Racism, ageism, sexism, bullying, harassment, and verbal, physical, and/or sexual assaults are happening every single day in different workplaces and industries all over the world and are tragically not always reported. Sometimes these things even go unspoken. Meanwhile, many people are suffering in silence, and the mental, emotional, and physical toll of these troubling situations can be devastating to anyone who has ever been through them or who are currently enduring them. A lot of people may not report or speak on these things out of fear. Fear of public shame. Maybe fear of termination. Fear of having future career opportunities threatened. Fear of not being believed. Fear of isolation, humiliation, and more.
Question upon question might run through someone’s mind. What did I do wrong? Was what happened my fault? What will they say to me? What will they do to me? What will people say about me? Will anyone believe me? How am I going to get through this if I speak up? What will happen? The questions and worries and fears could go on and on.
Your workplace and workspace should be a safe environment, both physically and mentally. It should be inclusive and diverse and a space to strive and thrive and grow. You don’t have to tolerate racial slurs or comments or insults or distasteful racial jokes. Or be discriminated against because of your age, whether younger or older. Your youthfulness can bring innovative and creative ideas if you are young. Your wisdom and insight and patience can bring structure and guidance and mentorship if you are older. No one should ever belittle or deem you unqualified for a position or opportunity because of your gender or age or race, and by no means should you ever have to endure bullying or harassment of any kind. You can take a stand and create change.
Remaining silent about these kinds of things can feel suffocating and sometimes confusing. It can be hard and scary to speak up if you’ve ever been disrespected or discriminated against or humiliated at work by someone who shook you up, threatened your position or mishandled you. Those kinds of things could make anyone feel powerless and slowly chip away at your self-esteem and confidence and cause you to temporarily silence your voice.
But I hope you will speak again. Use your voice. Use what you’ve gone through and turn it into something good that can help other people and create change. You still have a voice. And just because someone may have mishandled you, tried to devalue you, failed to realize your value, or dared to make you feel like less by saying or doing something they had no business saying or doing, doesn’t mean you are at fault or that you are less valuable.
You matter. You always have and you always will.
Your race, age, gender, and voice are blessings. Use them to your advantage and step forward with confidence and strength like never before.
You are stronger and more powerful and more resilient than you may realize. Don’t allow fear or your imagination or the what ifs to silence you or cause you to shrink. I know this won’t be easy at first, but you can do this. Be the change you wish to see in your workplace and in the world. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). Encourage others to do the same. Because you? You possess the power to provoke and promote change for the greater good. You’ve got this.