Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

By Leah Smiley

spongebobWhile some may not like rap music or the hip hop culture, we all have to come to terms with its dominant influence on youth around the world.

In the wake of the “Straight Outta Compton” movie occupying the #1 box office spot for three weeks in a row, and generating over $147 million (in respect to a $28 million budget), the entertainment industry is paying attention to hip-hop music. Case in Point:  Over Labor Day weekend, Nickelodeon ran a Sponge Bob dance party commercial featuring a “Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)” remix by 17-year old rapper, Silento.

In the making for over 40 years and globally diverse, the hip-hop culture has impacted language, graffiti art, music, dance, social and multi-media, as well as styles of dress. CNN recently explored hip hop’s influence on fashion in a documentary entitled, “Fresh Dressed”. This fascinating chronicle revealed the historical influences in the development of a new genre of music, and its ultimate relevance to the entertainment and fashion industries.

When rap music first appeared, many thought it was a fad that was associated with gangs and undesirable “urban consumers”. But trillions of dollars later, some actually realize that this style of music can impact everything from education to product placement. Some forward thinking companies were able to brilliantly parlay hip hop music into increased sales, new product development, and better market penetration for Generation X, Millennials, and I-Gen. While such a multi-cultural marketing strategy does not replace traditional efforts, it does supplement an overall game plan to stay relevant for generations to come.

Beyond the entertainment industry, professionals and executives must continuously ask themselves, “How Can I Stay Relevant?” There are several things that we can do to personally ensure that our careers do not stagnate amidst a global culture that is continuously changing:

  1. Manage your time well so that your schedule allows you to read professional and industry-related news on a regular basis.
  2. Anticipate problems by understanding how trends will impact the organization now and in the future.
  3. Become more knowledgeable about global affairs—read, take classes, attend conferences, and network with others.
  4. Build a strong professional network, inside and outside of your organization.
  5. Demonstrate self-initiative by volunteering for key assignments or acquiring skills that are relevant to industry trends (e.g., such as foreign language skills or building strong teams across cultures)
  6. Take advantage of data and analytics to provide deeper insights.
  7. Foster a transparent environment by demonstrating your own openness to different ideas, requesting feedback outside of performance reviews, asking for help, and being responsive.

 

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Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto http://www.societyfordiversity.org

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