Amplifying LGBTQ+ Voices in the Workplace: A Journey Towards Inclusion and Equality

Amplifying LGBTQ+ Voices in the Workplace: A Journey Towards Inclusion and Equality

With Pride Month on the horizon, we highlight why diversity and inclusion are essential components of a successful and innovative workplace. Among the various facets of diversity, amplifying LGBTQ+ voices has become increasingly important. Ensuring that LGBTQ+ employees feel valued, respected, and included not only fosters a positive work environment but also drives business performance and creativity. This article explores the current state of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace, the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ employees, and the strategies companies are adopting to create a more inclusive culture.

The Current Landscape

Despite significant progress in recent years, LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face unique challenges in the workplace. According to a 2023 report by the Human Rights Campaign, nearly half of LGBTQ+ workers remain closeted at work, fearing discrimination or negative repercussions. This highlights the ongoing need for companies to foster an environment where all employees feel safe to express their true selves.

Challenges Faced by LGBTQ+ Employees

LGBTQ+ employees often encounter various forms of discrimination and bias, both overt and subtle. These challenges can manifest in several ways:

  • Microaggressions: Small, often unintentional comments or actions that can make LGBTQ+ employees feel marginalised.
  • Lack of Representation: A shortage of LGBTQ+ role models and leaders within organisations.
  • Fear of Retaliation: Concerns about being overlooked for promotions or facing hostility if they come out.
  • Inadequate Policies: Insufficient workplace policies to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Business Case for LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Research consistently shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more innovative and perform better financially. Companies that actively support LGBTQ+ inclusion benefit from higher employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Additionally, they attract a broader talent pool and enhance their reputation among consumers.

Strategies for Promoting LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Many organisations are taking proactive steps to create more inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ employees. Here are some effective strategies:

Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policies: Implementing and enforcing policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Supporting ERGs for LGBTQ+ employees to provide a sense of community and advocacy within the company.

Diversity Training: Offering training programmes to educate all employees about LGBTQ+ issues and unconscious bias.

Inclusive Benefits: Providing benefits that address the needs of LGBTQ+ employees, such as healthcare coverage for same-sex partners and support for gender transition.

Visible Support from Leadership: Encouraging leaders to publicly advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and to model inclusive behaviour.

Looking Ahead

The journey towards full LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is ongoing. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. Companies must continue to listen to LGBTQ+ voices, address their unique challenges, and create environments where everyone can thrive.

By fostering an inclusive environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel valued and respected, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce, drive innovation, and achieve greater success. As we move forward, it is crucial for businesses to continue championing LGBTQ+ inclusion and to create workplaces that celebrate diversity in all its forms.

Join the discussion, ‘Pride in Perspective: Voices of the LGBTQ+ Community’ on 24th July at the UnderOne Festival.  Get your virtual or in-person tickets HERE.

Navigating Mental Health in a Changing World – Strategies for Wellness

Navigating Mental Health in a Changing World – Strategies for Wellness

Our mental well-being has become more crucial in an era of rapid change, intense competition, and constant connectivity. The pressure to excel in our careers, maintain relationships, and keep up with the relentless pace of modern life can take a toll on our mental health.

According to recent studies, around 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. This is reported to be with conditions such as anxiety and depression, which affect millions of people worldwide. While the stigma surrounding mental illness is gradually being dismantled, many still hesitate to seek help or openly discuss their struggles.

In light of these challenges, it’s essential to prioritise mental health awareness and cultivate wellness strategies. This involves not only addressing individual needs but also fostering supportive environments within our workplaces, communities, and society at large.

Strategies for Wellness

“Diversity and inclusion play a crucial role in promoting mental well-being,” explains Priyaneet Kainth, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion manager at Haleon. “When individuals feel valued, respected, and included, they are more likely to thrive both personally and professionally. By embracing diversity, organisations can create a culture of acceptance that supports mental health.”

Indeed, it is paramount to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered to be their authentic selves. This means recognising and accommodating diverse experiences, perspectives, and needs.

In addition to organisational efforts, personal development and self-care practices are vital for maintaining mental wellness. Seeking guidance from a coach or mentor can provide valuable insights and strategies for managing stress, enhancing resilience, and fostering self-awareness.

