Aware of the recent negative media coverage of a number of businesses, here at First Friday we saw a real need to invest in supporting organisations with high-quality, engaging training around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
As a business, we specialise in the provision of training solutions, but we’re not subject matter experts in this area ourselves. So, to ensure that our ED&I course materials were created to the same high standard as the other courses available through our Training Academy, we decided to work in partnership with an industry expert.
Let me introduce you to Ganny Gbadebo MSc Cert IHRLP, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant with Fair Play Training & Consultancy Services Ltd.
We have been working together for over a year now and recently I had the opportunity to catch up with Ganny and ask him all about his work in this field…
Introducing ED&I specialist, Ganny Gbadebo…
Ganny can you begin by sharing what made you become interested in this area of work?
My interest in this area first grew out of a personal and shocking experience of racism.
As a child I witnessed an Asian man being attacked and called racist names by two white men, who as well as calling him names, pulled him to the floor and spat on him.
I remember that no-one intervened to help him.
This incident deeply upset me. It made me aware that people can want to do you harm, not because of anything you have done, but just because of your ethnicity or colour.
I remember this as the first time I felt afraid and very conscious of my colour and ethnicity.
My interest in learning about the causes of prejudice, stereotyping, bias, and discrimination I think stemmed from this single horrible childhood incident, and today continues to fuel my desire to try to work with individuals, organisations, and businesses to create environments in which everyone feels safe, is treated fairly, equally, and with respect.
Can you tell me about your EDI experience and credentials
I have 25 years’ experience specialising in this subject area.
In my role as the principal D&I consultant I provide a wide range of diversity and inclusion consultancy and training services.
The clients I have worked with represent a broad range of business and service sectors including hospitality, education, construction, retail, health and social care, transport, local government, social housing, voluntary organisations, and charities.
I specialise in supporting businesses and organisations to:
- Develop D&I strategies and implement D&I action plans
- Engage in D&I knowledge building (all areas) and all roles
- Comply with requirements of relevant legislation
- Promote evidenced-based best practice
- Identify the impact their policies and practices have on diverse groups and communities
- Identify D&I training priorities and support the delivery of appropriate training solutions
- Develop appropriate oversight mechanisms
- Improve engagement and participation
- Create and support D&I networks and working groups
- And assess the inclusiveness of their policies, procedures, and practices
I have a master’s degree in Race and Ethnic Relations from London University and a Certificate in International Human Rights Law and Practice from the London School of Economics.
What made you decide to partner with First Friday in developing these training courses?
Having met with Robin and the rest of the team, I was really impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement everyone displayed about the possibility of working in Partnership to produce a series of D&I-related eLearning courses, even though the subject area was new to First Friday.
“It was clear from the outset, that First Friday had the expertise, resources and commitment required to produce high-quality, engaging eLearning courses, as they had proven track record of doing so.”
What the Equality Act 2010 means for UK businesses
There are laws designed to protect individuals within a business – can you tell us about the key elements the Equality Act 2010 in relation to workplace situations?
The Equality Act is a significant piece of anti-discrimination legislation that was first introduced in 2010, replacing lots of other anti-discrimination laws and regulations, and with the aim of harmonising and simplifying the (UK) law in this area.
The Act identifies 9 protected characteristics:
- Sexual orientation
- Religion or belief
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy or maternity
And makes it unlawful to treat people unequally based on these grounds in a range of different contexts including but not limited to; housing, education, employment, and goods and services.
It also requires employers and service providers to make reasonable adjustments to their premises, policies, procedures, and practices, if a disabled person is placed at a substantial disadvantage.
Job applicants, employees and service users can use the rights protected under the Equality Act to bring proceedings in an Employment Tribunal or a County Court (Sheriff Court in Scotland) if they feel they have experienced discrimination, harassment or victimisation.
If their claim is upheld, they will be entitled to be awarded compensation.
If any employer loses a case of discrimination at an Employment Tribunal, what types of penalty might they face?
