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Three things: no longer silent; progress is gradual and rise up

Date: Mar 08 2019
Three things: no longer silent; progress is gradual and rise up

Today is International women’s day, and a good opportunity celebrate the women in our lives. Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, colleagues, heroes and all.

My short and sweet blog post this week allows me to give huge thanks to the many women in my life who raise me up, make my life more fulfilled, who share their strength, intelligence and kindness freely.

Thank you. There are too many of you to list, and if I did I’d be sure to miss a name and feel terrible as a result.

So this week’s three things post is all about women in work.

No longer silent

The Fast Show was a brilliant comedy sketch show that accompanied my university years. It was slightly irreverent and like most good comedy, it captured the moment and poked fun at it. By the time I graduated and was out in the world of work, the show was already being re-run. One sketch helped me to articulate how, sometimes, I felt like I was inside a sound proof glass box in corporate meetings.

Thankfully, now, 20 years on, I don’t experience this anymore. A combination of societal progress, my years and variety of experience, and now being a business owner who’s not employed in the ‘traditional sense’ have led to that change.

We’ve come a long way in recent years. More women’s voices are being truly heard, our networks are greater and more supportive than ever before helping us to achieve our dreams. And with movements like #metoo shining a light on bad behaviours, there are fewer places for destructive behaviours to lurk. Meanwhile, more women are in the workplace and taking high profile senior roles, showing us all that it’s possible to be the head of the MI5, the police commissioner or run our own businesses.

No longer silent: there’s still a long way to go… Make your voice heard and help others to have theirs heard too.

Progress is gradual

I have a wide variety of women in my network, doing all kinds of roles from posties to vets, actors to consultants. While great progress has been made, there are still underlying assumptions about women in work. Sadly, for example, there’s still a problem for some employers about whether or when a woman may choose to have a family, and what that will mean to her commitment to work.

Just this week was an example of BNY Mellon deciding to ban working from home. Working from home is one of the key organisational culture changes and policies that enable women to continue their careers beyond childbirth, and for others to manage their wider family needs alongside their work. Just as we were reading the story about the ban of working from home, the bank is reconsidering its position following an understandable backlash.

I’m mother to a son and daughter. I’m mindful to do my best to find the balance for them both as they grow up. I hope that by the time they are in the workplace, that rules about women’s shoes, enforced hugs, discriminating against pregnant women, groping and the regulation of make up will be resigned to the bin for ever.  

Progress is gradual: As communicators in organisations, we have the opportunity to support diversity and inclusion, to pay attention and shine a light on good progress and practice. We can help drive the good behaviours, and celebrate the positive things that our organisations do which are better for everyone in the workplace.

Raise others up

I’ve heard of a couple of examples in the last year where women have behaved terribly towards other women at work. This is not the place for pointing fingers or naming and shaming, but this type of behaviour is so destructive. And it’s important to remember that women can be nasty and ruthless, and even bullies. It’s not all about men being x y or z. And it’s just as damaging when women are the bullies. Sometimes, we are more shocked, we expect more from women as women. We can feel more disappointed that a woman could treat us, as women, badly at work, when we’ve ‘all be pushing together in the same direction to help workplaces to be better for women’.

My point is, that anyone can be a horrible person to work with, just as anyone can be kind. How this manifests at work and the causes of the behaviour are infinite. But we should stand up to the bullies and bad behaviours no matter what gender the protagonist may be.

It is the act that needs to be called out, not the gender. Because, if we don’t call them out, they’ll keep doing it. You’ll be one of many of their victims. We all have a responsibility to speak out wherever we can.

There’s an important role for communication here. Specifically ethics (as Katherine Bradshaw and I talked about at the Ethics event back in February), values, behaviours and the accessibility of confidential reporting and whistleblowing hotlines are critical to tackling bullying and bad behaviours in the workplace.

In contrast, when we work with people we genuinely trust and connect with, it can be the most effective, enjoyable, and productive experience. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to work with some truly brilliant, inspiring and strong men and women. Too many to name here. But just thinking of them and how we work together and support each other can remind me that there are many great people working hard to make work a better experience for everyone.

Here’s Broch Cleminson, Su Askew, and myself on a conference call yesterday – working through our sprints for a new project. There was a moment and an off the cuff comment that led to unstoppable laughter .

Real women, doing real work can have fun and laugh together while still getting the work done.

Raise others up: Call out the bad behaviour, empower others to call it out too. Remember how it made you feel to be supported by great people you admire, and pass it on.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts. I hope you’ll be inspired.

I work with businesses of all shapes and sizes to help them communicate clearly, reveal the human connections that matter and get meaningful results. If you would like to find out what people think and feel about your business, and communicate with them better, get in touch.