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Five hopeful predictions on the future of workplace inclusion

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At the start of 2018, here are some thoughts about what’s new in the world of workplace inclusion – and what’s coming up.

1.    MEND THE GAP – Following gender pay gap revelations this year, businesses will invest in proactive measures to address these kind of equality discrepancies. Success will depend on combining practical actions like HR policies, with empathy-building activitiesthat engage employees in the benefits of supporting an inclusive culture today. The social narrative around exclusive workplaces will move from “How can this be happening!?” to the pragmatic “Look, we’re fixing it”, to the competitive “Ha! We’ve got the lowest pay gap in our industry!”

2.    INCLUSION AS PR – When businesses realise the benefits that a socially representative workplace brings to their external brand – not to mention wellbeing, employee motivation, attraction and retention of future-focused talent and innovation power, they will be shouting about their inclusive culture from the rooftops. A business culture that is lead by fostering diversity, of all kinds, will be no more the worthy nice-to-have, but the relevant need-to-have. A word of warning though – in these transparent times an inclusive workplace is impossible to fake, so work will need to be done to engage entire workforces on their individual roles in ensuring an inclusive culture. Because in 2018, the time for lip service to diversity is up, it’s everyone’s responsibility and there is no room for ‘spinclusion’.

3.    THE PENNY WILL DROP – The days of needing proof that an inclusive, socially connected workplace is worth the investment will seem as outdated questioning the business value of the internet. There will be an understanding that for every £ invested in engaging employees in workplace diversity and inclusion, business will automatically invest a £ in brand, a £ in wellbeing, a £ in recruitment and ultimately a £ to stay relevant. The ROI is a prosperous place in the future.

4.    EMPATHY IS THE NEW IQ – The high praise ‘S/he’s super intelligent’ will be superseded by ‘S/he’s connected to what’s really going on’ USP will stand for Unique Social Perspective. Forward looking businesses will seek people who can bring different outlooks, communities and experiences to the table. Putting yourself in the shoes of employees, customers, people on the other side of the world will be the highest-valued commodity in leaders.

5.    AUTHENTICITY OVER AVERAGES – No more authenticity tax. Human diversity will be celebrated, not categorised or limited. Describing human diversity in businesses will move away from purely ensuring valuable variety in our physical characteristics, to how people with their infinitely varied experiences of life can solve challenges together. Being yourself, talking about your honest social outlooks and respecting the same of others is after all, the ultimate human technology.

Altogether Different specialises in building engagement in workplace diversity and inclusion amongst employees – bringing about tangible, practical action – and a passport to the future. Get in touch today www.altogether-different.com

Heather crop

PORTRAITS AND GIFTS

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PORTRAITS AND GIFTS

Last Autumn I worked with the talented artist, Heather Agyepong as part of a forward-thinking collective at Seen Fifteen gallery, entitled VISIBLE:IN. The exhibition provoked conversations about race and multiculturalism also featuring Lea Nagano’s ‘Mixedness’ – which forms part of a new workshop, Market Fresh, looking at different ways to connect with workplace diversity.

In her work ‘Too Many Blackamoors’ through a series of powerful portraits, Heather assumes the persona of Lady Sarah Forbes Bonetta – with a starting point of 1850 and the arrival of Lady Sarah, a ‘gift’ to Queen Victoria from King Ghezo of Dahomey (a part of modern day Benin)

Freed from slavery, to become the adopted charge of the Queen, Lady Sarah was a regular visitor to Windsor Castle and moved within in the most privileged echelons of British society. Queen Victoria herself, having once declared there were ‘Too Many Blackamoors’, was ‘impressed’ by her “regal manner and exceptional academic intelligence”.

Lady Sarah Bonetta

 

 

 

 

Lady Sarah Forbes Bonetta in 1862

This was almost two centuries ago. In 1862, Lady Sarah would have experienced such vastly contrasting environments in her journey from West Africa to Windsor. Imagine the societal expectations and sadly, extreme biases she may have experienced along the way. Think about how much has changed since those days. So much, and yet in some respects, so little.

