Our new client GamCare

We are pleased to announce that we are now working with our new client GamCare, the leading provider of information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling harms.

GamCare was founded in 1997 by Paul Bellringer and recently celebrated its 25 years anniversary. It is a unique organisation that brings together creating awareness around safer gambling, treatment to this form of addiction and the support for its affected others.

Supporting them is both exciting and refreshing, as we delve into a relatively new landscape and learn more about this area. Our task looks to build on their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work to date and help support them strategically in achieving their inclusion aims over the coming years.

To find out more information about GamCare and to follow their work on EDI in the coming months, please visit here.

The Great Resignation: How to Combat this through the eyes of a Gen-Z’er

The Great Resignation is not just for kids. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Now more than halfway through 2022, I think we safely say that on the whole we have moved past the worst effects of Covid-19 as a health pandemic. However, a frightening phenomenon has occurred, one that has been called “the Great Resignation.” This movement has appeared to impact the whole of our society, especially in relation to our mental health and socio-economic economies. There were a multitude of factors which forced mass unemployment, which resulted in businesses going under. For the ones that did survive, they were having to make drastic cuts. In 2021 thousands of people across the UK and around the world left their jobs as workers were given time to think about their choices and at this point, many began to adjust to a new way of working. 

What is The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is defined as a mass exodus of workers who feel unfulfilled by their current jobs and have chosen to leave them prematurely, rather than continue in uninspiring roles. Great resignation workers include Gen-Xers who were forced to find new jobs after the 2008 financial crisis, Millennials who were hit by the Great Recession but had higher standards for their jobs, and now Gen-Z who want more out of life than just work. As a young person at the precipice of Gen-Z and Millennial, I have seen the trend continue amongst my peers and fear it will continue to affect future generations. (1)

 

Burnout and the Great Exhaustion – Why did they leave?

Between 2020 to 2021 Limeade an immersive well-being company, conducted a survey into the great resignation and looked at workers who had changed jobs (2). Their results found that 40% of employees cite burnout as the top reason for departure and 28% resigned without a job lined up. For those who had changed jobs, they did so based on:

○ The Ability to work remotely (40%)
○ Better compensation (37%)
○ Better management (31%)

Linked to the Great Resignation is the also the phenomenon, called ‘the Great Exhaustion’. Imagine feeling like you have not slept despite going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 6am or feeling like you have run a marathon even if you have just sat in your home office all day. This phenomenon was brought to light by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Sydney in Australia. Further, Professor Rae Cooper at the University of Sydney, describes this as “the weariness of people after 30 months of thoroughly stressful life”. (3) This has been due to overwhelming physical, mental and financial pressures placed on people during the pandemic, which lead to burnout and Cooper suggests that this is a much bigger issue for women.

Who is disproportionately affected and why?

Deloitte Global stated that “despite the fact that many employers have implemented new ways of working designed to improve flexibility, our research shows that the new arrangements run the risk of excluding the very people who could most benefit from them, with the majority of the women we polled having experienced exclusion when working in a hybrid environment”. (4) Their report ‘Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook’ that surveyed 5000 women across 10 countries, found that 10% of women were wanting to remain in their current jobs for more than five years and 1 in 10 women were seeking other employers. Perhaps the unclear boundaries and expectations of remote working, may have left women working double and contributed to them being impacted by the great exhaustion.

‘Quiet quitting’ has also become another popular overnight phenomenon, which offers a solution to job dissatisfaction, with methods shared amongst younger people on social media platforms, such as TikTok. The idea is to simply work within the boundaries of what you are being paid to do. However, whilst this does seem like a healthy approach to combat toxic productivity and normalise a healthier work life balance, it may not be sustainable and in the long run, will again, continue to impact more women.

5 Questions you should ask yourself?

How can we combat this and create more accommodating workplaces?

In order to retain and attract staff many organisations are offering hybrid/remote working options, four-day work weeks and mental health days. However, despite this support, people are still criticising these solutions as potentially being tokenistic and not getting to the root of the problem. One reason for this is that companies may not be tailoring their approach to represent the challenges of the staff most affected. For example, media campaigns can be a powerful tool in the effort to reintegrate women back into the workplace. Indeed, the worldwide job listing company, tend to centre their TV adverts on realistic stories. In 2020 they aired the advert Belonging: Sarah, which told the story of Sarah who was let go from a casting job that she loved at the age of 56 and was experiencing ageism within the industry. Eventually, after being guided to use Indeed, she later finds a job, whereby she is recognised for the skills that she brings to the table. In 2021 they released a similar advert called A New Beginning 30, but this time from the point of view of a woman returning to the workplace having taken time out to transition. (5)

There are Women Return Programmes also designed to support their journeys back into the labour market, but what about Gen-Z, or women who have not yet had a career to come back to?

