What Can Nature Teach Us About Resilience and Diversity?

What Can Nature Teach Us About Resilience and Diversity?

By Dr. Kathleen Allen (Dr. Allen will be a part of the 2019 Lideramos Webinar Series – Stay TUNED!)

Nature banks on diversity. It is one of Nature’s design principles. Nature’s purpose is to create conditions conducive to the life of future generations.

As ecosystems move from monocultures to diverse species and plant life, they become more resilient and can recover faster from disruptions in their environment. That is why nature banks on diversity. It helps ecosystems become more resilient and helps nature achieve its purpose.

It is interesting that we understand this relationship between resilience and diversification when we think of investment strategies. As we diversify our financial portfolios, our investments are more resilient. An example in nature is a prairie that produces food at multiple times of the summer. This kind of ecosystem is more resilient to a hail storm than a neighboring corn or soybean field. The corn can be wiped out by hail and not recover because is a monocrop. A prairie can be damaged but the diverse plant life will still flourish and provide nutrients to the species that feed off it.

We Need Frame Diversity Differently in Our Organizations

Most of our organizations that want to support diversity and celebrate diverse people and points of view are trying to help people become more tolerant, open, and accepting. Nature would ask a different question and perhaps approach diversity initiatives a different way.

If we learned a lesson from nature about diversity, we might ask “what are the risks of homogeneity?” instead of how we become more welcoming to diversity. By understanding the risks to the ecosystem or organization in homogeneity, we might approach diversity as a critical business strategy to remain relevant in the future. In nature, ecological systems grow more diverse as they evolve. This helps species develop food webs to sustain their nutrients. If one species or food source collapses, others in their food web will continue to supply nutrients so the species survives.

Becoming More Diverse is a Natural Result of Evolution

Instead of asking how can we become more diverse, we should be asking what is stopping our natural evolution as an organization? Nature is a living system. The increasing diversity is how it adapts to growing complexity and evolution. If our organizations are struggling with diversity, it might help us to look for ways we are stopping the evolution of our organization and what are the risks of that behavior to the future ability for our organization to thrive?

Taylor and Wacker wrote a book titled The 500-Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next (1997).  In their book, they talk about institutional diversity as a critical dimension of organizations that want to thrive in the future. Their argument is that if your organization is filled with white men, they won’t see needs that emerge from the perspective and experience of women, or Latinos, or other ethnic groups. The innovations that are driven by seeing an unmet need means that people who experience that need will see it first and respond to it first. They will be first in the marketplace, not an organization whose primary focus is on the unmet needs of people just like them.

As our world continues to connect across a global economy, we hamstring our organization’s evolution when we are a monoculture, i.e. an organization led predominately by people who look the same.
 

Dr. Kathleen E. Allen writes a blog on leadership and organizations that describes a new paradigm of leadership that is based on lessons from nature and living systems. She is the author of Leading from the Roots: Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World (2018) and President of Allen and Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership, innovation, and organizational change. You can sign up for her blog on her website: www.kathleenallen.net

It’s time for a National Anthem for Latinos

It’s time for a National Anthem for Latinos

By Juana Bordas

Way back in 1919 the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) adopted the song “Lift every voice and sing” as the Black national anthem. Since that time, the song has inspired hope and faith because despite past trials and tribulations, Black people survived and are now thriving: “The rising sun of a new day begun.” “Lift every voice and sing” has been a source of pride and solidarity for Black people for almost 100 years.

Latinos were only declared a minority from the 1980 census on. We are in still in the identity formation stage. The adoption of a national anthem that speaks to our uniqueness and common experiences would serve as a source of unity, pride, and bring deeper meaning to what it means to be Latino. But what song could bring the vast Latino diversity together?

In the 1960’s when the humble farm workers marched with César Chávez advocating for decent wages and working conditions, they sang De Colores. A traditional and beloved song, thought to have been brought over from Spain in the 16th century, De Colores literally means ‘of many colors’.

The song celebrates the incredible beauty of life’s diversity – the multicolored birds, the radiant flowers, and the luminescent rainbow. The chorus says that just as life by its very nature is so colorful, so too great love embraces people of many colors.

This song resonates with our Latino soul because we are De Colores. The many colors of humanity are right across the family dinner table. Our diversity is rooted in our mixed racial, cultural, and historical heritage.

Latinos are not a race. Much like the Jewish community, Latinos are an ethnic or cultural group bound together by the Spanish language, a shared history and heritage, a revered spiritual tradition, and common values that stem from both our Spanish and indigenous roots.

