How Gypsies can embrace change…

posted by Scott McKenzie

One of the great things about working at H&K as every now and again I get a request that completely bemuses me.

So when my colleague Lou Watson asked me for my views on what the Gypsy community should be doing to “embrace change” I was initially dumbfounded. She later explained it was for an article in Corp Comms magazine  (you can read the full article here).

I will confess I know relatively little about the Gypsy community. And am not one of the many millions of viewers of the scarily popular My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

But even allowing for that it did make me think that the big principles of change should still apply – whether it’s for a community or an organisation. Right?

So here’s what I suggested as a five step approach:

1. Set out the case for change: Leaders in the Gypsy community need to explain their vision for the future of their community. Including the societal and economic imperatives driving the need for change.

 2. Leaders need to act as role-models:  leaders in the community need to step up and be voices for that change.

 3. Engage the Gypsy community (ies): Leaders need to bring their community with them, actively consulting, listening to concerns and demonstrating how they’re responding to feedback.

 4. Reach beyond your borders: Leaders need to identify and consult with advocates for the Gypsy community in broader society seeing politicians, police and community groups as allies not adversaries to explain a new vision and gain buy-in and support along the way.

 5. Celebrate successes: Visibly demonstrate where examples of the new type of community are working in practice and keep praising your heroes to help people see that the new vision for the community is becoming a reality.

I hope that constitutes good advice… I would value your views!



Andrei Gala

I found the CorpComms article very striking for two reasons. The first was the fact that PROs try to picture sollutions for the gypsy community based on what they saw on telly, without actually knowing the real problems this minority has. The second was the way they see the sollutions, as they were addressing a multinational corporation and not an ancient tradition.
I was born in Eastern Europe, in Romania to be more precise, and I have been exposed to all sorts of gypsy communities, really numerous ones, each completely different from the other. I am going to lay out some of my own oppinions for each of your 5 approaches.
1. I do not think that the gypsy communities will ever want to change their customs and traditions and not at all thier way of life. Although many of us do not understand how change could be avoided, their way of life is very basic and traditional and I am sure they will decide to move in other parts of Europe instead of adapting to out way of life.
2. The leaders already act as role models, that’s why they behave the way they do.
3. Many of the gypsy communities cannot and will not engage with one-another because of past differences that separated them in the first place. Gypsies are a really individualistic community that enjoys living in solitude. Moreover, becaude they do not want to change, they will not adapt to other communities traditions if that means forgetting their own.
4. Generally, leaders of the community are already consulting with influential individuals that came out of their own. Unfortunatelly, as I said earlier, they do not want change, in fact they loathe change, and they only try to portray a better image without actually trying to change it.
5. Indeed, they ought to celebrate positive examples of the community, but we need to see the fact that what we see as a positive they might not, so it’s really difficult to relate to positives with people that have completely different view from our own.
Appologies if you find this offending but I have had all sorts of demoralising experiences while trying to deal with the gypsies in Romania and having that in mind I don’t really see a bright future for them.



Scott McKenzie

Thanks for the comment Andrei. You clearly have much more experience with the Gypsy communities than I do. As I said in the post I am no expert about the Gypsy way of life. However, I do probably have a more positive view of human nature’s ability to adapt and change… whether that is through choice or responding to broader societal change around them.

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