These past few months have been unprecedented for many of us, both personally and professionally. I must admit that the volume of change I have experienced professionally, while coping with things personally, has been challenging.
I am proud, as a Civil Servant, of everything we have collectively achieved for the country and society over the past months. But, by necessity, there have been some things that we haven’t focused on as much – diversity and inclusion being one of them.
However, things haven’t stood still in this area - the #BlackLivesMatter movement has gained momentum internationally, studies have identified the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities and the economic impact on women and lower socio-economic households, and even within our own profession the lack of representation on our development programmes has become more evident.
What can we do to promote diversity and inclusion?
As things get to a more even keel in the ‘new normal’ phase, this is our opportunity to bring thinking about diversity and inclusion more to the fore. Not instead of, but alongside our day to day work. Here are three simple things that we can all do:
Reach Out to at least two people from under-represented backgrounds in the profession to support and encourage them to put themselves forward for development opportunities. In periods of intense change such as these, it is always easy for the more confident to put themselves forward or be noticed. Reach out to those who may be unsure or who may need on-going mentoring and sponsorship to give them the confidence to be in the spotlight.
Give others a platform and a voice. The impacts of this intense period of change will feel different for different groups. We won’t know exactly how, and our lived experience may be very different to those around us. Please give your networks – be those for carers, women’s, disability, LGBT+, BAME - the space to get their voice heard and share their experience. And then listen - by listening deeply, we will understand what we need to do to support those not as privileged as us. This may make us uncomfortable, but from discomfort will come change.
Continue your education. We must understand the issues facing our communities. Listen and reflect. Embrace your discomfort. Understand and acknowledge your privilege. Decide how you are going to use it to help others who don’t have it. There are lots of good resources available and I won’t pretend to know them all. Good places to start are:
- The Diversity Trust Podcast
- Intersectionality matters! A conversation with Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Witness black history podcast
- The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
- Beyoncé speaking to the Class of 2020
This is by no means a complete list and I am sure you can add to it.
Building diverse and inclusive teams and harnessing this insight when designing new changes is core to the Project Delivery Profession’s diversity and inclusion strategy.
The strategy hasn’t changed, but we need to work together and focus our efforts on how we implement it going forward in order to create a profession that is diverse, inclusive and representative of society.