Download the presentation from this event.
In the webinar, Dr Verma referred to a research study undertaken by Pearn Kandola, which surveyed around 1500 people to look at experiences of racism in the workplace.
- Webinar transcript
Good afternoon everybody. And you can probably see that I am not Councillor Sharon Taylor.
Unfortunately Sharon has been called away to a really urgent meeting with her local MPs, which is I'm sure, is a situation many of you will recognize and she will join us later if she can for the Q & A part of the session.
But for now I will do the introductions and my name's Helen. I'm a programme manager here at the LGA. I lead on our councillor and officer training and professional development offer.
We've put together today's webinar, in response to a number of requests we've had from councils and individuals asking for support in response to some of the challenges and opportunities that have arisen both as a result of the popularity of the Black Lives Matter campaign, and as well as the result of the COVID 19 crisis.
Both have brought about renewed focus on the issues of equality and diversity. Before I introduce the session and our speaker, I'd like to mention a couple of housekeeping points. If you'd like to ask a question, please do so but use the Q & A function within your zoom feature, it should be somewhere along the bottom. You will be able to access the slides afterwards if there's anything you'd like to revisit, we'll be sharing those on the LGA website afterwards.
So, before I hand over I'll just do a little introduction to our guest speaker today, DR Kul Verma. Kul is a senior consultant, a leading authority in training and organizational development. He's worked for over 34 years on leadership training, coaching and organizational change. He's worked at both a national, international level providing expert assistance to a wide variety of organisations.
In particular, he brings a great deal of experience from his time working on diversity and inclusion with the police. I can see Sharon you've been able to join us, and I just was holding the reigns temporarily but if you would like to, I can hand over to you to say a few words about why we think this topic is so important for the sector at the moment.
[Councillor Sharon Taylor]
Yes, thank you very much Helen. I apologise for being a few minutes late. I've been unusually I know we have to run across the road from the houses of parliament to the LGA, but today it was just a zoom glitch that held me up, getting from one to the other. So I've been speaking to MPs in parliament, so my apologies for slight delay.
Welcome indeed to this session. My name's Sharon Taylor. I'm the LGA's Equality and Diversity champion, and I'm the leader of Stevenage borough council. Stevenage is in Hertfordshire,for those of you that don't know. First stop on the train on when you go out of Kings Cross.
And before I introduce the session, and now speaker, I've just got a couple of housekeeping points for you. I hope you haven't said these already Helen, because I'll be repeating the boring stuff at the start of the meeting, but it is vital.
If you do want to ask a question, and we want this section to be interactive, please use the Q & A function. And you'll be able to access the slides after this webinar on the LGA website, so you don't have to furiously be scribbling notes all through the meeting, unless that's what you like to do.
So we will be able to have the slides, and I'm delighted to be hosting this webinar on behalf of the LGA. I've held this role as equality and diversity champion for about 18 months now. This time last year we had a very very successful conference, where we were talking about many different aspects of equalities and diversity, and it was a huge eye-opener to me, and I hope to the other people that attended to see the multifaceted nature of equalities.
And as they appear for us as we look after the communities that we serve, but, also amongst our staff and the teams that we work with. And, I think as we've gone through these last few very difficult months, we've all been aware that there have been some very dramatic aspects of inequality that have been very prevalent during the COVID pandemic.
We know, for example, that BAME communities have been much worse affected by the virus than other parts of our community. We know that people with pre-existing medical conditions have been much more seriously affected. We know the impact that this virus has had on those with mental health issues, and we've done a lot of very good work on mental health within the LGA equalities team. So they're you know they're just three of the examples of ways that it's badly affected people, and I've got two daughters, which they've got three children each, three young children each.
And like many parents, they've been wrestling with homeschooling, working from home, all of the concerns and worries that their children and they have about the pandemic. And trying to juggle all those things at the same time. So there are lots of issues that have been very, very noticeable as we've gone through these last few months. I'm part of the community reassurance cell in Hertfordshire, and we've done an awful lot of work around identifying how we can support those people who have been disproportionately affected through the pandemic.
And I think you know some good practices developing all over the country on this. And I know the LGA will be keen to publish some work on that in due course. I know the local government information unit is publishing uh some some work on COVID action that's been taken, but I think there's never been a more important time for us to be considering the equalities and diversities issues that face us all. And of course, we've also seen since last year when we had our conference, the Black Lives Matter movement and the way that that's developed in the United States, in this country and across the globe.
