Annika Packalén, Employer Branding Specialist at Nortal, Finland, August 26, 2022
This blog post is part of our ”Dear Peer”-blog series; letters to our current and future colleagues.
I kid you not, try and get to know your colleagues. That’s one of my biggest advice to you. They are your most valuable asset in a workplace. You spend most of your time at work during your lifetime. So get to know the people that surround you.
I have encountered a lot of people, and everyone is an individual. We may all be our own person and have our own differences, but our commonality is that we are all equal. What I have learnt is, that they will cheer and root for you and each other. They take you under their wings, and it feels natural to give the same support back that you receive. That is one reflection of our work culture and community. You cultivate what you plant.
I’m in a privileged position to have a work role that includes meeting with people, hearing their stories and thoughts, and what inspires them. Also, where they struggle and what goals and skills they want to improve on. I have had so many different sparring sessions. Those differences are connected via one thing: wanting to do and be better. That is authenticity. People do speak from their hearts.
I will tell you a story. One time, after planning with a colleague around a certain blog post theme, we had to have multiple follow up sessions to nail it down. On our first session, I started to interview him to understand his way of thinking. What ended up happening was I found out about his passions for equality and neutrality at the workplace.
In this case I might describe, a hetero white male, wanting to talk about equality can be a risky thing to do, but I encouraged him to open up anyway. To start breaking stigmas. He felt a bit insecure if he masters that kind of topic, talking about equality and respectful work environment that would include questioning stereotypes. But I still encouraged him, because I think if he was able to question his ability and knowledge to talk about braking stereotypes and gender neutrality at the workplace, that is all he needs to start learning and spreading awareness.
He, along with the rest of us, is still on a learning path. Nobody needs to be an expert of any subject; it all depends on how open we are to talk about what our feelings are and what we are willing to do to deepen our knowledge and education. Many follow-up sessions later, I have still seen him struggle a bit with the topic; but struggling usually means discomfort. And what happens when you come out of your comfort zone? Growth and evolution.
Why I’m telling this story? When you question yourself, your current views, and standards that is where change comes from. If you are wishing for a more respectful, equal, and neutral working environment and culture, it starts from you. How do you want to work to achieve this? Do you need to be completely ready and master the subject? Or is this more of a lifelong journey and we just need to start somewhere?
You cannot go wrong when you spread kindness. When you continue to educate yourself, you cannot go wrong. Opening and questioning labels and boxes of our not so equal society isn’t wrong. I support that cause. And that is why, I will have your back. And I am confident that our work culture and our people will have mine.
Lastly, don’t try to be fearless. Be courageous. You can be afraid and still have courage to drive change.