'What does D&I mean to me?' by Sigrid Fisher a Relationship Manager at enei.
When you look at what you are drawn to, there is often a clear reason why. I have always been passionate about justice and equality, both personally and professionally and it’s really no surprise – with a Jewish father, Swedish mother (all that liberal and egalitarian society influence), the only girl in the family with five brothers, born a Geordie, what else was I going to be but an EDI professional!
My career began on the ‘other side’, working with disadvantaged communities up north in low income areas with poor life chances. From youth work to probation projects and campaigns for change, I fought back alongside different groups, standing against privilege and inequality. Moving south – crossing the north/south divide – I started to support employers and organisations to address discrimination and unfairness in their own practice, to be more equal, diverse, inclusive. Those weren’t the words we used back then – it was often only about compliance. But gradually I have seen this agenda change and D&I being embraced as good business and people practice.
People are at the centre of business and workplaces. They are not just functions or roles, or bodies filling vacancies. People bring to work who they are, the vitality of their lived experiences, views, needs and realities. They do not put these down at the front door of the office (or in current circumstances when they find a private place to work away from the rest of the family/household) - these unique perspectives and experiences underpin all that they, we, do. For me, as a woman, I know that gender has had a huge impact on my opportunities and experiences, good and bad, since I was born (particularly as I have a twin brother so comparisons are easy!). As a D&I professional, I have seen so many examples of the direct impact of behaviour, bias and prejudice, awareness (including lack of) and choices, both fair and unfair, on individuals based on generic factors such as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation. We all know people who are judged not on their competence or ability but on their/our identities and attitudes towards these from others, above and below.
As long as people, and not robots/AI, are working, the organisations that employ them need to recognise that they have lives beyond the job description. The more employers can do to know, engage and support these lives, the better the relationship between employee/employer and more harmonious working lives will be.
We all gain from embracing the diversity and joyous messiness of real life.
Sigrid Fisher is Relationship Manager at enei, she looks after several members within our UK Membership, you can find out more here