Why global citizenship should be at the core of your workplace culture


Global Citizenship

Changing the world starts with changing your culture 

Profits, margins, turnover. These are all common top priority items for business leaders. But what about global citizenship? As the fight for equality continues and we navigate a pandemic, global citizenship is more important now than ever before. 

What is a global citizen? 

“A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community and work with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer.” – Oxfam, 2020. 

With rising numbers of people striving towards this ideal, the impact of global citizenship is being increasingly felt within organisations, as people call on their employers to help them embrace this creative, flexible, dedicated and proactive approach to life. In a 2018 human capital trends study, Deloitte found that 67% of employees want to work for a socially responsible company, suggesting that global citizenship not only affects an organisation’s image and reputation but also its ability to attract and retain talent.

So, how can organisations embrace global citizenship?

There are a number of ways organisations can embrace global citizenship internally, and help their people become better global citizens too. Most of the tactics boil down to one thing: doing the right thing first. For example, paying your fair share of taxes, ensuring your employees have access to appropriate healthcare, paying the living wage and so on. These can all have a huge impact on your organisation and your employee’s ability to be a global citizen.  

The professional world is no longer focused on profit margins alone, corporations are now judged on how they treat people and the environment. This phenomenon has become so apparent that Forbes has devised ‘The Just 100’ list of ‘companies leading the new era of responsible capitalism’. This list is full of business leaders proving that doing the right thing is more important than profit. For example, featured on the 2021 list is Doug Baker, CEO at Ecolab, due to his actions at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing demand for hand sanitizer booming, he modified his production lines to create more of the cleaning product and donated over $3 million worth of alcohol wipes and disinfectant sprays to health-care providers. This move was not for profit, Ecolab was simply doing the right thing.

But how can we help our people embrace global citizenship in their day-to-day lives? Here at Grasp, we believe that communication, culture and mentoring have a huge role to play in creating global citizens. 

Organisational culture and global citizenship

According to Oxfam, some of the key benefits of global citizenship (GC) is that it enables people to:

  • Challenge ignorance and intolerance
  • Develop an argument and voice their opinion
  • See that they have power to act and influence the world around them

Each of these points require the individual to feel comfortable speaking up, having the courage to challenge their friends or peers, and understanding that there will be no negative consequences to doing the right thing. However, if your organisation is fostering a negative culture, where your people do not dare challenge their peers, let alone management, how can you expect your people to become global citizens?

Creating an environment where you allow passionate people to flourish and make the changes necessary to the world around them, is the first step to empowering your people to become global citizens. It is your responsibility as an organisation to ensure your culture is welcoming, inclusive and inviting, allowing your people to stand up for what is right. 

Communication and global citizenship

GC is often discussed in relation to school and education, focusing on how we must teach our young people about the notion and culture of peace and non-violence. But the affiliation between GC and schooling assumes that all adults have a clear, thorough understanding of the world around them and their place in the world – and as such are global citizens. We know that isn’t true. 

Therefore as business leaders we must communicate with our people on things that really matter. We must speak about political, social and economic injustice in the world, and lead by example when trying to overcome them. Lucy Suros, CEO of Articulate – a learning technology organisation based in the USA, showed great communication skills surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, she publicly communicated, posting an article on Medium calling corporate America to ‘wake up’. Her team reacted in kind, and this open communication enabled all of Lucy’s employees to become better global citizens. 

Mentoring and global citizenship

After an organisation has the right culture and communication in place to facilitate GC, they will begin to realise the benefits and characteristics of it throughout its organisation. Not least in its mentoring programmes. 

Mentoring presents an ideal opportunity to bring together a variety of people, with different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds, and drive conversation between them. By learning and understanding one another’s perspectives, both the mentor and mentee will benefit and broaden their understanding of different views – especially if each party comes from a different cultural background. 

In addition, mentoring programmes are designed so that the mentor can guide and coach the mentee through their career. This brings with it imparting knowledge and skills, and in turn is perfectly aligned with embracing GC. It is said that to become a global citizen people need to develop skills related to problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. All of which are areas where a mentor should already be coaching their mentee. 

Global citizenship is quickly becoming an essential agenda item for many employees today. If your organisation does not foster an environment that allows your people to make a positive impact on the world around them, they’re likely to move to an organisation that will. So now’s the time to embrace global citizenship and implement the culture, communication and effective mentoring partnerships to facilitate it – we’re sure you won’t regret it. 

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