A few months ago, I was asked to explore the topic of social inequality in the workplace as it was troubling one of my friends. This topic caught my attention immediately due to the issue of inequality, also I admired the awareness and desire to do something about it. How are we dealing with social inequality at work, and whether there is a better way than just “dealing with it”?
What is social inequality
According to my friend, a social gap is created between people who have gained a foreign education, traveled the world, lived and worked abroad and those who have not. In my understanding inequality occurs due to unevenly distributed resources in society – be it access to education, or opportunity for travel and work abroad.
Through my university times I had to refuse on a couple of opportunities due to lack of personal financing. At some point it took me many sleepless nights and hard work of research that allowed discovering alternative options to finance my studies abroad and relocate for work to a different country later on in my career. I have taken risks in life and pushed for creating new opportunities for myself, which all came to a certain cost. With time and experience I have learned to equally respect others who have chosen among options available to them, not putting their mental health and well-being of their families in jeopardy.
“Good Enough” in a high-performance culture
If you think about it, most workplaces are a high-performance environment designed to create employees as effective as possible. Striving for better, faster, stronger, we aim to support business goals and create value. It is not a secret many companies provide a stress coach or a psychologist for its employees to tolerate the increasing number of burnouts at work. How do you define your “good enough” in this kind of culture and save yourself from a burnout?
From a “good enough” point of view the social gap in workplace does not look like a gap at all, but simply a personal “I am enough” statement and acceptance of oneself. Creating equal opportunities for everyone is important, so that anyone can evaluate whether they are ready and have any desire for a new challenge. I keep learning every day to compare myself only to who I was yesterday, not someone else from today, meaning I do not expect anyone else walk exactly the same path I took. A workplace should be an environment good enough to accept and accommodate people with different level of ambition, experience and background. That is why today most companies strive for workplace diversity in the first place.
Finally, to eliminate any gap requires change, which can be difficult and sometimes quite painful. We all desire inclusivity as at work, so in life. And frankly we expect someone else go first and change without changing ourselves. Through my experience I can help others gain access to education I took and help create opportunities for themselves if they wish to do so. I can become a role model for the next generation and offer mentoring advise for those who seek it. At a workplace I can propose a diversity management program and teambuilding activities. What are you willing to do to promote social change through your workplace?