And that has made us all step back, and take another hard look at what we do and how we do it, and reassess what we should be doing to promote these very vital issues of equality and diversity. And you know look at ourselves again and I hope Kul's going to cover some of this today. You know, think about ourselves and how you know we unconsciously carry forward some of the prejudice and biases we have from one generation to another. We don't want to do that, but it happens sometimes even when we don't want it to, so I really look forward to uh hearing what Kul's got to say to us this afternoon, and to hearing from all of you.
And I hope you will share your experiences with us, and challenge us on what's being said. Talk to us, make this session interactive. It's much more difficult on the virtual webinar for it to be interactive, but please we want it to be, so please try and take part as much as you can.
So I'm delighted to introduce our guest speaker, today Dr Kul Verma is with us. Kul is a senior consultant and a leading authority on training and organisational development.
He has over 34 years experience of working on leadership training coaching and organisational change, and he doesn't just work in this country, he works internationally as well. Gives expert assistance to help organisations grow talent, diversify their workforce and transform culture. And if there's anywhere where culture needs transforming,
I think it's really vital that we look to that in local government. We've got a long way to go yet and I think we all need to recognise that. And think about what our individual role is in changing those things. So I very much look forward to hearing from you Kul, and I'll hand over to you now to take us through your presentation.
[Dr Kul Verma]
Okay thank you very much Sharon. I think everybody can hear me. Can you hear me Sharon?
I can hear you perfectly Kul, thank you.
Fantastic. Well first of all, let me welcome you to this webinar. I need to thank Sharon very much and Helen, Jane, Katrina and Alison. The team that have brought me here today. I really want to bring this issue to you, and there's one net goal that I want, want to do and that is I want you to think differently and that will be success.
But before we start, let me just say hello, namaste sasrikal, and for those of you up North aye up. So that's my opening sort of line with you. You can see me, I can't see you, so I'm gonna have a ball I hope you do too. So the first thing I want you to do is really, in terms of today, really enjoy it, really be interactive and challenge what I'm saying, don't just take it.
But in terms of what I am saying, it's intended to make us think differently, behave differently, and then have some different outcomes. So as that's been said, let me just share the screen with you and go through the powerpoint. So let me get onto the desktop.
Okay and let me open this out. So there's me. It's a welcoming introduction. I've been a police officer for 30 years. As a leader, I would assess myself as being the good, bad and the ugly. As a leader, sometimes I was a little bit arrogant, other times, when I collected real data and tried to understand the community, I was really good. And other times, I was a little bit indifferent, and that happens to everyone. So one of the things I wanted to say today, for those of you in public service, especially the councillors that are really dealing with a challenging time. The biggest challenge that we've had in this country is a big thank you.
You are really stepping up to the mark. And what I will say to you is that, you have my admiration certainly I've got 30 years in policing and in 2017 I developed my own business and that invests in making real change, and what I mean by that is, I have two values that I run by:
One is, I only work with people that I like, so when I met Sharon and Jane and I liked them. And the other thing is, I do things that I'm really passionate about, that I can make some real change. One of the things that I've learned is that, emotional intelligence becomes the key to good leadership.
If we don't have emotional intelligence, it really doesn't take us anywhere other than just being very tasky and processy. I've delivered some programmes my own company does that, and we have got ILM approval, which I'm very proud of and we've become market leaders for inclusion. Now why we've become market leaders is that we've got a combination of experience, the way in which we wrap around research and development, and then we really get to grips with what is beneath the carpet.
Sometimes when we talk about this culture, the carpet is underneath there. So excuse me so in terms of culture, culture is really really fascinating, because it's "the way we do things around here". When I've worked in workplaces, you go somewhere, and you go "you can't sit in that chair". "Why not?" "Well it's Charlie's chair" if it's well okay, he's not here, but he'll be upset. So it's the way we do things around here and sometimes, unconsciously just as Sharon has said, we do a lot of things unconsciously.
Even as an organisation, I would challenge how many meetings you have. What I don't miss about policing or public life is those long long meetings. Now some of the meetings are really important. When there's a crisis, when there's people and there's risk and harm I don't mind that, but when we're talking about ourselves, we actually get ourselves into a pattern of working and that's the same for individuals.
The way in which we behave is a pattern of working and sometimes unless we stop, reassess and then start changing our thinking, our behaviour is exactly the same. So my opening gambit is that I meet lots and lots of organisations. They come to me and they'll say "Kul, we've done some great work. We've got an inclusion equality strategy" and I'll say that is what is published. What is actually done on the ground?
