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From Diversity & Confusion to Clarity: Ask Our Experts

Updated: May 13

During our recent webinar, we were asked a wide range of questions concerning all things ED&I. Unfortunately we didn't get time to respond to them all in the session but we wanted to make sure you got your answers.

Here are 16 questions from our audience:

1. Strategy

What actions taken by a company would make the most impact in the short term?

ED&I isn’t a short-term endeavour. Consider what would create the best foundations to enable your organisation to identify its gaps and needs. This may start with ensuring your organisation is equipped and has sufficient psychological safety for staff to share where they feel the organisation has weaknesses in order to identify the challenges the organisation needs to solve and the partners best placed to support them.

Often a diagnostic or an audit is a good place to start to understand the systemic issues that need to be identified and addressed through a series of interventions and actions.

2. Positive discrimination

From an EDI perspective, how do you advise someone to respond to people directly asking for specific ethnicities in job groups? I’m a producer/director and we are often asked for BAME freelancers in Whatsapp groups etc.

It is really important to understand the difference between ‘positive action’ and ‘positive discrimination’. ‘Positive discrimination’, which in the case of recruitment, is where someone is given a paid role ‘because’ of their characteristics (this is an illegal practice in the UK). ‘Positive action’, which in the case of recruitment, is where we open up the talent pool to ensure that more people from under-represented groups have access to apply for a role (this is a perfectly legal and needed practice in the UK).

In the case of your example, it will depend on whether the person asking is saying that they want to give the job to someone because of their characteristics or that they are wanting to interview candidates from groups that don’t typically get access.

In terms of the acronym, BAME, we find that whilst it is used (less and less now), it doesn’t serve to have a meaningful conversation about people as it masks many identities. Asad wrote a piece in 2020 ‘BAME ain’t the same’ which may be an interesting reference point.

3. Disability

What is stopping people from broadening their perspective to include disability in their ED&I strategies?

Sometimes a lack of lived experience can have an impact. There is a well-known saying: ‘Nothing about us, without us’. It’s therefore helpful to think about how to include more voices around the table, and to broaden all things ED&I to include disability. Two culture makers we’ve worked with before that are worth following are Shani Dhanda and Samantha Renke. They are doing fantastic work in improving disability inclusion.

4. Overcoming fatigue

How do you pick yourselves (and your organisation) up after years of false starts? How do you overcome the fatigue of staff feeling like "we have been here before and never moved forward"?

We know that so many ED&I professionals are suffering from exhaustion and burnout and this is definitely an area that requires intense endurance. Whilst it is critical to have a strong network internally and externally, on a practical level, it might be necessary to diagnose what has led to the false starts and to be uncompromising about what needs to be in place to get going again.

5. Protecting psychological safety

How do we stop the subject of psychological safety from becoming weaponised by people in positions of greater power and privilege in the workplace?

Psychological safety is defined as ‘a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s OK to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences.’

When talking about psychological safety, we would advise that it is nuanced along with issues such as intersectionality and privilege. This may help land the point that an environment which fosters psychological safety looks and feels different for everyone. You may wish to consider, within the current systems and processes that exist within your business, who is the environment set up to be psychologically safe for.

In a truly safe environment, we’re able to have uncomfortable conversations, moments of tough self-reflection, and big feelings, in a mature and respectful way. If people are ‘punished’ or villainised for coming forward with issues that make particular demographics uncomfortable, that in itself means there is a lack of psychological safety.

Psychological safety has become a key term that ED&I professionals understand well, but may feel inaccessible for others in terms of their understanding. A helpful route through could be to talk about what it means, what it looks and feels like when it’s there and when it isn’t, to bring clarity of definition and bring power and privilege into the conversation.

6. Education

Diversity & Confusion 2023 is such an interesting report! What lessons can be learnt for the education sector right now? How can schools use the data?

We recognise that each school is likely to have its own unique culture, values, workforce strategies as well as curriculum and policies for students. There will likely be different considerations and therefore recommendations depending on the school.

Schools can use the data by looking at inclusion levels and how they impact whether someone will stay in, or leave, a workforce.

7. Burden

How can we ensure the imbalance is addressed particularly for those from under-represented groups doing all the heavy lifting?

The employee voice - particularly the voice of those who are underrepresented - is a powerful tool in creating change, but it’s not the only one. Often the burden and sense of disillusionment comes amongst underrepresented groups who have not been listened to for many years and who - when they share experiences - see little to no change.

