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our company is making us do unreasonable things to accommodate a coworker’s mental health

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A reader writes:

My coworker, “Casey,” has worked at the same company as me for just over two years. Casey has mental health issues with obsessive-compulsive disorder (self-acknowledged and openly talked about) that have gotten progressively worse as time goes on. Casey is on medication and currently in therapy, but it isn’t enough any more. It has gotten to the point where it’s out of control and affecting the lives of others.

Some examples: Casey likes everything to be the same, and so to accommodate this management has amended the dress code to say that if clothes have patterns they must be uniform and even that if anyone wears a ring, watch, or bracelet on one hand they must wear one on the other so it’s the same. Another example is that some people who work here take public transit and there is a bus stop outside of our office. To accommodate Casey we were directed by management to line up for the bus as male/female/male/female, etc.. so the line is orderly.

These are just a couple of examples, but I could go on all day. I don’t want to come across as a horrible person but I am getting fed up with having to change every little thing because of Casey’s accommodations. Casey is a nice enough person and I know it’s a mental illness, but at the same time I don’t see why everyone else has to suffer all the time. I would never purposely do anything to make Casey uncomfortable and neither would my coworkers, but we feel like this has gone too far. People have quit or transferred to other locations to get away from this. Someone was given a written warning for only wearing a ring on one hand and was asked to remove their wedding ring because they didn’t have a second ring, and we were told we will be written up if we don’t comply.

When we bring our concerns to management or HR they just tell us about the ADA and being tolerant. Short of finding a new job, can you recommend any other ways to get management to see why this is a problem?

Whoa. This is not the way to accommodate someone with a mental health issue; you don’t shift the entire burden to other people to manage.

Your company has handled this so badly (lining people up by gender?! telling someone to remove their wedding ring?!) that I don’t have a lot of hope that you’ll be able to get them to see reason. Acting reasonably doesn’t seem to be their strong suit.

But whenever anything ridiculous is happening that you want to push back against, harnessing the power of a group is often a lot more effective than just one person speaking up. So you could give that a shot: have a group of people talk to someone with authority and say that you’re sympathetic to Casey’s illness but are being asked to shoulder an unreasonable burden to accommodate it, and ask that the company consult with a lawyer and/or disability expert on ways to meet their obligations to Casey without making unreasonable demands of other employees.

You could also show them resources like this, which explains that typical accommodations for obsessive-compulsive disorder are things like giving the person control over her own workspace (not other people’s) or allowing the person to use noise-canceling headphones. It’s not typical to give the person control over what other people wear or who they stand next to at a bus stop (which shouldn’t be under an employer’s control at all).

Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes companies do unreasonable things because no one has bothered to push back against it in an organized way, and sometimes just a little bit of group pressure can jog them into realizing, “Oh, people have a problem with this and we need to find another solution.” Other times they don’t budge, no matter how compelling the argument you lay out. I can’t predict what will happen here, but it’s absolutely reasonable to make the attempt.

our company is making us do unreasonable things to accommodate a coworker’s mental health was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
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Your first fundraiser: don’t be original!

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In 2011, I co-founded the Ada Initiative, a charitable organisation promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture. Between 2011 and 2014, we ran five fundraising drives, four successfully. This article is part of a series sharing what I learned in the hope that new women in technology groups and other activist groups can skip to advanced level fundraising much sooner and spend the least time and the most joy on fundraising that they possibly can.

Learn from others

I’m an ex-postgraduate student and I know that hackers and academics are accustomed to not feeling that we’re working hard enough, or even behaving ethically, unless we either do something entirely novel, or at least learn everything from first principles. In business and fundraising, that’s not true. Save your originality for your projects and your approach to your mission.

