March 7, 2017

Ask her.

A close friend, some years ago, told me about a job that had opened up in her organization that seemed to be tailor-made for her skill set, expertise, and experience. It was a senior-level position with a job description that was written as if they had taken her curriculum vitae and copied it into the advert.

A few weeks after the job posting had closed and interviews had begun, her boss asked her, in confidence, why she had not applied for the job. The senior management team had purposefully tailored the specification to appeal to her and to match her skills; they were befuddled when they did not see her CV in the pile of applications.

Her answer was simple: nobody asked me to apply.”

Whatever her reason for not applying—she told me later that she didn’t feel like she was senior” enough and assumed they were looking for someone with much more experience—the lesson was clear: we need to do better at encouraging our talented, smart, and compassionate friends and colleagues to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, opportunities that they don’t always see.

This is particularly true in the sphere of politics, and especially in regards to the involvement of women and people of color in our political arena. Often, members of these groups are reticent to jump into the political arena because they don’t know that they are welcome, that they are invited, and that they are needed. We need to make people feel like they belong—we need to ask them (and respect their decision if they decline) to be a part of our political discourse.

That’s why I’m glad to be taking part of the #AskHer campaign this year, asking talented, brilliant, qualified women to run for office.

Asking, of course, is not enough. To all the women I will ask (you will be getting emails about this shortly), I also commit to support you. While I don’t have the resources for substantial financial contribution, I will support you by volunteering on your campaign and by using my expertise (writing, editing, community engagement) to help you if you choose to run.

Women’s voices are needed in politics. The governance of our cities, provinces, and countries needs to reflect the people who make up our communities, and not just the few who currently dominate political discourse.

I’m glad to be participating in the #AskHer campaign. Who will you ask? How will you support them?