A little reason I feel lucky


Ism’s are horrible thing.  Racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia (not grammatically an ism, but which is at least in the spirit of things) and geekism are all things which should be removed from society and consigned to the cached web pages of history.

Recently a colleague and I heard of an incident where a local councillor had the fact that he was both of Jewish decent and gay were used against him in an election.  This is of course despicable; regardless of which parties were involved these things should never be used in a derogatory fashion or be used to attack someone.

However, it also got us chatting about the Council we work for and homophobia and other ism’s in the workplace.  This is an area which is often discussed and frowned upon, but nevertheless is seen by many to be difficult to eradicate.I’m not naïve enough to think that we have got it 100% right, nor that there are no homophobic people working in the same buildings as us, but we were a little surprised to realise that for us, someone’s sexual preference had no bearing whatsoever on the workplace.  We could think of numerous examples at every level of our organisation of positive, well regarded and highly competent gay members of staff who had jobs and responsibilities, and that not one of these people had their sexual preferences used against them.

Importantly, neither did they have it used to support them, or make them stand out in a positive sense; they were either good staff or bad staff regardless.  To my mind this should be the way of things, and reflects incredibly well on the Council in question.  People are sexuality blind, and think nothing of it when judging against performance.

There are also gender equalities in terms of jobs right the way up, although this is not universal.  Some services are still dominated by men at the more senior levels, whilst others are made up almost exclusively of women.  Some of this is historical in that they have simply been there for a really long time, whilst other factors may include the types of service in question.  Some argue that each gender feels more comfortable delivering certain types of service, meaning that one or the other makes up the majority of a certain team.  This is an interesting discussion to have, but one for another day perhaps.

There are fewer examples of BME staff in more senior roles admittedly, but this is being addressed through various schemes and programmes to support these staff to gain the skills and experience needed to apply successfully.

After visiting other areas and having worked in different places I know that this is not only not always the case but is in fact quite rare.  I’ve worked in both the private and third sectors and have come across more glass ceilings than at a skylight convention, but in my current Council this just doesn’t seem to be the case.  It’s something that I’m actually quite proud of in a strange kind of way, and which I don’t think gets recognised by the public nearly as much as it could and should be.

Sadly, I still feel I have to hide the depths of my geekiness if I am to progress in the organisation.  Some ceilings are made of plas-steel strengthened by adamantium rods rather than glass…

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One Comment on “A little reason I feel lucky”

  1. localgovaswell Says:

    Local authorities have worked hard to make themselves more equal than many other organisations but I think the perceived glass ceiling is a little more subtle than people give it credit for. There’s nothing to stop people reaching the highest positions and yet for some reason the people at the top are often of similar stock.

    The question then is that if there is no real glass ceiling what is it that stops the top of our organisations looking the same as the society we serve?

    And geekiness is always a problem… After all, how many interviewers tell people that they are looking for soft skills above all else… Which tends to discriminate in favour of those with those skills and against those who are more skilled at their job but have a certain geekiness to them?

    Good food for thought there!


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