It's National Inclusion Week 2020 (September 28th - October 4th), where organisations and individuals commit to sharing, learning, promoting, celebrating, and inspiring greater commitment to inclusion in workplaces around the globe.

This year, the theme is ‘Each One, Reach One’, bringing together people and organisations to connect and inspire one another and thus, creating the biggest ‘inclusion chain’ ever.

As part of registering to support and take part in National Inclusion Week 2020, we wanted to share an example of one of the steps we have made in improving our HR policies and processes, despite facing barriers, with hopes to inspire other organisations on the smaller side to join the inclusion chain.

Earlier this year, we approached the charity Stonewall about becoming a ‘Stonewall Champion’ through their Diversity Champions programme – the leading programme for ensuring all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace. However, we found that because of the size of our organisation, the Diversity Champion framework wouldn’t quite work for us. This clearly brought about some barriers – but with help from Stonewall, we were able to overcome them.

As an alternative, Stonewall offered to provide us with detailed and tailored advice, unique to our situation. From subtle changes in language to new processes, they provided us with practical ways we could affect positive change, despite not being eligible for their programme.

Stonewall combed through our entire staff handbook, a ‘101’ given to BSA staff upon induction (an ‘employee manual’ or similar, at other organisations).

They managed to provide us with advice on wording of our policies and processes, such as making sure we have gender neutral words for parents, and gender-neutral pronouns throughout.

They also helped us understand some of the sensitivities involved in the language used, for instance, we had included the Equality Act’s (2010) outdated wording of “gender reassignment”. This language to some people feels too medical and/or too binary. Thus, we changed our language to include ‘transgender’ throughout.

Also, based on the advice provided by Stonewall, we added extra answer options to our online forms. We have added “non-binary” and “prefer to self-describe” to the list of genders that BSA employees can select on our HR software platform (alongside “male” and “female”).

Another barrier we faced was not being able to create a free text box to accompany the “prefer to self-describe” option because the software does not currently permit that. To tackle this, we have requested that the developers make that change, referring to Stonewall’s definition, and it has since gone on our supplier’s development roadmap. 

Ultimately, one small step in reaching out, unexpectedly led to a multitude of simple, positive changes.

When tackling EDI, there may be, as with many organisation-wide changes, initial barriers to overcome. However, this is true for organisations of every size – for some, the biggest barrier may be costs associated with overhead or lack of specialist knowledge, for others, its accessible infrastructure or technology. When you face barriers like this, it is easy to fall at the first hurdle and get discouraged.

But it’s important to remember that small steps add up, and sometimes you just need a few wins to feel like you’re making progress.

Whatever the hurdle may be, the benefits of continuously integrating EDI into an organisation, big or small, far outweigh the reasons that are holding an organisation back from making a change.

For National Inclusion Week, we encourage you to think about those small steps - inspiring a colleague, sharing your experiences, or highlighting an opportunity for inclusion – ‘Each One, Reach One’.

To find out more about National Inclusion Week or to register to take part, visit their website.