With privilege comes responsibility

On this post, our General Manager Nils shares his thoughts regarding being privileged on today's society and how to take on the responsibility for this by encouraging and promoting inclusiveness.

I am a privileged straight white (nearing middle aged) male. In terms of society, I have won the lottery. This is something that I am not bragging about nor necessarily proud of but is something that I am very lucky to be. I hate the fact that this is the case and that in today’s world we still have such an advantage over other groups but sadly it is. I have never faced a pay gap or glass ceiling due to my sex nor be disadvantaged due to my ethnicity, colour or sexual orientation. I like to think that I have got to where I am from my personality and skillset but in the end of the day a lot of my success is from my privilege.

I was raised in a beautiful town with the most amazing family. My father was the greatest role model a boy could ask for and I was surrounded by strong independent women through my sisters and the lessons of my inspiring mother. I have had the fortune to continue to be surrounded by further amazingly strong independent, courageous women through my wife, daughter and the hard-working women of Trinity led by our fearless leader Cass. All of whom are an inspiration who I constantly am learning from.

I have never been abused, a victim of any kind, never faced oppression and have had the fortunate chance to attend school and universities. This is something that not every New Zealander has the chance to do and is a big reason of why I hold the position I do today.

Knowing you have this privilege can also make you feel a lot of guilt. However, what I have learnt is not just to sit with this guilt but to make sure to go further and take on the responsibility of this privilege. We have a duty to all those who have not had the same pathway to encourage and promote inclusiveness. I am not saying this in a “white saviour” or fashionable “woke” way but instead in a way that is from the heart as it is the right thing to do.

As a society we need to do better as every time we seem to get movement another minority falls behind. When we embrace diversity, we need to support and listen to all cultures, not say what their voice is but to listen and work with the community to enrich everyone’s culture. The starting point is to accept our privilege and use it to encourage inclusiveness. There are so many ways to be more inclusive in today’s society and every business can do simple things to make sure they are encouraging a safe, accepting working environment.

For example, increase diversity in your workplace, have workshops in your workplace run by the professionals that know their stuff (I highly recommend QTOPIA who run such a beautiful and inspiring presentation), work and volunteer with as many ethnic groups in your community, embrace Te Reo in your workplace and stand up for injustice. But the biggest thing is not to judge and to work on your unconscious bias. Take the time to listen and give people a chance, look at potential candidates based on their enthusiasm and prospects not on their past.

Sorry for my preachy blog, next time hopefully it will be full of hilarious dad jokes to make your workplace the funniest place around. Please see below links on how you can make your workplace a more social conscious community and take on the responsibility of privilege:

- Bcorp

- UN Women Aotearoa

- Qtopia

- Red Cross former refugees  

Written by Nils Macfarlane, Trinity's General Manager