One active year of inclusion

As our inclusion-focussed change programme – Active Inclusion – turns one this week, I’ve been reflecting on the achievements, big and small, that we have seen over the last year. Birthdays or anniversaries are always good opportunities to pause and look back – at the brilliant people around us, their stories and their challenges encountered.

Following on from Bal Gill’s great blog on our gender diversity successes, this is my perspective on our first year – and how we’ve lived our recruitment aspiration: “be the you, YOU want to be.” This reflects the core of Active Inclusion – something I’ve written about previously – to be at once your own self at work, and importantly to be aware of your team members’ own unique circumstances as well, to pause and enable inclusive decision-making. Our provision of unconscious bias training from our Vice Presidents down over a year ago laid the foundation right at the beginning for increased individual awareness of our biases and how to interrupt them.

From the start of Active Inclusion, we asked our people a year ago what to stop, start or continue doing to make them feel actively included. This shaped our strategy and decided our first focus area – flexibility/agile working, or as we call it, work life harmony. Embedded into the organisation with manager support calls and led by our VPs, it’s about enabling everyone to have a conversation with their manager about flexibility, supported by our remote collaboration technology.

In tandem with this, we launched our Women@Capgemini UK page, with videos from some of our own amazing women: Abbi, Amy, Jane, Mary and Nicola. Together with training for our recruitment teams, updated job adverts and named contacts for any disability queries, we revitalised our recruitment ecosystems to focus wholeheartedly on inclusion.

One of my 2016 highlights was our scintillating #Ilooklikearolemodel event with the energetic Sarah Wood from Unruly. The buzz in the room was magical, as every attendee left the evening rethinking their own role models, and how to be bold as a role model for yourself and others. With attendees from all levels, we also invited schoolgirls to join us to help dispel the myths and stereotypes around a career in technology.

Moving into the New Year, we hosted a Tweetchat (something I’d not come across before!) with Debut Careers on #LGBTwork to celebrate Pride month. It was fascinating – and at times sobering – to read and interact on Twitter with the LGBT+ community. You occasionally hear the view in wider society that LGBT+ issues are “fixed” – from those experiences shared, I’d say no, not yet.

One of the other topics that has featured heavily in the media this year has been mental health – such as the Heads Together campaign videos and the Mind over Marathon documentary charting the journey of 10 individuals with mental health challenges as they train for the London Marathon. Awesome, heart-breaking insights. This is a topic close to my heart, having had a small brush with poor mental health a couple of years ago. This year, we joined the Lord Mayor’s Green Ribbon campaign (over 800 of our people wore the ribbons), hosted a small event with Mind, shared personal stories and support available.

Our OUTfront network used a team of over 50 volunteers to run a hugely powerful LGBT & Allies Conference jointly with HMRC’s LGBT network, Prism on May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. From the moving tale of the Naz & Matt Foundation, to the very recognisable practicalities of LGBT parenting from the P3 panel, to former Capgemini-ite and inspirational trans campaigner Christine Burns. The day had attendees alternately completely transfixed and working their socks off in breakout teams on LGBT inclusion.

The final and most recent highlight for me has been the creation of our Disability, Carers & Allies network – following on with individual stories that resonated with our people – from autism to mental health, to caring for family members. The response from our people already has been outstanding.

Overall, the thread throughout our activity of the last year has been to put people at the heart of what we do. We know we are having an impact through unsolicited feedback, changes in our people processes, and in true corporate tradition, we will be measuring impact and views with another Active Inclusion survey later this year. Finally, on a less serious note – this year I loved the CBeebies advert Everyone’s Welcome. If you think about it, inclusion goes beyond diversity to ensure that everyone is welcome and included: this video is worth two minutes of everyone’s time as a joyful reminder.

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