Predictions and possibilities of the future: are we there yet?

Susan Ferrier, National Managing Partner, People, Performance  Culture
Susan Ferrier, National Managing Partner, People, Performance Culture

Late last year, in an article for Bloomberg Business, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, announced to the world he was gay. He is probably the first CEO of the Fortune 500 companies to openly admit this.

He said that he had been lucky enough to work for a company that encourages creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences.

In his statement he referred to himself as an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness fanatic, a son of the south, a sports fan and many other things. Inspired by Tim, here is my version – I am an HR professional (ex lawyer), wife and mother, a daughter of the red dusty western plains of New South Wales, a netball tragic and a proud feminist.

He also said,

“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender.”

KPMG can trace its history in Australia back to the late 1800s when society and business practices were very different.

KPMG Dinner in 1949
KPMG Dinner in 1949

This photo is a dinner at KPMG in 1949.  Not much difference happening in this picture. All the men are wearing black tie. Only one of them has his jacket off.  It looks like a fairly homogeneous group of fellas!

In the same year as this photo, George Orwell published his book 1984. Within 12 months of it being published, the book had sold 50,000 hard backs in the UK and in the US, sales were 300,000.

The predictions in 1984 of the future startled, scared and excited the world – they made people gasp with delicious disbelief at the predictions. The book became a phenomenon.

And some of the predictions such as the pervasive technology and interestingly, monitoring of citizens by the state, have come partly true, as we have seen in the last few years – so Orwell was indeed someone who could see into the future in a compelling and insightful way.

However – and thank goodness – not all of Orwell’s predictions have come true. The workplace of the future has not turned out to be the workplace envisaged by Orwell. And I think this is in part, due to our humanity – due to the way humans connect – the way we seek purpose and meaning in the world and the way our brains are wired to seek relationships.

Today, we no longer gasp in disbelief about predictions of the future. We seem to embrace the massive changes that are sweeping through our societies carried on the waves of technology and globalisation and in the most part, we seem to be retaining that sense of humanity – holding on to a sense that it is the relationships are vital for us to be happy, creative human beings.

And we will be able to meet all the possibilities of the future because we are now making more of the diverse potential of all our people – our different thinking and our different experiences, from all walks of life, all backgrounds and faiths.

If we are able to bring our whole selves to work, be appreciated for our unique talents, we are more engaged, more productive, more innovative, more creative and more inspiring.

Feature Image: Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

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