“As a coach, I often work with clients to develop coping mechanisms and cultivate a positive mindset,” Chris Pinner of Innerfit says.  “Through coaching, individuals can gain clarity, set meaningful goals, and confidently navigate challenges. It’s about empowering individuals to take charge of their mental health and well-being.”

“I’ve always been a fitness nerd, so when I got my Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training in 2015 it was mainly to learn about the body and physical health. I could never have predicted the journey that would follow and the number of clients who opened up to me about their mental health, stress, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, depression, and more. I realised physical fitness is as much about the body as it is the mind. I also realised that even a seemingly small or insignificant amount of movement can have a big impact. So my top tip would be to recognise the power in the ‘little and often’ approach to movement and how even 10-20mins of exercise can help you get your daily DOSE (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) of mental health-boosting neurotransmitters”, said Chris.

Furthermore, access to professional support services is essential for those experiencing significant mental health challenges. Organisations like the London Stress Centre offer a range of resources to support individuals in their journey toward recovery and resilience.

“It is important for employers to treat employees as people, not just productivity machines,” states Michael Adu, Founder of London Stress Centre.  “Balancing business goals with human values may require a dedicated individual, but it’s imperative for the mental health of your workforce.”

As we seek to manage the complexities of modern life, it’s crucial to prioritise mental health and well-being for ourselves and others. By fostering inclusive environments, seeking support from coaches and mentors, and accessing professional resources, we can cultivate resilience, enhance our mental wellness, and thrive in an ever-changing world.

Priyaneet concluded, “Your mental health problems do not define who you are. They are a moment in time associated with an experience you are going through. Just remember, whatever you’re going through, difficult times too shall pass!”

Priyaneet Kainth, Chris Pinner, and Michael Adu will share their insights as panellists at the UnderOne Festival, which will take place on July 24th and 25th at the University of Northampton. Get tickets HERE.

Celebrate the Impact of Employee Resource Groups at the UnderOne Festival!

Celebrate the Impact of Employee Resource Groups at the UnderOne Festival!

To celebrate Staff Network Day, we are highlighting the positive impact Employee Resource Groups have on individuals and organisations worldwide.

What are ERGs?

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-driven collectives centred around shared interests, experiences, or underrepresented backgrounds. Formed within workplaces, they serve as pillars of support, diversity champions, and inclusion advocates. ERGs offer a safe space for members to voice concerns, share experiences, and actively contribute to broader company initiatives.

Why are ERGs important?

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are pivotal in nurturing diversity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging in organisations worldwide. Research underscores their positive influence on employee engagement, retention, and overall company performance. Prioritising the establishment and growth of ERGs leads to a more collaborative, innovative, and productive work environment. By championing ERGs, companies enhance cultural representation, elevate employee satisfaction, and foster stronger workplace communities.

A striking 61% of professionals affirm that ERGs contribute to their professional development. This statistic underscores ERGs’ significance in supporting career growth and advancement. These voluntary, employee-led groups provide valuable networking opportunities, mentorship, skill-building workshops, and a supportive community, enhancing professionals’ learning and development within the workplace.

Moreover, 48% of companies have established ERGs to bolster diversity and inclusion initiatives. This proactive step signals a commitment to fostering an inclusive culture where every employee feels valued and supported, thus cultivating a more diverse and equitable workplace environment.

 

Join the Discussion

Join a dynamic panel titled ‘Empowering Diversity and Inclusion Champions: Unlocking the Power of ERGs’ on 24th July at the UnderOne Festival.  Georgina Warren, Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director at IHG Hotels and Resorts will join Francisco Gallego, Global Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Expedia Group, and Chika Okeke, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Essenta, for a thought-provoking discussion.  Get tickets to the festival here.

 

Awards

Do you know an ERG worthy of an award? Nominations are now open for the Trailblazing ERG Award at the UnderOne Diversity & Inclusion Awards. If you know of an ERG making a significant impact, nominate them today!

Better be quick, as nominations close on 3rd June. Let’s celebrate the trailblazers propelling positive change in our workplaces.

