Submitted by: Nina Esaki, Director, Research of the Sanctuary Institute
I’ve been with ANDRUS for close to 2 years and attended a workshop recently in which we discussed organizational culture. The discussion reminded me of some experiences in the corporate world – a world in which I spent close to 20 years in my first career, specifically, in Human Resources. In many of the corporations in which I was employed, it was all about efficiency and getting the most out of employees. I remember one meeting in which employees were represented as dots on a quadrant chart, with one axis representing current performance and the other representing potential. This corporation relentlessly pushed people to perform, focusing on the “dots” in the quadrant of low performance and poor potential. These employees were deemed no longer worthy of further investment.
I was appalled by this approach and questioned how my colleagues could, in good conscience, relegate/diminish people to “dots” on a quadrant chart? I was new to the corporation and was shocked by the meeting. I quickly found a way to exit the company and, eventually, the corporate world altogether.
Fast forward 15 years. I’m back in the recent workshop with 20 or so ANDRUS colleagues struggling with how to address issues of race and power within our organization. There were folks from all different backgrounds and positions within ANDRUS speaking openly and freely about challenges they felt needed to be tackled. Although the issues are formidable, the process felt somewhat healing to me. Perhaps we’re not a lean, mean, well-oiled corporate machine, but we’re an organization in which we can be human and demonstrate the positive, embracing side of humanity, rather than its destructive side. As we, individually, can shape culture, so too does culture shape each of us. Although we have our work cut out for us, I left the meeting feeling grateful that I have finally found an organizational culture in line with my values, and one in which I feel proud to be a member.