One way to address this imbalance is to consider the governance around how voices are convened and shared within an organisation. Having Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that are set up with clear lanes of accountability and remuneration can be a simple way to create better balance.

It is also important to assess all of the roles needed for success in leading this type of work. There are sponsorship and allyship roles as well as functional roles like reporting, HR and finance. It’s important to ensure that the right people are engaged and are taking accountability for their roles to play in achieving success so that the workload is more balanced and the EDI team or those leading the charge from underrepresented groups aren’t left trying to do everything.

8. Menopause

Apart from HRT, are there any other methods to help with symptoms, especially night sweats and sleepless nights?

We aren’t medical professionals, however, we do see some great organisations creating better inclusion around menopause in the workplace. Vodafone is a good example of this.

9. Belonging

Beyond protected characteristics, where else might we extend our DEI efforts to ensure we're fostering a culture of belonging?

It is critical that when we’re thinking about DEI, we think in equal measure about all aspects. Equity and inclusion are critical success factors for diversity to thrive in a workplace, so broadening your efforts to think about culture is key. There are many facets to culture and it’s important to hone in on what actually will truly make a difference. Our inside out inclusion®️ model is underpinned by a validated set of culture indicators and can provide you with a focus. Please get in contact to find out more.

10. Clinical trials

Thoughts on how employers can aid in increasing ED&I in clinical trials?

We aren’t specialists in this field, however, we’d bring things back to looking at systems and at bias. We all have bias, and so those in the field of recruiting and running clinical trials would benefit from understanding these, and having targeted interventions that can overcome them in the moment. We do believe this is a critical area given the disparities in medical outcomes across differing demographic groups.

11. Race and Ethnicity

How do we influence leaders to keep focusing on the race and ethnicity agenda?

Data and insights is a good place to start to create conversation. At a macro level, it could be looking at how demographic shifts are taking place around the world, and how race & ethnicity simply impacts who we are as people. At a micro level, it could be uncovering the experiences of and sentiment amongst different races & ethnicities in the workplace and seeing how they differ.

Coaching is a great way to build confidence. We often work with leaders who are trying to understand their place in understanding different races & ethnicities, and slowly building up confidence over time to either become a bolder leader or a better ally.

12. Disability and neurodivergence data

Regarding disability and neurodivergence, is the data in the Diversity & Confusion report based on what people identified most closely with?

Respondents were asked to self-identify if they had a ‘disability and/or long-term health condition’. Respondents were also invited to indicate if ‘any of the following apply to you’. This list included: ‘a neurodiverse condition such as dyslexia, autistic spectrum condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyspraxia’.

13. Education

How and when will we get to a time where inclusion and diversity is on the school curriculum?

We agree that ED&I in the formal education system both in terms of workplace culture, school values and policies and curriculum is crucial.

14. Flexible working

How can you support employers to see the value of offering flexible working options?

The conversation and news around flexible working continues to shift as we come to terms with what life post-Covid really looks like. Understanding the approach to flexible working can often come from understanding what colleagues really want from their workplace, and exploring how adjustments can be made at home, and in the office.

We’re also noticing a balance of ensuring flexibility works on both sides – ensuring that a culture can be fostered whilst also accommodating numerous ways of working.

15. Recruitment

How can we reach the most marginalised communities when recruiting? Where can we advertise or how can we network most effectively?

Different marginalised communities require different strategies that should also be linked to the nature of the work and offer available.

We suggest considering which communities you wish to prioritise together with the industry and roles, and conducting focused research to identify the priority spaces, networks as well as possible barriers and motivators to apply in order to inform the most influential advertising strategies.

There are specific careers sites and job boards for almost every group that you want to attract. It’s a case of knowing who your target audiences are and then researching the most effective sites that specifically focus on reaching that group. We also recommend a review of the agencies you might be working with – if the same type of talent continues to be presented from your chosen agencies, it might be time for a refresh.

16. International markets

Are you able to share insights by markets, such as how is Africa fairing vs Europe?

This research was conducted specifically within the UK. If you have research and insights needs for other markets, we would be happy to partner on developing new insights for the markets you’re most interested in.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a question. We hope this helps. To watch (or rewatch) the webinar 'From Diversity & Confusion to Clarity', click here.


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