There isn’t a title great enough to describe Lucy Booth

As most of my close friends and family will already know; sadly and heart-breakingly I lost an amazing friend this week after she spent the past 4 years kicking cancer’s ass and doing a bloody fantastic job of it.

 

Lucy was more than a friend to me. She was the big sister I never had (along with Analie, obv). She was awesome. She was brilliant. She was hilarious, inspiring, brave, courageous, lovely. Frigging great. My writing abilities will never be good enough to capture that awesomeness in one blog, let alone one sentence. There aren’t enough words. Anyone that had the absolute pleasure of knowing Lucy will know exactly what I mean. For the people who didn’t know Lucy, I think my Dad probably quantified her in the best way possible last night when we were re-living memories over a glass of wine and missing her already. He said that he’ll always remember her as the lady with the quickest wit, the driest sense of humour and an absolutely fantastic way with words. And he wasn’t wrong.

 

All in all, it’s been a difficult week. But I’m lucky enough to have fantastic friends and family around me who have picked me up, dusted me down and put a smile back on my face. And the same goes for my work friends. I work with a great team, who looked after me when I got the news on Tuesday and have been looking after me ever since. I was given chocolate. I was sent flowers. They’re a lovely, lovely bunch.

 

But it got me thinking… What if I didn’t feel appreciated and valued by my team? What if I felt like I couldn’t turn to them and tell them what was going on with me? What if I couldn’t be open and honest about my feelings? What would happen if HR needed HR?

 

The CIPD are doing some great work around mental health at the moment and last week I took time to read over some of the stories directly from HR people’s mouths/ keyboards, talking about their own struggles with mental health. Thankfully, most people felt supported in the workplace and were able to be open about mental health. After all, if you work in HR you’d be pretty bloody disappointed if you felt like your boss wasn’t ready and able to take on mental health challenges, given the rest of the business rely on you for that exact advice. But sadly, some people did have bad experiences and the CIPD want to publish these stories to raise awareness and help people realise they aren’t alone. If you’re interested in reading some of the stories, you can find them here:

 

http://peoplemanagementmag.tumblr.com/

So for the people who didn’t feel supported by their HR team, what happened to them? I’m not sure. The purpose of the stories are to raise mental health awareness, not give advice on how to make a HR complaint to a team and about a team you work with. I can only imagine how horrendous that position would be. And sadly, those individuals probably did nothing and left.

Is it worth considering an external or internal body within the business that HR can off-load to, confide in and seek advice from? Or is it worth assigning HR employees to mentors who aren’t directly on their team? What would that look like and would it be do-able? In terms of personal problems – maybe so. But when it comes to discussing things like work related stress, how could someone in HR possibly explain the true picture without divulging potentially highly sensitive or confidential information. The lines become blurred at that point. And that’s a real shame. After all, HR are just humans after all and some days can be pretty damn emotional.

The business I work for generously offer an EAP service, free of charge to all employees. That’s certainly a start but understandably, not all businesses can afford the associated costs. So what then? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to shout up. A seperate ‘go-to’ person or body for HR is an interesting thought but sadly, not one I can see taking off any time soon. I imagine employers would be far too nervous about it.

On a final note, if you read anything else today, please let it be this:

http://lucifersboob.blogspot.co.uk/

Lucifer’s Boob is my friend Lucy’s blog and it’s freaking brilliant. How one little lady could have that much positivity all of the time is behind me and she will continue to inspire me every day.

Oh… and here’s her giving Jeremy Hunt an ear-full a few months ago before she joined the picket line with the rest of the Junior Doctors in London:

https://www.facebook.com/lucy.booth.18/posts/10153888132780935

See what I mean? Completely frigging awesome. Love and miss you, Luce XxX

Instagram or Insta-grim…?

image001According to statistica.com, as of June 2016, Instagram officially hit 500 million users. 500 MILLION. Not quite as popular as the 1,654 million users of Facebook or the 1,000 million users of Whatsapp. But its reputation is certainly up there and I can only imagine that the downloads will keep on comin’… So what’s the attraction?

