It’s no secret that organizations, of every stripe and under every flag, are experiencing the disruptive power of rapid social, political, economic, and technological change. And we are in an era increasingly defined by polarization and conflict.
Traditionally, the organizational ombuds has acted as a completely safe, off-the-record resource for our organizations and their leadership seeking options to address their concerns from a professional who is confidential, impartial, independent, and informal.
All still true. But as the times are changing, so are our role, value, and importance.
Today, it’s more about engaging people to come together around critical decisions for a lasting, positive impact. Ombuds around the world are increasingly involved in proactive problem-solving, toward the goal of instilling respect, civility, and justice in organizations and professional relationships. Ombuds help individuals return to productivity and contribution in the workplace. The modern ombuds works every day to create a positive culture, inform systemic change, and identify risk. And more than ever, especially in the C-suite, we have a seat at the table as conflict advisers.
Why today’s ombuds deserves a second look
Yesterday we focused on conflict, dispute resolution, and mediation. Today, we understand that conflict is often the crucible through which individuals, organizations, and communities must pass before real change and progress can be achieved. Society is becoming more diverse in terms of culture, religion, gender norms, and lifestyle. As a result we are going through an exciting, fitful period of change. Old ways of thinking bring on new fears, threats, and disruption.
We bring to the table our expertise, big-picture view, impartiality, and objectivity in an often confused and polarized organizational culture. On their behalf, we guide critical and complex decision-making for a lasting and positive impact. We're a source of reassurance in stormy seas. We help people reach their full potential.
We empower individuals and organizations to overcome disputes, conflicts, and barriers that stand in the way of their goals and aspirations. We are a force for transformation, where the stakes are high. We work toward more just, engaged, diverse, and inclusive organizations as history leads the world on this path.
Our mission, as an ombuds community, is to accept and step into this exciting role. We continue to advocate for public policies that safeguard ombuds confidentiality, and that support and sustain our effectiveness. It’s our goal to remain a transformative force toward more just, positive, and empowered communities around the world.
What does this mean for you?
It means that you as a leader don’t have to go it alone, trying to navigate new politics and policies that affect your employees, legally and personally, and may vary state to state. You have a partner you can trust to be confidential, impartial, and proactive in helping you find the best options and make the best decisions for your company.
New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workplaces perform better financially. Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
So creating diversity, inclusion and equity policies not only is the right thing to do morally, it makes good business sense. “Executives need to embody any diversity and inclusion strategy – writing down words on a piece of paper does not make a culture, having leaders which embody and live it does,” says Sheree Atcheson writing for Forbes.com. Your organization can meet this goal and more with the guidance and support of your ombuds.