MIAMI, FL / ACCESSWIRE / November 23, 2022 / The foundations of corporate cultures run deeper than those aspects we first encounter, says Jozef Opdeweegh in his latest article published on Master Mindset. Purpose and mission statements are now commonplace in the world of listed companies, as are declarations of values and commitments -but these can only tell us so much. For beneath the surface of every cultural statement, lie the unstated assumptions, background context, and beliefs that shape and support their more public manifestation.
The author of Fair Value, reflections on good business, Opdeweegh is known for his thoughtful style. Drawing on a career that's included senior roles in Europe, the US, and the Asia Pacific, he now promotes understanding through mindful learning and consideration of business ethics in a wider context. Born into a family of educators he grew up in Belgium, speaks three languages fluently, and believes there is much to be gained from a more human and philosophic approach to the challenges faced by organizations today.
In developing his theme, Opdeweegh acknowledges that we have come a long way in developing clearer declarations of culture and values. No progressive organization today, he asserts, would succeed with a culture that tolerates discrimination or fails to balance the interests of stakeholders. But while this a cause for celebration, Opdeweegh argues we ought to look a little deeper than we typically do.
Taking inspiration from the work of Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung, Opdeweegh distinguishes a minimalist conception of ‘visible culture' and the underlying beliefs and values which make for a more comprehensive understanding of what is portrayed. What's more, these underlying factors are, often, he says, ‘More deeply embedded and difficult to shift or even recognize for what they are.'
This is what Opdeweegh refers to as the cultural iceberg. The tip, he says, is there for all to see, but beneath the surface are unseen foundations that impact all organizations, and which are difficult -and often uncomfortable - to explore. While the iceberg concept is not difficult to follow, it's tough, he claims, to dive into the cold waters below. ‘It takes real reflection and objectivity to examine the policies and structures we so often take for granted, and which perhaps feel comfortable to those who've established them.'
Sensing that he too has been guilty of fixating on what is visible at the expense of attending to what lies underneath, Opdeweegh asks some probing questions to illustrate how workplace policies can have a profound cultural impact. Do our working hours exclude certain sections of society? Are the wages we pay reflective of the culture we espouse? Does our access to management align with a true openness to ideas and involvement? Is the language we use inclusive and easy to follow by all?
These questions are only a start, says Opdeweegh. He follows up with examples of positive questions an organization might ask to encourage more progressive and inclusive behaviors. ‘Could we do more to accommodate disabilities? Might we work harder to share and inform each other of our beliefs? How can we ensure that colleague feedback is vibrant and fresh? Opdeweegh references a company that was encouraging its employees to make TikTok-style videos to share their suggestions - what a great idea, he claims.
As a passionate believer in values as a force for good, Opdeweegh asserts it's not his intention to criticize the advances organizations have made. He writes, ‘I have long believed that culture is the rock on which great businesses are built.' But in drawing attention to the unseen aspects of culture he is calling for a deeper reflection and disclosure than the typical boilerplate statements on fair trading, modern slavery, diversity, and inclusion.
It's an investigation, says Opdeweegh, which must first recognize that culture is not created in a vacuum and that the beliefs and assumptions we hold are often unwittingly at odds with the aims we aspire to. It's also a process that requires the courage to confront truths we might rather keep under wraps.
‘If we want to make progress. we must go beyond what we see and even what we believe to be true. For culture runs deep and that means we must look as much below as above the waterline.'
SOURCE: Jozef Opdeweegh
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