 

I downloaded Instagram for the first time last year. Just to set the scene, I had been ill in bed for three days, off work and completely out of my mind with day-time TV. I’d like to think it was complete boredom and desperation that lead me to hit the download button… but it wasn’t long before I was completely sucked in and totally hooked. Who doesn’t want to see Taylor Swift floating in her swimming pool on a life sized slice of pizza? And holy crap! Look at what Miley Cyrus is up to these days; what the hell happened to her? And did you even SEE that Kardashian / Jenner ass this morning!? (Kardashian / Jenner asses come in bus loads, FYI). It was a whole new wonderous world full of wonderous things, including highly contoured celebrities that I could be bezzo’s with via a legitimised stalking app. LIVING. THE. DREAM.

 

And so… my Instagram addiction continued. I was finding recipe inspiration. Fitness inspiration. Interior inspiration. Upcycling inspiration. Beyond-beautiful celebrities with the shit filtered out of them. Life was good. Until I started to realise that celebrities weren’t the only beyond-beautiful people on there. Loads of regular non-celebrities were also beautiful. Like, amazingly loads.

 

You expect celebrities to be perfect. But regular people are just supposed to be regular, right? Wrong. I soon found myself scrolling through Instagram whilst eating Maoam’s in my pj’s and starting to feel pretty damn depressed. I did not look that good. I’d never look that good. It was unrealistic and mean. Pass the Maoam’s!

 

The beauty focus was one thing. I can realistically remind myself that the majority is fake, filtered and badly photo-shopped. But there is also an Instagram obsession with looking rich. To the point where the obsession can be legitimised via pics of things such as… food.

You’d never see someone posting a pic of their beans on toast because it’s pay day next week and that’s all that’s left in the cupboard. Nope. @missprincesszarasophielouise was having prawns caught by Captain Birdseye himself, with rocket leaves shipped from the Algarve, a squirt of lemon juice from Katy Perry’s orchard and an organic, gluten-free, vegan-free, sugar-free slice of beetroot (because, ‘smashed 3 hours at the gym tonight’ *selfie*). Ugh.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Instagram is great and not every user is like that. But it does serve to set completely unrealistic expectations of the world. We only ever see the airbrushed, Valencia version of people. Even if they claim to have ‘woken up like this’. And the amount of (badly) photo-shopped pics are unreal. I can spot it. But if I was a 14 year old growing up with this around me, maybe I wouldn’t and that kind of pressure starts to become pretty damn scary (for both guys and gals, I might add).

 

So, what on earth has this got to do with HR? Well, it isn’t just the expectations and standards of beauty that are effected by Insta. It’s the expectations and standards of life too. Whilst @missprincesszarasophielouise continues to be obsessed with looking rich, you begin to wonder how she can afford that car and that house and her latest outfit. It starts to create a world that constantly reminds you of what you don’t have, or what you feel you should be and aren’t. And it’s the same with careers.

 

I don’t like generalising generations but anyone who’s ever looked at the standard ‘traits’ of millennials, knows that they feel constantly disappointed because of their high expectations around careers, salaries and career progression. The likes of Instagram only serve to exacerbate those feelings, especially when you log into Insta and see a perfectly positioned pic of Jonny from school’s latest promotion meal at The Shard or Sally’s brand new Merc.

 

Achievements like a decent percentage salary increase become disappointing instead of a something to celebrate, because there’s always the need for more and the need to be further along in life, rather than being proud and content in the moment. In your mind, you’re still not @missprincesszarasophielouise

 

If you’ve read the above and relate to the feels then I implore you; please, please stop. You’re never going to be @missprincesszarasophielouise (she isn’t real btw, before you start stalking).

Although each and every one of us will hit highs and lows, life is what you make it. It’s never going to be perfect but it can be your kind of perfect. Be happy in the moment. Be grateful for the same moments. Some people go far because of luck, but most go far because of hard work and the people around them. Be the best person you can be and the one you want to be and don’t blind yourself with what everyone else is doing and how fast they’re doing it. The only person that can make you happy is you. And you’re awesome. Especially without the filter.

When life gives you sun… Wear gold hot pants

Finally, the hot weather has arrived. FINALLY. And of course, as soon as I woke up this morning, I seized the opportunity to drag my gold hot pants out of hiding. Yes, gold. Because everyone at work would be ok with that, wouldn’t they?

