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The Urgent Need to Eradicate Inequality, Injustice and Inequity: A Message From Our Chief De-Stressing Officer 

“No-one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”- Nelson Mandela

Standing silently as the pandemic of racism continues to plague the world results in advertently condoning and perpetuating the cycle of prejudice.  This has gone on for far too long, and the fact that we are still having this discussion is heart-breaking. This is a very personal subject to me and as an organisation we refuse to sit back and remain idle or on the fence while systemic, institutional racism, as well as other forms of prejudice, continue to plague our society.

Our aim has always been to create an open and supportive culture, whether through our workshops or Wellbeing Audits, where people can connect and create commonality, discuss and explore shared experiences/challenges and work together to create a unified culture of wellbeing. A culture where we are all valued and support each other, no matter what our background is.

We believe people are at their best when they can live life on their own terms, specifically when they have freedom of movement, and equal access to opportunity. Where you can show your whole self without fearing repercussions. The protests against systemic discrimination of black people, across the United States and the world, continue to highlight the fact that still, in 2020, not everyone has this freedom or access. We are all accountable for calling out racism and making our society more just and equitable.

As a man of colour who was born and raised in London I have many first-hand experiences of prejudice. My parents and grandparents came from Kenya in East Africa and our ancestors originated from India.

Thankfully being a Londoner, experiences of prejudice and racism have been few and far between for me, however, on my travels to various parts of the world I haven’t been quite as lucky and have found myself being judged by my skin colour. I can only imagine what Black people who have faced hundreds of years of systemic, institutionalised racism must experience and continue to endure. A world where you are assumed guilty or deemed of ‘less value’ because of the colour of your skin.

We will not stand for discrimination based on a person’s background or beliefs.  The aftermath of the shocking murder of George Floyd at the hands of those paid to serve and protect the community have forced us to reflect on the inequalities that still exist and why movements such as Black Lives Matter are so important. We have an obligation to pro-actively tackle discrimination, promote equality and take action to create a better future.

Hate has no place in the world we are hoping to help to shape. We must now demand and work towards a happier, healthier, more resilient, equitable and just world for ALL!

While words are important actions are what really count. That’s why we continue to have a zero-tolerance approach towards xenophobia, prejudice or hate speech of any kind in any circles we are part of.  Whether that be within any of our workshops, training programmes or internal activities and we will call out any acts of prejudice we observe as we work on any of our projects or programmes – this includes racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and bigotry of any kind.

We are committed to drive diversity, equality and inclusion through our organisation, stakeholders and communication platforms, and we acknowledge that we still have work to do.  We are holding ourselves accountable, and we encourage you to be willing to look at your beliefs, unconscious biases as well as being willing to have those uncomfortable conversations with yourself.

Recognising the Importance of Acting Now  

For those based in the UK there is a legal framework to prevent prejudice.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 exists to protect people from discrimination related to any of the following 9 protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Although this framework exists, we must go beyond this to tackle the challenges we are facing. It is not always, explicit – it’s important to consider  our covert biases and prejudices.  To create a diverse and inclusive society as well as a workplace culture we can be proud of, one where everyone is treated equal, we need to start by questioning if we are doing everything we can to actively promote a diversity and equality. We need to embed our actions into society, call out what is wrong and be willing to make a stand. Everyone should be treated the same, irrespective of their background.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Pulse Survey

The first step is our willingness to have difficult, challenging and uncomfortable conversations. Opening up a safe space to have this dialogue is key. Our Programme Management team have been working hard to create an “Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Pulse Survey”, a 7-10 question engagement tool to get direct feedback from your employees to allow you to address any concerns that are raised. It’s a great way to show you care and that you are willing to listen.  Most importantly, you are saying you are willing to broach the subject. Allow people to share their thoughts and opinions, give them a voice and be willing to accept what comes out of the survey and take action accordingly.

Click here for more info: https://www.wellbeing.work/what-we-do/diagnose/equality-diversity-inclusivity-pulse-survey/

Diversity and Equality Workshop

Creating safe space for us to explore such a difficult and challenging subject is imperative for us to ensure we can share experience and perspectives.  Our workshop provides an opportunity to explore our Personal Responsibility and take ownership.

We all have a personal responsibility to be contributing and lending our voice to creating a better future. Our 7 E’s Framework for creating a culture of wellbeing can be adapted to how we can also achieve a diverse and inclusive society and work towards a better future and we cover this in our workshop.

Engage
Instead of just assuming what it is like to be someone else, reach out and actively engage in positive dialogue. Your willingness to engage in uncomfortable dialogues, reach out and create the platform and spaces to have those dialogues is imperative.

Exemplify
Exemplify the positive behaviour and change you want to see in society and in the world.  Don’t wait for permission.  Help to overcome the barriers to equality and lead by example. Don’t sit by and do nothing – everyone must come together and contribute if we are to achieve a diverse and just society for all.