Are You an ‘Inclusive’ Leader?

Are You an ‘Inclusive’ Leader?

As the business landscape continues to evolve, leaders are recognising the undeniable value of fostering inclusive environments within their organisations. Research indicates that organisations embracing inclusivity are experiencing significant benefits, ranging from increased innovation revenue to enhanced profitability. In fact, inclusive organisations are found to be 73% more likely to reap the rewards of innovation revenue, 70% more likely to expand into new markets, and up to 50% more likely to make sound decisions.

But what is ‘inclusive leadership’? 

Inclusive leadership promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organisation. It involves creating a supportive and welcoming environment where all individuals, regardless of their background or identity, feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. Inclusive leaders prioritise listening to diverse voices, fostering collaboration, and championing fairness and equality in decision-making. They recognise the importance of diversity in driving innovation, creativity, and organisational success, and actively work to break down barriers and biases that may hinder inclusion. Overall, inclusive leadership involves creating a culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging and is encouraged to thrive.

 We reached out to the expert speakers who will present at the upcoming UnderOne Festival this summer, to get their insights on fostering a culture of inclusive leadership.

Dr Noemie Hermeking, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Fortschritt Bayern in Germany, said:

“As an anthropologist, I have extensively researched Indigenous communities in North America. A Menominee man once said to me that “leaders are on the bottom and never on top “, meaning leadership is about serving your community and not self-gratification.  I think this applies quite well to inclusive leadership. As leaders we should ask what employees necessitate to work in a healthy and respectful environment where they can thrive and feel that they belong.”

“Inclusive leadership is about taking the time to know your own strengths and weaknesses and those of all your team members to leverage and develop them in thoughtful, equitable and effective ways. Be curious by asking questions and compassionate by truly listening. Be courageous enough and have the difficult conversations and remain committed to removing barriers and driving progress even when it’s hard. Call out problematic behaviours and call in those you aren’t hearing from so their voice matters. Treat every individual as such because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to inclusive, impactful leadership”, said Sybil Taunton, Head of Quality, Equity & Inclusion at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Creating an inclusive workplace requires more than just good intentions; it requires active listening and empathy. Claire Thomas, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Hitachi Vantara, emphasised the importance of truly understanding the needs of others when they come to you for assistance.

“When someone has the courage to come to you with a challenge or request for help, do not assume you know what that person may need. Give them your full attention, listen without judgment, and ask them what help or support would be most useful,” she said.

As you reflect on your own leadership style, do you rate yourself as an inclusive leader? Do you actively listen to the needs of your team members, champion diversity, and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected? Join us at the UnderOne Festival on July 24th-25th at the University of Northampton, where we’ll come together to learn, share experiences, and inspire one another to become better, more inclusive leaders. See you there!

Get your tickets HERE.

What Do You Know About Cultural Intelligence?

What Do You Know About Cultural Intelligence?

In today’s interconnected world, cultural intelligence (CQ) is a vital skill that transcends boundaries, fosters understanding, and bridges gaps between people of diverse backgrounds. But what exactly is cultural intelligence, and why is it so important? 

Cultural Intelligence expert, Founder and CEO of Prabhaav Global, Ritika Wadhwa, explains… 

“Culture is defined as a set of behaviours we identify with – the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society. We often take this for granted, however, until we encounter a different culture and the contrast brings it to our attention. This is where cultural intelligence comes into play”, said Ritika. 

Cultural intelligence refers to the ability to effectively navigate and work across different cultures. It goes beyond mere tolerance or awareness of cultural differences and involves the capacity to adapt, communicate, and collaborate with individuals from various cultural backgrounds. Just as intelligence quotient (IQ) measures cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence (EQ) assesses emotional awareness, CQ assesses one’s ability to function effectively in culturally diverse environments. 

