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WHAT HAS EDI ACHIEVED FOR OUR WORKPLACES?

Updated: Apr 6

When I began researching this, I was even more shocked than I thought I might be. Really? After 30 years of EDI effort and multi-million-pound investment, this is where we are: 58% of racialised workers aged 18 – 24 report having faced racism at work in the last 5 years; the careers of 32% of women have been affected by sexual harassment. Please do have a look at the graphic I produced. It gives a snapshot of many examples I found. I could have used different characteristics and different statistics, but putting these moments together gives us a realistic picture of our progress in establishing equity, justice and decency in the workplace. Sure, things may have improved in workplaces since the late 20th Century, but we must ask why progress has been so slow.

 

Here, I believe there is a strong parallel with the reasons I suggested in my last post for the slow progress in society generally: all the focus has been on ‘training’ staff, on awareness raising, while the fundamental organisational structures and power dynamics have remained largely untouched. And again, not only does this produce little progress towards equity, it creates hopelessness and cynicism. Head banging and brick walls wear down even those who are most committed to change.

 

I have had this confirmed over and over during my 20-odd years as an EDI trainer. I’ve seen how it goes: I do some EDI sessions for staff, they find them really interesting and enjoyable, some of them are even inspired to become active inclusion advocates. But then the barriers kick in – “not enough time”, “no resources”, “that’s not how we do things here”. Disappointment and inertia take over and nothing changes – worse, the feeling that there’s no point, makes future change even less likely.

 

I won’t do EDI work like this any longer. In my next post, I’ll explain what I am doing to try and create real change and drive progress towards workplace equity. And I can tell you that it means STARTING AT THE VERY TOP!

 

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