On the Practical Experience of Safe Spaces

Friday, December 2, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Last week I met Charles Jaimet -- a senior developer at Post Media -- and chatted about the confluence of journalism, civics, and the internet. Prior to our meeting Charles took some time to read the handbook Scheming Virtuously and so we discussed that too. After the conversation I invited him to write up his thoughts so we could share them more broadly. Below are Charles thoughts on the practical experience of safe spaces.

If you'd like to get in touch with Charles, you can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.



Here are my thoughts on safe spaces in the work place.

You wrote:

"Safe spaces are places where you have latitude to speculate, and where creativity is encouraged."

I believe very much in this approach but my experience has been that employees should embrace safe spaces but with caution.

As an employee, seek out safe people above safe spaces. Anyone can say a space is safe, but I've very often seen comments come back to bite honest employees during job reviews and promotion consideration.

Just because a manager says a space is safe doesn't make it so, and if you can't trust someone outside a safe space, odds are you can't trust them inside one.

Managers can start building trust, which as you said is key to working safe spaces, by taking risks inside the space themselves - confiding in staff, or agreeing with their disapproval of bad processes inside the organization. When everyone is speaking honestly, then no one has as much to fear.