This blog is part of a series from Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Sarah Guerra, where she will be addressing the ‘whole picture’ of EDI, why it is important, and how we go about making effective, systemic change.
Achieving success in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on any level, for individuals, within teams, organisations, communities and societies, rests on trust. It is a word we use regularly but what does it mean? The dictionary says, ‘believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of’.
Do we have confidence in what someone says, does, is able to do?
When I’m speaking to audiences about EDI I often take a moment at the beginning and ask people to reflect on what EDI means to them? If we unpack what they think and what the building blocks are to get to the destination, trust is always one of the pieces of the puzzle.
What are some specific reasons it is important for EDI?
One is data. These days, collecting diversity data is not that hard. We have all sorts of tools and techniques that allow the easy gathering and analysis of information (such as our PowerBI EDI Dashboard, which houses all the EDI-related data we have on staff and students at King’s. You can find it here). The challenge is generating trust from those whom you want data from. People want to understand what it is going to be used for, and by whom. They want reassurance that they will not be harmed by providing the data and that it is going to be used in a way that they would approve of, a way they can see a benefit to.
We need to collect data to understand patterns in our workforce or trends and issues like the gender and ethnicity pay gap. We can often feel that these are mechanical processes but collecting ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability data is, in effect, an exercise in trust.
Where you have lots of people who take the ‘refuse to say’ option or just don’t engage, you should take this as an indication that there is a lack of trust and that there are wider cultural issues. Any member of King’s staff can see data about our organisation and you can update your personal data .
These wider issues – which often relate to equality, diversity, inclusion and trust in terms of people feeling excluded or treated differently – need to be acknowledged and addressed. Change in culture does not happen by itself – it takes intentional and focused work to create a successful, inclusive organisation. This involves engaging all relevant stakeholders. To be able to do that there needs to be a clear narrative and vision – helping people understand why change is needed and where we want to get to.
This needs to be organisation-wide; sponsored and endorsed at the very top by the organisation’s leaders, through Heads of Departments, PIs and Line Managers, to HR, all Professional Services and embedded in the organisation’s communications. Building and maintaining trust needs clear communications and, importantly, listening. The organisation and its leaders need to be honest and open. This is in terms of day-to-day interactions but also in terms of what is written down and projected about an organisation. Be realistic and open about the challenges in improving diversity and inclusion and how it is progressing over time.
All of these things add up to ‘trust’ – or, put another way, it creates belief in the community that you are serious about making your organisation (or part of it) more equal, diverse and inclusive.
You can play your part in making King’s a more equal, diverse and inclusive place by sharing your data with us. By telling us more about who you are, we’re able to develop a better understanding of King’s and what we need to be doing to make sure you’re as happy as you can be here. You can watch our video on the importance of collecting data, and then go to HR Digital Services to input your own information.