 

Luckily for them I couldn’t find said gold hot pants (or I don’t own any – whichever way you wanna look at it), so my meticulously planned re-creation of Kylie’s ‘Spinning Around’ video was quashed. I’d even envisaged the rest of the HR team as my back up dancers. Awesome back up dancers. Damn it, I would have to opt for a summer dress instead…

 

Ok, so I would never dream of wearing gold hot pants ever in life ever, let alone to work (bar the Britney / Xtina era circa 2001, but let’s please remember that I was 14 years old and not working) And I don’t think most sane professionals would either. But how long is it going to be before we see the usual HR posts: It’s now above 20 degrees so lest all employers be inundated by hot-pant-wearing employees, you’d better put together a new dress code policy ousting all hot pants, gold or otherwise… Or at least send out a reminder email. The email would sound something like this:

 

*warning – sarcastic undertone*

 

‘Hey guys, we know it’s hot and that you melted on the way to work, your eyebrows are half way down your face, some guy stood on your sandal covered foot whilst on sweaty public transport, and you really need an iced coffee or snow: PLEASE don’t wear (gold) hot pants to work. K. Bye.’

 

SMH.

 

Rather than the dress code panic and huge waste of time writing new policies because people are warm and need slushies immediately, let’s just stop and think for a minute. Realistically, are adults actually going to turn up to work half naked? You know, those professional adults that work for a living. I don’t think so. Don’t make it out like employees need a policy hidden in the depths of the intranet to remind them to put down the hot pants and choose professionalism.

 

So rather than spending your day re-writing stuff that already serves its purpose, go and get an ice cream and enjoy the nice weather. And if someone does show up looking like Kylie… it can be very quickly solved by the magic of a conversation.

 

Stay hydrated peoples!

Letting Humans be Humans

To be honest, I’ve been mmm-ing and ahhh-ing about how to start this blog for about half an hour now. For once I feel pretty lost for words, which is pretty rare if you know me. So I’m just going to start with what I plan to write about: the recent ruling from the ECJ banning headscarves and religious symbols in the workplace (just as long as it’s in their dress code policy, of course). I’m just going to do a dramatic pause for a second and let that sink in…

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

And ………………..?

 

‘What?’ I hear you say with a mixture of both confusion and shock. And then confusion again. Then perhaps delirium. But yes. Sadly, it’s true.

 

Now if you’re anything like me, the update will have appeared unceremoniously in your email inbox at lunchtime and you would have opened it to see the headline from the CIPD newsletter as ‘European Court backs workplace ban on headscarves and religious symbols’. Firstly (and foolishly, without reading the article) I thought, ah ok. Yes. This all makes rational sense. The case probably involved a pharmaceutical company or a construction company or something of the like, which would make wearing headscarves and religious symbols (whether that’s a piece of jewellery or a robe), a health and safety risk. Now that would make sense…

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

……………..?

 

Nope. The company are a Belgium business called G4S. They’re a security company. A big one. Security is obviously very very important. But I’m a little unsure how religious symbols put this function at risk.

 

Samira Achbita, a Muslim secretary worked for G4S and was consequently dismissed for refusing to remove her religious headscarf…. And yet. YET. The European Court of Justice have said that this is absolutely NOT direct discrimination. Clearly. Despite (from the articles I’ve read so far) not having any particular grounding on why (WHY WHY WHY) they would require their staff not to wear religious clothing, other than it being against their dress code. Which of course in my mind, is not just a discriminatory dismissal but one that has also been backed up by discriminatory dress code in the first instance. But hey, what do I know?

 

The most laughable part of all was quotes from an advocate of the ECJ and from G4S themselves. I think after all the drivel above, we could use a laugh, don’t you? Queue quotes:

 

Announcing the decision, Juliane Kokott, an advocate general of the ECJ, said: “While an employee cannot ‘leave’ his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability ‘at the door’ upon entering his employer’s premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace, be this in relation to religious practices, religiously motivated behaviour or (as in the present case) his clothing.”

A spokesman for G4S in the UK said: “We work hard to create an inclusive environment for our employees in all countries where we operate.”

 

Have you stopped laughing yet? Or uncontrollably bashing your head against your desk? I think I’m still doing both. Let’s just break this down for a minute:

 

  • ‘An employee cannot leave his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability ‘at the door’ upon entering his employer’s premises’. No they bloody well can’t. That’s a fact of life. But more importantly, why would you want them to? Keep on laughing / crying if you will.

 

  • ‘He may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace, be this in relation to religious practices, religiously motivated behaviour or (as in the present case) his clothing’. Why? WHY WHY WHY. Why exactly (and PLEASE give me a better reason than a dress code policy, for the love of God) would this make an ounce of difference to your business and the way it operates?

