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How I am prioritizing DEIA at work and implementing it across a small organization

Updated: Feb 13

An image of Sharnie Dunstall, Inclusion and Operations Specialist at The International Bunch

In September 2023, I took on a new role at The International Bunch (IB), focusing on inclusivity and operations.


Everyone is different, right? If everyone was the same, the world would be a boring place. Why does society have to single out or judge someone because they aren't the required 'normal' or we don’t fit that checklist?


For as long as I can remember, I have always been excluded based on the way I look, treated differently from the person next to me because I had a different lip/nose or a scar - some would say I looked like a rabbit or had a harelip, even the elephant girl.

I never got the invite or the job interview, never got in with friends just because of the way I looked. Is this fair? No. Should the way I look determine whether I am a kind, decent human being or good at my job? No. Should someone's disabilities affect whether they can get that job role even if they have all the skills needed? Again no.

 

Besides, what is normal?

 

This is why DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusivity and accessibility) is important to me. Everyone should have the same opportunities as the person next to them and not be discriminated against for their gender, disability, race, religion, working class, sexuality, age etc.

 

DEIA is important because it aligns with principles of fairness, personal growth, professional development, global awareness, mental well-being, and legal and ethical responsibilities. Embracing DEIA is a commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable world for everyone.

 

I truly believe that DEIA should be entwined in everything we do and not just an after-thought. So that is my key goal for this year is going through the business step-by-step and making it a part of everything we do.

This is actually a very big task. My plan is to gain some knowledge for the team that I can teach them to help me implement, whilst with the help from Lou, I will be running the operational side and supporting the team as much as I can to enable us to grow.

 

I am lucky to be part of such a lovely open-minded team, where we strongly believe in embracing diversity. In some workplaces, diversity is recognized as a key driver of innovation and creativity. Exposure to a mix of ideas and perspectives can lead to more effective problem-solving and decision-making, fostering a dynamic and innovative work environment.


Making a start with DEIA

 

I've started assessing our current workplace culture, policies, and practices to identify areas where DEIA can be improved, understanding the specific needs and concerns of our team.


One of my biggest qualities is commitment

Being committed to support is crucial for the success of any DEIA programme. We've been working on:

  • creating safe spaces by fostering an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels valued and heard, allowing them to share their thoughts

  • encouraging open communication, listening to and acknowledging employee feedback, and addressing any concerns promptly

  • involving employees in the process, like improving our carbon footprint with Giki is a great example of this

  • providing training on DEIA to all employees. This helps create awareness and fosters a culture of respect and understanding

  • reviewing and updating policies to align with DEIA goals. This includes recruitment policies, anti-discrimination policies, and flexible work arrangements that accommodate different needs

  • Improving communication internally and externally as transparency is key to building trust and credibility

  • ensuring our digital spaces are more accessible to individuals with different abilities. This includes offering more support/equipment where needed


I am regularly revisiting and updating our strategies based on feedback, changing circumstances, and evolving best practices. We have also bought in dedicated skillsets into the team like sensitivity reading to help our clients, and us be more inclusive in writing and communications.

 

Getting involved


Discovering what steps to take to help your organization grow around DEIA involves a combination of research, engagement and connections, and ongoing learning. Learning from others and their experiences provides valuable insights.

 

I have been very lucky to have Simon Holt from Elsevier mentor me, which has been an absolute pleasure. Simon is such an inspiring person. He has taught me so many things, specifically how to gain confidence and guiding me in my operational tasks. I have also discovered how much the world is evolving with so many people trying to make changes to be more diverse, and not just saying they are.


There is a big difference between just saying you're being more diverse and actually putting it into practice. Understanding that DEIA is an ongoing evolving process is vital.

 

Becoming part of the C4DISC working group on inclusivity has been the most rewarding to date. ALPSP have a brilliant EDI/DEIA working group. I am so excited to see what this brings for my future and our teams future. I can already see the impact of the changes I have made within our organization in a short space of time, and it is so EXCITING!

 

What's next?


Interweaving IB and DEIA, ensuring we continue to excel, driving forward more focus around this, and definitely growing with our sensitivity reading support for our clients. I'll be attending more conferences and webinars, networking with other businesses to learn from their experiences, continuing to be a part of C4DISC working group, engaging with local communities to build partnerships that support DEIA, and better understanding sustainability like the fully funded Circular Economy Innovation Centre (CEIC). I will also be researching to offer DEIA training to all our team.


I'll continue reviewing and updating policies to ensure they align with DEIA goals.  

 

My bit of advice to anyone wanting to implement DEIA is to remember that there is not one-size-fits-all approach. It continues to grow and change. DEIA is an ongoing adventure that requires continuous commitment and effort. Regularly reassess your strategies, seek feedback, and adapt your approach based on the evolving needs of your business and workforce.

 

One of my favourite terms that I came up with is “TEAM”:


  • Trust – trust each other. Encourage each other to trust themselves, know that you are good enough, and you are doing a great job

  • Encourage – encourage each other to achieve, progress, and support

  • Alignment – alignment encourages collaboration and cooperation among team members

  • Mindfulness – be mindful of the differences in learning, culture, and individual feelings. Encourage respect with one another 

 

If you want to find out what we're doing about DEIA, or just have a chat, please get in touch.


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