“Half the world is
Half the world was
Half the world thinks
While the other half does…”
–Neil Peart (writer and musician, “Half the World”)
The nightlight burned brighter. It didn’t make any sense at the time because it was the same nightlight we always used in the hallway for our girls, and it was never usually that bright.
As usual I tossed and turned earlier in the night, with the weight of my world raining down like meteors in the night sky, cratering my sleep with burning questions.
I woke at 3:45 am, 45 minutes before I really had to, the nightlight lighting up our white bedroom door. It seemed to pulse slowly like a sleeping heart rate, calming and warm. I knew it was really 4:45, because of daylight savings time – Spring forward and all. What a day to be heading East when time heads West, I thought.
When I deleted the alarm time I had set the night before, I noticed the text. I rubbed my eyes to ensure I read it correctly.
Kevin, it’s Kevin – call me.
I went downstairs and texted back: Who is this?
I’m you. In the future. Please call me. It’s important.
I set the phone down on my desk. Then, another text.
Please, call me at…
The number texted to me, from whoever it was on the other end, was my cell phone number.
What the hell?
I didn’t have to leave for the airport for another hour, so I called it. This is crazy; it’s just going to give me a busy signal.
But it didn’t. The ring sounded warped, slowing down, then speeding up. A somewhat familiar voice answered.
“Hello?” the man said, again slightly distorted. I also heard what sounded like the ocean, the ebb and flow of surf crashing on the beach.
“Hello,” I answered. “Who’s this?”
“Listen, Kevin, I don’t know how much time I have, but I have a gift for you.”
I didn’t answer.
“Really, it’s not a joke. You’re calling the future and I have great news.”
“Who is this?” I asked.
More ocean sounds, moving in and out of tinny monotone and digital clarity.
“I’m you. Trust me. I can’t give you many details, but know that your girls are happy and have grown into strong and empathic women who are leaders in their fields. In fact, there are more women from various cultural backgrounds in leadership roles worldwide than ever before. And men are more supportive peers and colleagues who shoot themselves in the feet much less often.”
“How did you know I worry about that for them?” I asked.
“Because I’m you,” came the answer. “Your world today is still very male dominated, but that will change. Trust me.”
“Right on,” I instinctively replied. “Wait, I can’t believe I’m listening to this, I’m hanging up now.” Time inched closer to my airport departure. I readied myself to disconnect the call.
“You and your wife did a remarkable job, Kevin. You’re…I mean…we’re the better halves of doing and making things whole,” the familiar voice on the other end added, as clear as if it were in my own head. “Be grateful for girl power.”
I found myself compelled to respond. “Nothing’s that easy. There’s still too much to do and we can’t do it alone.”
“You’re right, it wasn’t easy, but the world figured it out and we finally evolved socially and economically. A little here, a little there. Spring forward and all that, you know.”
I shook my head and closed my eyes. I must be dreaming.
“Oh, and also in the future there’s free Wi-Fi and power everywhere in the air, letting us work from anywhere at anytime, all from sustainable clean energy and pretty sweet wireless quantum physics technology.”
“That’s great. The future’s so bright we gotta wear shades, right?”
No response to my Timbuk 3 1980’s song forever lost in time, but it was time for me to head out. Or wake up.
“Are you still there?”
Nothing. He was no longer there, whoever he was, or wasn’t. Nothing left but ocean sounds. I left for the airport.
Of course this was all a self-fulfilling prophecy; a forward-thinking daydream fantasy of what I hope the world and the workplace become someday for my children, and how they might help transform it.
Something much more remarkable than today. Yes, it has been something that weighs on me, but the good news is that diversity and inclusion are hot topics today and rightly so. Hopefully this all becomes the road to remarkable.
Bersin by Deloitte research shows that 71% of companies “aspire to be fully inclusive.” However, when you look at what actually is practiced, only 11% truly demonstrate an inclusive culture, of embracing being yourself and really bring your “authentic self” to work every single day, wherever and whatever that work is.
And that means for men and women alike. Unfortunately gender equality for women has a ways to go, and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy to improve the landscape is still in the early days. Having two girls has given my wife and I front row seats to this disparity show and how pervasive bias is, but change is in play, however painful and slow.
According to “What Is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance?” report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a teams’ collective intelligence rose with the number of women in the group, possibly because of the women’s higher performance on tasks that required social sensitivity. Plus, Gallup research shows that women leaders tend to have significantly happier, more highly engaged teams.
PwC’s 2015 CEO Survey revealed that overall talent diversity and inclusiveness are not just the softer issues only given lip service, but instead are now considered crucial to being competitive. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved their bottom line. They also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.
I’ve been at our PeopleFluent WISDOM 2015 customer conference all week and am proud of the fact that helping customers leverage diversity and inclusion programs is a top priority of ours. This and facilitating equal employment practices and compliance at every stage of the talent management lifecycle that create and sustain high-performing workforces.
Among many other powerful speakers and sessions, Dr. David Rock, the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, keynoted our conference and spoke about “Breaking Bias: Why Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Are Good Business.” Companies everywhere are struggling to significantly move the needle on the diversity and inclusion challenge, and Dr. Rock’s research suggests how exploring the biology of bias will help us ultimately and authentically mitigate it at a whole new level.
Lastly, I did actually talk with the future recently on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, about 18 hours into the future to be exact (from one time zone to another across the Pacific). It was with Mandy Johnson, best-selling business author of Family Village Tribe and Winning the War For Talent, and an active speaker, advisor and executive educator. Mandy lives in Australia and discussed with us her “Six Steps To Building A Remarkable Workplace,” the first of which includes having CEO buy-in and HR champions prioritizing and supporting people-centric initiatives.
These initiatives, which include diversity and inclusion programs, not only drive our better halves when it comes to organizational change and positive business outcomes through intelligent and transparent HR practices, they also drive the road to remarkable for both genders and generations to come.
Photo courtesy of Kevin W. Grossman