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WHAT AM I DOING TO DEFEND EDI?

I’m anxious that no one feels patronised or undermined here. There are many brilliant, committed people working in EDI but, to return to my original premise, I also think that our work has produced too little progress to robustly defend it from attack and I hope I can be part of stimulating discussion on what to do differently.

 

Over the last few years, I have been developing approaches to address the problems explored in previous posts. Above all, I believe we must direct more energy to changing the structural base of organisations, rather than the awareness of the staff. If we can, then more inclusive behaviours and attitudes will follow, baked in, part of the culture.

 

And this means going to the people at the very top – CEOs, MDs, Boards, etc. – those who hold the power to change the way things are organised and done (and the keys to the bank vault to fund it!) This can be difficult as, in my experience, there is a great deal of resistance from this quarter. There are some very EDI-committed CEOs, I know, and if you have examples of senior leaders who have gone beyond swearing allegiance / sanctioning training, to getting their hands dirty, facing prejudices and biases, and making fundamental structural changes, please let me know – we could do with some more role models!

 

It's time to start knocking at the boss’s door more persistently, and I’ve been developing a ‘Coaching For Inclusion’ programme to encourage them to open it. You can see the programme for yourself:

 

But here, I want to explain the principles that underpin it. We need to:

  • reverse EDI

  • broaden ‘Diversity’

  • shift the power

  • build solid ground to establish Equity for Protected Characteristics

 

Again, I want to emphasise my commitment to the struggle for Equity and Social Justice – so, I think I’d better explain the first principle: ‘We Need To Reverse EDI’.

 

EDI / DEI – but it’s never IDE or IED. I believe we need to begin with the ‘I’ - Inclusion. This is not just semantics. I’ve seen many times how organisations begin from Equality and become entirely focussed on the data in their Equality Action Plans, increasing representation, fulfilling legal responsibilities, etc. It’s also an important ethical goal but it will never happen with this narrow, compliance approach. It limits the understanding of diversity to the legal requirements of the Equality Act – the protected characteristics. We need to start from Inclusion for all staff, releasing the potential of all their diverse characteristics. Then we can build the open, trusting culture that will also help meet ethical and legal aims for Protected Characteristics.

 

Thus, the second principle: We need to broaden ‘Diversity’.

 

I’ll save this for my next post on Thursday but, in the meantime, if you’d like to read the whole series, you can binge them on my website blog page:




 


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