Latinos are a rich culture of synthesis and fusion that celebrate de colores – the radiant rainbow of humanity. Our love for diversity is also apparent in our bienvenido or welcoming spirit. And in what I call the Latino golden rule: Mi Casa es su Casa. These dynamics fashion a culture that is exquisitely diverse, inclusive, and celebrates people’s uniqueness. Furthermore since Latinos are a culture not a race and culture is leaned people can become Latino by Affinity or Corazón.

This moment in history when the Latino community is coming of age is also the time when our multicultural nation and global community is rapidly emerging. Leaders must ensure that people of different races, ages, nations, sexual orientations, religions and cultures work and live peacefully together.

Embracing the spirit of De Colores offers a pathway to accomplish this – to integrate our kaleidoscope society and welcome the gifts of all people.

Yes! The emergence of a De Colores America will be a defining characteristic of the 21st century. Because of our inherent diversity, Latinos will be at the headwaters of this transformation.

We will be a model for building the multicultural society. We can show people how celebrating De Colores – brings beauty, vitality, joy and grace to life.

For this reason, I believe De Colores should be the Hispanic national anthem.

The above text are excerpts from “The Power of Latino Leadership” by Juana Bordas

Juana Bordas is the president of Mestiza Leadership International. She is an activist, author, and diversity aficionada.

Latinos are Turning 40!

Latinos are Turning 40!

By Juana Bordas

Many people do not know that until the 1970 census there was no group identified as Hispanic or Latino! Filling out my first census in 1960, I looked for a category that acknowledged ancestry. I felt a thud in my heart as I checked the Caucasian box and heard my sweet grandmother’s voice, “Never forget where you came from.” But remembering your history and embracing your identity is difficult when there is no acknowledgement that you people even exist.

Considering the growing influence of Hispanics today it is hard to believe that this growing demographic wasn’t officially recognized until The Office of Management and Budget Directive 15 on May 12, 1977 added Hispanic as a racial and ethnic category to the US Census. From then on there would be five colors in the US palette: American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, White and Hispanic.

It is not that Hispanics didn’t exist before then, our heritage goes back to before the US was a nation. Fully one-third of territorial US was Mexico until 1848 and this is reflected in the name of our states, such as Colorado, Arizona and Montana; and cities like Los Angeles, San Antonio and Las Vegas. Hispanic heritage gives the Southwest its distinct cultural flavor.

For the past 500 years, Hispanics made great contributions to our country. Our leaders have worked endlessly to equalize economic, educational, and political disparities. The addition of Hispanic to our nation’s census signified that Hispanics were recognized as an integral part of our nation. OMD Directive 15 legitimized Hispanics.

So let’s begin the birthday fiesta. US Latinos have just turned 40! But wait – many people still wonder – what exactly is a Hispanic?

Hispanics are a rich culture of synthesis and fusion. Most claim a mixed heritage of Indigenous people of the Americans with European, mainly the Spanish, but many Latinos have African or German or Irish, and others who settled the Americas. Additionally, Latinos are a culture or ethnic group and can be of any race.

Add to the mix that Hispanics come from 24 countries and a majority still identifies with their cultural of origin – and it really gets interesting. For instance, I identify as Brown and am Nicaraguan by birth. I come from Indigenous, French, and Spanish decedents, am Mexican by culture, and a US citizen who loves this country. I served in the Peace Corps in Chile and am Chilean by corazón or heart. Complexity and diversity are at the heart of Latino identity and we embrace it!

If you are not Latino you may ask why is this important? Well Hispanic heritage is part of our history, but Latinos will also shape our future. Latinos have the highest labor market participation; they are the fastest growing small business sector; and in 2015, Hispanics buying power was $1.3 trillion, an amount larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Australia or Spain.

Just as important, Hispanics are adding sabor and gusto through their food, music, art, and cultural values such as inclusion, generosity, family, community, service, and civic engagement. This influence will continue: one third of Latinos are under 18 and 20% of Millennials are Latino. Young Latinos will ensure that our influence and impact continue to enrich America..

LIDERAMOS has been launched to ensure that Latinos are prepared to lead the 21st century by connecting Latino leadership programs to learn from each other and improve their programs. LIDERAMOS will also assist communities who desire to launch a program access the resources, information, and technical assistance they need to do this effectively.

Forty years is a short time for a people to forge their identity especially considering the multifaceted Latino experience. Latino leaders today are challenged to forge unity from diversity and to integrate a collective identity from the diverse Latino familia. Our birthday celebration signals a new maturity and the time for coming together. LIDERAMOS will be the catalyst to move our leadership and influence forward. Adelante!