WWTSD? by Sara Cameron

I want to talk about doing the right thing.

No, this isn’t a reference to Spike Lee’s film from 1989 ‘Do the right thing’, although 30 years on it is sadly still as relevant as it was then. It looked for answers in the everyday, and demonstrated that the everyday is full of flash-points and micro (and not so micro) aggressions as well as systemic racism, hate and violence.

Microaggressions are those brief and common daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental communications, whether intentional or unintentional, that transmit hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to someone such as:

Where are you from? No really?

Doing the right thing is very much what Team Surveyorhood is about, but we say WWTSD – what would team surveyorhood do?

We listen.

We learn.

We amplify.

We act.

When we orignally enrolled as candidate surveyors with RICS, we signed up to rules of conduct and ethical standards. This isn’t about lip service to some vague words. These mean something. We are meant to demonstrate them in the everyday for our clients, the public as well as our continued membership. Furthermore the Inclusive Employer mark, and embedding D & I into the APC mandatory competencies means our professional body takes this seriously.

Treat everyone with respect:

Treat everyone with courtesy, politeness and respect and consider cultural sensitivities and business practices. This standard includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviours or actions:

Always being courteous, polite and considerate to clients, potential clients and everyone else you come into contact with.

Never discriminate against anyone for whatever reason. Always ensure that issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, size, religion, country of origin or disability have no place in the way you deal with other people or do business.

As much as you are able, encourage the firm or organisation you work for to put the fair and respectful treatment of clients at the centre of its business culture.

RICS

Now, be honest, be brutally honest – do you live by them?

I have spent the past few weeks reflecting. I’ve always had strong values. Always striven to do the right thing. It is the way I was brought up. But on reflection, the more I learn, the more I realise I actually have to un-learn.

It’s not enough to have some values written down, or a policy published. They are just words if you don’t live them, act on them, reinforce them. You have to DTRT and then you go on, and in the words of Pabbie in Frozen II, you then do the next right thing.

Don’t just show up on social media either, because we need to see a seismic shift, a global awakening and collective action to right historic and ongoing wrongs. I’m not saying we all have to protest on the streets. I’m saying there are numerous ways you can make a difference. And it starts with you.

I have been active on social media for a while, it’s come up in conversation in the real world more than once, I have re-tweeted and re-posted A LOT. I’ve always seen it as amplifying key voices, role models and leaders. I’ve said time and time again that ‘we are in this together’ but I realise that I may never really understand but I can make a stand.

I have also challenged and questioned myself. In terms of activism or being actively anti-racist, is my allyship performative rather than authentic? Am I doing enough?

As I learn and un-learn, to make better choices and take steps to think and do differently, to be the change, really live values – I’ve been surprised to be called out for virtue signalling. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I dislike this phrase.

I just don’t understand how some people see DTRT as some sort of modern crime rather than dealing with the real crimes. Implying that the do-er doesn’t really believe in the cause they are sharing because they are only wanting to be seen as a good person. I don’t want to be seen as a good person. I am a good person and I want to be better. I need to be better. We all do.

When I was called out for virtue signalling, it may not surprise you that the person calling me out was white, male and of a certain age. With their flippant Daily Fail rhetoric they questioned my integrity. They didn’t know me, but they felt compelled to shout out across the internet, basically calling me out for jumping on the band wagon. FFS. People are dying. This isn’t about being seen it’s about making changes so everyone can go about their everyday lives without the fear of being killed because of other people’s ignorance, bias, hatred or abuse of power.

But those that would call you out don’t see you bringing up uncomfortable truths and challenging behaviours in everyday conversations. They don’t see you widening your circle, learning and reading. They don’t see you raising equality and inclusion with HR or your leadership teams. They don’t see you writing to councillors and MP’s, signing petitions, donating funds, mentoring or coaching others to shift workplace culture and behaviours. They certainly don’t see you standing up and out front trying to use the privilege you have to make a difference. No, there’s a bandwagon, and you are on it because it is easier to sling an insult at you than it is to un-learn and re-educate yourself and be a better you.

Here’s the thing. It’s not about self improvement. Whilst I say it’s about being better, it’s about re-education – this is to rectify, not make us feel better about ourselves and historic and ongoing wrongs. This isn’t a guilt cleanse. This is all about DTRT and saving lives. We cannot stop because the moment of maximum Instagram momentum has passed, we stop when people are safe to live their everyday lives.

I want to leave you with these final comments.

I grew up watching the re-runs of the original series of Star Trek – I fell hard for The Next Generation. And I thank Gene Roddenberry for his creation. Not just because it is really good sci-fi but because it showed me in my formative years the possible, diverse, inclusive and universal future.

Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not to just tolerate, but take special delight in differences in ideas and difference in life forms…If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.

Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek was born in the era of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s – Gene Roddenberry and his team embraced Martin Luther King’s dream of a future when people were judged by the content of their character. This vision was personified by the cast of the original series – men and women of different backgrounds and nationalities, working together and as part of a united earth and indeed a united federation of planets.

Leave your bigotry in your quarters; there is no room for it on the bridge.

Captain James T Kirk – Balance of Terror

So WWTSD?

We will continue to do the right thing.

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