I think it shows great foresight by the RIBA to think about inclusion from an overarching perspective, acknowledging the benefits I can bring with skills in Cultural Intelligence (CQ).
Inspired by the post by Gloria Ataa Sekyere on the impact of these kinds of posts on LinkedIn, I will share some of my personal journey to reach this point.
It has been a long and sometimes difficult road for me to get here. There have been moments of real personal challenge, heartache and strife to overcome.
I remember, many years ago now, sitting in a meeting with a senior leader. I had come second – again – in a job interview but I’d impressed this person so he’d asked for a chat. I tried to assert how we needed to be more inclusive in the way news/broadcast agendas are set, reaching out to communities and allowing them to tell their stories, their way: “We need to give the unheard voice a place to speak!” I announced. “That’s a great line”, he replied. “It’s not a line”, I said, “it’s what I believe”.
But having articulated it, I knew it had been the motto I’d been living my whole career, and I needed to remember it.
Coming second in job interviews became the in-joke in the family. It’s how I ended up in one organisation which had a process called “also-suitable”, which meant I came second, but if a similar role came up within six months, I could be appointed with no further interview. And a job came up!
On at least four other occasions whether I went for roles (internally and externally), and I was even the best candidate! But a decision was made not to appoint.
Feedback appeared to have no consistency and on one occasion I was simply told, “you had the best strategy, the best approach and the best presentation, but we just had this niggle…”.
At another point, a wonderful moment at the time, I was headhunted, by those who knew I had a lot to give. But when my sponsor moved on, those around me ominously closed in, claiming publicly, “Marsha’s never going to live up to the way she was recruited” and my working life became unbearable. And thus, The Painful Years began.
I couldn’t rule myself out though. So, I made a plan to work for myself, and with the help and support of my husband, friends, family and particular colleagues, I executed it, despite all the challenges laid around me. I continued to develop myself, my knowledge, my expertise and my skills in order to ensure I was giving the unheard voice a place to speak.
Making the plan was important, because, as I often tell myself, and my girls, whatever you believe becomes your reality.
Working for myself has been so rewarding. To watch the light bulb moments, and to see others discover the real change that CQ can create in bringing about inclusion, has been brilliant.
Developing my own Inclusive Culture Pyramid™ tool and putting it to work has been so transformative.
However, working for myself has demonstrated to me where my own strengths lie. Unheard Voice Consultancy Ltd was always about doing inclusion work, rather than because I had particular ambition for the business or was particularly entrepreneurial, and it has well-served its purpose, to position me for this role.
I can now put all that accumulated learning to work, in one direction.
Working with the RIBA, those unheard voices in the built environment will not only have a place to speak, but will be listened to, as, together, we work to build a better world.
There will be more challenge. There will be more strife. But there is also hope. And step-by-step, there will be change.
It’s inclusion for all, or it’s not inclusion at all.
As I close it down for now, I say thank you, to all of you, who have supported me with Unheard Voice Consultancy Ltd.