 

  • ‘We work hard to create an inclusive environment for our employees in all countries where we operate’. *laughs* *laughs more* *laughs until cries* What ya lying for?

 

Not only are all of these things terrible, if we’re being honest, they’re pretty damn scary too. If the ECJ are happy to say that this case isn’t discrimination, I’m very afraid of what the future holds.

 

Employees should have the right to bring their full-selves to work. And should. Whether that’s their religion, gender, disability etc, etc. How these people are planning on recruiting a diverse workforce if employees (Muslims particularly in this case) can’t actually be themselves at work, is beyond me. And I’m even more concerned about that fact that religious ‘practices’ could even cover the right to pray during the working day. The minute you claim to be inclusive but WAIT A MINUTE, ‘leave all your other shit at the door, we don’t care about that’ – you’re discriminatory, small minded and so far away from inclusive you might as well be with Matthew Maconaughey in wherever the hell he ended up in Interstellar. Which FYI, is a friggin long way away.

 

Let’s hope this isn’t an indicator of the way things are going in Europe. For the time being, I’m trying to keep my faith in humans. Although I’m not so happy with them for this one, I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to Samira Achbita’s dismissal, it’s G4S’s loss….

Sticking our Heels in

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I’m sure you’ve all seen the news this week about Nicola Thorp being sent home for refusing to wear high heels to work at PwC. Now I don’t know about you, but my initial thought was… FFS. And not because of my strong feelings that this is totally and completely unfair. And not because I would be totally ashamed to be part of an organisation that did such a thing. And not because it saddens me that the actual event happened 5 months ago and Nicola didn’t feel she could voice the issue until now. And not because it took speaking to other women who had been through the same thing to give her the courage to speak out and realise that this isn’t ok. And not because PwC’s reputation is going to be badly damaged. But because it’s 2016 and this shit is still happening… FFS.

 

If you haven’t already read the article, you can find it here:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36264229

 

Rightly so, a huge debate has arisen after Nicola decided to speak out and set up an online petition to stop organisations from forcing women to wear high heels to work and other women have started to speak up too, quoting similar stories. One question: How the hell is this still happening?

 

PwC have argued that women wearing high heels is part of their dress code. Hmmmm, ok. It might well be, but is it actually reasonable and fair? And if they decide to dismiss someone off the back of it, legal? I couldn’t say, since the case hasn’t actually gone to court but my gut feeling says absolutely not. A dress code requesting employees to wear a suit = fair and reasonable. A dress code requesting employees to dress smartly = fair and reasonable. A dress code requesting only women should wear high heels = unfair, sexist, stuck in the dark ages and unreasonable. For a lot of different reasons.

 

The obvious is the sexism problem. Of course, men wouldn’t be asked to wear high heels. Even if they wanted to. Perhaps male footwear had been specified in the dress code. Maybe smart dress shoes, or something similar. But do these shoes cause pain and potentially make the individual feel uncomfortable? Possibly, but I wouldn’t have thought it would be comparable to the pain often associated with heel-wearing.

 

And some people feel embarrassed wearing heels. I do. And not just because I’m not great at wearing them, but because I don’t particularly enjoy being taller and I feel like I’m being looked at. That’s my own personal thing with heels. But what about a health condition, say knee / ankle / leg problems? Or a disability? Or someone in a wheelchair? Does that mean that PwC wouldn’t employ that individual because their heel rules are impossible to achieve? Would the way they hire very much depend on an individuals’ ability to heel-wear? So much so, that they would discriminate against their candidates? And not actually hire somebody because they are good at the job (God forbid) but because of their shoes? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Because it is.

 

And then there’s the women, like Nicola, who are actually very capable of wearing heels but just don’t bloody want to. It’s a reasonable choice to make. I don’t believe you look any less smart in nice flat shoes in comparison to high heels. And if we’re now basing professionalism, success and career achievement on high heels, not only has the world gone mad but I want to get off.

 

 

I don’t believe this should be legal and I don’t believe Nicola should have been sent home with no pay, because of her refusal to wear high heels. But the article is missing a few key facts which makes it hard to come to a stead-fast conclusion. Was Nicola dismissed with no pay due to her refusal to wear high heels? Or did she resign off the back of being sent home to change without pay? We don’t know. But being dismissed without notice pay (notice would depend on her contract) certainly isn’t legal unless her non-heel wearing was considered gross misconduct by PwC. Highly unlikely. And if she resigned, could her resignation be part of a wider constructive dismissal claim? I think so but again, I’m not an employment lawyer.

