Today is Global Dignity Day. More than a personal trait or a behavioral aspiration, dignity is the embodiment of compassion in personal interactions, the expression through action of the principle that people are, first and foremost, human beings. Dignity means recognizing that people are ends in themselves and not merely a means to an end. It ensures that we treat others respectfully—even when we don’t agree with them or like them. People can tell very quickly when their personal dignity is recognized and honored—and when it is not. And where dignity is violated, trust cannot take root.

Stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, remote work and education, and health and safety concerns drove many of us deeper into our digital worlds over the past year and half. And preexisting inequalities magnified.

As vaccinations expand and countries work hard to reopen, it’s time to reengage with one another in real life and as individuals. While an impulse toward tribalism may be hardwired into our collective DNA, we are also all born with an innate sense of our self-worth—our dignity as human beings. Reconnecting with that dignity in ourselves, and recognizing and respecting the dignity in others, becomes a crucial step in knitting humans and our societies together.

What does dignity mean in practice? As we reflect on the recent Coming Out Day in some countries around the world, it’s worth remembering that the struggle for LGBTQ rights over the years has been one for a recognition of human dignity.

Much of the progress in LGBTQ rights has come through broader society seeing this community as human beings. If the harsh challenges that the LGBTQ community have faced can have a silver lining, it’s perhaps that the LGBTQ people became more visible and identifiable. In debates over marriage equality, people are more than twice as likely to support same-sex marriage if they personally know someone who identifies as LGBTQ. That’s dignity.

Another example of dignity in practice is the Black Lives Matter movement. While this movement encompasses specific demands for police reform, the dismantlement of structural racism, and reparations for centuries of repression and abuse, at its core, Black Lives Matter is also a demand that Black lives be valued as highly as the lives of everyone else. Around the globe, the outpouring of anger over the murder of George Floyd—captured as it was on video—was a recognition of Mr. Floyd’s human dignity disregarded by someone whose job was to protect lives. October is Black History Month in the UK, with the theme, Proud to Be, encouraging Black and Brown people across the country to share their pride in themselves, in their heritage and culture, and enabling all of us to share in and celebrate these identities and experiences.

We’re delighted to be part of a community that is working to put dignity into action – in our workplaces and in our communities. Global Dignity, a not-for-profit organization founded by three World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders, is dedicated to uniting everyone with the belief that we all deserve to live a life of dignity. The NGO is one of AlixPartners’ social justice partners and the opportunity to become a dignity ambassador is offered through our global learning & development and diversity & inclusion programs. More than 150 of our colleagues around the world have taken part in Global Dignity hosted workshops over the past year, and several have gone on to teach dignity workshops in their local schools and with other charity partners.  

On every third Wednesday in October Global Dignity encourages people around the world to explore what dignity means, and find ways to put dignity into action every single day, to improve relationships and communities.

Everyone has the desire to be valued and recognized for who they are as human beings. The world today has been disrupted in so many ways. But we are convinced of our ability to heal and of the positive impact business leaders and our teams can have in that process. Let us work together to find ways to build emotional currency, building trust through a recognition of our shared humanity in our homes, in our work, and in our communities.

Our colleague Mary Singos, AlixPartners’ head of Learning & Development, puts it like this: “Dignity leads to more trust in holding interactions that matter most or are toughest to have. Also, seeing techniques through, like emotional intelligence, empathic listening, and curiosity, stem from a dignity pursuit. Therefore, dignity isn’t a hope, it is an activator and pathway to human connection.”

If you are interested in becoming a dignity ambassador, get in touch.

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