Of frozen veg and photoshoots…
I read with interest the July 19 third sector publication which features 10 “strong, intelligent, strategic” women and have tried to follow the online debate it has sparked. I think it is regrettable though not surprising, that the magazine missed an opportunity to showcase a more diverse group of female leaders. Although in their defense, perhaps there are too few to find.
It reminded me of a panel discussion that I attended on female leadership at the recently concluded Institute of Fundraising annual convention, which had four white women and one white man. The similarities between the two are often the norm. When challenged about the lack of diverse representation, both cohorts acknowledged that they knew it was less than ideal and admitted that they could have done better. The difference: one person recognised that this was neither representative nor anything she advocated for and decided to withdraw and disassociate herself from the article. Now that’s radical and admirable. I cannot imagine the cost to her and whilst there seems to be some support for her online, I note that she has taken a break from social media as I write. In my experience, this often implies that she has received some kind of backlash. And that is why I am choosing to share my thoughts.
Most of us who advocate for diversity in the sector acknowledge that it is a long and difficult road to travel. We know we will sometimes get it wrong and have repeatedly requested that we are called to account when that happens. And yet, that is hard to do in reality. We live in an ultra polite society and on top of that, most people really do not like criticism. In fact, we naturally judge others by their actions and judge ourselves by our intentions. However, we can no longer continue to merely talk about diversity. Sector leaders are responsible for making sure that they walk the talk.
On July 6th, I received an email from my online grocery supplier informing me that they were recalling some frozen items that had been delivered to me between 7th July 2017 – 5th July 2018 due to the potential presence of Listeria. I was then advised not to consume the items, but to dispose of them safely. Furthermore, they apologised for any inconvenience caused and issued me with a refund.
I’m sure that many of us have witnessed some kind of recall, particularly from car manufacturers. If a product is found to have a manufacturer’s default, it makes sense to communicate that and to make amends as quick as possible. Why? Because it is a safety and standard issue. Similarly, sector leaders in particular are responsible for upholding the diversity standards that we have set for ourselves. There’s no shame in getting things wrong, in fact, it is inevitable, but the test of our sincerity is in what we choose to do, if and when we do so.
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