The first Diversity Matters ‘The D-Word‘ session took place at ThoughtWorks earlier this week offering an opportunity to address race-related issues in the workplace, in a safe space for open and honest critical discussion. Participants from diverse backgrounds included industry professionals as well as students and recent graduates.
Kai Lutterodt, Diversity Matters founder started the #TheDWord event with a presentation about Diversity Matters and gave some examples of projects which have been impactful in addressing race matters in education. This led to a workshop co-facilitated by Tanya Joseph, a consultant at Thoughtbot. The workshop offered participants an opportunity to express their expectations as to what they would like to get out of the session. The two topics that surfaced were:
- Workplace – How to introduce diversity talks at workplace and support building a progressive diverse environment.
- Learning & collaboration – How could we learn more about diversity and collaborate with the wider world to make diversity work.
Participants were split into six groups, each group having 5-6 team members. Sizing into smaller teams created a comfortable environment, encouraging free-flow of thoughts and expressions from individuals concerning diversity issues in the work and education place. ‘Collaboration’ was another factor which came up as interest from participants which was addressed.
In order to understand the varied reasons participants attended the event, we invited the audience to share anonymously on post-it notes why there were here, and what they wanted to get out of the session. By doing this we were able to address the common themes relating to diversity in the workplace within the session.
Why are you here?
- Kai told me about the event. I work within the creative industry and am aware of lack of diversity
- To support the event
- Learn more about Diversity Matters and what they do
- I am an ally to my BAME fellows, and I want to learn more about BAME identities, issues, and culture 🙂
- The subject is of interest to me, noticing that the world is changing (politically especially)
- I wanted to know what is it about and know what Diversity Matters stands for. I’m interested in the representation in Arts by different people
- To get ideas on how I can push the diversity message at work
- I’d like to talk about some ways companies can engage in diversity better
- To find out what companies/people are doing about diversity. I work in talent acquisition. We are being asked for diverse talent, so how do we do this… Want to make connection and hear people’s views/ideas to help enable change
- To find out how you can approach/start talks about diversity in the workplace
- Ideas on how to sensitive people at work around issues doesn’t attract or put people on the back foot
- To find out how to raise diversity issues in the workplace without causing problems
- Hear voices and experiences or range of diverse people
- Tactics to use to encourage inclusion, contacts for diversity, meet cool people
- What can I do to be great allies as a white lady
- To gain an understanding of Diversity Matters project
- To spread the word on my publishing house (HarperCollins) Diversity prize (Short story prize) which opens on the 4th Feb 2017, and to make new contacts
- I’d like to meet and engage with new people. I want people to be aware and comfortable with my race and disabilities as well as that, we are in a diverse land.
- I came today because I was just curious to see what it was going to be like. Learn new informations and meet new people
- It’s time for us to open our eyes – go to Specsavers to fix our vision – that this is a diverse, race, gender, disability, hair type, age, religion land we live in and time to positively take advantage of it!
- Kai Rocks! Diversity really does matter. (I) want to learn and support
- I’m here because I’m bored of coming up against the same frustrations at work + want to find solutions in order to make progress
- I’m here to act as an ally + advocate for diversity
- To make new contacts – lots of them. And Ideas of implementing diversity in big organisation
- I have always found it exciting to meet people from different cultural backgrounds
- I’m interested in the subject of diversity with like-minded people
What do you want to get out of this session today?
- To learn more about what the organisation does
- How to engage with those who I don’t believe diversity is an issue
- To find out what Diversity Matters is about and possibly learn from it
- An ability to talk about diversity in a non-emotive or non-offensive way
- Knowing how to talk about race, religion, sexuality in an appropriate way
- See if there is anything I can take back to my networks
- An understanding of where the Diversity Matters project is heading to
- To learn how to make diversity more intersectional
- Ideas on how to use collaborative activities to engage staff at work on the message of diversity
- How to raise awareness in the workplace
- How other companies/senior leaders are trying to change mindsets within their business (successes/failures)
- What more, if anything I can do to take back to my staff network to forward the diversity agenda
- To network
- A warm contact from Diversity Matters to continue these conversations
- To find out how Diversity Matters today, and if it will matter in the future
- How to retain people from different backgrounds and make sure they are included (not as a pick box). Visibility for all groups in all work places
- Gain more knowledge so I can better approach it at work
- How can I be a visible BAME ally?
Notes from workshop groups:
- A National Day where each country can share its cultural aspects (food, music etc). E.g Syrian breakfast at work
- Doing language workshop
- Support & meet people
- Overcoming fear/unbalance of the unknown
- Companies need to integrate through workshops these diverse views
- Ways to feel part of the community (both work and social)
- Do’s and Don’ts to help people under different cultures (not just Dos of British culture for immigrants) – Two way street
- Understanding unconscious bias and its role in the workplace
- Sharing personal stories (which make us diverse) in the workplace to build a connection of celebrating differences
- Address typically ‘British’ culture of micro-aggression racism
- More space spaces such as what Diversity Matters has provided to discuss issues around race or marginalisation
We had representation from the tech and creative industry including; Time Out, HarperCollins, Stonewall, Thoughtbot, ThoughtWorks and University of the Arts London. This added to the substance of the discussion and further emphasised the need to take such discussions into the work place.
Participants felt the need to discuss diversity is essential for a more harmonious and productive working environment, especially in places where discussing diversity is a sensitive and touchy subject.
“It made me express my suggestions on how the human race can improve its relationship with one another. Overall it was a very positive experience. Coming from New York, I would like to see such an event which would improve our relationships.” – Daniel, visiting from NYC
“A lot of ideas came up during the workshop including; setting-up/facilitating workshops with staff and senior leaders on diversity in a safe space where problems and solutions can be openly discussed… A great session and food for thought.” – Chantelle, participant
“It was enlightening, it was invigorating, I made friends, I learnt a lot. Diversity really matters!” Ray, Time Out
Thank you to everyone for making the time to attend and contribute to an important discussion. Our thanks also goes out to ThoughtWorks for providing the space and drinks.
Please share your feedback with us so we can improve on future sessions. We’ll looking to organise more sessions addressing diversity in the work, education and tech fields. Please reach out if you’d like for us to facilitate a similar workshop in your workplace. We’re also open to collaboration! We look forward to seeing you at our next event! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More pictures available on our Facebook page CLICK HERE.
Diversity Matters team
Photos courtesy of Paul Bankole Iwala and Daniel Adjei. Cover photo by Ray Jones
Content ©DiversityMatters 2017