With the New Year nicely underway, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the great strides made last year in terms of inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
Speeding the wide range of work and successes that came out of the past year was the fact we were finally able to meet up together again. Joining massively well supported and attended events and seeing upbeat, enthusiastic people was so encouraging. It’s heartening to see pioneers and ambassadors take to the stage and welcome us back. There is an undeniable energy which comes from live events where people can network, exchange experiences, thoughts and ideas.
I’m really looking forward to what 2023 brings and hope for more initiatives heralding greater and, dare I say, faster progress. There were many things to recognise from last year, with these landmark successes standing out to me as particularly worthy of praise.
WeAreTechWomen Level Up Summit
Vanessa Vallely OBE is relentless in her drive to improve on what she states as being the ‘pitifully low’ representation of women in the tech industry – just 21%! The summit saw industry speakers and panel talks, but also personal stories which provoked fresh thinking and shared sustainable solutions which will bring change in representation outcomes within the industry.
Whilst Vanessa highlights there is much still to be done to begin approaching a true levelling up, she left us in no doubt that there is fantastic work and progress being made, as evidenced in the winners, and all those nominated, of the 2022 TechWomen100 Awards. This is a great initiative as it seeks to encourage and support the next generation of women as tech leaders and role models.
Neurodiversity Celebration Week
This was such a positive experience. Not only was this the opportunity for pupils and teachers to learn more about neurodiversity, but it allowed neurodivergent students to learn and understand themselves better. It sought to enable youngsters to gain a positive perception of their own unique neurodiverse traits and skills which is powerful in itself. Neurodiversity is now a ‘stand alone’ group, having striven to break away from being categorised as a ‘disability’. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the years to come.
National Fertility Awareness Week
Late October and early November saw five days dedicated to different angles on the huge issue of fertility. There are 3.5 million people in the UK who are facing fertility issues. The week’s focus was to change other people’s perceptions and signpost those affected towards information and support. The build-up encouraged people to give their experiences and to say what needs to change…but only using five words! (#FERTILITYIN5). This made great social media material. Meanwhile, the everyday cuppa came to the fore in Fertili-tea which got people together, selling tea and cakes to raise awareness. Really nicely done!
Menopause Friendly Employer Awards
Menopause has certainly made the headlines in 2022 – and not before time. The first ever industry recognised awards was a wonderful evening with guests from a great range of organisations attending in person with many more gathering and participating via a live link as their organisations hosted regional parties to celebrate the successes that had been achieved in so many workplaces and by so many individuals.
Hosted by Deborah Garlick of Menopause Friendly, renowned broadcaster Louise Minchin was a very popular host, with many recognising the impact she has had on menopause recognition and discussion. The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee was a guest of honour and in her passionate speech she set the challenge for 50% of British organisations to have a menopause friendly policy in place by 2023’s October Menopause Day. That’s one target to look out for!
Black History Month Event
I was proud to co-host the Diversity in The Public Sector Black History Month event in partnership with Penna and humbled to receive such positive feedback. Looking at the impact of Inclusion since George Floyd’s murder, we examined in detail the inequalities that have been brought to people’s attention as a result of the senseless killing of George Floyd. As time passes, we must keep the light on these issues and harness that initial energy from the outcry to change things for good and forever.
Ethnicity Pay Gap
The amazing Dianne Greyson established the EPG in 2018, designed to encourage the government to make the publishing of the Ethnicity Pay Gap Report mandatory and also for organisations and businesses to have a strategy in place to address it. Just last week, Ethnicity Pay Gap Day on January 8 powered by the #One Voice campaign started the new year in the way we all want to see it continue.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the resolve, determination, and care shown by all those involved in these initiatives changed the way people experience their lives? Diversity and inclusion are powerful words that are now being accompanied by powerful actions. It is truly tragic that it took the death of George Floyd and the attention this brought to the world for there to be a big step forward. But, as we have seen in the past, one big step is not always followed by other steps; too soon what should have been a journey is cut short. A few big actions are not enough. Achieving diversity and inclusion in the workplace are big steps, but without true EQUITY those steps lead nowhere. This is our challenge for 2023 and beyond; ensuring everyone has a voice and everyone is listened to and truly included.
Let’s hope this time next year we look back once again and see great strides have been taken towards equity. Who’s with me?