Empower
Power literally means the ‘ability to do or act’ What can you do to make a difference?  What action can you take?  Both for yourself and to support others?  All your actions, irrespective of how small they may seem, can make a difference. It is important for us to all play our part and come together collectively. Even if you will never know what it truly feels like to experience a certain form of prejudice or discrimination first-hand, you can still make a stand and have your voice heard. Take personal responsibility and be the change you want to see in the world – change starts with you.

Encourage
We are never too young to learn or too old to be educated. There are a wide range of tools, skills and resources available to us to ensure we are educating ourselves to know what is going on in the world and how to do better. Make a commitment to always listen, learn and take responsibility and action. Recognise positive actions and celebrate successes.  Make people feel valued for any efforts they make.  Creating a diverse culture where people do not feel they have to fit in will create a much more creative and innovative workforce – workplaces should be inclusive and everyone should have the right to feel they can participate without fear of judgement or discrimination, just as they should in society.

Empathise
Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Empathetic leadership is key for an organisation’s success and viewing employees as individuals also fosters strong working relationships and a sense of belonging. If you do not personally have firsthand experience of racism, sexism or any other form of prejudice, it is essential to engage in conversations and be willing to see things from an other’s persons perspective instead of attempting to feel sorry for someone.

At best, just try to understand what they might be experiencing. There is a difference between perception and reality and what you may perceive someone’s life is like can be a very inaccurate portrayal of the reality. If you have not personally experienced something, how can you possibly know how it feels?

There is an important difference between being sympathetic and being empathetic. Sympathy is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, whereas empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Be willing to engage and see people’s perspective, even if it is not your own, and put yourself in situations where you may experience these challenges yourself.

Embed
We must embed our ongoing commitment to promoting diversity, equality and inclusivity as well as creating a just and equitable society. We all have a role to play in embedding this into the society we live in so that discrimination becomes a thing of the past and we create the norm for how we should be living and thriving – in a world where everyone is treated, valued and accepted as an equal.  Lobby business leaders and political leaders to drive change.

Evaluate
Most importantly, how do we know that this has been successful?

There should be zero tolerance for discrimination based on someone’s background. We all, as members of society, have a personal responsibility and obligation to create change. We need to come together as a collective, connect and focus on the things that bring us together, not the things that are separate or divide us.  Power can literally be defined as ‘the ability to do or act’, and we all have the power to make a stand. What we do in this moment dictates our future and we must all take the responsibility to make it a better and more equal one.

Click here for more info on our workshop

To sum up, here is an interesting thought to show you how much work we still have to do. There are more people called David or Steve who head up FTSE 100 companies than there are women or ethnic minorities, underscoring the extent to which corporate Britain is still dominated by white men. According to research conducted by INvolve, a group that champions diversity and inclusion in business, there are currently five ethnic minority and six female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies. Conversely, nine are named David and four are called Steve.

There is a significant amount of data that shows that a Diverse and Inclusive workplace equates to increased performance, and organisational success.  Please feel to contact us to explore how we can help your organization to realise some of those benefits.

What can I do within my organisation? The Business Case for Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity

By implementing a strong and effective equality, diversity and inclusivity strategy, it strengthens your organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice, attracting a wider range of talent and enabling creativity to flow in your workplace. Also, enabling the sharing of different perspectives and ways of thinking. Diversity and inclusion plays such an important role in attracting the best candidates, with survey data revealing that just over half of women and under half of men surveyed reporting to researching if an organisation has a diversity and inclusion policy in place before deciding on whether to accept a position, emphasising just how important this is.

©Copyright PWC 2017

Essentially, there is a clear business need for a diverse workforce. Promoting diversity, inclusivity and equality improves the employee experience, resulting in greater employee satisfaction and contributing to their wellbeing, engagement, sense of purpose and achievement leading to higher productivity levels and financial returns.

The McGregor Smith review estimates that there could be a potential benefit of £24 billion to the UK economy a year if there is full representation of BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) individuals across the labour market.

The successes of creating and embedding a collective culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity is far too important to ignore and the time to act on ensuring you are embracing this in your organisation is now.

We’re here to listen.

We’re open to the fact we might still have blind spots. There might be unintentional bias in the way we’ve previously operated, and this week has been the beginning of a longer process of unlearning.

We’re committed to listening to our clients, suppliers, partners, trainers, colleagues and community at large and working with you on ways to address racism and all other forms of prejudice, to ensure equality, diversity, inclusivity and equity for all is supported through everything we do, so your comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.

Wishing you all the best at this difficult and challenging time,

Love life and smile,

Neil Shah and the entire International Wellbeing Insights and The Stress Management Society Team.