 

Nicola is calling for it to be illegal for businesses to force women to wear high heels. I totally agree but even though I’m no legal expert, I do feel like the situation would already be covered under current discrimination laws as they stand. After all, the request is unreasonable in my book. Do I think we need another law to address high heels specifically? Nope. And here’s why:

 

It should just be. Giving the heel wearing saga (albeit completely legitimate), its own law only shows how sad a situation this is. In my opinion, the case should be covered under already existing gender or disability discrimination law. Already existing gender or disability rights. Already existing gender or disability attitudes. And equality for women. The minute this case starts being treated separately to what should already be the norm in discrimination law and rights, is the minute women start to feel like their sexist workplace cases might not be legitimate or reasonable and that isn’t going to empower women in the workplace to speak out about their experiences. It’s potentially going to make them feel like they need an online petition and an array of national news articles to get any sort of grip on what should already be a God given right in 2016.

 

But hey, that’s just my opinion… And I completely respect Nicola for speaking up and bringing this issue to the forefront.

Nicola now has enough signatures to warrant a parliamentary response, so watch this space… If you’re interested in seeing or signing the petition, you can have a look on the link below:

 

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/129823

 

Have a lovely weekend!

Is family violence an HR issue?

Up the Down Escalator

If you live in New Zealand you will be familiar with the It’s Not OK campaign.

A friend of mine in the UK was recently the victim of domestic violence. The assault was serious enough to warrant a suspended prison sentence and a course of rehabilitation for her partner. It wasn’t the first time she had called the police in fear of her safety. She had to take at least two weeks off work after the assault. The relationship is now over.

Here in New Zealand, the statistics make chilling reading. For example:

  • There is an act of family violence investigated by the police every five and a half minutes
  • Three quarters of offences committed by family members are not reported to the police
  • Half of all homicides each year are the result of family violence
  • 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual abuse from a partner during their…

View original post 220 more words

Successful Daddying *shock, horror*

 

I saw something exciting the other day. And when I say exciting, I mean I actually beamed, laughed and called my boyfriend from the kitchen to tell him all about it. It was a baby product advert. But hold up… what’s this strange thing I’m seeing? A Dad browsing nappies and play pens? Surely not!

 

I’ve always been an Aldi fan, for more reason than one. Good quality food for great prices. Great career opportunities as part and parcel of their grad scheme and beyond. Impressive salaries. And more recently, their pledge to go organic. And now… THIS. If you haven’t already seen the advert, you can watch below:

 

https://www.aldi.ie/en/about-aldi/tv-campaigns/tv-adverts/

 

My mind was blown. And not because the concept of Dad’s actually Fathering their off-spring is new to me. In fact, for the completely opposite reason. Because I’m sick of seeing any child related advert, whether that’s nappies, baby food or even toys being Dad-absent. And if Dad IS included somewhere in the advert, he’s in the background and Mum is ALWAYS present. ALWAYS. Present and in charge and viewed as the only carer that matters. Watching Dad successfully Fathering (because who knew that would be possible!?) without Mum was an awesome thing to see but how this is only just being broadcast in 2016?

 

As much as I loved the advert, sadly the revelation made me realise that I can’t for the life of me remember ever seeing a child-product-related advert with just Dad involved. When have I ever seen that advertised before? In the advertising world, I’ve seen Dad booking holidays (with his bread-winning money) and I’ve seen Dad in the pub having beers with his mates and betting on the football (with his bread-winning money), and I’ve seen Dad driving his brand new family car (with his bread-winning money) but I’ve never seen Dad Fathering without Mum. But why?? [If you remember any adverts that I might have forgotten, please feel free to comment at the bottom] But my point is this – if I can’t remember them, they’re way too few and far between.

 

I read this article earlier this year about the ‘dumb things people need to stop saying to fathers’ and it couldn’t be truer. I liked and shared the article at the time but these attitudes coupled with the fact that Dad and baby are pretty much non-existent in the advertising world is when you begin to realise how gender stereotypical we still are about men and their roles in both families and society:

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3436386/Blogger-Rosie-Devereux-writes-dumb-things-people-need-stop-saying-fathers.html

 

If anything, I think Aldi deserve much more recognition for their current TV advert and I’m wondering how many others have watched it and had the same reaction as me. Whether that’s sadness over it only just becoming a ‘thing’ in the UK in 2016 or happiness over the supermarket chain taking steps to overcome gender stereotypes without the ‘look what Dad did this time’ and ‘what happens when you leave Dad with the baby’ jokes. If we can’t over-come these barriers, how is Shared Parental Leave ever going to work? (one of the many reasons I understand, but very much a contributing factor).

