Letter to my future bosses
I’m gently and quietly looking for my next role among the wealth of opportunities generated by “The Great Resignation”. But so many of the organisations I’ve looked at clearly have a long way to go on gender and race equality, judging by the make-up of their top teams.
I am a white, cisgendered, bisexual, anti-racist feminist woman with a very working-class background and a body that isn’t as able as it once was.
My particular combination of knowledge, skills and experience lends itself well to leadership of transformation and user-centred design and delivery, and in large organisations with a comparatively immature DDaT and design capability.
I’m totally up for putting the work in — to build the inclusive and diverse teams that build inclusive and accessible services that deliver positive, equitable outcomes for the public. That’s the stuff that gets me jumping out of bed in the morning, raring to go.
But I’ll only do that for a leader who genuinely wants that, and knows what they’re signing up for.
They’d be signing up for:
- signalling clearly to their whole organisation that misogyny and racism are unacceptable
- being challenged by me when the things that they say or do, in public or private, are the wrong side of the line — and committing to working on themselves to address it
- calling out misogynist and racist language and behaviour in their teams — in real time, consistently, so that others feel increasingly comfortable calling it out too. I will be the first to challenge leadership on this — so you’ll need to have my back.
- taking grievances very seriously. That means CONSEQUENCES. Not promotion. Not simply moving them to another role, for them to crush another poor soul. I want to see a difference in behaviour, or I want to see their departure. Growing and nurturing a culture of inclusion and psychological safety in your organisation may well mean a visit to a tribunal or two by aggrieved bullies. Don’t shirk that responsibility.
This comes at a cost. It’s uncomfortable. It’s often inconvenient and sometimes confrontational. It takes emotional energy. It takes leadership. But that’s the job, surely?
I’m not willing to build an inclusive and psychologically-safe bubble in an otherwise hostile environment, unless you’ll work with me to improve things for everyone.
I’m not willing to recruit a diverse team of talented mission-led people just for them to be ground down by their everyday interactions with wider colleagues.
I would expect — and would help drive — nothing short of org-wide culture change. But you have to be sincerely up for that, and everything that comes with it.
So the question, future bosses, is: are you ready? Or should I take this elsewhere?