Below are responses to a selection of questions that were received during the Diversity and Inclusion in UK Nuclear 2020 Online Conference. The responses have been provided by Marcia Ore, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Partner, UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Question: What impact in terms of Diversity KPIs etc have you been able to measure or how do you measure your success?
Response: UKAEA is currently identifying realistic and meaningful targets for recruitment and retention from Black and Ethnic Minorities, individuals with disabilities and Women. However, we need to be able to engage and attract individuals from these groups in the first place. So, we are monitoring engagement and application rates from the jobs we advertise by protected characteristic, including rates of non-disclosure of personal diversity monitoring data, particularly ‘prefer not to say’ category.
Question: What are the key steps in retention of a more diverse workforce, after recruitment?
Response: Connecting with individuals and groups who reflect your identity is really important. I am a strong advocate of internal networks (employee resource groups), as they provide a ‘safe space’ for individuals to share experiences, are listened to and feel supported. Those with a shared experience don’t have to explain the look, the feeling, the microaggressions or microinvalidations they get it. As my Mum use to say, “Who feels it knows it”.
Acknowledging the different experiences of those within a diverse workforce, not trying to treat everyone as the same, because we’re not, is vital.
Senior leadership teams need to get really involved with their workforce, particularly if they lack diversity amongst themselves. The Public Sector Equality Duty talks about fostering relationships with those with protected characteristics and those without. Nowhere does it mention this relationship building is confined to the roles people hold or why they sit in the organisational hierarchy – it applies to everyone. Whether this legal duty applies to an organisation or not, it should a given.
There are some protected characteristics which are viewed as the Cinderellas and Snow Whites of diversity, and others are overlooked, disability is one which readily springs to mind. This results in almost a mindset of vying for recognition, support and recognition. Not exactly helpful or in the spirit of inclusion and the Equality Act 2010.
Question: How does the nuclear industry compare to other sectors in terms of improving inclusion and diversity? and to follow what lessons can and will be learnt?
Response: I feel like the Nuclear Industry is just starting to really wake up to what inclusion and diversity is about. I don’t believe we’ve really identified why it's really important to us and being honest about it.
The lessons that can be learned from other sectors is, this requires continuous critical reflection to make a meaningful impact on inclusion and diversity. Inclusion has to come before diversity, expecting under-represented groups to join the organisation and be the change agents is unfair, unrealistic and places an unfair burden on them. They did not write and devise the organisation's policies and practices. They haven't set the organisation's culture. They didn’t set those ‘unwritten, unspoken rules and protocols’ which the majority know and take for granted.
It's not their responsibility to change the way things are so they feel they belong and are valued!
Don’t treat inclusion and diversity like items on Bruce Forsyth’s 'The Generation Game' conveyor belt. Useful to win a prize/award, insight for a moment, ability to recall influenced by motivation, but likely to forgotten when out of sight.
Question: What would your advice be for companies looking to check their own provision of support networks in terms of representation of minority groups?
Response: Ask employees whether they want a network? Ask those who you engage with as potential employees their views on internal networks.
I transferred from one Police Service to another and the Chief Constable asked me to start a network. I refused because I’d only just arrived and didn’t know what the issues were, and the existing staff hadn’t been consulted.
Ensure all the networks are run in a consistent way with a clear process. For example, providing a template charter and application form to complete to be formally recognised. Included them in your d&i (diversity and inclusion) budget.
Develop a relationship of mutually beneficial support, don’t expect them to do the organisation's work as willing passionate volunteers. That’s exploiting the power dynamics which exist between the majority and the minority.
Communicate to all employees the benefit to everyone of the existence of internal networks. Because they can and do benefit everyone; as itshows conversations are being had about the issues and challenges which exist. They are not being ignored or swept under the carpet, which can become very very lumpy.
Question: How do we continue to promote, embrace, live & breathe inclusivity & diversity and turn this into a one culture shared by all as a norm?
Diversity already exists in the world and has done for ever. Different nationalities, languages spoken, religions, gender identities etc. These are not new phenomena. The key is to remember the value and benefits our differences bring to society and to our organisations. They influence the music, books, architectural designs, works of art, and the advances made in technology and science.
The cultural norm should be inclusivity by embracing and welcoming diversity, not tolerating it.
Question: How are organisations addressing under-representation of disabled people their organisations?
Response: When you consider how many people have a disability and how any of us, regardless of any other protected characteristic, could develop one at any time, due to age, illness, or as a result of accident or incident; organisations are very slow at considering accessibility for those with a disability. From deciding the location of their offices, and considering the transport infrastructure, to building design, open plan, lighting, stairways, lifts, toilet facilities right through to writing a job description, and promotion and progression routes.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to these questions Marcia.
Marcia was one of our interviewees featured at the Diversity and Inclusion in UK Nuclear Conference 2020. You can read more about the conference here. You can view the video featuring Marcia and other interviewees here.
Responses prepared and published: August 2020
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