How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics if you’re currently unhappy at your job?

Before you seek employment elsewhere, it’s important to do an honest assessment of yourself and the current state of your career. To do this, you should ask yourself these five questions:

1. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
2. What are my passions?
3. What is my ideal work environment?
4. What is my desired income?
5. What are my long-term goals?

Keeping these five questions in mind will help you find meaningful work without making rash career decisions. After you have done an honest assessment of yourself and the current state of your career, you should then ask yourself these three questions:

1. Is this job holding me back from growing?
2. Is this job providing me with valuable skills?
3. Is this job meeting my financial needs?

If you answer yes to Q1 or no to Q2/3, you should consider making a change. If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, it is likely that you would be open to changing your current job with a better one. If you answered no to any or all of the above questions, it is likely that you would be open to making a change by moving on from your current job. It’s important that you do this before it’s too late!

Final words from a Gen-Z’er

It’s important that we find meaning in our work before any of the phenomenon’s outlined in this article take stuck. Pluck up the courage and have a one-on-one meeting with your manager and express your desire to find meaning in your work. You can start simply by identifying “what’s important to you?” What are your hopes and dreams? Do you want to travel or have the flexibility to work overseas? Be mindful however, of what their current challenges are.

If they don’t have the ability to help you, you should explore mentoring opportunities. These can help you to understand what an authentic approach to navigate your workplace can look like. Finding your network of advocates can also be useful to give you support and offer you holistic solutions to not just surviving in the workplace but thriving at what you do.

 

 

Footnotes
1) Wingard, J. (2021) ‘The Great Resignation’: Why Gen Z Is Leaving The Workforce In Droves…And What To Do About It. Forbes Online. [https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonwingard/2021/09/02/the-great-resignation-why-gen-z-is-leaving-the-workforce-in-drovesand-what-to-do-about-it/?sh=623a765b5f87] 

2) Majority of Job-Changers in the Great Resignation Were Burned Out, Wanted to Be Valued and Cared For. (2021) Cision PR Newswire. [https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/majority-of-job-changers-in-the-great-resignation-were-burned-out-wanted-to-be-valued-and-cared-for-301387771.html]

3) Porter, A (2022) The Great Exhaustion: why we’re all experiencing an absolute, overwhelming feeling of emotional exhaustion. Stylist Magazine. [https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/careers/the-great-exhaustion-burnout-work/698702]

4) Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook’ (2022) [https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/deloitte-women-at-work-2022-a-global-outlook.pdf]

5) Bowler, H (2022) ‘War, Transphobia, Discrimination’: Indeed.com CMO On The Issues Marketers Must Address, The Drum. [https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/06/15/war-transphobia-discrimination-indeedcom-cmo-the-issues-marketers-must-address]

Spotlight – The Connection at St Martin’s

For this month’s spotlight, we feature The Connection at St Martin’s (CSTM), a long-standing homelessness charity in the heart of London, who work with people who are rough sleeping to move away and stay off the streets in the capital. The charity probably needs no introduction given its rich history and impact over the years in this area. This feature is to highlight the work which has been taking place and is yet to come, in their Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) journey.

Over the last couple of years, many organisations have been questioning their work culture, as a result of key events happening within the social and public arena. These have included: the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020. The murders of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in 2020, Sarah Everard in 2021 and Sabina Nessa some months later, all by male perpetrators in each case. These unrelated incidences and the most recent murder of Zara Aleena by a stranger in June 2022, remind us of the continued fight in addressing acts of violence against women and girls, and their subsequent safety on the streets. Finally, since 2019, the world has participated in the fight against Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic, which has magnified social and economic inequalities across various communities, including our health, social care, and education systems to name a few.

CSTM has engaged with the themes emerging from these incidences. At the end of last year, 2021, members of the team from various departments and at different levels, who were eager for the organisation to be proactive in understanding how inclusive it was, put out a tender to carry out a 3-month EDI review. This took place between January to April of this year. They recruited Dr Ope Lori as a consultant from PILAA to carry out the assessment, which would culminate in a set of recommendations being outlined that the organisation could implement.

