A few years ago I decided that I needed a qualification, to help me with my coaching work and to better understand what the work of a diversity champion might involve. It was a great course. I learnt a lot, getting a much deeper understanding of the protected characteristics and issues around them. The course gave me an in-depth understanding of what is needed by HR people, in terms of diversity and inclusion in the context of the workplace and the law.
Often I’m asked to help companies to improve their inclusivity and run diversity and inclusion workshops. I’m asked to give free advice about recruiting more brown and black people and I’m occasionally asked to run unconscious bias training, despite this being shown not to be effective.
If you or your bosses are keen on the idea of bias training, I would recommend hiring people in that specific area, such as The Other Box, or excellent freelance diversity consultant Yassine Senghor. One way to improve diversity in your company is to hire a person of colour to join your selection process and sit on your interview panels. I’ve been on a hiring panels for arts organisations distributing funds to artists, mentored minority kids in primary schools and I’m currently co-creating a university’s program to address issues of harassment in the workplace. Adding someone who has lived experience to your strategy can only benefit the process.
I’ve championed women in tech, digital and the creative sectors for over 10 years, including the SheSays Brighton events. I have always felt it crucial to showcase women to speak from all levels, all backgrounds and all ages. I will always champion people of colour. Being a diversity champion for me begins with being more visible and open about my focus.
As more and more people gain understanding of anti-racism and are taking up this kind of work themselves, often inspired by all the recent events in the US and the incredible, transformative success of the Black Lives Matter movement, my focus is still on helping women, people of colour and queer people – and working where these groups intersect.
It won’t surprise you to know that my focus is not on helping companies with predominantly white leadership and staff to fix the optics of their – often deep-rooted – diversity problems.
So I continue to run meditation sessions. I continue to run Clarity and Purpose workshops and Creating Abundance courses for women. And I continue to offer one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions for everyone. I also run the Women of Colour Brighton Facebook group, which now has nearly 600 members – professional women, working at senior levels across digital, social, health and charity sectors, as well as entrepreneurs and students in our region.
That is where my energy goes.
If you are a woman, a person of colour, a queer person, a trans person, a non-binary person, any combination of those, please get in touch and I will do my best to help and support you.
If you’d like to work on your own understanding, I’m happy for you to contact me, but be aware we may have some difficult conversations. Here’s a handy list of resources to start you on your journey – but you do actually have to read the books, do the thinking and start listening.
That is ‘the work’.