Okay well of course we're committed to this, we have faith and there's an optimism. There's an over optimism that the senior leaders, with policies and procedures, will actually make the behaviour of people on the ground slightly different. Now I always go for something in policing I called the two o'clock test. So, whenever I wanted change in a policing context, I'd always think to myself, "what would somebody do, unsupervised at two o'clock in the morning?"
Because that's when everybody, all the big bosses are in bed. They're not there. So what would a cop do at 2 a.m in the morning? Well they're going to do the right thing. So what you need to try and do, is try and give them some options and a framework of actually doing the right thing.
And this is great empowerment for our staff, but what it starts with is, to have some clear values-based framework that you are working to. Okay I'm going to go back to the slide. There we go - so that's me oops - There we go, So why we're here? Well what I'd like to ask you, is a big question to yourself.
And it's a question: "What am I going to do as a councillor, to make sure I improve diversity and inclusion?" So what are you going to do, to actually make sure that diversity and inclusion is embedded within your organization? We all talk about it, but to embed things is really different. And what I want to look at, is developing personal knowledge and understanding of diversity and inclusion.
Understand the value of having good comms, good communications. And we'll talk about respectful conversations, and how sometimes there's a little bit of a fear about talking about race; because you really don't want to upset people, or say the wrong wrong thing. We'll then explore a list of 'how to' guide for difference in inclusion.
So what I'd like you to do is whilst I'm talking, I want you to describe three inclusive actions that you have personally delivered. So that's a bit of self-reflection for you now. So once I'm talking to you, what are three things that you have done to make others feel inclusive?
Let's just keep it into the workplace rather than than at home. So when you are a councillor, what is it that you've done that's been inclusive? What I would say to you is that, if that trips off the tongue really quickly, I would say that you are doing quite well. First in, a little bit of self-reflection.
What you need to do and inclusion doesn't have to be a massive strategy. An inclusion can be thinking about somebody on a list for a meeting. Have we included all of the stakeholders? Inclusion can be allowing somebody to have voice when they've got no authority. Inclusion can be understanding that our communication is not somebody else's communication.
And I don't mean that in a race context, I've got a young daughter she's 11, and I'm struggling to keep up in terms of technology. She is miles ahead of me, so when I'm speaking to her, my conversation, I think I'm speaking English but to her it's gibberish. It's dad speak - but to her she doesn't hear it. So I need to find a way to bridge that gap between communication. So for that self-reflection, it's quite a neat trick, in terms of, for you to say on an everyday basis or a weekly basis, "what three things have I personally delivered?" We can all go on about the organisation.
We can all go on about the team. We can all go on about how we externalize things, and we don't internalize our personal drive; in terms of equality and inclusion. So that's the first exercise I'd like you to do. I hope you find that interesting. So the design flow of this workshop, and I always like going in a flow, is that I want to generate some ideas that you are going to respond to. You're also going to be given some polls when I'm talking so that you can put your comments on there.
And then what I want you to do is just to experiment with the ideas in your head, and then towards the end just evaluate what you got from this. Then decide what you're going to carry on into the workplace. So that would be the design.
What is difference and what is inclusion? Well that's quite an interesting one, and if we were in the same room I would be dividing you up into groups, to say what is different now? In terms of difference the human brain is is wired up to look at difference. That's the way we're biologically evolved. What we did was we looked at people that looked the same or different to us and, "there's a difference."
When we go on the streets, people are looking at how you are dressed. Say for instance, on match day, you'll have two sets of supporters that are dressed differently to each other. So in terms of the human psyche, in terms of our biases, we're always looking for difference. What we've done really really well in this country is when we're talking about equality, or inclusion what we do is that we're really good at pinpointing what difference is.
When we look at difference we start to gather data on which parts of our population are different. Now sometimes it's useful, and other times it's just a data collection. Rhetoric, I call it. Just building up a pattern of collecting data. So, when we have got difference, difference really means that we are identifying people. It's a fact or a quality of being diverse that's now different, so what is the fact or quality?
It could be from your heritage. It could be your skin. It could be being a woman. Difference also is about a point or a way in which people think that they're dissimilar from each other. It really tickles me sometimes when I go around the world, and the same values about shelter family, love, society - you know calling to one's profession - is exactly the same all around the world than it is in this country.
And yet, we think people are different because they're geographically located in Kenya, Peru or Rwanda. And the other bits about difference is, that we're always trying to look for unique characteristics, what do people do differently? So when I was very young in this country, the difference that I was shown - which seems quite bizarre now - was that we had a different dietary system. As being an Asian family, we ate lots of curry, and curry by the way, is an English construct.
