I have had the absolute pleasure working with the team at Satellite Applications Catapult this year in their aspirations to meaningfully engage with equality, diversity and inclusion in their culture. Collaborating with Kathryn, Chief People Officer, we’ve continued to engage with the team there in developing self-awareness, empathy and confidence to be supportive and effective allies.
Here’s Kathryn’s perspective on our work together:
The go to HR ‘fix’ for equality and diversity = unconscious bias training. As soon as any issue around diversity is raised, many HR professionals race straight to the old faithful tick box exercise, of cheesy, typically poor quality and frankly disengaging content that creates more negative feelings (i.e. ‘this is such a waste to my time’) about this important agenda. Very little meaningful change happens.
My aim is to create an army of allies within our organisation who are on a mission to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace. I can’t do this alone. I need my colleagues standing with me, taking personal ownership and wanting (rather than being mandated) to make a difference. In my view, this is where real change is created.
So, how am I going about my mission…. there are many a tactic in creating an army and starting a revolution… my first port of call = the amazing Lou Chiu. Lou is a culture and relationship coach who knows her stuff and is passionate about creating the space and making the case – and she never disappoints! Lou has an awe-inspiring approach to creating a wonderful safe space for colleagues to share stories, ask difficult questions, raise uncomfortable issues and deal with the gnarly issues around diversity, in an open, honest and respectful way.
Lou has facilitated two ‘making sense of allyship’ sessions at Satellite Applications Catapult. These sessions are a mix of technical input from Lou and team coaching. Using a narrative approach, through the medium of sharing stories, Lou uses genuine curiosity and courage to explore the issues. In these sessions, colleagues have shared stories, not only about their experiences working within our organisation, but also their day to day personal lives. I heard stuff about our people and their experiences that would never have come through on a survey or unconscious bias training. The impact of hearing these experiences not only creates greater understanding and empathy, it also generates motivation, movement and engagement to be part of the change.
- Colleagues have developed a greater understanding of others experience, creating self-awareness and empathy
- We have learnt about the impact of our perceptions, actions and language on others
- It has challenged and in some cases changed people’s deep seated beliefs and understanding of the world
- It has strengthened relationships with each other
- It has brought to light situations that we need to address, I may not have known about these situations until they had reached a very serious level, I know now and can do something about it at a much earlier stage
- We have learnt about what it means to be an ally and how we can go about this in our day to life, not just at work
- It has generated motivation and courage to ‘call out’ and raise issues when they happen – we also talked and learnt about how to do this in a way that is authentic to us
- The approach supported and reinforced our transparent, adult:adult culture by taking a coaching approach
- Overall, it has accelerated our inclusion and diversity agenda and actions
Our journey is a marathon, changing perceptions and creating impact takes time but I am confident taking a different approach to this, with the support of Lou has created a shift and meaningful change will happen within our organisation.
If you really want to create a shift and generate change, speak with Lou on how she can collaborate with you. Lou is great at quickly understanding your business, what you want to achieve and works with you to create interventions that will work for you and your people. It takes courage, it isn’t as easy as reaching for the unconscious bias training, but trust the process and work through the discomfort – nothing worth doing is easy right!
By day, Kathryn does incredible work at Satellite Applications Catapult as their Chief People Officer; by night and weekends, she is an Executive Coach for CEOs, leaders and teams and Action Learning Coach extraordinaire. You can find out more about here coaching practice (and follow her excellent blog!) here.