Like so many other organisations we are on a journey to make Situ a company that truly embraces diversity and equity. A Company that as a result has a working culture that is incredibly inclusive. A workforce that is representative of the communities from which we recruit and operate in. Work in progress for sure and whilst we are pleased with many of the practices and initiatives we have put in place so far (recognition here for our forward-thinking People team and quite brilliant DE&I employee-led committee), there is of course always more that can be done.
Considering this, we thought it would be insightful and beneficial to collaborate with other organisations located in our head office geographical region of Southwest England. With that in mind, we have established and recently conducted the inaugural instalment of a series of cross-company meetings. These sessions are centred around the development of practices aimed at nurturing working cultures that genuinely embrace diversity and inclusion
Representatives from organisations varying in size. Industry sectors and stages in their DE&I journeys came together, bringing enthusiasm and a willingness to share and lean. As a result, we all departed with fresh ideas to apply in our respective workplaces.
To maintain focus during our session, we loosely structured our agenda around key questions such as, “Is DE&I a high priority for your organisation?” . Or “Do you have an employee resource group or DE&I Committee?” and “Is Senior Management actively involved in DE&I initiatives?”
DE&I: Senior Leadership commitment is essential
Everyone agreed that it’s essential to have full support and commitment from senior leaders in order for DE&I to be a priority across an organisation. The matter needs to be layered into strategic and operational plans. They need to be invested in, built into agendas and very much part of the daily dialogue. It should not be left for “HR” to sort out, though of course… They are the experts who will make much of it happen in terms of policy creation, training, awareness and promoting accountability.
“A reminder that senior management are people too. Learning and development needs to start in the leadership team, we need to encourage their training and education and help provide awareness of any unconscious bias at the top.”
“The groups are designed to drive change through the business and contribute to the internal DE&I strategy.”
Safe/brave space sessions really help to raise awareness
We delved into the concept of safe/brave space sessions at length. Recognising how such sessions facilitate learning and awareness about unfamiliar cultures, disabilities and identities in a non-judgemental environment. This then helps people to become more mindful and considerate in terms of their beliefs, language and actions.
“We have done sessions regarding Gender, Intersectionality and have a future one planned on Neurodiversity. We have found they definitely encouraged openness and awareness.”
Cultural diversity can be hard to achieve in the workforce for Southwest-based organisations
All attendees reflected on the challenge of being a Southwest-based organisation. Not having culturally diverse communities to recruit from in comparison to big urban locations such as Birmingham or London. That said, everyone was mindful of unconscious bias and how to ensure that despite the make-up of local communities. How can we ensure that anyone regardless of race, age, ability or religion feels that they can apply for advertised roles and be interviewed? This topic will be high on the agenda for our next meeting.
Not just debate!
We ended the meeting by working collectively on a theoretical case study. Producing a range of ideas and solutions on how to deal with a situation where an external stakeholder has had an issue with someone in a company from a particular ethnic minority. Whilst the issue was unrelated to ethnicity, the stakeholder now does not want to work with anyone from that ethnic minority in the future.
We would be interested to hear what you would do in this instance?
DE&I is hugely beneficial
Overall, everyone at the meeting found it to be practical, insightful and extremely helpful. We’re committed to convening quarterly and involving as many organisations as possible to broaden the discussion and collective input.
If you are interested and wish to join us, please reach out – we’d love to hear from you. Together, we can drive meaningful change in our pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion.