These questions promoted some interesting debate with people commenting that I&D should value everyone’s contribution and opinion, regardless of their position within the company. Others commented on the need to feel valued and able to be their ‘authentic self’ at work. It was also noted that people feel more included and valued when others make the effort to involve them, especially when people are new to the organisation or where English is perhaps not their first language. It was also suggested that, sometimes, it is not your gender, culture or sexual persuasion that holds you back in the workplace, but the amount of power you hold within an organisation and how seriously your opinions are considered. Empowering people to contribute their ideas, whatever their level, was seen as crucial to building a thriving business where all are listened to and appreciated.
At the end of the event, people were asked to pair-up with a ‘buddy’ and discuss one thing they could do to make people feel more included. These ‘commitments to change’ were then written down and placed in an envelope (in the hope that if was written it down it might actually happen). These envelopes will then be given back to the team at a later date to see if they have actually done what they committed to do and to share their experience with either the whole team or with their buddy.
“Diversity and inclusivity initiatives will only be successful if everyone experiences a feeling of belonging in the workplace,” Mel concludes. “We are committed to continuing the conversations around I&D and really listening to what people have to say.”
Mel and Stuarts ‘top-tips’ for hosting an inclusion and diversity event
Ask, don’t tell: rather than forcing people to attend the event we sought their views and asked them to help us make our workplace more diverse and inclusive. Rather than telling them what to do we asked them a series of questions so they felt included and part of the I&D journey;
Bring I&D to life: we created fun posters displaying our three questions and placed them everywhere in the office…. they were in the cupboards, by the printers and even in the toilets! Don’t forget to translate the posters into different languages if you have multi-lingual teams – even if everyone speaks English, making the effort to acknowledge different backgrounds builds trust and acceptance.
Be Creative: I&D builds more creative teams and the ‘creative croissant’ was our way to bring people together over food. Why not ask people to suggest foods for your event that mean something to them or represent their culture or beliefs? It’s a great way of opening-up conversations and making people feel included.
Less talk, more action: don’t create an I&D policy then file it away. Bring it to life by creating Diversity Champions and empowering them to create events, challenge current policy and bring about change.
Keep a record: keep a note of people’s suggestions and ideas and think of ways you can move the conversations forward and really drive change within the organisation.