The right to decline

One of my favourite subreddits is TIFU (Today I F**cked Up).

It’s always a good read. A heady mix of cautionary tales from across the internet. People doing what they do on social – sharing what’s happening in their lives and seeking some form of validation.

Well, I’ve got my own to add. I’m sharing in the hope that my mistake doesn’t need to be yours.

Life’s taught me that a mix of pragmatic optimism works best for me. Most of the time it’s served me pretty well.

Until it didn’t.

Doing the type of work we do (the deep analysis of culture and people on social), means we can occasionally stray onto darker paths. This isn’t intentional, it’s just you can’t always know what you’ll find.

One of my abiding goals is for my team to feel safe at work.

This is how I f**cked up. My optimism didn’t make me pause to consider how people might feel reading some of the content we’d stumbled upon.

Not cool.

We used to have a process, but it got lost as we’ve grown. Also, not cool.

Thanks to the feedback of one of the team we realised our mistake. Not early enough (which still bothers me), but we got there.

So, now we have a right to decline which looks like this.

The right to decline:

The internet is an uncertain place. While it’s never our intention to research topics that are unethical, indecent, offensive or immoral, sometimes we’ll come up against data like this in our work.

I want everyone to feel safe at work.

This means you should be comfortable reading the content that’s related to the project you’re working on. If you’re not, then that’s not right.

To ensure this is the case, we will put in place the following:

  • For all projects: the set-up documents should have a warning that some of the content could be offensive and what action to take if this is the case.
  • For projects that touch on more sensitive areas, this will be made explicit and consent sought from each member of the team before starting.
  • Everyone has the right to decline a project, at any stage, should the nature of the comments cause distress.
  • Everyone has the right to decide what they consider to be offensive.

If this helps – please free to use it.

All the best,


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