We were delighted to welcome Aubrey Maasdorp for an enlightening session on diversity, equity & inclusion
At Venari Partners, we are dedicated to helping companies achieve their diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) goals – and it would be remiss of us not to take stock of this topic ourselves. We are proud to truly value our employees and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace, though that doesn’t mean that we can’t do more to educate ourselves. With conversations around diversity ongoing, it is more important than ever to be sensitive and to do everything possible to promote – and maintain – DEI in the office.
As such, we were delighted to welcome Aubrey Maasdorp of the DEI consultancy Diverse Matters for an enlightening session on diversity, equity & inclusion. He has broad knowledge to draw from, with over 25 years’ experience imparting DEI and unconscious bias training. While some corporates may wish to engage in such programmes as a ‘box-ticking’ exercise, Diverse Matters are resolute in working with companies they feel are sincere about taking their message to heart and on board, establishing a dialogue that continues beyond the initial training session. We were glad to begin this process with a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting workshop at our new London office recently. From the beginning, Aubrey stressed his wish for us to contribute and ask questions, setting the tone for the morning.
After a brief introduction, the session started with a group discussion on what we understood by the terms equality, diversity, and inclusion, leading to a broader conversation about the differences between equality and equity and why they are necessary to distinguish. Aubrey then did an excellent job of explaining the areas covered in the Equality Act 2010, and the distinct legal definitions of varying forms of discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.
‘What are the benefits of having an inclusive and diverse organisation?’ Aubrey asked us. The answers were various, from the breadth of opinions and experiences informing innovative thinking and business practices, all the way to fairness – and even greater efficiency and reduced illness and absence due to stress and unhappiness at work.
We also covered unconscious bias, and learned more about psychology that informs these split-second thought processes. Did you know that your conscious brain can register about 40 pieces of information per second – while the figure for what you take in unconsciously is a staggering 11 million? Though we may not be aware of what makes us favour some people (the ‘ingroup’) over others (the ‘outgroup’), unconscious bias is a complex process that has evolved as part of the brain’s fight-or-flight response. As such, it is ingrained in human behaviour, though learning how to counter negative stereotypes and challenge our unconscious bias is crucial in striving for a more just and equal society.
The session ended with a look at privilege, and how it informs people’s experience – sometimes more than they might realise – as well as discussions around how to incorporate conscious inclusion, and the potential consequences for failing to deal with inappropriate and exclusionary behaviour in the workplace.
The training went down well with our staff too:
I thoroughly enjoyed the session. It offered a well-rounded perspective on DEI and explored some less obvious aspects of it that apply to recruitment. Mhairi Geraghty, Senior Consultant, Interim & Consulting Solutions