Instead of trying to do original, innovative fundraising, look for best practices and copy them. Search for successful fundraisers and don’t be afraid to mimic their timeline, reward structure, and total goals closely. Eg, if you are launching a feminist hackerspace, you could look at what Double Union and Seattle Attic did for fundraising goals, rewards, and stretch goals, and learn from them in designing your own campaign. If you’re raising money through sponsorship, get hold of other sponsorship prospectuses and learn how they’re formatted, what their usual contents are, and what level of sponsorship is required for each sponsorship benefit.

And of course, also ask the founders/fundraisers of organisations similar to yours which bits of their fundraiser didn’t work for them.

Beyond that, there’s professional advice. At the Ada Initiative, our fundraising strategy was informed by working with four experienced fundraisers with different styles and insights; one for each of the four successful drives, in fact. If your goal is to raise enough money to pay staff (or your fundraising needs are otherwise $50k+), I strongly recommend you engage a fundraising consultant. Here’s some things to look for:

  • investment/alignment with your mission; perhaps not a close enough match to be an advisor or a board member, but the prospective consultant should be pleased with your mission and your major programs and interested in learning more about them
  • alignment with your core fundraising ethics (eg, at the Ada Initiative we didn’t work with consultants who bought or sold donor contact databases)
  • experience with online campaigns, eg, writing or editing blog posts, social media experience, experience with Kickstarter/Indiegogo/etc
  • experience with donors similar to yours (at the Ada Initiative we worked mostly with consultants who had experience raising money from tech workers)

Some of the things you could discuss with a fundraising consultant:

  • basic best practices they advise everyone on (eg, time of year to raise funds, weekdays to make major announcements on, the kind of thing I’m going through in this series)
  • doing donor outreach before doing any fundraising, such as phone calls to former/likely donors checking in on how they feel about the organisation (donors may feel more comfortable being critical of the organisation to a consultant than they would be to a founder, and the consultant will be able to hear the criticism non-defensively too)
  • doing, or subcontracting, or instructing your staff on, the detail work of the fundraising, such as writing copy, staffing social media, recruiting matching donors
  • choice of platform, eg, which crowdfunding site to use, which payment processor to use, which CRM to use, donation page UX (although these are rarer skillsets than fundraising best practices)

Organisations similar to yours are the best source of recommendations for fundraising consultants. It’s also something a good board may have advice on.

A good board are themselves invaluable. At different times we got key advice from both board members who were fundraising experts and board members who had run other kinds of businesses. Seek out board members, committee members, or informal advisors who have successfully raised money in any form in the past. They may not have much time to volunteer to help you with the nuts and bolts, but should be open to a few hour-long advice giving and war story exchanging conversations before and during your campaign.

Many brilliant and hard-working people have run fundraisers before you, and fundraising norms are generally well-established. Look for what works, and use it to get your organisation off to the best possible start.

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Your first fundraiser: don’t be original! by Mary Gardiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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pfctdayelise
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How Do Individual Contributors Get Stuck? A Primer

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Occasionally, you may be asked to give constructive feedback on your peers, perhaps as part of review season. If you aren’t a naturally critical person but you want to give someone a valuable insight, you may find this task daunting. To that end, I suggest the following:

Pay attention to how they get stuck.

Everyone has at least one area that they tend to get stuck on. An activity that serves as an attractive sidetrack. A task they will do anything to avoid. With a bit of observation, you can start to see the places that your colleagues get stuck. This is a super power for many reasons, but at a baseline, it is great for when you need to write a review and want to provide useful constructive feedback.
How do people get sidetracked? How do people get stuck? Well, my friend, here are two incomplete lists to get you started:

Individual Contributors often get sidetracked by…

  1. Brainstorming/architecture: “I must have thought through all edge cases of all parts of everything before I can begin this project”
  2. Researching possible solutions forever (often accompanied by desire to do a “bakeoff” where they build prototypes in different platforms/languages/etc)
  3. Refactoring: “this code could be cleaner and everything would be just so much easier if we cleaned this up… and this up… and…”
  4. Helping other people instead of doing their assigned tasks
  5. Jumping on fires even when not on-call
  6. Working on side projects instead of the main project
  7. Excessive testing (rare)
  8. Excessive automation (rare)

