With it being National Inclusion week (27 September), we caught up with a few of CIWM’s recently formed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group, to find out more about what EDI means to them.
CIWM established its EDI Working Group to support the creation of an EDI strategy which will influence its policies, guidance to its members and how it collaborates with the wider sector.
The strategy is currently being developed and, as part of this, it is currently conducting a sector-wide EDI survey to better understand what success looks like in this area. If you’re interesting it taking part, you can find the survey here.
This is running alongside a number of focus groups CIWM set up so they could listen and get feedback from members, and to understand the varying voices through each specific diverse lens, on what CIWM and the sector as a whole can do to improve EDI. For more on CIWM’s EDI work, visit here.
What prompted you to join the CIWM EDI Working Group?
“I think it’s vital for us to live in a more just and sustainable world, and since taking up a leadership position in an organisation that straddles both the tech sector and resources and waste industry (neither of which are renowned for their diversity!), I have been trying to shift the dial on EDI by taking action.
“Joining the CIWM EDI Working Group felt like a way to use my passion and experience to have some impact in the resources and waste sector.”
“I have been passionate about improving equality, diversity, and inclusion in the industry for a long time. There are so many women in the industry but time and time again they are underrepresented at external events. This means the industry still has a reputation as being male dominated, which is off-putting for newcomers.
“CIWM’s EDI working group gave me the opportunity to focus my passion into making a difference.”
“It was culmination of a few reasons… The social media posts at the height of the [Black Lives Matter] movement depicted black squares, people from ethnic backgrounds and an egalitarian society. I found this was all a façade, a marketing strategy in an Instagram era.
“Secondly, I grew impatient, disillusioned, and perplexed with CIWM continuing to promote and utilise the same individuals we have seen over the years at events, magazines, websites and now webinars.”
“I had some involvement in the EDI work of the ICAEW when I worked there and find the topic very interesting, in particular the many different ways it affects people and how having a champion that supports your career, no matter who you are, can have such a huge difference to both your overall success but also how you feel about coming to work everyday.”
“I have been promoting the equality agenda for several years in the waste sector, due to my own experiences as a woman and dyslexic in the sector, and the experiences of several of my female colleagues.
“I have completed several courses on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and now I am completing my Chartered Managers level 6 – Leading Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (something I have self-funded myself) to become an EDI specialist. I want to amplify and promote a positive change, challenge the waste sector to look in on itself to remove culture barriers to really open the sector up to all.”
Why do you believe EDI work to be important – not just for the resources sector, but generally?
“There are so many people whose potential is squandered, whose ideas go unrealised, whose voices go unheard and whose contribution is diminished because of the structural inequalities our societies have woven into their very being. More diversity and inclusion leads to better, more highly functioning teams, diverse companies are more profitable, and more equal societies have less poverty, violence and crime.
“It’s an absolute no brainer. At the moment we face unparalleled threats from the climate emergency and we need all the brains, ideas and human effort we can muster to meet these challenges.”
“EDI work is important as, although we have laws in place to prevent discrimination, these do not necessarily prevent inequality or encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“EDI work educates on how we can be more inclusive in our language and behaviour. For example, there are still a lot of ‘micro-aggressions’ dressed up as ‘banter’, which is extremely sexist and racist, but one is expected to be ‘taken on the chin’.”
“EDI has shown to make good business sense. Research from USA suggests that organisations with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation, ethnically diverse organisations perform 33% better and the best workplaces for diversity enjoy 24% higher revenue growth.
“Embracing diversity and providing equality goes a tremendous distance in promoting a work culture which values talent beyond stereotypes and helps individuals reach their potential by contributing their best beyond any prejudice.
“If organisations, public or private can realise a diverse workforce, it will improve their revenues, the natural consequence of which will be acceptance for those individuals and groups that experience discrimination within the workplace and significantly, outside, too.”
“On a very basic level, it’s just the right thing to do. No one should be made to feel that they can’t be who they are at work and some of the experiences that people have shared with us are so upsetting.
“From a business side, no matter what your business does the statistics clearly show the benefit on performance of having a diverse workforce. You get a greater breadth of ideas; your revenue performance is better and if you have a workforce that really feels they can bring their whole selves to work they are happier. A happier team means happier customers and more success all round!”
“To meet the challenges of climate change we must build resilience in our communities, empower, and elevate those diverse communities, and for us all to seek wider collaboration, ensuring we have diversity in our decision making.
“We also need to ensure we not only meet legislation and regulation such as the Equality act 2010 and Equality Duty, we over exceed it.”
If you could change one thing in resources sector to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, what would that be?
“To shift perceptions of EDI away from something that is just seen as the morally right thing to do – we don’t all share the same morals and framing it this way makes some people ‘good’ and some ‘bad’, so people feel judged, which is never a good basis for positive change.”
“A more welcome environment in the workplace for women; ensure you have women’s toilets that are not used as a store cupboard, PPE readily available in women’s sizes and passive aggressive ‘banter’ is completely shut down.”
“CIWM ensuring equal access to opportunities and seek out those individuals from an underrepresented group (and realise EDI is not solely linked to gender equality), to discuss the pressing issues in the resources sector and provide the same exposure.
“The natural consequence being organisations will follow a code of practice from the professional institution representing them nationally and internationally.”
“I’d love a magic wand to create a really diverse database of speakers we can call upon to speak at events and be on panels. If you are from an under-represented group in the sector seeing role models that are like you can make a massive difference to you seeing what you can achieve and a person to reach out to for mentoring or guidance.”
“If you are the manager of an all-male team – start to look outside of the box. Invite diversity into the team meetings as best practice to change a culture, whilst giving more people a platform and opportunity to speak up and be included.”
What does ‘inclusion’ look like to you?
“Inclusion is every person being their whole selves and feeling a sense of belonging because they can meaningfully participate and are valued and respected.”
“Inclusion at work (to me) is when everyone is given a voice, no matter what their position in the company – an environment where everyone feels welcomed and included. That’s what I want from CIWM and the resources sector.”
“Having full access to a platform to discuss issues, absence of tokenism, without being ridiculed and the expectation that an individual from under-represented group solely represents that group’s views.”
“Everyone feeling that they are welcome and not getting that nervous feeling that they are going to be less valued because of some aspect of who they are that has nothing to do with their work.”
“Inclusion for me is for all to have access to the same opportunities, training, and mentoring platforms. No voice is dismissed or ignored for favour of our own.”
What can each of us as individuals do to play our part?
“Reflect on ourselves, examine our privileges and prejudices and try to approach this without judgement, with a willingness to be open and embark on change.
“Seek out new perspectives and different ways of thinking, both with the people around us and also through the massive array of great content out there from books and articles to conversations on social media and podcasts.”
“Educate yourselves on what is meant by EDI and unconscious bias. Check your language when speaking to others. Refuse to attend any events where the panel is all white male and, if you organise events, make sure they are fully inclusive.”
“Many chartered and fellow members have several years’ experience and are likely considered to be curators of the resource industry. I urge each member to actively be involved in reverse mentoring with those new to the industry. I believe knowledge is a gift and it should be shared with others for all to benefit.”
“Talk to each other about the issues, listen actively to what’s being said and then step forward when there’s an opportunity to take action.”
“We can all do so much more: look at our own privilege, become allies, actively listen to people, and put frameworks in place through equality assessments and focus groups to really take a deeper dive into understanding the challenges of the communities where we live and work.”
The opinions expressed in this article are that of the individuals and do not necessarily represent those of Circular Online or CIWM.