Two days ago, Members of Cambridge University’s Afro-Caribbean Society (CUACS) posed for a photograph outside St John’s College to challenge the stereotype of a Cambridge student. #blackmenofcambridge went viral highlighting the fact that in 2015, only 15 black, male undergraduates were accepted into Cambridge. One of the students involved, Dami Adebayo commented: ‘Young black men don’t grow up thinking they’ll make it here. They should.’

When I talk to Heather about her work, she draws parallels with the barriers Lady Sarah may have faced and those experienced her own life. Racial biases, particularly those in the workplace or highlighted by the young black men of Cambridge university. Heather refers to some of the more subtle barriers as ‘micro-aggressions’ – disappointingly still part of our post-Victorian society and perhaps felt more strongly in the corridors of our oldest educational institutions. The “harmless” banter. The small-talk questions that only serve to divide. The ‘where are you from – originally?’. At a base level, it’s tiring – and can even go on to prevent people from fulfilling their authentic potential in day-to-day roles as well as their entire careers.

It’s no surprise that in mid 1800s Lady Sarah Bonetta didn’t take a role with (or at) Brunel. Despite being bi-lingual and extremely bright, Victorian attitudes towards women in the workplace, on top of racial prejudice, prevented Lady Sarah from fully utilising her gifts. On top of her exceptional academic intelligence – consider her exceptional insights, her connections with the world, her ability to flex and thrive within vastly different environments. What an asset to the Brunel engineering team she would have been.

So, fast-forward 150 years. Research broadly shows that less 1% of people working at tech companies are women of colour. The tech industry is well aware of this problem, aside from the moral imperative alone, the lack of employee diversity limits innovation. It’s a complex and nuanced challenge and one they’re trying to fix. Well documented, contributory factors include lack of visible female role models in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM), unconscious racial and gender bias in the workplace, institutionalised gender bias in STEM education and societal attitudes to ‘genderised jobs’. On top of this centuries of racial prejudice and gender hierarchy limiting access to opportunities.

SO, IT’S 2017 – WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Workplace inclusion ideas: Inspired by Heather Agyepong last autumn, the Members of Cambridge University’s Afro-Caribbean Society this week and Lady Sarah Bonetta, from 150 years ago:

  1. UNITING CONVERSATION: When asking personal questions, make them uniting. Instead of ‘Where are you from?’ how about ‘Where do you like going at the weekend?’ Find common ground, instead of highlighting divides.
  1. CALL IT OUT: If you think a comment is a racist micro-aggression, then have the courage to call it out. If you are a people manager, reward this courage in others.
  1. ROLE MODELS: Holding up role models allows others to have visible validation of potential success.
  1. THINK IN 3D: While ethnicity, race and background form a significant part of identity, it’s not the full picture. These characteristics are the 2D proxies to 3D selves. Think in 3D- global connections, unique perspectives, resilience and innovation.

 

Heather Aygepong next to her powerful work ‘Too Many Blackamoors’, as part of Visible:IN at Seen Fifteen Gallery

Heather

Nothing else like this - Lea Hazel

INTRODUCING: THE MARKET FRESH WORKSHOP – INCLUSION WITH A DIFFERENCE

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MARKET FRESH

Get out of the corporate classroom and into a brand new, innovative space. MARKET FRESH is a full-day workshop experience bringing Diversity and Inclusion issues to life, with impact and action. Where better to learn about how workplaces can adapt to the ever changing global marketplace than in an actual marketplace?

 

This is a completely new way of engaging with workplace inclusion. At just £375 for a full day of creative experiences and idea-fuelling activities, this workshop is for anyone interested in impactful action to make workplaces more inclusive. Tangible benefits to you are double:

1. Come away with unique practical outcomes to make your workplace more inclusive, actionable immediately.

2. Pick up new tools and ground-breaking techniques to build empathy, to inspire the rest of your team to embrace inclusion.