As part of the assessment, they wanted to know how they could best improve their approach in 3 key areas:

1. Recruiting and managing our workforce and volunteers

2. Developing anti-discriminatory practice in everything we do

3. Working towards excellence in being a diverse and inclusive charity

The review saw a qualitative approach being taken, through 1-1 informal interviews being conducted between Dr Ope Lori and roughly 75% of their workforce. In addition, there were 1-1’s with Trustees, a Volunteer and as important, a group of clients, whom the charity serves. The project was a collaborative endeavour, built on trust, mutual respect and a shared desire to improve on EDI.

An executive summary about the report and the ensuing recommendations will be made public by the CEO Pam Orchard in the coming months and will be published on the organisation’s website. Here we briefly outline 3 key themes which emerged from the review, but which are part of a larger conversation across the sector and other workplaces at large.

Actors discussing challenges in the workplace from past experiences (2021) PILAA

Lived Experience

The first was around the notion of ‘lived experience’. It became a key phrase throughout the review and from an EDI perspective, we learnt that it was more complex than meets the eye. Having ‘lived experience’ is a criterion which is being used more frequently within the landscape of recruitment, however within the context of the organisation, what is being referred to is, ‘the lived experience of homelessness.’ Multiple users spoke to this, not only as a criterion to be included on job descriptions or within the criteria for trustee selection, but more crucially, within the lens of what it meant for the services to be delivered in an authentic way. A lot therefore could be learnt from tapping into this element of experience, which the organisation will be building on. 

Facilitating Difficult Conversations - On Race

A major theme we have seen across a range of industries, especially after the social injustices outlined earlier, is that many organisations are asking, to what extent are they an anti-racist organisation? To what extent are they equipped as an organisation on an institutional and individual level, to challenge discriminatory behaviours against race, but also any of the other protected characteristics? To what extent are frontline staff, in particular black colleagues and those from minority ethnic groups protected and supported from racial abuse, specifically made by clients and what policies are in place? These were by no means easy questions to answer at CSTM, especially when trying to get the right balance between the needs of employees and those whom they serve. CSTM, as with other organisations seeking to be an anti-discriminatory, anti-racist organisation, will have to recect on past wounds, in order to achieve a better future. As Randall Robinson, the African American lawyer, author and activist urges us to do, we must “know and embrace our past in all its fullness, for therein lies our only hope for a healthy, self- agrming present – and future.” (1)

Diversifying Recruitment

Good work was already happening in this area, especially at Board level of the organisation, where a recent recruitment of Trustees at the end of 2021, had brought more diversity into the group. How to diversify teams and truly understanding what diversity means beyond difference, was a challenge that multiple departments were conscious of tackling. There were simple effective measures that could be taken, such as re-working governance pages and making them more “user-friendly”, in the sense of adding personality to trustee bios, in order to appeal to a wider and future set of applicants. Longer measures, related to unpacking the root issues that could cause an ongoing perpetuation in a lack of diversity. To this end, a recent study by Rathbones, stated that up to “90% of charities recruit most of their trustees through word-of- mouth and existing networks.” (2) If trustee members are therefore recruiting who they know, unless their pool is mixed on multiple levels, then who they recruit, will continue to be predominantly, white, male, from a higher economic background and from similar work industries, as seemed to be the general case across the landscape of governance. Therefore, challenging old ways of doing things in order to eradicate room for unconscious biases to manifest, is critical in changing the narrative and the landscape of diversity within the context of recruitment.

To find out more information on The Connection at St Martin’s and their work on EDI, and to read about the review in the coming months, please visit here.

 

Footnotes:

(1) DeGruy, J (2017) Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, Joy Degruy Publications Inc; Illustrated edition

(2) https://www.rathbones.com/knowledge-and-insight/how-recruit-trustees-your-charity- practical-guide

Coming Out – “Are you ready to do this?”

Saturday July the 2nd will see the return of Pride in London, two years since the Covid-19 pandemic relegated the annual celebration off the streets of the capital. This year is also historic, as it marks 50 years since the first Gay Pride in Britain, which took place in July of 1972, and was organised by the Gay Liberation front (GLF). As the streets of central London are filled with members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, coming together in what could be called “a collective coming out”, this article looks at the very notion of “coming out”, as a central part of becoming. 

