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Diversity & Inclusion – Will Donald Trump Erode The Gains Made?

Right from the time he declared his intention for the senior most political position in the USA, to its realization, many (or at least as the media made us believe) kept thinking he was the biggest joke of the century. Then he won and was sworn in as POTUS. The whole world is now watching and listening pensively every other hour for the most unpredictable “breaking news” from the White house. Bills are being signed and the effect of some is almost immediate.

The global workplace is already feeling the “hands-on effect” or rather the presidential “landing force” of Donald John Trump.

His campaigns were littered with statements, actions and scandalous stuff that indicated POTUS had little regard for all mankind besides if not certain creeds. “Diversity and inclusion” was a foreign ideology which he didn’t have and still has no time for. He didn’t shy from making it known that he had a disliking for the Muslim community, the Mexicans immigrants and in general anyone he considered non-American. He shot from the hip and any opposition was dealt with accordingly.

A quick comparison with his predecessor and you can quickly tell these are two men from different planets. While Obama carried along everyone and even led the diversity campaign globally, Trump has given the strongest hint that he is not just about to fit in the same shoes. The most recent bills he has signed have caused global jitters with immigrants and foreign citizens working in American finding themselves stranded (some being aliens: Read Mo Farah’s tweet message) at the country’s entry points.

While the US has always led the diversity & inclusion discussion, it remains to be seen how this great workplace agenda will be advanced in 2017 and beyond in light of Trump’s presidency.

Obama’s administration advanced the agenda with a heavy inclination on institutionalizing the LGBT community. However it is imperative to understand that Diversity is larger than sexual orientation and in certain continents the sexual orientation is a non-issue. Religious and race/ethnicity matters take the centre stage.

While it may be too early to make a concrete decision on certain matters, the LGBT community has already raised concerns on the deletion of its page from the white house website. They feel this could be Trump’s subtle way of watering down the gains and recognition they got from the previous government. His vice president, Mike Pence, has expressed staunch opposition to gay rights as have some of the President’s recent cabinet picks.

I would dare say that Trump has thrown stones in the hives of three kingpins of Diversity; sexual orientation national origin, and religion. The LGBT community feel their identity and freedom is under a real threat, non-Americans are daily waking up to the uncertainty of their being in the US and the global Muslim community is enraged for being tagged as dangerous (if not terrorists) to America’s peace.

While the global workplace has been working hard to create an awareness and environment which embraces employees’ differences, the recent and most likely long term actions of Trump will in no doubt be a stain to this fabric.

Global enterprises like Google are already feeling the heat. Most of the tech giants in the US have a huge proportion of immigrant employees not mentioning the fact the Google’s global CEO is an Indian immigrant. The Silicon Valley known for its technological finesse is touted as being an “immigrant employees” driven. History points to the fact that America’s economy is what it is thanks to the immigrants and the favorable immigration policies then.

Trumps policies and actions will affect every other village in the global space. Originating from the USA, every bit of action and policy will sweep across the entire planet and the wave will have a significant impact on the diversity agenda. If there were governments and organizations that felt pushed into this fold or embraced it for political correctness sake, then this “Trump moment” could provide a window of opportunity for them to reverse gains made.

Global networks like PwC which have fully embraced the Diversity & Inclusion agenda and even formed a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Partner Advisory Board, will be watching keenly on the next move from the most powerful house in the universe in the days to come.

No doubt tensions are going to run high, discussions at the workplace will be re-defined, local and International labour policies might change and communities and religious groups that feel discriminated will brace themselves for uncertain times ahead. Discrimination of the once valued “strong link” of human workplace interaction may rear its ugly head globally and locally.

In light of this strange turn of events, it is still important for workplace leaders and the HR teams to constantly remind their teams of the immeasurable benefits derived in an environment that makes everyone feel respected and valued regardless of their differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. They should continue working and reinforcing workplace cultures, practices and relationships that support a diverse workforce.

The power of diversity is only unleashed when we respect and value differences. The gains made should be safeguarded by all and sundry at the workplace.

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