We made the most of this year’s National Inclusion Week at RY (24-30 September). It was an excellent opportunity for RYers to get out and about and to explore different views and perspectives that exist beyond our four walls. In addition to running an internal Inspiration Session and week-long inclusive-focused activities, we attended a variety of events across London, including a debate on Paving the Way for Inclusion with the EEA at Peakson’s premises, a Hacking Inclusion workshop with Utopia, a London Design Festival event on inclusive design, as well as the opening event at the Dive In – the festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance.
Here are our key takeaways from the week:
1. It’s about so much more than diversity data
When we see a list of diversity characteristics, the effect can be alienating. Being defined by our race, gender, age, education level and beyond doesn’t speak to who we are as a person. It reduces us to a statistic, when in fact individual identity is so much richer and more complex than this. So, if you’re trying to update your diversity data, link any communications to your organisation’s values and give people the opportunity to express themselves personally.
2. Don’t underestimate the commercial value of Diversity & Inclusion
We’ve heard much about the value of the pink pound. But what about the purple one? The commercial buying power of people who have a disability is estimated at up to £249bn. If you’re putting together a business case for D&I in your organisation, what hard value can you attribute to it? It’s worth looking into the available research sources that will back your case up with figures.
3. Networks don’t always work
Many D&I strategies focus on supporting D&I networks. However, these individual networks represent specific minority interest groups and often end up competing with one another for attention. To effect real change, they not only need to work together but they need to get the majority onside too.
4. People win over process
Too many organisational D&I strategies are prioritising revisions to processes rather than engaging their people. Change won’t happen through policy revisions: the policy-action gap gets in the way every time. Instead, we should be thinking about how to create an organisation-wide D&I mindset, engaging employees in a shared dialogue, defining the expected behaviours and helping them hold each other to account.
5. Inclusion is for everyone
The term ‘diversity’ might be disengaging to the majority. Talking about ‘inclusion’ instead, by its very nature is inclusive – and everyone has a part to play. So much of our behaviour is influenced by our environment and the way it is designed. When we design with people, not for them we become more inclusive, taking everyone into account and encouraging to them to work together.
6. Change can be inspired by personal insight, but actions and goals make it happen
The Harvard Unconscious Bias test can be fun to do, but to what end? Personal insights can be powerful, but unless the learning is shared, and goals and actions identified, change can falter. Challenges around leadership, recruitment, retention, culture, and flexible working can sometimes be solved simply by taking advantage of curiosity and a ‘why not’ mentality. When people are given the opportunity to call things out, voice their ideas and make suggestions these can then ladder up to powerful changes in policy and practice.