On the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, Action Tutoring HR and Safeguarding Manager, Jasmin Bemmelen, reflects on the steps the organisation has since taken to improve diversity and inclusion across the charity.
Equality, inclusion, diversity – words that have been buzzing across the world since the death of George Floyd, one year ago. As a result of this event, a problem that has existed for years resurfaced in many people’s minds and the public mood reached a breaking point. His death woke many of us up to the fact that inequality and exclusion are still a reality and that now is time to make the change happen.
These topics are a priority for me as the HR and Safeguarding Manager and the lead for diversity and inclusion at Action Tutoring. Questions such as: ‘How can we change processes and mindsets within a short period of time?’; ‘How can we become a more inclusive employer?’; ‘How can we support our staff on the journey of fixing implicit bias?; ‘How can we break the status quo and dare to have brave conversations about topics that we believe are ‘taboos’ or ‘not appropriate’ to have?, are constantly on my mind.
Working with a wide range of stakeholders (pupils, teachers, tutors, parents and guardians, funders and staff), we knew we had to start the journey of implementing new diversity and inclusion policies, in order to generate the change we want to see across the charity. As part of this, I created a working group that meets monthly, to propose and work on positive actions for the wider team. Every day, we are discovering more elements of our work that we can improve. We are constantly adjusting to become as inclusive and diverse as we possibly can and I believe that this will continue to improve over time.
We need to break down the concepts of inclusion and diversity and convert them into tangible actions, turning them from abstract ideas to concrete steps, so that everyone can get on board.
As a result, we have been implementing ‘everyday actions’ to encourage diversity and inclusion at Action Tutoring, such as:
- ‘Broaden your horizon’ Club – providing a safe space for staff to share their thoughts and ideas, whilst learning more about topics they might not have visited or thought about before.Team members come forward with topics they would like to discuss and resources are shared at the club meetings.
- Adopting the HALO code – we have adopted the very first code that protects Black employees who come to work with natural hair and hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.
- Lunchtime catch-ups and socials to celebrate and create awareness of important dates – (e.g. International Women’s Day; International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia; Eid and Ramadan).
- Inclusive email signatures – our signatures now have the option to include gender pronouns, recognising the need for pronouns in today’s culture, so that applicants and employees feel comfortable to do the same so that everyone can be addressed correctly.
- Long emails and newsletters now recorded for audio format – for those who prefer to digest information in an auditory way.
Through this process, I soon realised that my own expertise is limited and that if we want to challenge the status quo, external support for our recruitment processes would be needed. Receiving a equality, diversity and inclusion grant and with it the consultancy from the TPP, a recruitment expert consultancy, means we come one step closer to a more diverse team and a more inclusive working environment. We can start becoming the change we want to see in our society, which can ultimately increase our positive impact on the pupils, tutors and schools that we work with.
This anniversary has helped me to reflect on the positive actions we have taken so far, as well as how much more we need to be doing. Going forward, increasing diversity and inclusion across Action Tutoring is a journey that we are committed to continuing on.