 At its core, cultural intelligence encompasses four key capabilities: 

  1. CQ Drive: This refers to the motivation and interest in engaging with diverse cultures. Individuals with high CQ Drive are curious, open-minded, and eager to learn about different customs, traditions, and perspectives. 
  1. CQ Knowledge: This involves understanding the cultural norms, values, and practices of different groups. It requires awareness of cultural nuances, communication styles, and social etiquette to navigate interactions effectively. 
  1. CQ Strategy: This entails the ability to adapt one’s behaviour and communication style in cross-cultural situations. Individuals with high CQ Strategy are flexible, adaptable, and able to adjust their approach based on the cultural context. 
  1. CQ Action: This refers to the capability to interact and collaborate with individuals from diverse cultures. It involves effective communication, empathy, and conflict-resolution skills to build rapport and establish meaningful connections. 

 Developing cultural intelligence is essential in today’s globalized world, where multicultural teams, international partnerships, and cross-border collaborations are increasingly common. Whether in business, education, healthcare, or social settings, individuals with high CQ are better equipped to navigate cultural differences, build trust, and foster productive relationships. 

 So, how can you enhance your cultural intelligence? Here are a few tips to get started: 

Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to learn about different cultures, religions, and traditions. Read books, watch documentaries, and engage in cultural exchange programs to broaden your understanding. 

Seek Experiences: Immerse yourself in diverse environments and interact with people from different backgrounds. Travel, volunteer, or participate in multicultural events to gain firsthand exposure to different cultures. 

Practice Empathy: Put yourself in others’ shoes and strive to understand their perspectives, values, and experiences. Cultivate empathy and respect for cultural differences, and approach interactions with an open mind and a willingness to learn. 

Communicate Effectively: Be mindful of cultural nuances in communication, such as body language, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues. Practice active listening, ask clarifying questions, and adapt your communication style to resonate with diverse audiences. 

Embrace Diversity: Celebrate diversity and recognize the value of different perspectives and contributions. Create inclusive environments where individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to express their unique identities. 

 Explaining the significance of how cultural intelligence can unlock potential, Ritika said, “The most important charge of a people leader is to unlock the potential of their people. How can this happen unless people are understood for who they really are and what they can bring to the table because of their unique experiences and perspectives?  Unless we maximise the human experience, we fail to optimise human performance.” 

 Ready to enhance your cultural intelligence and unlock the power of diversity? Join Ritika Wadhwa’s workshop, “Cultural Intelligence: A Cornerstone of Global DEI Excellence’, at the upcoming UnderOne Festival on July 24th and 25th, 2024, at the University of Northampton. Get your tickets here now. 

Clyde and Co Named Diamond Sponsor for UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards

Clyde and Co Named Diamond Sponsor for UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards

Clyde and Co, a leading global law firm, has been announced as the diamond sponsor for the upcoming UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards, set to take place on July 24-25th at the University of Northampton Waterside Campus. The firm’s sponsorship highlights its commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within organisations and communities.

The UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards, a flagship event dedicated to celebrating and advancing diversity and inclusion, will be hosted at the University of Northampton Waterside Campus. Clyde and Co’s support as the diamond sponsor signifies its dedication to promoting DEI initiatives and creating inclusive environments.

Alan Holmes, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Clyde and Co, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “At Clyde and Co, we believe in the power of diversity and inclusion to drive innovation, creativity, and success for our people, firm and clients. We are proud to support the UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards as it aligns with one of our core values of celebrating difference.”

In addition to their role as the diamond sponsor, Clyde and Co will also serve as category sponsors for the Inclusion in Sustainability Award, recognising organisations that demonstrate outstanding commitment to integrating DEI in sustainability practices.

Moreover, Clyde and Co will host the “Curiosity and DEI Conversations” drinks reception, providing attendees with an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in a relaxed setting.

Lydiah Igweh, advisory board member of the UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards, emphasised the significance of Clyde and Co’s sponsorship, stating, “We are thrilled to have Clyde and Co as our diamond sponsor and category sponsor for the Inclusion in Sustainability Award. Their partnership highlights the importance of collaboration in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.”

The UnderOne Diversity and Inclusion Festival and Awards aims to unite individuals, organisations, and communities to celebrate diversity and inclusion achievements while fostering dialogue and collaboration for meaningful progress.

