This week I was invited to give a talk at an event called See It Be it, organised by Cannes Lions. I was asked to talk about resilience in the workplace. The idea behind See It Be It is for women in creative industries to be given a forum where they can learn from the best, learn from successful women in the creative industry and network. They also run a much sought after development programme called the same name. All very impressive.
In thinking about my talk, I was really stumped by how I was going to open the talk. It was only 15 mins long so I was short on time and I know that framing is important.
I was originally going to speak about how my male privilege allowed me an opportunity to speak at an event for women . It’s a topic I’m attuned to and aware of in many settings, particularly one where the events raison d’être is to provide key insight for women.
It kept playing on my mind.
On the day as I was turning over and doing my mental preparation I realised I was going into it with the wrong opening. Who cares if my male privilege gave me the opportunity and what benefit is there in me admitting it other than to wave in front of the people present?
Whenever I’m invited to talk somewhere I recognise several things.
- I’m given a platform to share insights and my thinking
- On that platform I am given permission to uphold what I believe in
- On that platform I can challenge people to think better
- I have a platform from which I can express ideas that are positive, progressive and inclusive
- I can bring in current affairs where relevant to focus the mind
My first few minutes, then, were spent talking about stability in the workplace in light of the news about Harvey Weinstein and the many allegations of his predatory nature against women. I said that if men are attacking or harassing women in the workplace they need to be reported. It’s not acceptable for men to act like that and no one should have to abide it. How can you think about resilience if all you’re concerned about is your safety and your wellbeing?
That’s the thing that helped me to stand firm and move forward with my talk. See, the thing about platforms where you’re invited to talk publicly is that if you’re just there to sell a product, to sell your thinking, or to sell yourself, then you’re kind of missing the point about what that platform is about.
And yes I spoke about resilience. I spoke about how people can find their third place, a place where they can spend time on themselves for themselves. A place where they are free from judgement, from criticism, from which they feel rejuvenated and better in themselves. I spoke about reflecting on #3goodthings and doing that where possible at the end of each day. I spoke about how resilience is doing regular healthy activities so that when things are tough and challenging you recognise there’s just as many good things in your life and you have the capacity to weather the bad.
I’m not seeking any applause from sharing this piece, I’m just sharing how possible it is to be inclusive. We say it’s too hard. We say there are barriers. We say there are reasons. Yes to all of that. Also, all it takes is clarity on where you stand and what you believe. Once you have that, it’s then your choice how you express that. In a public forum, I’ll always consider what the best way I can share my platform is.