 

Luda & Beryl, 2011 Ope Lori @ Image Courtesy of PILAA

The interconnected nature of both aspects was evidenced, as viewers tuned into the ITV documentary, Kelly Holmes: Being Me. Aired on the 26th of June, we heard the coming out story of Dame Kelly Holmes, the nations prized Olympic Gold medal winning heroine. With an emphasis on the “Being Me” being written in bold on the title screen, we see Holmes relive her challenges with not being able to come out, in what was a beautiful yet painful testimony from the athlete. Now in her early 50s, she is coming out to the public and the rest of the world, and in such an emphatic way, by appearing in this documentary for all to see. Her deeply moving and emotional journey is one that many from the LGBTQIA+ communities can relate to, such as thinking of when is it the right time to come out?  Or what makes coming such a difficult experience for some, although not for all, and lastly, how can we foster inclusive and supportive spaces for those yet to come out or who may want to remain in the closet, for various reasons?

 

 

 

When is it the right time to come out?

“Are you ready to do this?” were the initial words asked by the interviewer to Holmes in the opening scene, before she nervously responded “yep, ready to do it. Need to do it. So gotta get it done.” (1) We learn that for various reasons, including Holmes national identity as a sporting heroine and having served in the Army at a time when it was illegal to be gay, she was unable to come out. For 32 years she had kept this secret to herself, family and friends, fearing that she would be caught. When she came out, she did so first to her non-biological father, whom her mother married and then to the rest of her family at the age of 27. When speaking to her family about her coming out to them, most had known and had always been supportive. For one sister, she states that by her telling her, it had brought them much closer. Coming out, in the most basic sense, is defined as:

“The process of telling someone else how they identify in terms of their romantic orientation, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Coming out is a lifelong process that has both intrapersonal and interpersonal components, although most people have an initial phase where they are first coming out to themselves.” (2)

As we saw with Holmes, it wasn’t just about an issue of time, but it was also related to how she felt, and to how her mental health was deteriorating. The longer and longer she remained in the closet, unable to be herself, the worse she became, to the point we learn that the athlete self-harmed and wanted to commit suicide.

Time and history, however, is still an important aspect. She interviews Welsh Olympic Boxing Champion Lauren Price, who is in a relationship with fellow Olympic boxing medallist Karriss Artingstall, who also served in the Army. The couple officially came out as dating in 2020 after the Tokyo Olympics. When asked about whether they made a decision to come out, the pair both discuss their experiences as being positive and not being an issue. When Holmes mentions that there was a ban for being gay in the Army, which was only overturned in 2000, both were unaware that it even existed and were complete disbelief. Speaking to a current LGBTQ Army network group, they reiterate how times have changed, that they felt included, and that if there were issues, there were now policies in place to help support them.

 

Codes of conduct

Being in the Army seemed to be the most challenging reason behind Holmes not being able to come out. She recalls a time whilst serving, when the Royal Military Police had come to the regiment trying to find out who was gay. Feeling violated by people going into their spaces, what was crucial in Holmes account, was that they were trying to look for “anything they could find to see if you were gay.” (3) Perhaps this may seem like a strange thing to say, after all how can you see your sexual or romantic orientation? 

Back in 2019, Lil Nas X, one of the few musicians to come out as openly gay with his blockbusting song, Old Town Road, was in number 1 spot of the general Billboard Hot 100, for a record-breaking nineteen consecutive weeks. Whilst the song was controversial for reasons, such as it wasn’t seen as typically rap, neither country, but both i.e., “country rap” what was important, was that the song was largely about coming out. 

Lil Nas X came out to his sister and father, in early June 2019, as he felt it was the right time to do so, despite his uncertainty whether his fans would stick by him or not. He thought it was obvious from his music and the videos that he would be “read” as gay, but when the rolling Stone magazine said that one of his songs “touches on themes such as coming clean, growing up and embracing oneself”, he found himself tweeting the next day for clarity, that he was gay, saying “deadass thought I made it obvious”. (4) The response to the news was mostly positive, but also garnered a large amount of homophobic backlash on social media, including from members of the hip hop community. 

So why would it have been obvious? The answer here relies on who is looking, what are the codes that are being read. How does someone present and how are they being recognised? Note in the video of Old Town Road, Lil Nas X is wearing a crucifix earring. Perhaps this has less significance in regards to his sexual orientation, as it did for men back in the 60s. Men who wore earrings in their right ear, did so, to indicate their sexual preference. Of course, times have changed from the times of George Michael and his iconic dangling crucifix earring. Song artists like Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary, has been seen wearing earrings on both right and left sides. Harry Styles, the former One Direction boy band member, but now solo artist, who doesn’t disclose his sexuality, but neither denies it, calling himself gender fluid or Queer, can be seen wearing earrings and mixing up fashion styles indicative of being masculine, feminine and androgynous.

