There are lots of great things about working in Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at Evolve. I get to work with passionate, engaged people, and I see real change resulting from what we do. Promoting EDI helps both our staff and service-users to feel safe, comfortable and accepted.
However, our successes with EDI don’t belong to me, or any other single person. Changing workplaces for the better requires action from everybody.
There is lots that we can all do to create equal, inclusive workplaces. If you’re wondering where you could start, here are a few steps which have helped us on our journey so far.
1) Reflecting, and asking the right questions:
Firstly, no-one has all the answers. With EDI, a vital first step is always to reflect on what we do and do not know already. Whether you’re a junior staff member, a manager or the CEO, think about where the gaps in your knowledge about inclusion are. Once you know, you can start to fill them – ask friends and colleagues, sign up to EDI newsletters, do some wider reading. There’s always more learning we can do.
2) Celebrate and recognise:
Everyone can help champion and embrace diversity through awareness raising days and months. From International Women’s Day to Black History month, these are opportunities to learn, and hear stories from colleagues that bring issues to life. Whether you’re an ally or personally connected to a cause, see how you can get involved with these events. If there isn’t anything happening, why not suggest doing something?
3) Create safe spaces:
People need opportunities to talk openly about EDI issues and ask questions. Safe-space conversations can help with this. These are sessions allowing people to talk openly about their views and experiences, without repercussions. We created ‘Listen + Learn’ forums to encourage such dialogue, and the conversations that resulted were incredibly informative and inspiring. If similar initiatives are happening at your workplace, why not attend? If they aren’t, you could suggest them.
4) Be an Ally:
Allyship is not just about words – it is an active thing. It can involve advocating, actively listening and supporting others, and speaking up when you see problems. As Sheree Atcheson puts it:
“An ally is any person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole.”
5) Consider being a mental health first-aider:
Having mental health first aiders can help encourage colleagues to talk about their wellbeing. By training people up in this capacity, organisations can provide another channel through which people can get support and have personal conversations. Could you train as a mental health first aider? Doing so could allow you to help people when they really need it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Every workplace is different, and we all have the time and skills to help in different ways. The important, and brilliant thing is that everyone has a role to play.
Fatima is the EDI Advisor at Evolve, and has led on the creation of our new EDI strategy, which you can read here.