I am forever interested in showcasing a greater diversity of voices and themes to represent the breadth of thinking on leadership issues.
I recently came across a remarkably eloquent and extraordinarily courageous article written by a Royal Canadian Air Force Master Corporal, Emily Caroline Reiman, whose lived experience on cultural change within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is articulately stated in a paper titled “The View Looking Up: A Junior NCM perspective on Culture Change.”
In context, a Master Corporal is considered a ‘junior’ rank and the first ‘command rank’ in the CAF. In addition to being a female in a predominantly male world, and a relatively low ranking one at that, Master Corporal Reiman has demonstrated tremendous courage to write this paper.
Read more about Stopping A Culture of Harassment Dead In Its Tracks.
In addition to her courage, Master Corporal Reiman is a thoughtful and remarkable writer.
Her paper is evidence-based and well-researched, making it worth reading.
Like many male-dominated, hyper-masculine cultures, the Canadian military has come under intense scrutiny; senior leaders have been exposed as, at best hypocritical and, at worse, complicit and predatory in their conduct while they ‘led’ and played lip service to creating a safe diverse and inclusive cultures.
In February 2021, then Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Art McDonald’s sent out a tone-deaf tweet about diversity, inclusion and culture change with a photo featuring eight white men at the table and one woman who was participating virtually.
By December 2021, Admiral MacDonald had been terminated concerning sexual misconduct allegations. McDonald was one of eleven Flag Officers (Generals & Admirals) investigated or forced into retirement that year.
Read about when I participated in racism.
Emily offers four actions to the CAF that are equally relevant to any organization:
Create a reporting structure similar to those used in ‘Flight Safety,‘ where The FS program is based on a “just culture” that seeks to shift from placing blame to focusing on reducing future safety incidents. “Our Flight Safety culture is founded on decades of learning from our mistakes and the fact that everybody can contribute to improving our operations without fear of retribution.”
Allyship in Culture Change. The inherent power that accrues to men from a masculinized military can be used productively to promote effective allyship with women members. Kendall suggests, “Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone.
Knowledge is Power majority of academic research contributed by CAF leaders is conducted by men who are senior ranking officers. This is a function of accessibility for senior ranking members, the decrease in women’s representation in mid to senior levels of leadership, and a lack of incentives for junior ranking members to pursue higher education. “Generically, the military tends to deliver skills training rather than a broader education of the theories, concepts, and frameworks that comprise the theory-based body of knowledge that informs professional practice.”
Reverse Mentoring became popular in the 1990s to inform executives of technology changes while currently being applied to support diversity and inclusion initiatives. Reverse mentoring allows senior ranking members to be informed on issues or concerns they would not otherwise be aware of. Reverse mentoring could provide transparency regarding implementing and receiving culture change at all ranks.