Organizational dimensions of GCORR’s Diversity Wheel address the aspects of culture found within the work setting: specifically those within the worldwide United Methodist connection. While much attention of diversity efforts is focused on the internal dimensions, the importance of attending to culture on an organizational level is important for at least three reasons:
- Organizations have cultures, too. The work of intercultural competency must address and take seriously the organizational cultural identity as much as the cultural identities of those who work within them. Moreover, organizational culture is different and more than the sum of the cultures of the individuals within it (Holism Theory).
- The organizational level is often the entry point for changes to systems, policies, processes, communal practices, and ethos because this is where they “live.” In other words, the organizational level is where Institutional Equity interventions occur and can be sustained.
- Addressing culture at the organizational level requires us to explore the relationships of diversity, equity, and power. While the individual and internal work of intercultural competency is necessary for building relationships which reflect and value the diversity of God, the power dynamics within an organization and amongst its members create both the unique challenges and opportunities of diversity and equity work that occur at this level.
Looking at culture from an organizational standpoint lets us consider how people with the same leadership role or status from different conferences might have very similar ways of thinking about things. Whereas vital conversations within cabinets might be difficult, at first, because actual differences get in the way of assumed similarities. What would it look like if we had choirs who understood the local youth culture and youth groups who understood the challenges of missional work at the agency level? What would it sound like if a vital conversation focused on similarities and differences between clergy culture and lay culture? What kind of robust, actionable, and measurable definitions of effectiveness could we create together when we take the global realities of racism, sexism, tribalism, and classism into account?
The United Methodist Church possesses intrinsic opportunities to create, honor, and sustain the cultural bridges and the missional critical values necessary for a 21st century worldwide connection to be both relevant and transformational. Our connectional identity provides institutional links, ties, and bonds from one end of the globe to the other. Individual churches are not left on their own to figure out how to share and spread an ethos of equity beyond their four walls. Rather, the United Methodist Church with its worldwide framework built into its identity, is poised to reframe a worldwide organizational culture where promoting diversity is no longer seen as synonymous with sacrificing effectiveness; where divine mandates of justice and equity are equally valued while contextually recognizable; and where every United Methodist in every conference is encouraged and empowered to live into increasingly honorable forms of diversity.