Individual Contributors often get stuck when they need to…

  1. Finish the last 10–20% of a project
  2. Start a project completely from scratch
  3. Do project planning (You need me to write what now? A roadmap?)
  4. Work with unfamiliar code/libraries/systems
  5. Work with other teams (please don’t make me go sit with data engineering!!)
  6. Talk to other people (in engineering, or more commonly, outside of engineering)
  7. Ask for help (far beyond the point they realized they were stuck and needed help)
  8. Deal with surprises or unexpected setbacks
  9. Navigate bureaucracy
  10. Pull the trigger and going into prod
  11. Deal with vendors/external partners
  12. Say no, because they can’t seem to just say no (instead of saying no they just go into avoidance mode, or worse, always say yes)
“AHA! Wait! Camille is missing something! People don’t always get stuck!” This is true. While almost everyone has some areas that they get overly hung up on, some people also get sloppy instead of getting stuck. Sloppy looks like never getting sidetracked from the main project but never finishing anything completely, letting the finishing touches of the last project drop as you rush heedlessly into the next project.

Noticing how people get stuck is a super power, and one that many great tech leads (and yes, managers) rely on to get big things done. When you know how people get stuck, you can plan your projects to rely on people for their strengths and provide them help or even completely side-step their weaknesses. You know who is good to ask for which kinds of help, and who hates that particular challenge just as much as you do.

The secret is that all of us get stuck and sidetracked sometimes. There’s actually nothing particularly “bad” about this. Knowing the ways that you get hung up is good because you can choose to either a) get over the fears that are sticking you (lack of knowledge, skills, or confidence), b) avoid such tasks as much as possible, and/or c) be aware of your habits and use extra diligence when faced with tackling these areas.
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pfctdayelise
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Your first fundraiser: why fundraise?

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In 2011, I co-founded the Ada Initiative, a charitable organisation promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture. Between 2011 and 2014, we ran five fundraising drives, four successfully. This article is part of a series sharing what I learned in the hope that new women in technology groups and other activist groups can skip to advanced level fundraising much sooner and spend the least time and the most joy on fundraising that they possibly can.

The series so far:

Coming soon:

  • Don’t be original!
  • Designing a fundraising website, sample timelines, and more…

Why you should have a fundraising drive

In 2014, in the Ada Initiative’s article on choosing a funding model we wrote:

Often activists will reach for every funding opportunity they can: individual fundraising campaign, yes! Government grants, yes! Selling stickers, yes! Sucking up to wealthy potential donors at lavish one-on-one dinners, absolutely! But it is crucial to pick just two or three funding sources and concentrate on them.

Raising money in any form takes time, practice, dedication, and skill. Pursuing too many forms of funding will just mean that you’re bad at all of them. Some diversification of funding sources is often recommended, but the base requirement is a reliable funding source[…]

Since mid-2011, the bedrock of the Ada Initiative’s funding has come from a few hundred individuals within the technology community. Being accountable to donors who are primarily interested in culture change even when it has no direct benefit to themselves allows us to take on more radical programs. This includes work that is not directly connected with hiring or careers, or that is connected with gift and alternative economies like media fandom with little direct connection to corporate profits.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt an individual donor funding model is that donors often become advocates for diversity in tech themselves…

These are great arguments for individual fundraising. Another one is that individual donors are often the most willing to take a risk on a new, untested, project; corporate donors/sponsors are more conservative and often want to see at least an informal track record to figure out what they’re associating their brand with.

If you’ve chosen individual fundraising for these or other reasons, the next question is: why do a drive as opposed to popping a donation form or Paypal donate button on your website and waiting for donations?

The first reason is simple: a drive will earn a lot more money. The Ada Initiative was a reasonably well known organisation with a reasonable amount of web traffic, but spontaneous donations outside a drive were at the rate of one or two donations a month. Our last few fundraising drives on the other hand earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and attracted as many donors in a day as we would get in the entire rest of the year. Our experience was that fundraising revenue exceeded spontaneous donation revenue by a hundred times.

