Globalism? Nationalism? Where is D&I Headed?

by Alan Richter, Ph.D.,
Co-Author, Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks
Founding Board Member & Treasurer, The Centre for Global Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Measurement and AssessmentThere is every reason to talk about the future of our D&I field when so much is happening so fast in the world. The recent Brexit and Trump victories are now unfolding in interesting ways, and it may well be that the “populist” nationalism that they reflect is going to take a U-turn. At the heart of D&I is the concept of connectivity, the notion that as the world is “shrinking,” more and more connections are possible today and will expand in the future. Global connectivity is at the heart of the diversity and inclusion challenge, as more and more connections will be across differences that we need to manage peacefully and effectively. This in essence reflects the current globalism versus nationalism clash in the world. Globalism embraces connectivity, while the more fundamentalist nationalism repudiates inclusive connectivity. My hunch is that the current resurgence of nationalism will be short-lived. The recent election of Macron in France is a healthy sign hopefully marking the beginning of the downward trend in exclusive nationalism.

However, the US has still to work through this nationalism. With Trump as president we are seeing a move inward – away from global leadership – and this is reflected in the Pew Research Center’s research showing favorability ratings for the United States having declined steeply this year in many nations. The rare country where confidence in the US has grown is Russia. Pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and Paris Climate Accord, reflects an abdication of the US as a global leader. The reputation of the US in the world is currently in great peril — to the extent that a narrow nationalism cannot come to terms with globalization.

And yet a country’s reputation cannot all be vested in the top leader. So much of American society is outward looking and embracing of globalization, and contradicting of Trump’s agenda. Many States and businesses are embracing the Paris climate accord, regardless. And attitudes around inclusion are changing very fast. A good example is attitudes to LGBTQ. According to the Pew Research Center in 2001, Americans supporting same-sex marriage was 35%, while in 2017 it had grown to a majority of 62%. The first national law providing for same sex marriage was in 2001 in the Netherlands. In 2017 same-sex marriage was legally recognized in 23 countries. Something to cheer about!

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