A Conversation on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Promoting Diversity in the Arts Industry: Insights from Amerah Saleh

A Conversation on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Promoting Diversity in the Arts Industry: Insights from Amerah Saleh

Many of us face the challenge of overcoming imposter syndrome. UnderOne had the privilege of conversing with Advisory Board member and spoken word poet Amerah Saleh, who shared her invaluable perspectives and strategies for overcoming this universal hurdle. Through her experiences and insights, Amerah sheds light on the intricacies of imposter syndrome and offers guidance on harnessing inner strength to triumph over its stifling grip.

UnderOne: Amerah, thank you for sharing your insights with us today. Could you elaborate on the challenges you’ve faced in the arts sector, particularly regarding imposter syndrome?

Amerah: Imposter syndrome has been a significant hurdle in my journey within the arts sector, despite possessing the skills and qualifications necessary for success. My lived experiences, which are not validated by any formal degree, often left me feeling inadequate and doubting my abilities in creative spaces. To overcome this, I’ve found myself working twice as hard to prove myself.

I’ve struggled with feeling like an imposter in rooms filled with talented individuals who may not share my background or experiences. To combat this, I’ve developed coping mechanisms, including what I call my “inner white man” persona. It’s a mask I put on to boost my confidence and courage, allowing me to speak up, apply for opportunities, and participate in meetings. While it’s helped me navigate these spaces, it’s also a reminder of the systemic challenges that individuals like me face in the arts sector.

UnderOne: Your experience sheds light on a pervasive issue in the arts industry. How do you think diversity and inclusion efforts can address imposter syndrome and promote a more inclusive environment?

Amerah: One of the biggest challenges is the lack of validation for lived experiences. Arts organisations tend to prioritise formal qualifications over diverse perspectives, exacerbating imposter syndrome among individuals from marginalised communities. To overcome this, we need to foster inclusive environments and provide mentorship and support networks to validate and empower those grappling with imposter syndrome.

However, I believe that by fostering inclusive environments and recognising the expertise inherent in lived experiences, the arts sector can begin to address imposter syndrome. Mentorship programmes and support networks are crucial for providing guidance, encouragement, and validation to individuals grappling with imposter syndrome. Additionally, creating spaces where diverse perspectives are respected and celebrated can help combat feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

UnderOne: How do you believe diversity and inclusion efforts within the arts sector can contribute to broader societal change and cultural transformation?

Amerah: By promoting diversity and inclusion in artistic representations, I believe the arts sector can provide platforms for marginalised voices and communities to be heard and seen. This increased representation helps challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and foster empathy and understanding across different groups within society.

Inclusive arts initiatives empower individuals from underrepresented groups, including myself, by providing us with opportunities for creative expression and self-representation. By amplifying diverse narratives and experiences, the arts empower marginalised communities to assert our agency, challenge social norms, and advocate for change on our own terms.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how embracing diversity in the arts encourages cultural exchange and appreciation, enriching society’s understanding of different traditions, histories, and worldviews. By celebrating the richness of cultural diversity, the arts sector promotes cross-cultural understanding and solidarity, fostering a more inclusive and interconnected global community.

UnderOne: It’s clear that the arts sector plays a pivotal role in driving positive societal change. How do you envision the future of diversity and inclusion in the industry?

Amerah: I believe that diversity and inclusion efforts within the arts sector can influence broader policy discussions and advocacy efforts aimed at addressing systemic inequalities and injustices. By highlighting the social and economic value of diverse artistic expressions, arts organisations can advocate for policies that support equitable funding, access to resources, and representation across cultural and creative industries.

I am hopeful that the arts sector can play a significant role in driving positive societal change, fostering greater inclusion and equity, and contributing to a more vibrant and interconnected world.

Book your ticket to see Amerah perform live at UnderOne Festival. Get a ticket.

Celebrating Creative Voices: Apples and Snakes Joins UnderOne Festival as Sponsor!

Celebrating Creative Voices: Apples and Snakes Joins UnderOne Festival as Sponsor!

We are thrilled to announce our creative sponsor for the upcoming UnderOne Festival – none other than the pioneering spoken word organisation, Apples and Snakes! 

