Every week I am certain I will quit. No more. It took some sitting down and thinking about why I wanted to leave to really understand – it isn’t the job – it’s the people.
And here’s why:
- the drinking culture: I don’t drink but that is the only way to get ahead. On nights out I have been given countless career advice and offered opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise. But all the while I feel alienated and uncomfortable. Worse still, there are Muslims who drink and then I get asked why I don’t drink and have to justify my life decisions
- casual sexism: the “dears”,”silly girl” – every single day. The jokes that are plain offensive – cheating on your partners, rating the waitress, objectifying the other women in the office – every single day. “Fingering” the hole in the table, discussing their grooming schedule … I could go on. You would think I am talking about teenagers but these are men in their early 40s, managers and senior managers. And they know what they’re doing with the “oh, be careful or we’ll get reported to HR *wink wink*”
- the ignorance: one of the managers said calling a white person a monkey would be racist. Context: someone (white person) was told off my a director and we couldn’t remember what the word was. Idiot? Fool? Monkey (as in lab monkey)? “Oh no, you can’t say monkey – that would be racist.” “Why would calling a white person be racist, there’s no historical context there at all.” “As a white man, I am telling you it’s racist.” Ok then, let’s ignore the person of colour who happens to have worked in liberation.
- the homophobia: the jokes about “canal street” and being gay. The misgendering of trans people. The pride in “knowing gay couples” – like it’s some sort of competition
- cabin fever: living in hotels and out of a suitcase – so being around the same people that you work with all week
But here’s why I stay:
- It pays very well – like really well. And I need the money.
- The work is very interesting – I am learning so much every day and the breadth and depth of experience is super cool
- I deserve to feel welcome in that space. I have awesome credentials and know what I’m doing. I will not be bullied out
- With so few visibly Muslim women there, I feel like it’s important for anyone new joining that I stay and make sure they see familiarity – it’s something that would have helped me so much
- I have the opportunity to travel all over the world and exposure to amazing projects – such a good start to my career
I will keep reminding myself of why I stay. And I will stay.
“What I love doing best is Nothing… It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – A.A.Milne