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Let’s create a space to talk and to listen to everyone.

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Let’s create a space to talk and to listen to everyone.

This International Women’s Day Rachel Masterson discusses workplace cultures and calls for more meaningful spaces for everyone to be heard.

Working in a professional services role in a University, I am using International Women’s Day, to #ChooseToChallenge a space and place to speak. For those of you who know me well, you know that I sometimes have a lot to say and hopefully sensible things. I mostly feel okay to give an opinion. And why shouldn’t this be okay? 

Is there an unspoken rule that those of us in a professional support role occupy a different status? In many meetings we are there to record what others say. Our roles can sometimes include notes and minute taking. But we are also responsible for implementation of numerous processes and we might just know a thing or two about what works; if you choose to ask?

The professional services administration teams are largely female. A combination of our role, to provide support, and our gender, might combine to continue a culture and behaviour that it is not for us to speak out. But even in meetings of professional colleagues, I am aware of a tendency to be spoken at and too little time devoted to hearing our opinions and views.  

Giving professional services staff know so much about what works well, I am surprised that we are not asked more often what we think could work better. Listening to each other, giving each other a space to talk, hearing others’ views, this could make a difference. We could all learn more.

Can I suggest to those who read this that we ought to think more about creating meaningful spaces for everyone to be heard. This will challenge behaviour. But this is also a challenge to my professional support colleagues, to think for ourselves and for us all to speak out more.

So, my pledge and commitment for IWD and what I will #ChooseToChallenge workplace cultures which don’t give everyone a space and place to speak. Creating true thinking environments where everyone is treated equally and respectfully, where everyone has a responsibility to listen attentively and hear what others have to say can only be good. Good for our sense of worth and value in the workplace and good for the effectiveness of our organisation. Things could work better if we heard each other more? 

Rachel Masterson is Operations Administrator in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education.