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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DROP – The days of needing proof that an inclusive, socially connected workplace is worth the investment will seem as outdated questioning the business value of the internet.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    EMPATHY IS THE NEW IQ – The high praise ‘S/he’s super intelligent’ will be superseded by ‘S/he’s connected to what’s really going on’ USP will stand for Unique Social Perspective.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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Motley Crews

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They had great hair. They rocked the world, they got banned from Edmonton, Canada for hurling a television from a sixth-floor hotel window. But despite their hijinks, I’m not here to talk about the famous 80s Metal Band, Mötley Crüe. I’m talking about Diversity.

The term ‘motley crew’ is used to describe ‘a roughly organized assembly of characters of various backgrounds, appearance, and character’. And if you think back to almost every film about teams from The Great Escape to The Goonies, it’s often the motley-ness of a crew that helps it prevail.

The term ‘motley crew’ is used to describe ‘a roughly organized assembly of characters of various backgrounds, appearance, and character’.

The diverse set of skills, experiences, views of the world, knowledge, and connections help the motley crews out of scrapes, defeat their often uniform(ed) and unimaginative opponents and create ingenious solutions to complex challenges. (Usually involving zip-wires, in the case of The Goonies) So let me ask you a question. How motley is your crew?

How truly different are the people that you work with?

If your answer is ‘we’re basically a combination of The Goonies and The Great Escape’ then chances are you’re on the right track, but if you feel surrounded by people either from a similar background or who may be acting a certain way at work, because that’s what’s expected of them, then guess what? You might have an un-motley crew. A team that’s more uniform than it needs to be. A team that might be constrained by outdated stereotypes and notions of what’s ‘normal’. A team that once back at home, or out discovering new places, attending a grandchild’s play, or volunteering at a community shelter feel they can be themselves, but as soon as you put them in a workplace context, the motley-ness disappears. The uniformity creeps in, authenticity evaporates and the ability to innovate sails off into the sunset.

So next time you’re holding a meeting – take some time to think about your favourite motley crew. And if it is indeed the 80s Metal Band from Southern California, then go ahead and rock the boat.