by Abdul Siddique
The oxford dictionary defines a gatekeeper to be ‘an attendant employed to control who goes through a gate’. I would like to use this analogy as a vehicle to explore the many challenges and flaws that face organisations in Britain today that purport to represent South-Asian, Muslims communities or both.
It makes me cringe to recount an experience where I engaged with such a community organisation and asked outright ‘which village are you from Abdul?’. This qualifying question was the sole deciding factor for collaborating or taking on my services. I obviously wasn’t allowed to collaborate because I happened to be from the wrong side of the South Asian subcontinent!
I’ve been around long enough to not only see many a gatekeeper but also see the carnage this mentality reeks on the progress, vision and drive of the organisations they work for. You see the gatekeeper is scared to death of taking on your services, collaborating with you even voluntarily because they fear that your skill sets, experience and passion will out shadow theirs and unpack their incompetency. True community work and community leaders empower others, they create more leaders not more followers, passion and action emanates from them just as scent from a perfume bottle. This passion drives the organisation and its entire staff and volunteer base to go above and beyond to meet their set objectives. This lyrical description of progress is lost on the gatekeeper. As their organisation crashes around them and descends in to an indefinite state of decline; the gatekeeper is only bothered about control, protecting, encouraging, assisting and working with ‘their own kind’. They’re insecure; feel under qualified and pay only lip service to the cause, blaming irrelevant factors for their foreseeable decline in to irrelevance. Rather than drive the organisation forward by recruiting the right talent; collaborating with the right people or organisations; they’re obsessed with cementing their powerbase; collaborating and working only with like-minded individuals and live in fear of the next passionate, sincere person that will surface to wash them away. Although this narrative may sound like an exaggerated fiction; rest assured its very much-grounded in reality.
I’ve seen many an organisation that was once well staffed with volunteers and workers alike, well resourced and well regarded. But they were entrenched with gatekeepers and disintegrated in to obscurity leaving no legacy, vision or tangible lasting change to show for their costly existence.
My observations have taught me the pertinence of taking on people that have the passion, skill set and courage to take your organisations vision forward. legacy and succession is a part of the Flowhesion way as much as the work that we do. We strive to collaborate and take on talent regardless of which neck of the woods they happen to come from. It is a sad state of affairs that in 21stcentury Britain many of our organisations have become inward facing; forever concerned about control, power, status and their own ‘click’ than getting the job done for the many they seek to represent and wish to work for.
In this inter-connected, globalised world we live in its high time we woke up and smelt the coffee! Organisations that have archaic gatekeeper mentalities will soon find themselves at the end of the funding, influence and relevance queue.