The Value of inclusion
- Jay Bird | July 21, 2023
What does it mean for business to be inclusive of Indigenous worldviews?
That all begins with understanding Indigenous cultural values, and how we experience things concerning the world we live in.
What would make workplaces have intrinsic value for Indigenous people? This is important for businesses to consider for a variety of reasons, including reconciliation, recruitment, and retention.
So, how do we frame this conversation?
I think one good way is to examine Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. In these dimensions, Geert compared Western worldviews with cultures across the globe, to find the unique differences to help companies navigate cultural conflict between societies. That’s kind of an ideal model for comparing Western value systems compared with Indigenous value systems on these lands.
There are six broad based dimensions to culture, according to Hofstede:
- Power Distance
- Individualism vs Collectivism
- Uncertainty Avoidance
- Masculinity vs Femininity
- Long-term vs Short-term Orientation
- Indulgence vs Restraint
Canadian society scores high on individualism and indulgence. It scores moderately high on masculinity and uncertainty avoidance, but scores lower on power distance and long-term orientation.
Ultimately, it shows Canada respects values about the individual person’s importance, indulging in the amenities of society, use of masculine definitions in institutions, and needs society to be compartmentalized, assured and without unknowns.
They also have higher focuses on short term gains and supporting hierarchies of power as compared with Indigenous people.
This means Canadian society, mostly based on Western worldviews, is reflected in companies, and actively promotes a Eurocentric worldview in its institutions and systems.
Those values become the values Indigenous people need to adopt to fit into the companies they are employed with. But is this the type of inclusion that empowers Indigenous people?
That answer is no.
That inclusion defies our identity, our worldview, and the way we value life’s experience. When we compare Indigenous worldviews on the Hofstede metric, we find Indigenous people hold values opposite to Western values, sort of their counterpart.
Indigenous people hold values that are supportive of the benefits of the majority of the community (collectivism), restrictive in their use of power, money and amenities, OK with levels of uncertainty in outcomes, inclusive of feminine values in their power structures and ideologies, respective of small level hierarchies with close-knit power systems, and use a long- term orientation up to seven generations.
Moreover, the use of spirituality is not driven out of any Indigenous organization, including in governance and business. What we find with inclusion is the focus is short-sighted. It doesn’t actively include Indigenous worldviews into their institutions and systems.
Indigenous people are expected to shelf their identity at the door, and then pick it back up when they leave.
Does this reproduce Indigenous identity issues?
How is that sustainable for any Indigenous person?
We need companies to move from assimilation to accommodation.
Next month I will examine the idea of incorporating Indigenous values into business systems. As it stands, business ideologies feel like an adversary to Indigenous worldviews. I am not sure that’s the case.