Why I chose social enterprise over the corporate world [as featured in the Guardian]

Published by The Guardian Social Enterprise Network.

Thursday 6 February 2014 07.00 GMT

Sanum Jain Guardian Social Enterprise Career Guardian Social Enterprise NetworkBy this time last year, some of my peers at the University of Manchester had secured jobs at reputable corporations while others had launched their first business or started making travel plans. I was somewhere in the middle, like many students in third year – stuck in a limbo of tedious application forms and not knowing what would become of me after graduation.

So I decided to assess my skills, pinpoint a particular path and find opportunities. I found that I loved writing and social media. I selected PR as a possible route, and came across a GiveMeTap internship. Little did I know that what I had first approached as work experience to prepare me for a PR office job would become a love affair with social enterprise. I now co-run GiveMeTap, heading all communications, PR and marketing at the grand age of 21.

So why did I decide to stay and work for a small social enterprise instead of applying to large-scale organisations, especially when I’m not an entrepreneur? Mainly, it is the sheer fulfilment and job satisfaction that I feel every single day. Some people get this satisfaction through making money and others through their creative expression. For me, knowing that my work is helping people across the world is enough to make me excited to wake up in the morning.

Secondly, by being part of a small team, your role is constantly morphing and every day is different. One day you may be designing a website and the next day you may be talking to journalists. There is no paper pushing, no ‘cogs in the wheel’ and everything you do is integral to the business. Subsequently, you can grow your talents and develop skills you didn’t think possible. For example, I’ve started to learn code, I’ve engaged in sales activity, and I’ve been involved with supply chain operations.

Many graduates leave university seeking stable, long-term employment from a reputable company instead of taking chances on their true passions. However, that security is not guaranteed; the CIPD have observed that turnover rates for young people (especially those caused by redundancy) are significantly high and increasing due to the economic climate. If risk is already an increased factor in the conventional job market, isn’t that further reason for graduates to take their own risks? This includes joining small business, starting out on their own, and being part of socially conscious ventures.

During my journey, however, I have also learned that even if you choose a route that diverges from that of the corporate world, your paths are sure to cross at some point. Instead of working for a large company, you may find yourself working with them, just as GiveMeTap has many corporate clients who involve us in their supply chain. By engaging with these businesses, there is potential to involve them as a vehicle towards success, while helping them to achieve their own social or environmental goals.

Although the perks and prospects of the corporate lifestyle are undisputed, working for a social enterprise opens the possibility of fulfilling opportunity that many don’t know exists. I believe Generation Y can be the driving force towards a future where sustainability and ethics are at the core of every business. Muster the courage, get into gear, and enjoy the journey!

Shiny Happy People… ImageOfTheWeek.

Shiny Happy People... ImageOfTheWeek.

I found this today, on Buzzfeed (click on the pic to read the article): ‘No, Seriously, This Guy Is Holding A “You Deserve Rape” Sign’

For a bit of context: “A University of Arizona student [Dean Saxton] sparked outrage Tuesday by holding up a sign reading, “You Deserve Rape” and preaching that women who dress like “whores” bring rape upon themselves in protest to a sexual assault awareness event being held that night.” – Buzzfeed.com

The awareness event in question was “Reclaim the Night“. In a nutshell, this event is a brilliant movement of Women reclaiming their right to safety on the streets, protesting against the idea that they should feel scared and intimidated to go out at night.

Back to the picture in question… It is quite hard for one to explain how they feel about such an image. The first words that sprung to my mind were ‘angry’, ‘upset’ but also, unfortunately, ‘not surprised’. Many of the arguments about gender equality are pretty self explanatory and obvious in this context, however, I think a few points specific points need to made here.

Firstly, this is a universal attack. Not only is this image/campaign an attack  on Women, but it is also insinuating that Men believe that they have the right to rape based on the actions of the Woman. Furthermore, this is an implicit attack on Male character, assuming that men are unable to control their sexual capacity. In a patriarchal society that dictates how Women should act/dress, surely these are indications of a repression? What is even worse, is that it doesn’t even take into account the real reasons for rape. Most of the time, it isn’t even about Sex, but about assertion of male dominance, a struggle for power and issues that are a whole different “kettle of fish”.

Secondly, after reading one of the passages from Saxton’s blog, it occurred to me that this Christian extremist is mixing up two very different issues – That of Rape and Sexual Violence, and that of Sexual Liberation. He refers to the American Greek-life culture as a “whoredom” where young men and women are committing “sins” however this is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ISSUE about sexual behaviour, and more specifically, college culture for young people.  This isn’t an issue about men criminally forcing sex onto dis-consenting Women.  Yes, I agree that there can be some overlap in these environments whereby peer pressure and intoxicants can blur the lines of consent, however, this is not Saxton’s arguement. He is insinuating that if a woman engages in pre-marital sex, than it is inevitable that men may want to rape her – this is a disgusting belief and one similar to the justifications made by the Dehli gang-rapists for the crimes against their 19 year-old victim.

Thirdly, I will make a point regarding “issue-overlap”. As with many extreme views, single prejudices against gender, sexuality, race, religion, class do not really exist. These factors are interlocked and have been throughout history. The only difference in the 21st Century, is the increasing voice that minority groups have in the globalised era. Saxton states that “fat lesbians will get raped”, putting them in the same camp as Feminists and whores. Why is it that one’s weight and sexuality determines whether they get raped? Does your own prejudice permit you to believe that those different to you deserve to be subject to the worst forms of violence? Where does this end? Do other religious groups deserve this same fate?

Lastly, I would just like to express how unfortunate it is that these views are being expressed in today’s world, and worse, that free speech protects these views. All types of inequality stem from extremist views such as the ones held by the man who produced this image. More to the point, he is arguing that rape is okay and his university paper saw it fit to publish it. This view has no place in a publication and no place in any society.

Over and Out.