James Jackson, Workforce EDI programme manager, shares his thoughts on inclusion, specifically belonging and intersectionality.
This written piece is a rare opportunity for me to present a perspective that is personal and not from or on the behalf of an organisation, service line or institution.
For me, National Inclusion Week 2021 is a week-long celebration of two key things ‘Belonging' and 'Intersectionality’. I feel these are critically important to achieve and understand (both personally and professionally) in order to achieve a sense of real inclusion. By inclusion I mean the way you act, think and feel, or indeed how you are treated by others in this same way.
Belonging for me is about feeling safe to be your authentic self without fear of discrimination or judgment and beyond the physical aspect of safety. Psychological safety is the true marker of an inclusive culture and belonging. Check out this resource and read up on why Creating an environment of belonging at work improves the employee experience and a company’s effectiveness overall.
Intersectionality is where we broaden our understanding and supportive provision on an individual level. We recognise and support, and afford uniquely individual inclusion and not a homogenised approach to protected characteristics of Gender, Religion, Race/Ethics, Transgender, Disability etc. (Here are all 9 protected characteristics.)
Belonging and intersectionality is about recognising myself (a ‘Black’ person) as more than just a member of the BME community or recognising a ‘Disabled’ person as more than just someone living with a Disability. Recognising that both have layered intersectionality. An individual can be Black, Disabled, Religious, Married, Gay and a Parent at the same time… By understanding this and exploring whilst accepting and supporting the intersectionality of an individual… this is where we can begin to achieve true inclusion and a feeling of belonging.
This short video clip explains the perspective of Intersectionality within Health created by a research team in the Department of Sociological Studies, as part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project.
This research considers the perspective of 'intersectionality', a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the discrimination experienced by black women, and how this can lead to differences in health. Research has shown us that gender, ethnicity and social class have a strong impact on our health, yet the simple fact is that no one is just a man or woman, or just black or white, or just working-class or middle-class. Instead, we have multiple characteristics that shape our lives.
Since joining SCW I have been made to feel very welcome and that I truly belong based on my intersectionality (black, heterosexual male with a hidden disability and parental responsibilities). This has made a huge difference in my role to date and has contributed greatly to both my personal and professional enjoyment so far. Inclusion both societally and in the workplace is where the personal effect of inclusion expands beyond myself and translates to my home environment, family dynamic and mental health.
With the myriad of inclusive-related activities live here at SCW, including the fantastic Disability & BME networks, our future commitment to developing a new SCW EDI Strategy and choosing to celebrate NIW21, are all great indicators of SCW’s ambition to ‘Build a Culture of Belonging’. I feel positive that SCW’s continued commitment in line with the larger NHS People Plan ‘Belonging in the NHS' – to ensure the NHS is kind, open and inclusive will support colleagues' psychological safety, mental health and feeling of inclusion.
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