On 8th March 2013, Claire Falconer and I pressed ‘publish’ on our DIY website, ‘Focus on Labour Exploitation’ (FLEX) was finally live. For us, it was critical that FLEX be launched on International Women’s Day, a day that holds so much significance for us both. This was not only personal, as strong feminists, who had seen men leapfrog brilliant women in our field of work time and again. But more importantly, in our many years working in the field we’d witnessed anti-trafficking responses frequently ignore women’s voices, create top-down, patriarchal ‘solutions’ to women’s complex lives.
So it is fitting as we approach International Women’s Day 2019, that I am now standing back and making room for a new Chief Executive for FLEX. It has been an incredible seven years working to create, birth and grow this amazing charity. But it is time for a new Chief Executive who can help FLEX navigate the next chapter in its journey. I will see it through this transition, helping the Board of Trustees find and recruit a brilliant successor, then step back and watch proudly from afar.
And I am proud. FLEX is a ground-breaking organisation that is no longer just a dream held by me and Claire, but a team of brilliant people and a network of friends and collaborators, who are each just as committed to our mission. At its heart FLEX draws on the understanding that those people most at risk of exploitation are rarely listened to in efforts to combat human trafficking.
From the outset FLEX has sought to bridge the gap between workers at risk of exploitation and the law and policy responses designed to prevent exploitation from taking place. For FLEX our work is as much about the process as the outcome, anti-trafficking responses developed without guidance from people at risk of exploitation are not worth the paper they’re written on. As a result, FLEX has not only changed how law and policy is made and who is listened to in decision making, but we have also made tangible improvements to the prevention of labour exploitation.
Early in our work we established the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG), ten brilliant people working directly with insecure workers to understand how best to tackle labour abuse and exploitation together with workers. If there is one achievement I’d cite as my proudest over the last seven years, its LEAG, decision makers have started to listen to those most affected by the laws and policies designed to protect them. Long may it continue.
Leaving is difficult and sad, but FLEX is now strong enough to survive without me and has a great future. I leave knowing whilst I’ll no longer be working at FLEX I’ll still be active and vocal in support of our mission and I look forward to the journey ahead.
The deadline for applications is midnight on 31st March 2019. The interview panel will consist of: Jane Ellis, Chair of FLEX, Adam Weiss and Ian Robinson, Trustees of FLEX and Claire Falconer, former Legal Director at FLEX.
More information on how to apply is available here