Change is constant and often invisible… except on some days
Last week Melbourne saw the running of a horse race – a four minute moment with its own public holiday. It’s a legend-making event, a nation-stopper. And this year, it was also a moment in time – a snapshot of some of the big social movements happening around us, all colliding together on one day.
And the significance is not just in the facts themselves; the way the stories of the day are told is also changing.
This year’s winning jockey was Michelle Payne, the fourth woman to ever participate in the race that has been going since 1861 and the first to win it. Her straightforward words after, that those who doubt the abilities of women “can get stuffed” was written up alongside descriptions of her as “a lady jockey” whose “pre-race navy shift dress with lace collar was also a winner teamed with a white floral fascinator”.
On the very day of the Cup, we saw the launch of global campaign #covertheathlete, playfully bringing attention to the different media treatment given to men and women in sport. This campaign is not alone; #askhermore does the same for the movie industry, ‘Congrats, you have an all male panel’ draws attention to to the issue for business events, and Elle’s #morewomen photoshops men from political images leaving them almost empty. The achievement of Michelle Payne comes against a wider background of growing attention on how women are represented in public forums.
Disability and meaningful work
Stevie Payne, the strapper for the winning horse, and brother to Michelle, has Down syndrome. His prominence, the respect shown for his part in the win, and the commentary around his role challenges our thinking about what disabled is, and isn’t. As the NDIS rolls out in Australia, the landscape around disability is set to change dramatically, and with it comes opportunity for meaningful conversations about the human rights of individuals, including the right to work.
The two sides of horse racing
After the tragedy of horse deaths in last year’s Melbourne Cup, there has been a growing prominence of the cost of racing on the animals themselves. There was a tension in the lead up to this year’s race, reflected in social and mainstream media. Where in the past the fate of injured horses has had little or no mention, this has rapidly changed. This year the lead story on ABC news on the night of the Cup gave equal mention to injured horses as to those that won.
… and a ghost of technology past
In the age of mobile communications, apps and 24 hour new cycles, a handheld cassette recorder made a mystery appearance on the corner of our TV/mobile/tablet screens, and the media world erupted in delight, “veteran or hipster: who used a cassette recorder to interview the Melbourne Cup winner?” asked Mumbrella. This rare sighting reminds us how far we’ve come in recording and sharing the things that mean something to us.
My colleagues and I are regularly involved in conversations about change being a constant truth in business, as it is in the wider environment.
It’s not often that one moment gives us an opportunity to see change so clearly. Or to see how this translates into the stories we tell, and those that are told around us. Melbourne Cup 2015 is one for the history books.