In Trans* (2018) a key book written by Jack Halberstam, an influential gender, queer, trans and visual theorist, on speaking about these specific codes and to seeing how bodies are read as problematic, or less so, when they fit into their associated gender ideals, they say “a masculine woman, in the context of a farm, is not automatically read as a lesbian; she is simply a hardworking woman who can take care of herself and her farm.” (5)

 

Wrestle, 2011 Ope Lori @ Image Courtesy of PILAA

Community and safe spaces

This brings us to the final question; where is it safe to come out? Are there certain spaces which pose more threat than others, just as the Army did for Holmes prior to its decriminalising of being gay? What industries and professions, dose coming out still bare a risk? For example, it has been 24 years since Justin Fashanu, committed suicide in 1998 following allegations of sexual assault of a 17-year-old boy. Since then, he was known as the first openly gay professional footballer and there was no one else in the British game of men’s topflight football to come out, until recently. Now Jake Daniels, the 17-year-old Blackpool FC professional football player, has come out earlier in May as gay. Is this however a watershed moment for men’s football or is it a mere milestone? Is it easier in traditional office time workplaces, to come out, or can it be as difficult with this new mode of hybrid working, as a result of the pandemic? Or within academia, are there certain courses that are more LGBTQIA+ friendly than others? For example, the Lecturer teaching in the Visual Arts, as opposed to the one in the Sciences? Or what about the Lecturer teaching the same course, but being based in rural parts of the UK, as opposed to being in a big city? 

Of course, there could be stereotypes in making these assumptions on what is deemed as a safe space, however as Halberstam states, “it is also crucial to be specific about which queer subjects face what kind of threats, from whom, and in what locations.” (6) Therefore, being mindful of our environment and the privileges that some spaces hold over others, is equally as important, in identifying where is deemed as fertile ground to come out.

And finally, what is a safe space? In much of our work with organisations or in helping to facilitate difficult conversations on matters of identity, what we have come to see over time, is that safe spaces are not just about a physical, inclusive environments to be in, but also, they are about who you can go to in your time of need. Who can give you support and who can you trust? Who do you feel comfortable enough to come out too? This could be friends, family or community. In the documentary, Holmes speaks to UK Black Pride Founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah—a.k.a. “Lady Phyll”, about this aspect of community which she has been absent from. Lady Phyll speaks about coming out to her own family and the challenges with coming out, especially as a child of a heritage country where being LGBT is illegal. She states that she also has a different family, a chosen family, “the community.”

Having people to confide in, to help you take yourself out of the closet, is as important in the coming out process. For Holmes, she confides in one of her male friends, who she says she recorded and shared voice notes too, in order to help her deal with being gay, especially when she was at her lowest. For a long time, she was unable to get help for her mental health, for fear of being outed by whoever she spoke too. She now speaks to her psychologist, where she says that if not for her, she wouldn’t be able to do the documentary and be free. 

2022 Pride Flag, visibly intersex and inclusive. Designed by intersex activist, Valentino Vecchietti


Tomorrow, as the LGBTQIA+ communities celebrate Pride in London, with the theme of #AllOurPride, remember that coming out as a shared rite of passage, will mean different things for different members of the community. Coming out stories can fluctuate from positive experiences to ones which have left members of the community estranged from those they have called friends and family. 

For all the good things with being out and being seen, we should also remember that “with recognition comes acceptance, with acceptance comes power, with power comes regulation,” (7) and it is that regulation which is part of the infrastructure of belonging, which for some members of the LGBTQIA+ community, is still an ongoing battle. 






Footnotes

1) Kelly Holmes: Being Me (2022) ITV, 26 June 2022 [Broadcasting]

2) See ‘Coming Out’ resource as part of the LGBT Centre Unc- chapel Hill, at https://lgbtq.unc.edu/resources/exploring-identities/coming-out/)

3) Kelly Holmes: Being Me (2022) ITV, 26 June 2022 [Broadcasting]  

4) Griffiths, K. (2020) Lil Nas X: Old Town Rodeo for a New Power Generation, Red Wedge, 30 June. Online. http://www.redwedgemagazine.com/online-issue/lil-nas-x-old (Accessed 17 August 2020).

5) Halberstam, J. (2018) Trans*, University of California Press, Oakland, California.

6) Ibid.

7) Ibid.