by Lottie Longford, Director of Marketing & Communications, APAC
It’s Women’s History Month – and heck, do we have a history. A history to be heard, revered, celebrated and acknowledged to, frankly, do better for women of today and tomorrow. Throughout March (and after… please!) every year, we elevate and listen to women’s vast and complex experiences and circumstances.
It’s that word ‘circumstance’ I’m thinking about in 2023. We’re told how our circumstances don’t define us – but they sure can define how we walk about the world, how we are perceived and our opportunities. Sometimes we put these down to just being ‘life’ and – while that’s true on a macro level – it’s helpful to spend a minute taking stock of our own, to see how they shape our professional and personal experiences. It’s also a helpful exercise to remind ourselves of our privileges where we have them – I recognise where mine have shaped my life journey.
Two big changes in circumstance that shaped how I work and live would be becoming a mum, and my mental health diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. For me, accepting the fact that my world involves an interwoven plait of responsibilities and realities, provides a clearer view on equity.
Before my symptoms and diagnosis, and before becoming mama Lottie, my work and life goals used to be more linear – define goal, track goal, smash goal. That linear line can be a tad more erratic nowadays and I make a conscious effort to embrace the ‘braid’ of being me. That means accepting that I have professional responsibilities, while being a working mum of a glorious tiny tot, in a new city, and sometimes having really rough ‘diagnosis days’.
So what does an equitable work culture look like for me? This will look different for each of us and can include the profound…
- Not offering subpar opportunities based what you think I want. Ask me!
- Checking if there’s a particular resource or way of working that’ll prove to be most successful – and help facilitate it.
- Giving equitable benefits, and having equitable conversations (i.e. think twice before asking if I’m pregnant again, or plan for more, if I don’t bring it up).
- Promoting an environment of freedom, not fear. When there’s a day where intrusive thoughts get too much, I’ll tell my boss I need a breather – and I know that’s without repercussion (side note: let’s get to a place where that’s not something special to pen).
- Providing people safe spaces to collectively share experiences. I’m loving the community discussions within Golin’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) ‘Mothers In The Workplace’. Golin will soon be launching a new ERG for colleagues with disabilities – which will include some mental conditions. I’m hoping to play a part in this group to ensure all voices are elevated, while respecting that there’s much less conversation and representation around wider disabilities beyond mental health).
…and the seemingly teeny tiny!
- Organising social or work sessions at times that allow for cross-team representation
- Offering to hit ‘record’ on a Teams meeting unavoidably booked out-of-hours (think: nursery pickup time, therapy appointments).
- Understanding that when childcare goes awry and status calls have a backing soundtrack of Cocomelon, it doesn’t mean I’m any less attentive to the task at hand.
So, with the layers of my life twisting and twirling over themselves, that’s what I look for. What about you? If I can encourage you to give yourself the gift of self-reflection to recognise your multi-layered needs, better understand how you thrive and what you need to get you there, and then advocate for it – then I’d say that’s a month well spent.