In claims involving discrimination the compensation awards are uncapped, which means that depending on the issues involved, the awards can be substantial, particularly when they involve claims related to loss of earnings.
The importance of implementing a workplace ED&I strategy
What do you see as the key benefits for a business of promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I)?
There are many well-documented benefits associated with promoting Diversity and Inclusion.
- A positive impact on the business reputation
- An improved recruitment potential and retention rates
- A more motivated, committed, engaged, loyal, creative workforce
- Improved decision-making
- The reduction in discriminatory behaviour and practices
- Improved employee well-being
- A reduction in costs
The degree to which any specific business or organisation will experience these associated benefits will be influenced by multi factors including:
- The level of EDI knowledge and support that is available
- The commitment of its leaders, managers, and team members
- How effectively diversity is being managed
- The degree to which the environment is inclusive and encourages belonging
- The existence of non-discriminatory and inclusive policies, procedures, practices
- The level of employee and customer engagement
- The degree to which equal opportunities, equal treatment, and fair and justifiable outcomes are being promoted and experienced
In other words: the associated benefits will only truly be realised in full by any business or organisation if a ED&I strategy is being implemented effectively.
We have become quite used to hearing and using the terms ‘equality’, ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ – but it seems ‘belonging’ is now part of the conversation. Can you explain what this term refers to?
“Belonging” refers to the need to form intimate, caring, mutually, accepting, and authentic relationships, that are sustained over time. It is not a desire or a want, but a fundamental human need that we each seek to satisfy.
It has been identified as a powerful motivator of human behaviour and emotional well-being and is as significant as the need to eat, or to feel safe.
As several research studies have identified (e.g., Baumeister & Leary 1995; Maslow 1943), when we experience feelings of belonging, we are more motivated, cooperative, loyal, work harder and have improved physical and mental health.
Therefore, if employers wish to get the best out of their employees, they need to ensure that they support and promote the development of relationships that are caring, respectful, accepting, and sustained. Valuing diversity and promoting inclusion will contribute to creating the conditions for belonging to be satisfied.
Given your experience working with lots of different businesses and organisations, what do you think is the one thing you would advise all businesses to avoid?
Only taking measures to implement a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy after a workplace issue has occurred.
Not only is this a risky business strategy as the consequences may be far-reaching and extremely costly, particularly if the issue involves legal proceedings and reputational damage, but it has the potential to create a perception that the organisation or business is just taking action to protect its own interests, rather than based on an authentic and informed commitment to D&I principles.
And finally, can you share some recent examples of organisations who have had to deal with negative media attention and criticism to help explain how damaging and potentially widespread these issues are?
In 2022 Scottish Cricket, the London Fire Brigade, and the Metropolitan Police each experienced negative publicity and criticism after reports into their culture and practices found that racism, misogyny, bullying, and harassment were issues of concern and urgently needed to be addressed.
Whilst a few well-known organisations attracted negative media attention, many more businesses and organisations are vulnerable to experiencing similar damage to their reputation given that research identifies the concerns highlighted by these reports, are extremely common and widespread in UK workplaces.
There continues to be a need to support businesses and organisations to educate their workforce in this area and to broaden the conversation to include the positive benefits associated with promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging and the actions that are required to accrue them.
Access a complete online EDI training course toolkit
Ganny talks with such passion and experience and his message is so compelling that we’ve learnt a great deal because of our partnership together.
It has become clear to us that valuing equality and diversity – and promoting inclusion – is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace. However, building an inclusive environment where everyone feels that they belong doesn’t happen by chance, it needs to be actively created.
Sadly, equality is not something experienced by everyone, and being different can sometimes be the reason for people experiencing discrimination.
As a result of this partnership, we have recently launched a series of online training courses:
- Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
- Workplace Diversity and Inclusion – The Essentials
- Anti-racism in the Workplace
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
… with more to come!
Keep an eye on the ED&I Training Academy hub for all new ED&I-related courses as they get released.