PROFESSOR ATUL K. SHAH www.atulkshah.co.uk
Globally renowned expert advisor and broadcaster on culture, accounting, finance, business ethics, holistic education and leadership
From Left to Right – Mr. Dilip Shah, OAUK, Dr. Atul Shah, Diverse Ethics, Mr. Gavin Grant, CEO, RSPCA, Dr. Richard Ryder and Barbara Gardner, RSPCA trustees and Mrs. Tara Patani, OAUK (All Photos by Bhavik Haria)
CULTURAL DIVERSITY STRENGTHENS ORGANISATIONS
Atul K. Shah, Diverse Ethics
At Diverse Ethics, we have developed a significant niche in the area of leadership and diversity, helping leaders to engage with difference, to understand the nuances, and see the huge strengths and benefits of cultural diversity. We have done this through our research and publications, such as the recent report on Boardroom Diversity, and also through guided Cultural experiences and dialogues, where the complexity and creativity of diversity is unravelled.
One of our principal clients in this area have been the RSPCA, with whom we have been working over a number of years. It is one of the oldest and most respected charities in the UK, and keen to diversify its membership and support base, and to engage with different ethnic communities all over the country.
The Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Mr. Gavin Grant, visited the UK Jain community on 17th September 2012, during their festival of Paryushan and sat down with 300 members of the community to their ancient prayers of compassion for all life – Pratikraman. Accompanying him were RSPCA trustees Dr. Richard Ryder and Barbara Gardner, and the event was held at the vast 80 acre Jain temple complex at Oshwal Centre, in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
Very simple implements are used for the Pratikraman – a wool floor mat, a white cotton handkerchief, a short broom stick to gently sweep the floor and avoid injury to any insects. The prayers are conducted in the ancient Indian languages of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Maghdi and last a full one hour. Only natural light is used and the whole atmosphere is one of deep introspection, repentance and forgiveness from all living beings, whom one may have hurt in the past year knowingly or unknowingly.
Even though he visted the Jain community for the first time, Gavin Grant was welcomed with open arms and in his address to the leaders and members he said “The whole world needs to learn from the profound three thousand year old Jain philosophy of compassion for all living beings. This lies at the heart of the work of the RSPCA, and this holistic approach to life is urgently needed in Britain today. The Jains and the RSPCA are two kindred communities, and we are honoured to celebrate this beautiful festival with you.”
Mr. Gavin Grant Enjoying the festivities with the Oshwal Jain community
RSPCA trustee Barbara Gardner said “The whole evening was a very moving experience of peace, love and compassion, and we were truly honoured by the huge hospitality we were showered with.” President of the Oshwal Association of the UK, Mr. Raxit Shah expressed his gratitude to the RSPCA for the excellent work they are doing to help suffering animals and care for them. “I look forward to a continuing relationship with the RSPCA.”
To commemorate the success of the event, a special press release was issued by the RSPCA. This provides a very strong and clear endorsement of our long term work with them.
Cultural diversity enriches organisations by helping them to connect with different groups of people who could be their potential customers, members or donors in the case of charities, and also employees, managers and leaders. Research shows that diversity improves innovation and through cultural intelligence, organisations can target diverse markets and consumers.