., was recently quoted in LinkedIn Top Voices in Company Culture.
This is an unbelievable moment for leaders to rethink culture and create an environment that workers want to be part of—with a unique set of rituals, symbols, and experiences as connective tissue that unites the organization. Focus on the relational factors that workers are craving, placing greater emphasis than ever before on meaning and purpose in work, flexibility, community, and inclusivity.
I believe one such opportunity to place greater emphasis on meaning, purpose, and inclusivity is a company's charitable budget. Companies already spend millions+ dollars each year on causes. Yet the dividends of those gifts are not as abundant as they could be. And in the cases mentioned above could be costing them money. There is a better alternative for companies rather than throwing dollars at the latest culture war, which often is rooted in meanness. Instead, embrace the full spectrum of generosity. Giving to the organizations that have the hearts of the people you care about - your people.
Imagine hearts transformed, a more significant impact on the world.
Imagine those charitable dollars collectively disbursed instead. Imagine how much love could burst forth in employees' hearts for their company, their communities, and the world. Imagine if your company's charitable dollars went into the organizations your employees care about instead of what the media tells them.
The mother of the child with downs syndrome can give to the charity that has provided her with tremendous inspiration and resources.
The gay man can give back to the cultural arts center in his town that accepted him and helped him express himself fully as the person he is today.
The black woman can give back to the grandmother who raised her into the confident woman she is but now suffers from Alzheimer's, being able to support the charity that is helping her care for her grandmother.
The opportunities to do good for your employees, your company, and the world are TREMENDOUS! And indeed, customers don't need to be excluded. They could vote on a portion allocated to them.
The dividends of caring about what they care about
Purpose: Employees engage in a greater purpose than themselves, something they care deeply about. Companies are also engaging in something more significant - caring for their employees, customers, and the communities they serve.
Diversity and inclusion: Companies can acknowledge and value the differences in their employees at an even deeper level. Not only inside the organization but honoring their lives beyond the scope of what their job entails.
Culture: Caring about what people care about creates a culture of caring. Companies using their charitable contributions as a catalyst for employees to be generous to organizations in the business of giving breeds more generosity.
Autonomy: Allowing employees to choose where the profits (that they helped create) go provides feelings of freedom. Employees feel heard, and your actions confirm they matter.
Impact on Families + Communities: They matter beyond their companies -they matter in their communities. And it allows them to have a more significant impact on their families.
What did I miss? What other impact could shifting from the Culture Wars to a Culture of Caring bring? Please share in the comments below.
Ready to design a Caring Culture? I'd love to bring the power of design thinking to your organization to unlock its innovative potential from the inside out.