Curry is not used in India at all. There is a dish called gari but it's not curry. And in terms of internalizing that when I was a young kid, it was like "well curries are smelly, and they're spicy, they're hot, they're not British," Well what's the best best-selling British food at the moment? It's either Chinese or or Indian. It is Indian.
But in terms of how we then acclimatize, understand and then change our behaviour, it's quite interesting. As a population and as an organisation and then in terms of being different. In organisations that I've worked with, what we do is we look for inclusion or equality so we differentiate people. And we say, "okay you're over here because you're a women. You're over here because you come from a BAME background. You're over here because you're LGBT"
And then a phenomena happens, where most organizations want those people to sort of work together in one sort of staff association or a group within an organisation. What you're doing is you're actually taking away the focus. The very focus that you should be looking at from an LGBT focus, from a female focus, or a race focus, and that starts diluting the very thing that you're trying to promote.
The act of inclusion goes beyond identification of people. So when you have inclusion it's an act that you do. It's a state of being included within that group structure and that person is included within the whole. They have a voice. So let me give you a good example of when we have organisations and they want to understand their staff. What they do is look for difference and say, "oh well we're on this board for equality" or "on this board for inclusion, we haven't got many black people we haven't got women, what we need to do is bring them to the table."
And then what usually happens, when I observe, is that they don't say very much. That they actually stay quite stifled, and that's because the access point has been given, or almost as a seat at the table. The access point I'm arguing should be given. That you have a free reign in terms of your voice. Your voice is as valid as everybody else's, including the chairs.
So when I see true inclusion, people are to have a voice at the table not a seat at the table. And when you speak, when I've spoken to a lot of organisations, that's where the staff associations and BAME members of staff feel a little bit disempowered, a bit demotivated that they keep getting asked to do things. But they don't get asked to have a voice.
One of the companies that I was asked to advise in London was a sales company. What they wanted to do was actually improve their representation in terms of people from difference coming into the the company and also being represented on senior teams. And I found one or two being a female members of staff, and they were always, they were always asked to go and do the, they were always go ask to go and do the photo shoot for the organisation.
So you always have a black face on the recruitment drive. And when I spoke to these members members of staff, they were saying they were fatigued. They were fatigued by the lack of progress in the organisation, but whenever they were asked, they were only the pinup boy or pinup girl for the company. What they weren't, they weren't included in the real decision-making, and they were hankering after that.
And actually they, they felt really demotivated and a number of them wanted to leave. So as an organisation, when you're looking at difference and inclusion it has a number of choices. It can actually try and include a large swathe of people, but if you don't get that inclusion, and you have this air or a cloak of "yes we're inviting you to the table but you you're not going to be taking part in any of the decision making", well those people then feel disempowered.
They then feel demotivated and then you have an issue in terms of retention. So the three things I would get you to focus on is one: how do you recruit people into your organisation in terms of internally within councils? The bigger challenge will be the councillors yourself as a demographic, and then providing services to communities. And then how do you retain people once once you've attracted them? How are you going to keep them there and keep them motivated? My argument is if you don't have that true inclusive leadership, then people aren't going to feel motivated and they're not going to stay. Let me go back to my powerpoint.
So what I would ask you to do is: what does inclusion mean to the individual, the team and the organisation? So when you go back to your councils, be really interested in the answer to that. You know what does inclusion mean to people. And then when you are talking about inclusion, try and define a sentence that would be immediately understood, because we have lots and lots of cut and paste as I would say. So one organisation in the public sector needs an inclusion strategy they look around the region and they go "oh that's a good one", and they do a bit of cut and pasting. They might add a little bit.
But I'm being really harsh, I know I am, but let me just talk about the criminal justice sector, which I know really well. That's what what happens you you have large government publications, and then you have large waves of them coming down almost cascading, almost a local government level. But what if you turn that on its head, and said "okay we know the principle is to improve representation, but what we are going to do, is actually give people a voice, so that they can help us resolve some of these solutions with communities or our staff."
Wouldn't that be a much smarter way of actually doing business and also understanding why inclusive identities are useful in the workplace? There has been some research, and research is ongoing, and I would welcome you to actually educate yourself and have a look at this, but Pearn Kandola in 2018 did some research within a large number of organisations, and found that 60 percent of black people reported that they'd either been verbally or physically attacked because of their race. 42 per cent of Asian staff reported that they'd been verbally or physically attacked. And 14 of white respondents experienced racism in the workplace.
