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A familiar tale: Pride and Prejudice

Published 24th August, 2023 by Kelsey Hargreaves

Kelsey Hargreaves

Kelsey Hargreaves

Assistant Technical Specialist
The British Institute of Cleaning Science

A familiar tale: Pride and Prejudice

Kelsey Hargreaves, Assistant Technical Specialist at BICSc, reports.

We all know that those outside of our industry do not quite share the respect we have for the work that we do. As we continue to fight for our rightful place as being known as the key workers that we are, the BCC continues to flagship for change in the hearts and minds of the British government and public, we, as an industry wanting a change, may need to look closer to home.

I have written before about the importance of good management, of equal respect, and of listening to the experts. Again, I am going to push on the internal industry changes we can make to allow ourselves to be more in touch, united and ‘indestructible’ in the way that we continue to hold each other up, even when no one else is celebrating us, to continue to internally celebrate every single one of our key-heroic-workers.

It has been clear since the COVID-19 pandemic that as an industry we have made big strides in supporting each other. We have seen amazing partnerships, many shared learning opportunities, and an ever-growing community of people ‘fighting the good fight’. However, that familiar tale of pride and prejudice is still around, even if Jane Austen isn’t here to rewrite it. We can shout every day about pride and celebration in our industry, in the amazing operatives we have, the amazing innovations we bring to an ever-growing world of business and development, but none of that matters if we also allow prejudice to continue growing alongside it. How do we do this? I have seen time and time again, as I’m sure a lot of us have, people in our industry perceiving things being a certain way because of preconceived opinions or personal experiences at a different time: expectation.

Let’s look at the top three expectations that are the most, in my humble opinion, damaging to the development of our incredible industry:

The expectation that a colleague can do things a certain way:

“Why do they do it like that?”
“They don’t care.”
“It’s not hard; it’s common sense.”

Four words in response:
"Have they been trained?"

The first time we made a cup of tea, the first time we brushed our teeth, the first time we switched on a mobile phone, we were told what to do and what the result should look like. Why do we think that we shouldn’t offer the same kind of guidance and respect for people to do their jobs to the best of their ability? Before we question why someone has done something in a certain way, ask whether they have ever been shown the correct way.

The expectation that everyone wants the same ‘kind’ of development:

“They rejected the promotion; they don’t care about their job.”
“They are not dedicated to working for this company.”

Why do we expect everyone to want the same exponential journey? Development for one person may be development in training, not necessarily position. Development for another may be to retain their job and feel comfortable in the role they are in, prideful that they can complete their duties in the best way.

The expectation that the new entrants into the cleaning industry will enter it the same way we all have:
“I came in this way; why can’t they?”
“When I was younger, I did…”

Do we understand the needs of younger people or newer people in the industry? I left formal education 3 years ago and yet, the world for younger generations and the options available to them has drastically changed, are we sure that we are aware of just who is coming into the industry and what options will be more attractive? Have we asked?

This brings me very nicely to a conclusion. The conclusion to our nouveau Pride and Prejudice is to “ask”. The proverbial comments about assuming are true. If more people asked the outside world about the amazing work of our industry, we would be far more recognised. If we asked the necessary questions within the industry, we wouldn’t have unfounded expectations, but we would have knowledge.

Let’s change the dialogue, let's change the title.

An unfamiliar tale: Respect and Reason.

About the contributor

Kelsey Hargreaves

Kelsey Hargreaves

Assistant Technical Specialist


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