Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism (yes, it does exist against men!), bullying, micro-management, microaggressions, being excluded, the frustration of trying to initiate and drive conversations about diversity and inclusion, and generally badly behaved colleagues - I’ve experienced all these things throughout my student and working life. From school to studying at university and from my jobs in retail to the marketing roles I’ve taken on, I have had more than my fair share of being in toxic environments.
I have also seen and heard of other colleagues and friends experience the same. Many have been bullied by people at all levels of the organisation and some have been discriminated against because of disabilities or been treated unfairly due to a disability. And for those who were brave enough to report the problems, they’ve been ignored and the issues remained unresolved.
While I have unfortunately regretted not speaking up against the injustices I have faced or seen on too many occasions, I feel I am now in a position where I can hopefully empower others through Culture Shift to do just that. What drew me to Culture Shift was their Report + Support system which has been adopted by more than 80 educational institutions. There wasn’t anything like it when I was studying at university and I know I and others may have benefitted from having it as an option to turn to.
I’m excited to have joined Culture Shift at this pivotal moment in its journey as they continue to expand across the UK and be implemented by more universities and now some FE colleges too. Not only that, they are beginning to tap into the limitless market of the private and public sectors, the former of which I will be taking the lead in marketing towards.
When I applied for my role on LinkedIn I was intrigued by Culture Shift’s business model and the things they would post about across social media and on their website. And having recently written a blog post about speaking up in the workplace that drew from my experiences and aimed to give others advice on how to deal with toxic workplace cultures and insufferable colleagues, I think I was just what they were looking for. I was glad that they also found said blog post to be just what they were striving to do in terms of inspiring others to speak up and make a change. It seemed like a match made in work heaven.
In my time here already I have learnt so much and had my eyes opened to the shocking but also not that surprising statistics and stories about the many people in different industries who have experienced or witnessed problematic behaviour in the workplace.
Through my work at Culture Shift I want others at the top of organisations to realise what is happening to their employees and inspire them to do something about it rather than only have policies in place because it’s the law. But in addition, I want my work to reach out to the employees who also want change and hope they can be inspired to start that change from the bottom up.
What I love already about working at Culture Shift is the freedom I have to cover topics that have been deemed too controversial in my previous roles and to explore or write about other topics I have a keen interest in and passion for. It also allows me to diversify my marketing skills, which includes writing blog posts, social media marketing, network marketing, doing market research, planning and hosting webinars, and attending conferences.
Another great thing about Culture Shift is its diversity. While looking into the makeup of our own team in comparison to national averages it’s amazing to have a female CEO and see that two thirds of the team are women. On top of that, 25% of us are BAME and we have 1 in 5 out LGBT+ team members.
To put that into perspective, at my previous company I was just one of three BAME employees and the only out LGBT+ person there. I was also the only male out of the entire marketing, buying and e-commerce teams, in what is a heavily female-dominated industry. This made pushing conversations and covering topics like ethnic disparities and racism, LGBT+ issues such as supporting Pride Month and opening up discussions about why so few men enter, work and stay in that industry, very hard and tiresome.
Although thankfully my bad work experiences are now behind me, they have made me a stronger person but not necessarily a harder worker. By that I mean I was a hard worker before and still am but now I feel I don’t have to work even harder to continuously try and impress hard to please people or change their minds about me and my work. I no longer have to feel:
- Like I must hold back ideas for fear of being shot down
- As though every piece of my work is being dissected for mistakes or little mistakes are constantly being picked on as if it’s a make or break deal
- Like I am competing against other team members to be the best (a sad reality of retail and other industries which are a hive for breeding favouritism and other problems)
- Hesitant to start conversations about important issues that others don’t feel are appropriate or comfortable with because they are in positions of privilege based on their race, sexuality and other characteristics or think work is not the place for such discussions
- Worried about reporting misconduct against myself or other people when I see it for fear of repercussions
At Culture Shift what we do is all in the name - we want to shift culture within workplaces and educational institutions that are toxic, forcing people to feel unsafe, uncomfortable, unappreciated, overworked, excluded and silenced. We want workers and students everywhere to feel confident in themselves and have trust in their employers, college or university to hear their voices, concerns and experiences of bullying, discrimination, harassment or violence.
And we want them to take the incidences they report seriously and stop them from happening again. I may not have had the tools or the courage to do this in the past but through my work here I want people to know that they should no longer be afraid to say something and push for a Culture Shift.