 

Now all we need are same sex couples featured in baby adverts and it might just make my year complete…

Leaping Marriage Proposals

 

10.30am. That’s how long it took before… ‘ooooh it’s leap year, why don’t you propose’ happened. Because a woman can only propose once every 4 years on a day designated specifically for that purpose. Because it’s so rare for a woman to want to / have to propose, that a four year gap should pretty much do it. Because if it’s outside of that one day, it’s automatically bizarre. Because men should be scared of it. And because everyone says so.

 

…I say, who gives a crap. If you want to propose as a woman, then do it. Today, tomorrow, next Tuesday, yesterday. Whenevs. Because every day should be a day where you can make your own personal choice and it not be weird.

 

 

When Hating Racism…

 

At the weekend I started watching Louis Theroux’s series of documentaries, circa 2003 that gave us the likes of ‘Louis Theroux and the brothel’ and ‘Louis Theroux and Michael Jackson’. It was a camera quality disaster, filmed with all the enthusiasm of what seemed like an amateur production but with an interview style from Theroux that made you want to give a shit about what he said. It was the type of comedy genius often seen in Fawlty Tower’s. The awkwardness. The totally British clumsiness that can only ever be pulled off with a totally British accent. All in front of unsuspecting American’s that had no clue how to take him. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

 

That was until, ‘Louis Theroux and the Nazi’s’ happened. The clues in the title. LT spent a number of weeks with a few different American Neo-Nazi’s from the most ‘dangerous’ racist in the US to a Mother home schooling / outwardly indoctrinating her eleven year old twin daughters to be openly racist. These individuals can only be described as disgusting human beings. They oozed a kind of hate that was both sad and terrifying. Those poor little girls had access to only racist magazines (published and distributed by ‘skin heads’) and were groomed by their Mother to create a band named after the gas used to poison Jews in the holocaust and were encouraged to sing racist songs on stage at Nazi rallies. Not only that, their Mother only let them listen to Neo-Nazi bands which only served to surround them with hate. They had access to only one video game called ‘ethnic cleansing’ which involved shooting black people. All followed up by a sweet jig around a swastika and a Nazi salute from blonde hair and blue eyes.

 

By the end of it I felt physically sick. At one point, I was on the verge of tears.

 

But there was one point in the episode where the most ‘dangerous’ racist in the US (at this point I have to let you know that he is a 50 year old bald man, that wears socks and sandals) was showing LT one of his most favourite CD’s. Of course the album cover was completely inappropriate and outwardly referenced black slavery. His wife looked on whilst she smiled and played with the dog.

 

LT asked the man’s wife whether she found it shocking that her husband would not only have, but like such a thing. To which she simply replied, ‘no I don’t find it shocking’.

 

I found myself hating her more than him. It was almost as if something inside me blew, despite all of the things I had seen in the documentary so far. Despite seeing this man preaching racist hate at rallies. Despite seeing the magazine he printed and distributed to fellow Nazis. Despite his open racism and the way he threw the N word around like it was going out of fashion. Despite his T-shirt that read ‘some people are simply alive because it’s illegal to kill them’. And despite his ridiculous wardrobe choices. I hated her more. Why?

 

Let’s move over to the psychotic Mother who was indoctrinating her children. I HATED her even more than racist sandal man’s wife. To me she was the devil. The world has no room for people like her. Her hate made me hate her and that made me hate her even more. My face got all hot and I was really, really mad. But her Father, who was 10 times worse than her in too many ways, who indoctrinated her in the same way when she was small too – I didn’t hate him as bad. I hated him, of course. But as bad? Not in that moment.

 

So why…? Why despite these men doing what can be considered as ‘worse’ things than the females, did I continue to hate the females more?

 

Because they’re women of course. I couldn’t stand to see a woman (who should be the moral and societal pillar of motherhood) be SUCH an evil person. These women were Mothers. They should love everybody and care for everybody and nurture them. Because that’s what women do. It’s in their ‘nature’. And the moment they went along with these hateful views, they weren’t the generic stereotype anymore. In fact, the stark contrast made them worse.

