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

Friday, September 15th, 2017

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.

Chemical Happiness

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Most of us measure happiness as a product of various material factors like health, wealth and success. So this means that if we are healthy and successful we must be happy. Then why do we suffer from discontentment and meaninglessness despite being successful in our career and endeavours? Psychologists and biologists now believe our biochemistry has a greater level in determining how happy we are and how happy we can ever be. As Yuval Noah Harari in his book “Sapiens” said that the lasting happiness comes only from Serotonin, Dopamine and oxytocin.

Women on average are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Their emotions and memory centers are stronger and bigger than that of men. If they understand how their brain reacts to external stimuli, they can get a hold of their emotions and feelings before responding unreasonably. Being aware of how your brain centres work can help you be mindful of what’s going on in your head and think rationally without letting emotions get in your way. In the following points we explain the biochemical factors that are lined with female unhappiness.

1. Amygdala

It is the brain center for fear and emotions. A woman’s amygdala is more easily activated by emotional nuance. Her amygdala responds strongly to a stressful situation or a pleasant one. This amygdala response triggers her hippo-campus which is the brain centre for memory storage, to tag the details of that particular situation thus letting her remember that particular situation for a fairly long period of time.

2. Emotional mirroring

Women can feel greater body sensations than men. This means the physical pain or the emotions they feel are more intense. These body sensations help them to track and feel painful emotions. Just by observing someone in an emotional state, similar brain patterns are activated in a woman’s brain letting her stress over situation which is not even hers. This is called Emotional mirroring.

3. Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen is the feel good brain chemical and progesterone is the ‘relaxed and lazy’ hormone. Women whose ovaries make the most estrogen and progesterone are more resistant to stress because their brain secret more serotonin- a chemical that makes you feel relaxed and at ease. Serotonin changes in the body can cause frequent mood swings. Women tend to produce lower quantities of serotonin than men. Serotonin deficiency can cause mental health issues most notable depression and anxiety.

4. Gut feelings

Insula a region of brain that processes gut feelings is larger in women. As a woman’s brain can track body sensations easily, her gut sensations are also intense. She gives a lot of attention to her gut feelings, ponders over it for a fairly longer period of time than a man would, on an average.

5. Sexual orgasm

Female orgasm creates feelings of intimacy and trust towards partners. It boosts electrochemical activities in the body and release feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, endorphin and oxytocin. The nerves in the clitoris communicate directly with the pleasure centers of a woman’s brain. If those nerves are stimulated, they trigger a burst of feel good chemicals but if her clitoral nerves are not sensitive enough or if fear or guilt interfere at the time of stimulation there will be no orgasm. A female brain has to be turned off to turn on sexually. If she is stressed out or angry or her amygdala is on high, she would have hard time reaching orgasm.

6. High cortisol levels

Cortisol, the stress hormone, helps control blood sugar levels and regulate metabolism. But high cortisol levels can bring changes in menstrual cycle and cause anxiety and depression. Mood swings and changes to skin are also linked with it. Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands and tumor in adrenal glands can increase cortisol levels in the body.

There are also some other psychological factors that are linked with unhappiness.

• Less maternal care- children who do not get enough maternal care are more likely to be easily stressed and fearful as adults. They are more prone to anxiety disorders than those who get more maternal care.

• Communication- a female has larger communication centers in brain than men. Oral communication is quiet important for a woman for connection. Connecting through communicating activates the pleasure centers in a female brain, boosting release of dopamine (the feel good chemical).

• Conflicts- conflicts trigger negative chemical reaction in a woman’s brain. It creates stress and fear. That is why women avoid conflict at all cost. The psychological stress of a conflict is quiet intense for a woman.

• Postpartum depression- 1 out of 10 women will become stressed after giving birth within an year.it can be due to lack of emotional support, conflicts at home or previous depression.

Our biochemical system determines our happiness levels. It has evolved in a way to keep our happiness constant, neither too sad nor too happy. We might feel momentary pleasure but it quickly subsides and we are back to being the way we were before. But we all have different biochemical system. People born with cheerful biochemical system are blessed with high happiness levels. They might lose everything and everyone, go through a lot of miseries but they will remain happy. People born with gloomy biochemistry will find it hard to remain happy even if their life is perfect. It’s hard for us to break free of our biologically determined limits. If we can alter our biochemical system, we can alter our levels of happiness.