Organisations should provide empathetic training and educational tools to battle discrimination and support diversity, an IWFM webinar audience heard this week.
Jean Hewitt, senior inclusive design consultant at Buro Happold Engineering who was one of the panellists, told the audience that most organisations “do not routinely educate” staff and this needed to change.
She said: “Then there are some organisations that do educate and [encourage] routine awareness as a part of their induction process but it doesn't cover everything, especially for those who have been in their roles for a long time.”
Hewitt added: “People may have grown up in an all-white, all-straight boys and girls’ school. They may not have experienced different faith and cultures and skin colours and beliefs – all of that rich mix, that the children are getting now and that younger people are growing up with now – so they are much less likely to discriminate because it is a part of their experience and education. But there are people in the middle who haven’t had that, so maybe that is something that IWFM can look at providing?”
She mooted the idea of having online content to explore faith, sexual orientation and other areas because “it’s a rich mix and there is a lot to learn”.
Hewitt said: “If people at the top don't understand the intersectionality and all that means, how can you ever hope for people to understand there is a need for this kind of training?”
The panellists concluded that a mixture of education, leadership and effective recruitment was needed to increase diversity and reduce bias in the sector.
The webinar was hosted by Chris Moriarty, director of insight and engagement at IWFM. Other panellists included Laura Aguiyi, head of legal at places and communities at Engie, and Colin Kimber, associate director at Pareto FM.