I am sitting in Hackney, London, writing this Blog, two days before it shall be published. Why, because on Friday when you read this I shall be on an airplane flying somewhere between Dublin, Amsterdam or Johannesburg (yup that’s my route). I am working from my computer, using a friend’s WIFI whilst in their kitchen listening to a German Professor talk about the importance of having ‘open conversations around diversity’ on the BBC. The programme is being hosted by an Irish talk show host.
1) As a woman, I would probably not be working as anything other than a mother, secretary, school teacher or nurse (unless I toiled the land around my family home) and none of this would have been do-able or possible from another country. Anyway working conditions, environments and times were restricted and rules-based.
2) As an unmarried woman I probably would not be in London on my own when I live in Johannesburg
3) As a white South African I may not have been very welcome in London; and even if I were, it would have been less likely that I would have had an opportunity to befriend someone who lives on the other side of the world.
4) Nobody I knew would have lived in Hackney. No offense to those who live in; and love, Hackney, but 50 years ago it was not considered somewhere where a graduate of one of the world’s best universities and where a now successful banker would choose to bring up his family. Hackney now, apparently, is quite trendy and definitely somewhere you would be happy to be called home.
5) Given the UK’s difficult relationship with both Germany and Ireland in various moments in history, it is unlikely that a British radio programme 50 years ago would have been hosted by an Irish person and seeking the advice of a German. Nor would the topic of conversation have been diversity, because how to cope with difference in society and in the workplace simply was not an issue that was pressing until recently.
6) I definitely wouldn’t be working on a computer, virtually, on the Internet, whilst I am ‘on leave’.
So what have we learned?
Technology is driving where, when, with whom; and how we are able to do business, which provides flexibility, convenience and massive choice. Think about how Generation Y (who have never not been able to do this) will be impacted upon by this; and therefore how they will want to work differently as they enter the workplace. Are you ready for this?
Politics has changed significantly. This is obviously is nothing new. The European Union was established in 1958 by six European countries and was initially called the European Economic Community (EEC). Two of the first six countries were Germany and England. This new and working relationship was established just 13 short years after the end of the Second World War where they had been arch-enemies. Ireland, who had been neutral during the War largely because of their long-standing tempestuous relationship with England, joined the EEC in 1973. This area of the world is now known as the ‘Eurozone’ and even share (with the exception of Britain) a common currency in the Euro.
Both the above have obviously had huge affects on the economy. Certainly when in Ireland last week I felt like the vibe has significantly changed since I was here in 2006, which is when Ireland was at the height of their wildly unsustainable economic boom known as the ‘celtic tiger’.
Change is inevitable and good and hard. I am certainly glad I have the freedom and opportunity because of the hard work of people before me, who have created and contributed to change, to be here in London writing this Blog.