Inspiration AND action. Plus an opportunity to meet peers with similar challenges, exchange ideas and learn from our on-hand practical Diversity and Inclusion specialists.

“There is nothing else like this out there, so innovative and impactful”

Whitney Berry, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, ustwo

A truly forward-looking and action-focused approch”

Laura, Leading communications firm

“An excellent way to start progressive and constructive conversations about the benefits of diversity and inclusion”

Penny Thomas, Company Secretary, Shaftesbury PLC

 

BRINGING TOGETHER:

forza winCreative Space

Join us at Forza Win, Peckham, a warehouse-turned banquet hall in the middle of a thriving and diverse London market. Feel the corporate world slip away and the ideas pour in.

 

 


Art Inspiration

Diversity issues made instantly impactful through art-led storytelling and discussion. Award-winning short films, character monologues and empathy-building exercises.

Virtual Reality

Pioneering new technology puts you in the shoes of someone thousands of miles away. Feel what it’s like to experience a totally new perspective.

Innovation Tour

Experience first hand the benefits of a diverse mindset in this ground-breaking team innovation challenge. A realtime High St innovation trail, create something different together.

 

 

DIVERSITY TOPICS COVERED IN THE ONE-DAY WORKSHOP EXPERIENCE:

– DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT:

Learn about adapting to a rapidly changing world by increasing your organisation’s breadth of connections and experiences.

watermelon

– UNCONSCIOUS BIAS:

Inclusive group exercises to explore the universal phenomenon, how it affects us in today’s working world and how to overcome it.

– DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES:

Using Virtual Reality technology and interactive scenes, immerse yourself in a different perspective.

 – MIXEDNESS:

Video portraits from artist Lea Nagano – exploring attitudes to racial identity and stereotypes

chili

– MARKET FRESH INNOVATION CHALLENGE:

Explore, imagine and innovate in this group challenge highlighting diversity’s role in bringing about fresh business ideas. Get out and about, discover hidden parts of of one of the most diverse parts of one of the most diverse cities on the planet.

– PRACTICAL ACTIONS:

Come up with a practical action plan to take back to your team, full of new ideas about how to make changes and inspire others with the powerful message of diversity and inclusion.


YOUR FACILITATORS

 

Charlotte Butler and Damian Lynch are lively and experienced facilitators specialising in both Employee Engagement and Diversity and Inclusion. Together they’ve helped a vast range of organisations become more inclusive from big banks to tech start-ups and everything in-between.

CBDamian Lynch

 


What people are saying about the workshops:

 

 

“There is nothing else like this out there, so innovative and impactful”

Whitney Berry, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, ustwo

 

“A truly forward-looking and action-focused approch”

Laura, Leading communications firm

 

“An excellent way to start progressive and constructive conversations about the benefits of diversity and inclusion”

Penny Thomas, Company Secretary, Shaftesbury PLC

 

 


Email Charlotte@altogether-different.com for 2018 dates

LOCATION:

FORZA WIN, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, Peckham, London SE15 3SN


 

 

together

Signs of the Times

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What I loved most about the Women’s March in London wasn’t the political statement or striding out, exhilarating though that was. It wasn’t even the excellent punning (“We shall Overcomb”) it was the feeling of the collective. And in particular the beautiful citizen thumbprint of art work and emotion. Seared into my memory the multi-coloured signs, gleaming in the bright blue January sky.  I’ve walked along Piccadilly many, many times but never felt so truly connected to, and proud of,  my hometown. I don’t know whether you’ve been to London before, but it can sometimes be, well, a bit cloudy. Not on on January 21st. The sky was deepest blue, reminding the marchers of its soaring unlimitedness. ‘Stronger Together’ as we walked past the war memorial at Hyde Park Corner, ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’ past the Queen Elizabeth Gates – ‘Love and a nice cup of tea’ as we walked past the Ritz. A kaleidoscope of hand crafted placards, held by all walks of life. I have a feeling that this was a ‘walk of life’ for so many of us, for a kaleidoscope of reasons. A blue sky day lit up with homegrown dgrabseclarations of independence.

