From G20 to G20Y: Changing the Stage by Changing the Culture
BY: Lynda Zugec
What is it that generation Y wants the leaders of the G20 to know? As far as entrepreneurship and its ability to sustain the economy, plenty. The International Youth Diplomacy League (IYDL) organized a summit in Toronto, ON in April this year to obtain feedback from international delegates. Among the countries represented were Russia, Germany, France, China, Italy, Israel, Mexico, and Turkey.
Also present at the event was David Miller, Mayor of Toronto, along with a host of others who have influence within their respective communities regarding policy and the economy. The Canadian representatives responsible for ensuring a successful welcoming for the delegates include Alison Sereda, International Organizing Committee and Joseph Sereda, Head of Sereda & Sereda Barristers and Solicitors in Toronto, Ontario.
As an international consultant and business owner hoping to blur country borders, the reason for my attendance was to determine the readiness for change among the youth and understand the perspectives of representatives. The final Communique was produced as a result of the 5-day event and included the following topics: 1) Strengthening financial stability and the international financial regulatory system, 2) Responding to the challenge of climate change, 3) Moving towards an inclusive governance of the international financial architecture, 4) Ethical entrepreneurship/Corporate Social Responsibility. The Communique, which comprises the thoughts of the Y generation, is being shared with the G20.
Although countries had voiced desirable changes that are specific to certain regions, a unanimous vote supported “leaving the old and adopting the new”. According to Dr. Djordjija B. Petkoski, a speaker at the event and Head of the Business, Competitiveness and Development Program, World Bank Institute, Washington D.C., “It seems that the youth are encouraging new, better, and more transparent ways of operating. The old model no longer suits the needs of a global economy.”
According to the delegates, the old model has left much to be desired. For example, in Mexico, the voices of the poor are rarely heard and the local regulatory framework has been slow to change. In Russia, small businesses are supported but the taxation system can be improved with increased transparency.
But there are fresh ideas and changes on the horizon that delegates offered and look forward to implementing. According to Israeli representatives Orit S. Alon, Business Consultant and Israeli entrepreneur Orit Ben Or, “Perhaps we can create a system across all countries that will assist entrepreneurs. A system in which we can share best practices.”
All countries were on board regarding the necessity of additional education. There was strong agreement for the desire to develop people and afford them the skills they need to survive. The Turkish representatives were heavily weighted on the educational scale maintaining that they would like to target the youth and get them the education they need regarding what entrepreneurship is and how to foster an entrepreneurial spirit.
Although “moving from the old to the new” and thereby changing the stage has been touted as necessary in the past, generation Y is better equipped to make it happen. Removing impediments and providing stakeholder support is increasingly easy in this technological age. It all comes down to cultural change and how malleable a culture is. And malleability has been heavily influenced by technology.
According to Schein (1990), culture is specifically defined as “a pattern of basic assumptions, invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, is to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” When viewed in this way, technological advances have made it more possible than ever to change culture and thus “move from the old to the new”.
What can we expect in the future? That depends on how a country is currently operating. According to Prochaska and DiClemente (1982), there are four stages to change. The first is called pre-contemplation and represents being unaware that problems exist. Resistance to any efforts for change is likely in this stage. The second stage includes contemplation and represents the transition from a lack of awareness to an awareness and thoughtful thinking about what can be done. The third stage is the action stage when things start to be done about the problem. The fourth and final stage is the maintenance stage which is about keeping the change going. Let’s hope the G20 in Toronto 2010 moves us from contemplation to action!
About the author: Lynda Zugec is the Founder/Chairman of The Workforce Consultants, an international network of specialized consultants within the area of Human Resources.