If the coronavirus pandemic has achieved anything, it has been to highlight and reinforce the societal inequalities that prevent marginalised groups from feeling seen, heard and understood. With the murder of George Floyd at the start of the summer, and the global outcries to end racially motivated injustices in the US and the UK, it has become crucial to demand an equal and inclusive attitude from our friends and family members, as well as from our industry leaders and policy makers.
This conversation was continued on the 30th of September, when Northern Power Women founder Simone Roche MBE, was joined by Jo Harrison (Director of Environment and Asset Strategy at United Utilities), Rob Mukherjee (Director of Transformation at EveryCloud Security), and Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee (Flight Systems Engineer BAE systems) for Northern Power Women’s Celebrating Inclusion Week Webinar, supported by United Utilities.
Throughout the webinar, the panel tackled significant and urgent issues, sharing their own personal experiences, as well as offering advice for those who find themselves in similar situations. One of these issues was the importance of advocacy in the workplace, and Harrison spoke of the commitments that United Utilities have made to ensure that women from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to make the most of the opportunities within the organisation, despite what she describes as the “impenetrable” nature of the science sector. “You can really open people’s eyes to what type of careers are available within the science industry, but also then provide a structured view of how they would then access those”.
The panelists also discussed how it is in the economy’s best interest to seek a more diverse and representative workplace, with Mukherjee explaining that “inclusion isn’t just the icing on the cake”. He illustrated how diversity encourages much needed friction during decision making processes, which in turn leads to a higher quality of ideas. Pearson-Rampeearee echoed this sentiment, putting forward the findings of a report that showed how job adverts using gender neutral language receive 42% more applications.
This webinar demonstrated how the topics discussed so passionately throughout this year have not simply been swept under the carpet once the social media hashtags lost their popularity. As Pearson-Rampeearee stated, it is paramount that we continue “listening to people’s experiences, listening to those who are affected, and then educating ourselves on what we’re hearing”. While we may not all be CEOs and industry leaders, every one of us is in a position to demand change, and to be selective with where we choose to focus our professional skills so that everyone feels valued and included in the workplace.