We recently had our windows replaced. We had to take all kinds of memorabilia off of a shelf my son has on his wall.
One of the things I found was an old bookmark he must have received in grade school with a poem on it called, “If All The Trees Were Oaks”.
If All the Trees Were Oaks
What if all the trees were oaks,
How plain the world would seem;
No maple syrup, banana splits
And how would orange juice be?
Wouldn’t it be a boring place,
If all the people were the same;
Just one color just one language,
Just one family name!
If the forest were the world,
And all the people were the trees;
Palm and pine, bamboo and willow,
Live and grow in harmony.
Aren’t you glad, my good friend,
Different though we be;
We are here to help each other.
I learn from you, and you from me.
As I was reading the poem it made me think of the Labor Day holiday and its ties to equity and inclusion. How having a whole office of Oaks would be…well, boring.
Labor Day, Equity and Inclusion…Oh My!
If you, like me, celebrate Labor Day with picnics and friends yet have forgotten the why behind this holiday, here is a quick recap.
Labor Day is the worker’s holiday that came out of great strife and mistreatment by businesses of workers, especially immigrants, in the late 1800’s.
Not including others fairly and equitably goes way back.
According to History.com, Labor Day was an outcome of the harsh changes happening as America moved from agriculture to an industrial society.
The working conditions in factories were unsafe, the pay was abysmal, and immigrants and the poor were taken advantage of – working 12-hour days and 7-day weeks…not by choice. They were barely getting by financially.
This led to marches and strikes by workers across the US and Canada against unfair practices. A key turning point in the US for the worker was the Pullman Palace Railroad Strike in Chicago involving over 250,000 workers across 27 states. This strike lasted over 2 months and held up freight and passenger trains west of Detroit. Over 30 deaths were attributed to the strike. In an effort to get trains running again, President Grover Cleveland sent in the Army to break up the strike resulting in more deaths and chaos.
When it was learned what happened Grover Cleveland realized he had to do damage control. This led to Congress passing legislation to have a National Worker’s Holiday just 6 days after the end of the strike. Grover Cleveland later signed it into law.
And what about my son’s bookmark?
As I was reading the poem, I was struck once again about how important it is to have a team and a company that is made up of a diversity of “trees”. And the trees need to feel included-provide them sunlight, water and nourishment. Help them grow so we can all enjoy the various fruits of their labor.
This Labor Day celebrates diversity and inclusion by remembering the hard-fought achievements of immigrants to have equal pay and reasonable hours for which we benefit and recognize that the fight is not over. Inclusion and equity are still being overshadowed by the Oaks. are still fighting for as well.