That’s not the kind of shift that comes from conventional corporate training. It’s cultural, even psychological. Corporate leaders, in particular, would have to confront their own feelings of respect and disrespect for others, in a way that goes much deeper than “etiquette.” That’s why the diversity movement is at a turning point. Either its advocates must wait for a new generation of people to enter the workplace, or they must somehow foster organizational forms and structures that persistently promote human behaviors that nourish dignity and diversity — so that eliminating rankism comes to feel as natural as floating downstream.
Reprint No. 04102
Art Kleiner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the “Culture & Change” columnist for strategy+business. He teaches at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. His Web site is www.well.com/user/art. Mr. Kleiner’s latest book is Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success (Currency Doubleday, 2003). He is also the author of The Age of Heretics (Doubleday, 1996).