Breaking down barriers: race inclusion

by Jun 11, 2021News

On Wednesday the 2nd of June, I attended the first in a series of I&D events being hosted throughout the month by the City & Guilds Foundation. This event, which was focused on the topic of race inclusion, featured an insightful and thought-provoking conversation between speakers Frank Douglas (CEO of Caerus Executive and C&G Trustee) and Sophie Williams (anti-racism advocate and author of Anti-Racist Ally and ​Millennial Black​​).​​​

I wanted to share a quick summary of a few key messages that stood out to me.​ (Note: all of the points made in this post are originally from Frank and Sophie, who are the experts in this field, not myself; I’ve simply tried to capture them here accurately.)

Inclusion & Diversity in recruitment

​When considering candidates for a position, there’s a temptation to focus on hiring someone who’s a ‘good cultural fit’ for the team. However, this kind of thinking is open to bias and runs the risk of creating a homogenous workforce.​

Instead, we should be looking for people who will bring a wealth of different experiences, viewpoints and knowledge with them to the role, who can help us to identify organisational blindspots by challenging the status quo.

It’s also worth remembering that, although we have an obligation to make our teams, work spaces and practices more diverse and inclusive, there’s no such thing as a ‘diverse’ individual, since people are only diverse in the context of an otherwise homogenous space. 

Creating a culture of respect

​It’s not enough for someone from an underrepresented or marginalised community to just be in the room – they also need to be free to express themselves and be respected. Being ‘the only one’ in your team, discipline, level of role, etc. can be very isolating and highly pressured, which is another reason why true inclusivity is so important.

Businesses that hire X percentage of Black, female, etc. employees but don’t allow them to be themselves and instead expect them to assimilate or conform to existing initiatives, processes and organisational values aren’t going to benefit from that apparent ‘diversity’.

One point called out by the speakers is that we tend not to be as comfortable talking about race in the UK compared to the US, but we need to move past this discomfort to create more opportunities for authentic, respectful conversations. In this way, we can all try to recognise our differences in lived experience and learn from each other.

Understanding privilege

Privilege doesn’t mean that everything in your life has been easy. It’s not about having extra perks and benefits, or being given anything for free – rather, it’s the absence of certain obstacles that other people are forced to experience because of an aspect of their identity, which can be harder to perceive.

To make it even more complex, people can be both privileged and marginalised at the same time, because our identities include multiple facets like race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

In order to be an effective ally, it’s important to recognise that your privilege can be a responsibility and an opportunity. It means you have access to spaces that other people don’t.

Allies have a responsibility to use their privilege to open up these spaces and advocate for people who face different barriers. Challenge yourself: how can I bring these people in? How can I amplify their messages and viewpoints when they’re not here? How can I help to break down these barriers?​

Interested in creating change? Make a pledge to building equity, claim a digital credential and share with your networks.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shaking up the cis-tem: LGBTQ+ inclusion

On Tuesday 22nd June I had the pleasure to attend the fourth webinar of the I&D series ran by the City & Guilds Foundation. The session's primary focus was how to best support members of the LGBTQ+ community bring their authentic selves to the...

Fair opportunities: employing prison leavers

The second in a series of I&D events hosted by the City & Guilds Foundation went live on Tuesday the 8th of June, this time focusing on inclusion in the context of employing people with lived experience of the justice system. This event featured...

Breaking down barriers: race inclusion

On Wednesday the 2nd of June, I attended the first in a series of I&D events being hosted throughout the month by the City & Guilds Foundation. This event, which was focused on the topic of race inclusion, featured an insightful...

Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Applications for funding opening 12 July 2021

We are delighted to announce that our friends at the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust will be accepting new applications for funding between 12 July and 16 August 2021. Talented and aspiring candidates can apply for up to £18,000 to further their education through...

There’s no such thing as an average person

The third event in the City & Guilds Foundation I&D series was on Wednesday the 16th of June. This time the focus was on developing neu​ro-inclusive workplaces. The speakers were Prof. Amanda Kirby, founder of website DO IT Solutions and Helen Needham, founder...

Youth Voices

It's been a busy few months, with lots of events happening and many opportunities to share mine & the Foundation's views on what we can do to support young people, especially those facing barriers, to engage with employment, now and into their future. Youth...

A warm welcome to our new Council Members

As part of its Royal Charter, City & Guilds has a Council, made up of external partners who provide advice and guidance on our work and are actively involved in how we serve the needs of our learners and employers. We are delighted to welcome our most recent new...

New bursary launched to help Londoners get back into work

Created in response to the impact of the pandemic on London’s labour market, the new £50K London Bursary Skills fund aims to remove barriers to help Londoners quickly upskill and find work Today, the City & Guilds Foundation – part of skills organisation City...

The impact of investing in learning and development

The Princess Royal Training Awards are one of the flagship Awards and Recognition programme of the City & Guilds Foundation. They are all about celebrating best practice. We are delighted that we received 97 applications in 2021. Of those 97 applications, 49 have...

The real impact of the pandemic on young people

Snow-Camp are the UK’s only charity using a combination of snowsports, life-skills training and mental wellbeing support to help young people from inner-city communities. Working at the indoor snow centres in London, the North West, the Midlands and Scotland, we also...
Share This