Leadership and Coaching in Nepal – Deborah Koehler (part 7)

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Training in a Development Organization:
Today was the sales meeting with an European Aid organization to see if I am the right trainer for their requirements. They had read my bio and thought I might be able to help them with diversity training. I have friends who are diversity trainers, but I am not one myself. But I have lived all over the world and worked closely with people of different nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, and economic status.

Nepal has long had a caste system, which means those born into certain caste have had privileges that others do not. They could send their children to select schools, take over well-established family businesses, and so keep wealth and status and power in the family. With the Maoist uprising and the ending of the Monarchy, however, the lower classes are finally becoming more integrated into society and being given equal access to the opportunities long reserved for the privileged castes.

In this organization, the important HR positions are all still held by members of privilege castes, but the business need is to hire and train and develop people from all the castes. The HR managers know this, but unspoken biases and judgments get in the way. How can they be made aware of them? How can they be helped to recognize the outward symptoms of those inward judgments? How can they be helped to see that they do have bias and need to overcome it in the spirit of fairness and inclusion and equality?

At this point in time, I do not know how I will design this training. I start from a belief that each of us, as an individual, is a tapestry woven from our experiences, families, and personalities. We are a mosaic of different influences. In order to transform ourselves, as well as the culture and the nation of which we are part, we must be willing to unweave ourselves – and then re-weave anew. Some of our ingrained judgments and behaviors are no longer useful or appropriate. We must step outside ourselves and be “bigger” than we thought we were so that we can change ourselves as a critical first step in changing others. I am not sure how to do this or to prepare others to do it. But it must be done. I will sleep on it and do my best. The responsibility I feel here is very heavy and the challenge large. But the opportunity is great. I hope I can find the words – and the ways. Part 8