Inclusion in 2023

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Each week we try to cover the biggest stories in leadership and inclusion. Last year there were many highs, but there were certainly some real lows. It brings me to begin 2024 with a review of 2023, but more importantly, what, and why we can do even better this year.

Forgive me for starting on a negative, but it isn’t how we’ll end – I feel it is important to firstly address the elephant in the room, ‘diversity fatigue.’ Last year was a tough one for the importance of diversity in the workplace, in fact, as reported by McLean & Company, DEI wasn’t even in HR’s top 5 priorities. A figure that today is almost absurd.

The increase in diversity fatigue grew quite suddenly, but maybe it isn’t as surprising as we first thought – there still is a lack of understanding of DEI’s importance. Authentically embracing DEI tangibly helps all organisations and by establishing inclusive environments they can drive business performance – yet for many, it’s being pushed aside. We saw many companies giving up on trying harder to represent society and people. It is essential to look to hire from all those that make up our society without excluding any. It’s hard to comprehend why making your company a representation of the world we live in and giving people fair opportunities is not hard wired into what we all do.

It unfortunately leads me to address the negative outbursts from former professional footballer, Joey Barton, which has also sneaked its way into the new year. Barton’s prehistoric comments just make you shake your head and sigh. His despicable rants on social media have been hitting headlines and gained the attention that he so craves. We applaud the likes of ITV and Gary Lineker for taking a stand with their female colleagues and calling him out. However, it’s now probably better to ignore the likes of Barton by not giving them the attention or platform at all.

The demanding work that goes into diversity and inclusion is massive and whilst it is important to listen to just feedback, sometimes those who try to just tear it down are best ignored. There is no logic to such overt misogyny and little to be gained from engaging with him.

To no surprise, Barton has shown hypocrisy in abundance – he’s been one to praise the direction of the women’s game, but in desperation for relevance, he’s prepared to try and forget all of that and just become another sad attack dog on progressive issues.

2023 was not all doom and gloom – we saw some real positives, and potential for moving in the right direction. A highlight was the final sacking of Suella Braverman. An individual who quite frankly overstayed her welcome. We’ve covered Braverman countless times, the majority came without a choice – her absurdity just kept growing. In an attempt to deem multiculturalism as a failure and claim it will never work, she was shut down almost instantly as she is the epitome of multiculturalism thanks to her parents’ background and her husband’s. The more outrageous she got, the closer she got to the exit door and eventually she got the boot. Braverman released statements and plans that were simply inhumane, stating that homelessness was a lifestyle choice – alongside being aggressive against all minorities during her time as Home Secretary. This was by far the biggest example of pushing people too far without suffering the consequences. In this instance, eventually common sense won, but there is plenty more to be done – with the general election approaching in the second half of this year, it is time for change.

The biggest positive of last year was the resilience of inclusion. It’s fair to say that diversity took quite a hit and was constantly questioned and fought against during the damaging culture wars. But those working hard to establish inclusion environments were still achieving incredible things. We had the privilege for working alongside some incredible people and companies, seeing firsthand the positive impact being made through inclusion, and the monumental difference to previous years – leaders are beginning to appreciate the multitude of benefits this brings.

There were some monumental moments, we saw Coco Gauff become a US open champion at just 19 years of age, displaying that you’re never too young to lead. The women’s World Cup smashed record numbers for viewership and women’s football continued to grow throughout the year. In October we ‘Saluted our Sistas,’ giving special praise to those who may not get deserved recognition often.

We also had some moments of mixed emotions, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s passing – a remembrance that maybe brought back some lessons for our leaders to take on board. We also lost Benjamin Zephaniah, an extraordinary inclusive poet. All these moments made up what it means to actively support inclusion.

Going into 2024, the resilience of inclusion must continue. Celebrate wins, support your colleagues, and do your part to change the world.

Now is not the time to be left behind.


Thought for the week:

Words mean very little, actions mean everything.


Tips for becoming an A player:

  • Be willing to take risks
  • Worry less about your age and more about what you have given
  • Pause for a moment and enjoy life
  • Embrace everyone
  • Always be your authentic self

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