 As trailblazers in the realm of spoken word, Apples and Snakes bring together diverse voices in unique ways, crafting experiences that inspire and captivate audiences. With a mission to support poets at all stages of their careers, Apples and Snakes stands as England’s leading spoken word poetry organisation. Their commitment to championing collaborative opportunities ensures that unheard voices are not just heard but celebrated! 

 Over the years, Apples and Snakes has proudly collaborated with many organisations, from BAC to the BBC, and now, they join us at the UnderOne Festival to continue their mission of amplifying creative voices. 

 Let’s meet some of the extraordinary artists who will grace the UnderOne Festival stage: 

 Amerah Saleh 

Hailing from Birmingham, Amerah Saleh is a spoken word artist whose work taps into themes of identity, womanhood, religion, and belonging. Co-founder of Verve Poetry Press, Amerah’s performances have captivated audiences across Europe, and her collection “I Am Not From Here” speaks volumes about her passion for inspiring change through words. 

 Kat Francois 

A trailblazer in her own right, Kat Francois made history as the first person to win a televised poetry slam in the UK. With an illustrious career spanning stage plays to comedy shows, Kat continues to push boundaries with her impactful work. Kat’s play “Raising Lazarus” has garnered global acclaim, shedding light on the experiences of Caribbean soldiers in World War One. 

 Joelle Taylor 

With four collections of poetry in the bag, including the award-winning “C+NTO & Othered Poems,” Joelle Taylor’s impact on the spoken word scene is undeniable. A Poetry Fellow of the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Joelle’s work transcends borders, captivating audiences from Australia to Brazil. 

 Join us as we celebrate the power of creative expression with Amerah, Kat, Joelle, and more at UnderOne Festival 2024. Get your tickets now for an unforgettable experience! 

 Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to witness the magic of spoken word poetry and support the vibrant creative community. See you at the festival! 

Celebrating the Inspiring Voices of Women

Celebrating the Inspiring Voices of Women

As the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day, UnderOne Festival, proudly supported by Warner Bros. Discovery, has announced a dynamic lineup of female speakers who will take the stage at the University of Northampton, 24th – 25th July 2024. From visionary entrepreneurs to global leaders and change-makers, these women represent a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives, united by their commitment to driving positive change and empowering others.

“To coincide with International Womens’ Day, we are thrilled to announce our lineup of global speakers for the UnderOne Festival,” said Dr Asif Sadiq MBE, Chief DEI Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery and Advisory Board member at UnderOne Festival.  “These remarkable women are leaders in their fields, trailblazers in their communities, and champions of diversity and inclusion. We are honoured to have them join us and share their insights, experiences, and visions for a more equitable and inclusive world.”

Among the highlights of the festival’s lineup are:

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday: Professor Anne-Marie Kilday is Vice Chancellor and Professor of Criminal History at the University of Northampton. As Vice Chancellor, she brings visionary leadership and a commitment to excellence in education, research, and community engagement. Professor Kilday’s passion for advancing knowledge and fostering innovation has made her a respected figure in higher education, inspiring students, faculty, and stakeholders alike. Her dedication to academic excellence and inclusive leadership continues to drive positive change and shape the future of the University of Northampton and beyond.

María del Mar Galcerán Gadea: María del Mar Galcerán Gadea made history as the first politician with Down syndrome to secure a seat in the Corts Valencianes. Her groundbreaking achievement marks a significant milestone in the realm of political inclusivity and representation. María brings a unique perspective and unwavering determination to her role, advocating for the rights and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Her historic election serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for marginalised communities worldwide, showcasing the power of perseverance and breaking barriers in pursuit of equality and representation. Highlighting her inspiration for participating in this global event, Maria said, “My interest in participating in this event is to be able to transmit my personal experience and send encouragement and strength to families with children with disabilities and to people with disabilities themselves so that they fight to achieve their challenges, their goals because having a disability does not mean that we do not have abilities.”

Sanchia Alasia: Sanchia Alasia is a multi-award-winning and distinguished global Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) practitioner, public speaker, and community change-maker with a reputation for driving systematic and sustainable change towards fostering inclusive environments. Currently Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at London South Bank University, Sanchia said, “I was inspired to speak at the UnderOne Festival as I want to motivate others to innovate and develop their business values, into a healthy inclusive culture.”

