In the TV series “The Loudest Voice” we can see the rise and fall of Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, one of the most known and powerful all-news TV channel in the world. Overwhelmed by the accusations of sexual harassment from many journalists of the channel, in 2016 Ailes was forced to resign. Without getting into the huge political impact of this story, what struck me was the company failure to listen to any voice different from Ailes’s abusing screams. If the organization had been able to give space to different perspectives, for example, those of the victims, the case would have emerged before reaching enormous proportions, ruining people’s lives, and damaging the channel reputation.
How many points of view exist on the same subject?
I have thought about it today when I have been reading “The silence of the girls”. In this Pat Barker’s novel it is Briseis, Achille’s concubine, to tell the Iliad facts from her standpoint. Her perspective about the myth and the most famous war in history is deeply different from the narrative we traditionally know: what we call heroes here are assassins and predators.
As it happens in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s thinking when the African-American author tells about the inspiring Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln on the government of the people, and clarifies that Lincoln as “people” did not mean neither him and his siblings, nor the millions of black Americans then excluded from the “universal” suffrage.
Truth to tell, each one of us looks at the world around him from where he is.
From who he is, from the experiences he had, from his needs. From his past, present, or expected future. It is pretty interesting that Thomas Nagel called “a view from nowhere” the objective perspective. He highlighted the tension between the subjective and the objective standpoints as one of the roots of the philosophy.
Let us focus on company environments.
- How many points of view exist in any organization?
- In what way can we intercept and give space to the voices of people in weaker or hidden positions?
- How can we avoid that the only existing perspective in the company would be the standpoint of the dominant organizational culture (e.g. male, white, heterosexual, some university/faculty linked, hierarchical located, speaking a specific language, etc.)?
Including means giving value to every diversity in the organization, making sure that everyone feels free to be himself and to contribute that way to the company story and success. It means building an organizational culture fed by the richness of diversity.
To reach this, we should first and foremost listen.
We should create and offer a safe space where any different perspectives can be expressed and taken into account.
We have to give organizational citizenship to them.
“Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles … How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called ‘the butcher’.” (Pat Barker)