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Ask us your DE&I questions!

AXIS Network brings back the buzz in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion discussions at their first in-person event of the year.

On Thursday 23rd February we got back to our roots with our first members event of 2023! We invited our members to ‘Ask us anything!’ about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) and they came up with some thought-provoking questions, sparked two-way conversations and brought back the buzz to the debate on DE&I.

The evening was kicked off by AXIS Network’s new Chair, Sarah Clark, who welcomed our members in her first address to the Network. Sarah was joined on stage by Eva Hagan, who facilitated the event and Karen Blanc, AXIS Network’s former-Chair.

We talked with our community on what it will take to shift the DE&I dial in 2023. The event facilitated a two-way conversation with attendees that often goes amiss in our bigger events – and it felt good!

We left with a buzz, that quiet feeling which builds inside of you, when you know you’re on the precipice of change, when you feel empowered to drive what matters to you.

Our two-way conversation is summarised below in 10 of the questions that we were asked. Thank you so much to all our members who submitted questions and joined us for the debate, we hope you too felt the buzz, and feel more empowered to drive the DE&I dial in 2023.

Q: What do you think is the best way for an individual to make a difference when it comes to DE&I?

Individuals can change the world, but it’s important to focus on what you can control, otherwise it can become overwhelming. The best way for individuals to make a difference is to start at home. Reviewing the home balance duties to ensure responsibility is evenly split, particularly important in heterosexual relationships and after children where women tend to take on more of the household responsibilities.

Q: How can we really effect change in the DE&I space?

Targets are often received with mixed feelings, because what gets measured, gets traction; but without the right culture, organisations can unintentionally create the perception of tokenism or intentionally promote people within marginalised groups to meet targets; driving the wrong behaviours. Changing culture, embedding the expectation and understanding of the business benefit, ‘The Why’, will go much further towards driving organisational DE&I targets. Consider having targets that “represent the population we serve” such as % of female engineers.

Q: My leadership team don't think they have a gender issue. How do I get them to see the issue?

This is a tricky one! Whilst setting up an internal women's network will be great for like-minded people; it probably won’t get leaders onside. Advocating for DE&I education and training for your leaders or becoming an AXIS pledge signatory would make a difference. One of our audience members shared an example of their former company which was a fishbowl exercise. The leadership were at the start of the gender balance journey, and it was an effective way for the local leadership to hear the issues directly from employees.

Q: How has the pandemic impacted work life balance?

This question split the room! Many felt the post-pandemic world was better because flexible working is now normal, and people find it easier to manage their lives. The reduced commute gives more time in the day. That being said, many are still struggling with the transition back to normal life and haven’t adjusted their work volume.

All-in-all, people felt post pandemic was better, albeit some of us need to work on our boundaries…

Q: Does your company encourage the use of Pronouns in email signatures?

Whilst none of our member’s companies mandate it, they don’t discourage it! One member’s company recently encouraged allies to put their pronouns on as part of developing an inclusive culture.

Q: Do you think the increased focus on ESG is helping or hindering DE&I, with environmental considerations perhaps taking priority?

Another divisive one! ESG targets can and has led to many organisations being accused of greenwashing. What is encouraging is many of the organisations within Aberdeen treat DE&I as a separate issue to ESG. Though gender equity is a UN target, many organisations understand the broader aspects of DE&I and therefore treat the two separately.

Q: What are the most impactful actions companies can take to become more age inclusive?

Treating people as individuals and having an open mind within the recruitment process. Age inclusivity is at both ends of the spectrum, but often the older range is left out, particularly women.

Q: How can we manage expectations and ensure equitable treatment of all staff when embracing Flexible working?

Again, treating people as the individuals and keeping an open mind.

Q: How do you promote collaboration amongst DE&I groups to grow a more sustainable inclusive culture?

DE&I groups are great for creating a sense of community within a certain demographic, but they often have little influence on an organisation. By pulling these DE&I groups together, working together towards the common goal of an inclusive culture is more beneficial and more sustainable in the long run – highlighting this vision may be the best way to promote collaboration.

Q: Do you feel like the language used offshore is changing to be more inclusive?

The offshore environment is a different working environment to a typical office, but that shouldn’t mean that it can’t be inclusive. From the research of our Inclusive Offshore Working project, we identified that the majority of our respondees dislike the “locker room chat” language that is often found offshore; however, many don’t feel comfortable calling it out. There is still work to be done in this area.

A fantastic debate and really energising to discuss such a breadth of topics. We can’t wait to share our next exciting event with you all!



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