How well do you really know Diversity and Belonging?
Claire Farrow, our Inclusion and Diversity Client Partner talks about her recent experiences and how Diversity and Inclusion needs to start with the feeling of belonging!
I think we are all in agreement that achieving true inclusion and unpicking all of its facets is a HUGE task, one which is often left in the very capable hands of a business’ diversity champion… but also awarded as a side-line to their day job and in my personal view, not given the importance it deserves by the leadership team.
Fortunately for me, I was given the opportunity to turn it into my full-time, actual, bona fide, day job by my supportive CEO this year and oh my, has it been a learning curve.
Over the last 24 months, I have attended countless seminars, networked with some of the most learned professionals in this space, and organised 4 successful knowledge sharing events, however; nothing prepared me for what I was about to learn in 3.5 days of immersive learning last week.
So, it’s back to the drawing board and time to be honest with myself – how much do I really know about what it’s like to FEEL oppressed when sitting here in my privileged position as a cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white woman backed up by countless systems of oppression?
Well, I do know I need to start with a counterculture – an internal, sub-culture, defining the way in which we must behave in the workplace.
And what should that look like?
- It’s time to self-reflect and think about the consequence of action (or lack of)
- Let’s appreciate the courage it may take for a colleague to vocalise an idea or ask advice and then…
- We must be grateful for it
- Let’s all agree that nobody knows everything (not even the CEO), after all that’s one of the key reasons we are aspiring to be more diverse as businesses, so let’s be compassionate and curious…
- And finally, we should all start listening to UNDERSTAND and not to speak!
So that’s the counterculture sorted, now it’s time to reflect.
- Who is in the room? And why?
- Why are certain groups still not applying for roles?
- Why is no one taking up the flexible working offerings available?
- Why are people not talking up in open forums?
- What needs to change?
Next, I’m going to start reading.
I want personal stories, I want facts, I want statistics, I want thoughts and feelings, I want to LEARN.
And to add to this, I know I need to listen.
One of the common reactions when privilege is challenged, is to seek evidence to back up what is being said. I am going to prepare myself for this and get that evidence.
An intersectional employee resource group (or listening group) is a great way to give a voice to those oppressed and start that learning journey. What is the lived experience of those around me?
And I ask that wherever your privilege lies in this world, have a bit of compassion for those around you because I am telling you that if one thing is certain, it is that you can’t change the way a person feels (or felt)... but you can make it better.
Finally, to finish, here is MY accountability statement: I’m going to listen and learn and then, I’m going to apologise and commit to effecting change. What’s yours?
To all of my Clients existing and future, if you’d like to have a chat about your inclusion and diversity strategies, call me today on 07808 787111 / 01793 437 286 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To all of those struggling to secure your next role, or fighting to belong and looking for a change, call me, text me, email me…