 

I recognised this train of thought happening in my head and suddenly remembered that I’m still human. It’s why Myra Hindley was viewed completely differently to Ian Brady and it’s why we still continue to talk about what actresses are wearing rather than their talent. Gender stereotypes still very much affect the way we think and act daily. Even when I have very strong opinions around gender equality, not just in day-to-day HR but also in my personal life, it can get us all without realising. And here I was, doing exactly the thing I hate… stereotyping women whilst watching a documentary on barbaric racism.

 

Here’s the thing. It’s easier said than done. Even the most dedicated feminists will slip up from time to time and subconscious thoughts will come creeping in that can affect the way we think, see things and therefore react. As much as we hate to admit it, society influences our thinking but the one thing we can do, is be aware of it.

 

Am I as bad as those people for letting my up-bringing influence my opinions? Absolutely not. Those people do not deserve a place in society. But it does make you realise that there’s certainly no hope for those poor little girls. They will never fully get away from what they’ve been exposed to. And that in itself is terrifyingly sad.

 

So after I had all of those thoughts, I decided to continue hating all of the racists… But I would hate all of them equally.

When Sardines Assume

Whilst on my evening metro commute home tonight, the bizarre smell of gone off yoghurt greeting my nostrils and surrounded by the many sardines that make me feel like I can’t breathe, I tried zoning out as best I could, the sound of ‘Stay’ by Shakespear’s Sister in my ears; only to notice something that has been causing a wealth of HR debate happening right in front of my eyes. Here’s what happened…
The metro set’s off. Gross yoghurt scent everywhere. And as the metro jolts slightly (as it so often loves to do), a lady a little further down the carriage almost falls onto a poor suspecting man, sat down in one of the seats. She was horrified, of course. And although Shakespear’s Sister continued to jam in my ears, I could read the body language loud and clear. He was pissed off. In fact, he almost looked disgusted in a ‘how dare you touch me?’ kinda way. She was probably drunk, right? Who falls over so easily and knocks him with their handbag like that? She can’t even remain standing on the metro. Pfft.
Flaw 1: The Assumption
That poor woman could have number of reasons for loosing her footing. Her shoes are a pain in the ass, why did she wear them today? She’s got a bad knee, someone else pushed her. Hell, she might have just lost her damn footing. Who knows? But apparently this man thinks he does, and he’s not impressed. She’s even wearing work clothes. How unprofessional.
Flaw 2: Assumption Numero Dos.
But this woman is wearing work clothes. He realises that now. She must be hard working after all, professional, committed to her career. Who knows? Either way, the man is now confused as to which assumption to go for. Her assumed actions don’t match her assumed physical appearance. He accepts her apology.
I sometimes wonder what the sardines think of me. I look young for my age and I have a casual dress code at work. I’m almost always in jeans. Sometimes a homeless looking bun in my hair. I cant possibly be a hard worker, can I?
Truth be told, I don’t really give a damn what the sardines think of me, but when it comes to someone’s opinion of you being the basis for whether you get that job or the promotion you’ve always wanted… things can change.
We all have unconscious biases. We can try with all our might to deny it, but we do. It’s in our nature. Our brains do it automatically and it’s never going away. But what we can do is be aware of it and at least try to tackle the things that cause us to judge.
This type of thing comes into force massively during recruitment. The halo and horns effect cause us to either immediately love someone if they are a mirror-image of ourselves, or automatically write someone off if they aren’t. Diversity is a huge factor in helping our organisations and economy to survive. Without it, how can we be creative, innovative, collaborative or think outside the box? If we hire in our image for the rest of our lives, we’ll be in the dark ages before we know it and our competitors will be off in the distance. Not to mention the reputation of your business. Would you want to work for a business that just hired in their image all the time? I certainly wouldn’t.
And it’s the same of performance. We’re tempted to repel anything that’s outside of what we would normally do or the way it’s always been done. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If that was the case, I’d be writing this on a typewriter and sending out it out by carrier pigeon.
When it comes to sardines on the metro, we’re probably never going to see those people again and even if we did, their judgement doesn’t make an ounce of difference in our lives or careers. But when it comes to getting ready to give that performance review or interviewing someone for a role, it’s so important to remember the tricks the mind can play. You could be missing out on a great candidate or even worse, pushing a high performer to resignation.
And I’ll let you in on a secret. Even though I watched those two sardines on the metro tonight and they gave me the inspiration to write this blog, I assumed the whole thing too…
Have a lovely evening!