In the third of our series of ‘Channel Eye Chats’, sponsored by the Santander Work Café, today we meet Kate Wright, co-founder of The Diversity Network.
“The Diversity Network is a business networking group and diversity and inclusion consultancy with a not-for-profit ethos.
We want to work with businesses to make Jersey a fairer more inclusive workplace for everyone. For me there’s lots of drivers for change with regards to diversity and inclusion; not just in Jersey, but in other businesses that I’ve worked in, in the UK.
The inspiration comes from lots of different things -from a personal point of view, I want to live in a fair world where everybody has an opportunity to to fulfil their potential and I just see a real need here in Jersey.
There’s some brilliant research out there to demonstrate why a diverse workforce is better for creativity, for decision making, for really brilliant team working. Right now everybody’s talking about this war for talent and skills shortages, so broadening your recruitment pools is an obvious solution to some of those issues that businesses are really struggling with at the moment. The talent is here, a lot of it is just under the radar.
Currently, I think most people understand what we mean by equality, but equity is a much more more difficult terminology to understand. Our children’s commissioner Deborah McMillan shared a really helpful Meme a couple of years ago, when the media were talking about Black Lives Matter and she shared this Meme.
It was an image of three boys watching football over a fence, the tallest boy could see over the fence, he could watch the football, the medium height boy couldn’t see the football and the shortest boy definitely couldn’t see the football. Equality is when you give them each an equal block to stand on, so the tallest boy can still see, now the medium height boy can see, but the shortest boy still can’t see.
Equity is when you give them a different size block, so actually the tallest boy doesn’t need a block at all, he can already see, the medium height boy needs a small block, the shortest boy needs a big block, but they can all see over the fence and enjoy the football.
This is where the conversation is moving in business and of course the most powerful thing of all would be to remove the fence altogether, so there are no barriers.
What it’s about is not assuming one-size-fits-all, but looking at every individual as an individual. What are their talents? What can their difference bring? Their different perspective/background? What can it bring to the business? And look at supporting and nurturing them as an individual.
There are a number of challenges being faced by schools and children and young people in Jersey when it comes to equal opportunity and inclusion. Not all children in our society do get an equal opportunity in terms of how they choose to progress their lives in their careers – that’s not fair. There are kids in our schools at a very young age who don’t see themselves as having an opportunity to break into a career in some of our major industries.
There are kids in pre-school in reception, who when looking in the school library, they’re not seeing books where people like themselves are represented. On that front I’m really excited actually because there is a project in Jersey currently to introduce more diverse books to school libraries, with kids of different ethnic and racial backgrounds featured.
There are perhaps perhaps family scenarios where there’s two mums or two dads or it’s not always the mum and often the dad that’s with the children, so we’re beginning to see some real improvements in that area.
I’m really lucky to collaborate with a lot of local businesses and organisations in Jersey and actually it’s the key way that The Diversity Network likes to work. One exciting collaboration at the moment is with Affinity Private Wealth and in particular, one of their directors Julia Warrender.
Last year, we launched the Menopause Café and in the last few months, a campaign called 51 employers and we’re seeking to get at least 51 local employers to publicly sign their support for a pledge that will enable them to create a menopause friendly workplace. The interest has been tremendous and it’s been a real pleasure working with Julia and her colleagues at Affinity on this particular project.
I’m involved with quite a few local voluntary groups and charities. The most relevant one at the moment with the elections coming up is ‘Women for politics’. We established it before the last elections to try and help increase the number of women standing for office and also to ensure that all women’s voices are heard and that issues that are important to all women are part of the conversation and policy making of manifestos.
We’re gearing up at the moment to support and encourage more women to stand for election and to make sure that some of those issues that really matter to women in our community are being listened to by the prospective candidates.”
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