The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been caught on camera in an awkward moment as he tried to recite a colonial-era poem by Rudyard Kipling during a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist site. What was regarded as a display of “incredible insensitivity” was captured in the video (above) by Channel 4 while filming a documentary on Johnson titled Blond Ambition.
“The temple bells they say,” recited Johnson after striking a bell at the temple in Yangon, “Come you back, you British soldier.”
Johnson continued to recite the poem, The Road to Mandalay, which captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his service and a love affair with a local Burmese woman during Britain’s colonial rule. Britain colonised Burma from 1824 to 1948 – a matter still of grave sensitivity in the country.
Britain’s ambassador to Myanmar managed to stop Johnson before he could get to the part of the poem that says, “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud, Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd”, a reference to the Buddha.
The ambassador, Andrew Patrick, turned visibly tense, as the video shows, and reminded Johnson that he was on a microphone. “Probably not a good idea,” he told Johnson, reiterating that it was not appropriate, to which Johnson replied with “good stuff” and continued to take pictures with his mobile phone camera.
It's not just about goodwill - inclusivity is a good business decision.
To reach a 50-50 workplace scenario, policies on diversity need to be paired with a culture of inclusiveness. While diversity brings equal representation in meetings, board rooms, promotions and recruitment, inclusivity helps give voice to the people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. Inclusion at workplace can be seen in an environment that values diverse opinions, encourages collaboration and invites people to share their ideas and perspectives. As Verna Myers, a renowned diversity advocate, puts it “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Creating a sense of belonging for everyone is essential for a company’s success. Let’s look at some of the real benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:
Better decision making
A whitepaper by Cloverpop, a decision making tool, established a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance. The research discovered that teams that followed an inclusive decision-making process made decisions 2X faster with half the meetings and delivered 60% better results. As per Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, this report highlights how diversity and inclusion are practical tools to improve decision making in companies. According to her, changing the composition of decision making teams to include different perspectives can help individuals overcome biases that affect their decisions.
Higher job satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is connected to a workplace environment that values individual ideas and creates a sense of belonging for everyone. A research by Accenture identified 40 factors that influence advancement in the workplace. An empowering work environment where employees have the freedom to be creative, innovative and themselves at work, was identified as a key driver in improving employee advancement to senior levels.
A research by Catalyst.org stated the in India, 62% of innovation is driven by employee perceptions of inclusion. The study included responses from 1,500 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States and showed that employees who feel included are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, suggest new and innovative ways of getting work done.
Shirley Engelmeier, author of ‘Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage’, in her interview with Forbes, talks about the new global business normal. She points out that the rapidly changing customer base with different tastes and preferences need to feel represented by brands. An inclusive environment will future-proof the organisation to cater to the new global consumer language and give it a competitive edge.
An inclusive workplace ensures that no individual is disregarded because of their gender, race, disability, age or other social and cultural factors. Accenture has been a leading voice in advocating equal workplace. Having won several accolades including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate equality index, Accenture has demonstrated inclusive and diverse practices not only within its organisation but also in business relationships through their Supplier Inclusion and Diversity program.
In a video titled ‘She rises’, Accenture captures the importance of implementing diverse policies and creating an inclusive workplace culture.
To know more about inclusion and diversity, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Accenture and not by the Scroll editorial team.