Under the worthy auspice of a Women’s March, I felt encouraged that people hadn’t taken this too literally. There’s noting like standing shoulder to shoulder with a group of your own gender sometimes, particularly if that gender is denied equal pay, faces unfair societal barriers or abuse, but you don’t have to be a woman to be deeply offended by misogyny. We all have a role in shifting the social narrative away from limiting gender stereotypes for women and men.

Men protesting for equal rights for women. Women protesting for LGBTQ rights. Mothers and daughters protesting intersectional discrimination against women of colour. Four generations, side by side with Dad pushing the buggy. All races, all faces, we moved along together. We held our expressions of hope, of anger, of defiance and most often than not, love. People with infinitely different experiences of the world, the margins of the marginalised, your next door neighbour, the people who care about the planet and the people that live here.

vivavulvamujueresmanforwomannice-cup-of-tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope people felt supported and listened to. I hope the beautiful home-made placards made it home intact. Most of all I hope some of them got swapped along the way.

And heres to more home-made signs of togetherness, may the citizens’ art be as present in our cities as street signs, guiding us on our way.

poling

Biases behind the booth

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BIASES BEHIND THE BOOTH



“Oh it’s got nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman. I just don’t warm to her”. Today, a divided nation will take their unconscious biases to the polls.

When I get asked to explain what unconscious gender bias is I often show two pictures and ask people to say what they see. The first reaction is usually ‘a fishmonger’ and the second, ‘a woman holding a fish’. The point is, these people are both fishmongers – the first is male, the second is female – but our own unconscious bias, supported by centuries of ‘accepted’ social norms lead us to view the woman holding the fish as just that. Viewing this person as, first and foremost, a woman, and what’s that woman doing? She’s holding a fish. Both of the fishmongers are in identical work wear, and yes, with the fishmonger hats and everything. It doesn’t surprise me one bit, as unconscious bias is present in everyone. At a time when people seem to delight in dividing and putting up walls, unconscious bias is actually one of the many human characteristics that unites us all.

At a time when people seem to delight in dividing and putting up walls, unconscious bias is actually one of the many human characteristics that unites us all.

Unconscious bias is born of our evolutionary need to opt for safety. Our unconscious minds, over millennia, have been hard-wired to go for a rough average, a quick calculation based on what looks like the best route for survival. But this average-based unconscious thinking, this rough estimation, this ‘gut-feel’ can limit us from fully understanding the big picture in a modern day setting. In 2016, the risks might be a missed opportunity, a short-sighted decision or worse, limiting others around us. This is noticeable especially in the workplace –  where biases in hiring processes can lead to skewed monocultures that do not best reflect the customer bases they are there to serve.

Hillary Clinton talked about this phenomenon in January this year: “So much of the perception [about leadership] is rooted in very ancient feelings we have about the roles of men and women. I’ve had so many interesting and sometimes surprising experiences where people will say to me, ‘I never thought I’d support a woman for president but I’m at least considering it with you’. That’s a big step forward”. “Because I don’t know how we’re going to open the door for more girls and boys to live the lives they choose until we get rid of a lot of these stereotypes, these caricatures and break through together.”

We all possess unconscious biases, it’s part of who we are as humans. But maybe better to be aware, better to try and jolt ourselves past hard-wired stereotypes and think of the bigger picture. Maybe if you notice yourself referring to unknown doctors as he, or asking women if they have children but rarely men, then this could be due to unconscious gender bias. Try and make your unconscious biases conscious ones, noticing them will help to reduce them over time. Because sometimes, it’s not just a better bit of tuna you’re missing out on, but a better career opportunity, team member or even a President.

Find out more about overcoming unconscious biases here.