Listen to understand
Change is difficult. It’s hard work. It involves tough conversations and new levels of honesty. It’s not just about getting uncomfortable; it’s about being brave and vulnerable enough to lean into those hard conversations, to share your experiences and feelings and to hear those of your colleagues. We know this first-hand at NABS. Like many organisations, we’re working to ensure that we’re an inclusive organisation for our team, those we work with and those we support.
Our D&I working group, a volunteer group of NABS employees, is currently inputting into our strategy. We’ve had some emotional and difficult conversations. There’s frustration that we’re not moving quickly enough, balanced with an acknowledgement that we need to be thoughtful and considered in every step we take. Listening, reflecting and learning are essential to effect lasting change; we need to avoid short-termism.
Understand that discrimination is devastating. It can ruin wellbeing and wreck entire careers. If you stop people from bringing their true selves to work, stress, unhappiness, isolation and exhaustion increase as people hide key parts of themselves. Clearly, these factors impede on someone’s ability to perform in their roles.
Go deeper than looking at people through one lens. Intersectionality is more than just a word. People’s backgrounds are woven from more than one strand; this isn’t about putting people into neat boxes.
Ask someone how they’re feeling
Examine how you can create an inclusive culture while we work remotely and how COVID is impacting on marginalised groups. For example, women working from home with little or no childcare. Ask your employees about their challenges and then work to find solutions; flexibility is key.
Understand how systemic racism is affecting people. George Floyd’s murder and the aftermath of this dreadful event have been incredibly painful for Black people in particular. This trauma has led to anger, anxiety, fear and more, not helped by COVID. Those affected need tailored emotional support. Be proactive; regularly ask people how their wellbeing is. You don't need a trigger to ask somebody how they're feeling. It’s good practice to habitually ask everyone how they're doing.
Listen to the experiences of those who face inequality and work out what you can do about it on both an organisational and individual level. Discrimination comes in many forms, from systemic injustice to microaggressions. Some people will have been told they’re not suitable for a particular role because of their background. Others will have felt pressure to dial down their personalities for fear of being cast into an unflattering stereotype.