And when we talk about race, experiencing racism in the workplace, we have such a diverse community that you don't know. So my wife is from the Czech Republic she looks white, but if she went out and she heard somebody being not so nice about black people or BAME people, that would really affect her - because of her kids and because of me.
And it's really interesting that when that study was done in 2018, it seems that sometimes we've moved a lot and then when we do research, it sometimes feels that we haven't moved a lot at all. And I'm just wondering that if we were to run that survey within your your council, or within your own group, what, what would the findings be? Just a rhetorical question that's all, are you still with me? I'm with you.
We're going to move on. What I'd like you to do is, I'd like you to have a piece of paper. I'd like you to draw a, not a horizontal line, a vertical line and at the bottom of that vertical line, I want you to put naught at the top of the vertical line. I want you to put ten, is that okay? Just a line down a piece of paper at the bottom put a naught at the top put ten. If you can do that for me. I'm going to stop sharing because what I want to do, is I want to, if you just bear with me.
I'm just fiddling around on here which is great. What I want you to do is, I want you to listen to the questions I'm going to give you. When I give you a question, it's either a plus or a minus. So if you're answering positive to that question you move forward, so put a cross on one. If you're answering negatively, you move backwards. So if you're on zero you'd go minus one. So every question I'm going to ask you, you either go backwards or forwards and I'll let you know whether it's a minus or a positive.
I can't see your faces, so what I am going to do, I'm going to carry on. Excuse me. So you've got your line. On your marks, get ready please go forward one if English is your first language. If English is not your first language, go backwards. That's minus one if you're on zero. So if English is your first language go forward one, if it's not your first language go back one. So for those that it isn't your first language, you'll be minus one. If you are divorced go back that's a minus.
If you went to university that's a plus. If you grew up in the city, that's a minus. If you ever felt passed over for promotion that's a minus, one minus. Have you ever been uncomfortable about a joke? That's a minus. If you took out a loan, that's a minus. If you went to public school, sorry if you went to private school, if you went to private school that's plus one.
If you were bullied or made fun of that's a minus. If you were discriminated against, that's the minus. If you are refused a service that's a minus. Have you been stopped and searched by the police? That's a minus. Have you ever felt unsafe walking home? That's a minus. Have you a visible or invisible disability? That's a minus. If you are a white man that's plus one. If you play golf that's plus one. Do you belong to a members club? That's plus one. I'm going to stop there and I'm just going to invite people if you can just put your scores. What were your scores?
I'm just gonna have a look at the Q & A. Okay, so I've got, um, we've got Kerry Vinton minus three. Abby Whitting has minus four. Zoe White minus five. Tania Wilcox, minus six. Reuben is minus three. There's minus seven. Minus two Andy Coles. Siobhan is minus five. Guy is minus one and Angelo is minus two. Okay so you've done that exercise, and the majority of people are minus now. It really doesn't matter in terms of where you are on that line, because what we can do with that, you can place a number of of questions and it's rooted itself in an exercise which is called the privilege walk.
So if I was with you I'd get you in the line and I'd ask you a number of questions. And what it's intended to do, is to highlight what privilege does with us. Privilege is sometimes gained. Privilege is sometimes given. So I live in a very affluent village, and I know a lot of the kids are going to have a lot of privilege. They'll go to private school, if they do well - they'll have connections.
They'll commute into London and I know that if we were in Croydon, or in a borough of London that privilege might not be have been conferred to those people from different social economic groups. So privilege sometimes you're born into a, bit like the royal family, that I have no problem with that, because that that's the way the the dice rolls. But what happens in organisations, is that privilege is sometimes conferred by leaders.
When we confer privilege, what we're doing is we're actually taking privilege away from others. Excuse me, so in terms of privilege it's interesting how we sometimes negate privilege as a concept in organisations, and we say everything is fair. This race that you're going to run, in terms of the promotion, process or selection to a committee, or selection to a... you're giving you're giving funding to certain organizations. It's absolutely fair and it's absolutely under our guidance of equality and fairness.
And we do it we're bound by law. But what I know is that after doing six years of a doctorate on police progression, it doesn't work like that at all. It really does work on privilege. It works on networking and it works on relationships.
So in terms of when we use privilege, we are using privilege to actually centre ourselves, but actually also help other people, and sometimes that can come out in an unfair biased outcome. There was a gem project, this is where they do this experiment field experiment for a long time, and what they do is they send out applications and you would have seen this in terms of or heard of this. They send out applications and in those applications, they'll have applications from ethnic minorities and then predominantly the majority which will be white. And what and what they found last year was that the majority group got call backs 24 of the time people from a minority background had to send 60 percent more applications.