There’s a tempting line of thinking around passive fundraising — I’m prone to it — which is that if your mission was truly great and your approach to it truly excellent, then the world would discover it spontaneously. Asking for money would then prove the inferiority of your mission or your organisation. Here’s a counter-argument: in order to be successful, you need to be the most invested person. If you aren’t committed to your mission, your donors won’t trust you to fufil it. Taking a risk by openly asking for money, explaining why you need it and what you’ll do with it, is one of the best ways to convince your potential donors that you have a chance at doing what needs to be done.

As we wrote in 2014, a good fundraising drive has a complementary goal: raising awareness of your organisation, and getting people involved. There’s at least two possibilities here. If you’re raising funds from the same community you’re going to benefit, your launch donors are likely to be among your key volunteers or members shortly thereafter. If you’re raising money from a different community from the one you’re going to benefit, your launch donors will be key in reaching other donors, and developing your fundraising strategy in future.

In designing your fundraising campaign, you will raise the money you need, and building a community of members and volunteers, or ongoing donors, at the same time. Good fundraising is hard work, but it isn’t a tiresome distraction from your mission. It’s how you will build the community you need to fulfil your mission.

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Your first fundraiser: why fundraise? by Mary Gardiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://adainitiative.org/2014/06/10/the-ada-initiative-founders-on-funding-activism-for-women-in-open-source-from-model-view-culture/.

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Your first fundraiser: what the Ada Initiative learned the hard way

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In 2011, I co-founded the Ada Initiative, a charitable organisation promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture. Between 2011 and 2014, we ran five fundraising drives, four successfully.

We made a bunch of bad decisions along the way. For example, after our first drive in 2011, we stopped accepting donations, and moreover assumed that folks who had been denied the opportunity to donate in mid-2011 would still be there and keen in early 2012 (spoiler: no they weren’t). We offered t-shirts as a donor thank you gift. Worse: we offered t-shirts twice.

We also got a lot of excellent advice from fundraising experts and from our fabulous boards of directors, and through a combination of hard work (both ourselves and our volunteers!), good ideas, and good luck, had a lot of success. For several years I’ve been informally advising other women in technology groups on fundraising for the first time ever,

Over the next several weeks, I’m publishing a series of articles with my fundraising wisdom, with the hope that new women in technology groups and other activist groups can skip to advanced level fundraising much sooner. May you spend the least time and the most joy on fundraising that you possibly can!

The series so far:

Coming soon:

  • Why fundraise?
  • Don’t be original!
  • Designing a fundraising website, sample timelines, and more…

Creative Commons License
Your first fundraiser: what the Ada Initiative learned the hard way by Mary Gardiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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acdha
5 days ago
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Washington, DC
pfctdayelise
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how much money do you make?

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It’s hard to get real-world information about  what jobs pay, especially tailored to a particular industry or geographic region. Online salary websites are often inaccurate, and people get weird when you ask them directly.

Two years ago, in an effort to take some of the mystery out of salaries, I ran a post asking people to share how much money they make, their job, and their geographic region. It ended up being one of the most popular posts on the site, so let’s do an updated version.

If you’re willing to play, here are the rules:

1. Put your job title in the “user name” field, which will make it appear in bold, which will be easier for people to scan.

2. List the following info:

  • your job (the more descriptive the better, since job titles don’t always explain level of responsibility or scope of work)
  • your geographic area
  • your years of experience
  • your salary
  • anything else pertinent to put that number in context

(And assuming you want to be anonymous, don’t put your email address in the email field if you don’t want it linked to your Gravatar, if you have one.)

Obviously, no snarking on anyone’s salary, because that is rude.

how much money do you make? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
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1 public comment
skorgu
5 days ago
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Jesus christ that's a lot of comments.
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