April 22, 2019 marks the 50th annual Earth Day in our history. Many of us (including myself) think of Earth Day as being more of a modern “day of awareness.” And many of us have grown complacent about it with so many other days of awareness that circulate on our calendars and in our social media feeds. But this year’s Earth Day intrigued me enough to do a little research. There’s a wonderful article in Time.com that talks about the origins or Earth Day 50 years ago (http://time.com/5570269/earth-day-origins/). The theme that struck me the most about the article was the idea of finding the right people to rally behind a cause. There’s an image in the article of Manhattan on the first Earth Day where Fifth Avenue was closed to motor vehicle traffic. These days, that seems to only happen when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade happens every year like clockwork.
1-Bettman - Getty Images
Over the last 50 years of Earth Days, there have been ebbs and flows in awareness. Our society seems to be keenly aware of Earth Day when a major preventable tragedy happens like the Exxon Valdez oil spill. But in any given year, the day may come and go mostly unnoticed.
In my numerous Earth Day feeds, I’ve also seen many proverbs quoted in the spirit of the day. The one that has stuck with me is “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb
This particular proverb has struck a chord with me as it relates to so many things about our lives. Everything that we do is about leaving a legacy. And that legacy is what our children and our children’s children will be living with (or dealing with). Every Earth Day, there seems to be new laws put into place or new movements intended to incrementally make our earth a little better for our children. And some of these things will change the way our children live (even in some seemingly insignificant ways). This year, it’s plastic straws. Out of this movement, perhaps we can take one step closer to becoming less of a disposable society, and more about reusing things that we can.
In the world of Talent Management and Compensation, there is also a movement underway. We’re hearing about it and seeing it all over in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. It’s the idea that people should be paid fairly and equally for equal or comparable work regardless of our differences. Like Earth Day, this isn’t a new concept. This isn’t even a new movement. But all eyes worldwide seem to be on this movement today. And with this newfound visibility, we should find the right people to rally behind the cause. And we should take action in a time that people are willing to (and wanting to) see things change. More and more, our companies’ cultures become a big part of our personal cultures. And if we are able to create a culture of equality and diversity in our workplaces, it becomes part of our culture outside of work. Those of us living in the world of Human Resources should feel empowered to take action. Even if you think the changes that are being proposed are seemingly insignificant, it’s progress towards a better place for our children and our children’s children to work and co-exist.