Showing up in Solidarity at the Workplace

What does solidarity at the workplace mean? It manifests itself sometimes in negative and unhealthy wayswhether it comes in the form of complaining about your workplace culture or bickering with your teammate about your manager. What if I told you there are more ways to show up for your fellow colleagues, and work family (a term I have always avoided using up until I joined my current organisation). Because like families often do, we stand together with each otherin love and rage!

So what is solidarity at work? Some days, it just means showing up. Showing up for your colleagues looks very different from showing up for friends and family. It has to have an air of professionalism along with compassion. When I say we stand in solidarity with each other, it doesn’t necessarily mean echoing each other’s ideas, it also means constructive feedback, accountability, and leadership escalation for others.

We live this up at our organisation through a leadership practice called coaching. Every person in the organisation has a coach who enables them to achieve their set goals, equips them with skills and learnings to take up space, and opens up possibilities and opportunities for their professional development.

For me, coaching with Sreejani (coach) came from a space of friendship. We set our boundaries and trust, as colleagues, as people who have shared experiences, thought process and intellect. Sreejani, as a coach, has always made a point to keep the conversation two-way. Of course it’s been about navigating my issues and challenges but we address those together. There is also space for me to take leadership and say, ‘hey I tried this and I don’t agree with it.’ In that way, it disrupts the managerial nature of work where it seems a very top down approach. We are actually sitting and cracking it together,” says Bhumika who has experienced this kind of coaching journey for the first time in her professional career. Generative listening is a key practice when it comes to coaching. The coach doesn’t provide or doesn’t even need to have all the answers. They are simply enablers to help their coachee arrive at their own answers. “She’s willing to take the interest of listening to me and guide me through solutions. I look forward to conversations with her, more so because I know it’s a space for me to rant as well if I need to. It comes from feelings of friendship more than anything else,” adds Bhumika.

When I say care and collaboration are at the centre of our work, I mean value alignment matters to us more than ticking off tasks and goals at hand. I am proud to say that we have collectively decided to let go of partnerships and even funding when our core values were at stake. The decision-making we practice here is truly radical because we believe in democratic leadership but it isn’t merely based on majoritarianism. We vouch for each other and uplift one another by being accountable to not only our jobs but also each other. Now that kind of structure and leadership is what I call feminist and resilient.

We stand in solidarity through some of our practices:

Feedback Fridays – Fridays are reserved for generous sharing of feedback. We are encouraging, but we are also criticalof our skills and strategies. It is a space of honesty and openness.

Appreciation Twist Threads – We use Twist as our communication channel and it is not only a place for exchanging information and ideas, it has been curated to be a space where we uplift each other, driven by a critical feminist value of collective care. There is a dedicated thread for Appreciations which people in the organisation use generously to compliment and congratulate one another.

Celebrating Small(er) Wins – Highlighting wins and victories, however small is significant for us. We not only meet to re-strategise when things are going haywire, but also convene to celebrate our wins and congratulate each other and create spaces to share this joy with our community.

Story Night: We believe in the power of stories when it comes to bringing about change. We take pride in curating spaces where our community comes together and shares their learnings and wins as well as their challenges. We believe vulnerability can be a superpower and we totally want to harness that to bring about positive change in our communities and society at large.

Tell us how you show up in solidarity with your work friends?

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