Lucile Kamar: As former Head of Diversity and Inclusion at ITN, Lucile is a forward-thinking and award-winning Diversity & Inclusion leader, Keynote Speaker and Leadership Coach, with over a decade of experience leading diversity and inclusion in male-dominated industries.

Lucile commented: “In a world where there’s information overload, the UnderOne Festival’s carefully curated agenda as well as the diverse range of expert speaker in their field promises a meaningful and uplifting event”

Samantha Owo: Samantha is a Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead at Lloyds Banking Group, the first FTSE company to establish gender and ethnicity goals to improve the representation of women, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic colleagues in senior positions, also the first UK Bank committed to double colleagues with disabilities in senior roles by 2025, to reflect the society we serve.

Sybil Taunton: Sybil is a former U.S. Air Force Veteran and the current Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), where she is responsible for the development and delivery of the RICS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy for roughly 700 employees and more than 135,000 surveying professionals globally. Commenting on the importance of the festival, Sybil said, “It’s inspiring to see more and more organisations recognising the power of collective and collaborative action when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Together, we are so much stronger and can achieve much more meaningful, impactful and lasting change.”

The UnderOne Festival is a premier gathering of thought leaders, innovators, and influencers focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and beyond. With a theme of “Unity Unleashed: Creating a Global Culture of Inclusivity,” the festival aims to spark meaningful conversations, inspire action, and foster connections worldwide.

“We believe in the power of diverse voices and perspectives to drive positive change and create a more inclusive world,” added Dr Sadiq. “As we celebrate International Women’s Day and honour the achievements of women everywhere, we invite everyone to join us at the UnderOne Festival in July, where we will come together to learn, connect, and inspire each other.”

Hear from all of our speakers at the DEI event of the summer!  Get your tickets HERE for UnderOne Festival 2024.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion During Ramadan: Guidance for Global Workplaces

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion During Ramadan: Guidance for Global Workplaces

With the dawn of the holy month of Ramadan, workplaces worldwide are reminded of the significance of diversity and inclusion, especially in accommodating the needs of Muslim employees. This guide offers perspectives on fostering inclusive environments and honouring diverse traditions. 

Understanding Ramadan in the Global Context 

Ramadan stands as a time of spiritual reflection, fasting, and acts of charity for Muslims globally. It holds deep cultural and communal significance, fostering unity, compassion, and cultural exchange. Observing fasting, engaging in prayer, and partaking in shared iftar meals are integral parts of this month. 

The Significance of Diversity and Inclusion 

Celebrating diversity and embracing inclusion are intrinsic values in multicultural workplaces. Recognising the cultural diversity of the workforce and upholding principles of respect, understanding, and acceptance is essential. Creating inclusive spaces during Ramadan honours the religious observances of Muslim employees while fostering a sense of belonging and harmony. 

Practical Strategies for Inclusivity 

  • Offer comprehensive training programmes on cultural awareness and sensitivity, educating employees about the significance of Ramadan and providing insights into Muslim customs and traditions. 
  • Implement flexible working hours to accommodate fasting schedules and prayer times, allowing employees the flexibility to manage their religious obligations alongside professional responsibilities. 
  • Organise inclusive Iftar gatherings, virtual Iftars, or cultural workshops to celebrate the spirit of Ramadan and promote cross-cultural exchange among colleagues. 
  • Foster a workplace culture rooted in empathy, respect, and understanding. Encourage open dialogue and mutual respect, creating an environment where employees feel valued and supported irrespective of their religious affiliations. 

Sharing Best Practices 

Several organisations around the world have implemented inclusive Iftar experiences and prayer facilities for their diverse workforce. Multinational corporations have effectively accommodated employees during Ramadan through flexible work arrangements and cultural awareness programmes. 

As we prepare to gather at the UnderOne Festival this summer, let us reaffirm our commitment to building workplaces that reflect unity, tolerance, and inclusivity. Together, we can create environments where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to thrive. 

Ramadan Kareem to all, and may this month inspire us to embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our lives. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to gain actionable insights and join the conversation on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace at the UnderOne Festival 2024. Get your tickets HERE!

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