What they also found was that there was a bias, a massive bias towards people from the Muslim community, from the Nigerian community, and this study was conducted in the US and Europe. And they concluded in terms of applications, there's no sign of progress for South Asian or Caribbean personnel for over 50 years. So they've been running this almost consecutively. So when we've got that within our environment we have to take a good long hard look at ourselves.
Excuse me certainly in the arena that I've been asked to help out here is police recruitment and sometimes in police recruitment it looks very very fair but sometimes the assessors think they're being fair, but they're not and one of the things that we really need to do is to look at bias. Be aware of our biases and then how we can really make sure that we check those biases when we're making the key decisions about life, because once we then stand back from those decisions, sometimes those decisions can then disaffect on a larger scale people from minorities.
There's a lot of research out there so if you want to come back to me that would be brilliant. I always say to people make your decision by making evidence-based, don't make it opinion-based. I'm going to go back to the screen and share here we go. Let me get back on here. Oops so let me go back to this.
I'd like to um, just have a look at this video. I'm going to stop it but it's Black Lives Matter, it's the group Diversity and it's on Britain's Got Talent.
[Diversity’s performance on Britain’s got Talent plays]
Tell me the one about the words again. Please that one's my favorite. I promise just one more.
Okay. I'll tell you the story of how the world was before. It was a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty back before we understood why hindsight's 2020. People came up with companies to trade across all lands, but they swelled and got much bigger than we ever could have planned. We'd always had our wants, but now it got so quick you could have anything you dreamed of in a day with a click. Families had stopped talking, not to say they never spoke, but the meaning must have melted, and the work-life balance broke.
But then in 2020, a new virus came our way. The Government reacted, and told us all to hide away. But while we all were hidden under orders of the prime minister, people dusted off their instincts and noticed something more sinister. Another disease deep rooted in our system. Fear, hate and ignorance but racism was the symptom. As the world watched on, another black life gone. Leaving what we thought we knew in tatters.
What we thought we knew, some clearly didn't. Black Lives Matter. Nobody's born racist man, it's something you learned deep rooted in your brain from the day of your birth. I think it's time that we repair all of these bridges we burned, and let love out of our hearts onto the cheeks we've turned. Spread love, show love let's get rid of this curse. Don't wait for anyone to act man.
Okay that was from Diversity on Britain's Got Talent. It was interesting the response that came through from the public. There was about the nature of that performance. Let me go back to the screen and stop this and go forward, and the complaints came like this. These were the categories: so one it was racist to White people. Two it portrayed the police in the negative fashion, that was the the knee on the neck. One it was in family show time, which was unsuitable for young kids, and then the last one was the express support for a political organisation Black Lives Matter.
It's interesting how when we, when we're talking about Black Lives Matter, how views become polarized in terms of what it's about. Now irrespective whether you agree with the movement of Black Lives Matter, what has happened is that there has been an uncovering of fractures within British society that have been there for a long time. And since 1999 we had the Macpherson Inquiry which led the biggest reform in policing, as well as in Government, and you would have had it as well in terms of the Equality Act. And what's happened is that public organisations have had to demonstrate their commitment and actions towards being a more inclusive organisation, a fairer organisation with equitable service to communities.
What we haven't done is we haven't matched the rhetoric to the policies that have have gone on, and when we're talking about moving organisations, moving organisations to Black Lives Matter, means that we need to understand what the issue is. If I zip back to 1999 Macpherson came out with the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and all chief constables, um, said we are institutionally racist. Now that really really one, it shocked me first of all because I didn't think that was the response they would give. And two, at the time I was thinking well what is institutionalised racism?
Because we had variations of it and what really got me was that people were putting their hands up and saying we are without understanding the actual concept. That they were putting their hands up to and I would challenge the same people that are taking a knee in terms of saying they're expressing their support for Black Lives Matter why are you expressing your support for Black Lives Matter? What is the issue that Black Lives Matter is bringing excuse me, to the table? And that's that we have inequalities within societies that have not been addressed for a long time.
So let me go back to institutional racism. In 1950s 1960s, it was all about individual racism, it was about prejudice, it was about you know authority. And then in 1970 the concept came up and it was about a political struggle. It was about power structures of the state, so when you have overt and covert actions, these were rooted in a colonial slavery paradigm. I know I'm speaking academia, but basically you've got outcomes of the state and organisations coming out because of slavery. Then in in 1980 we started having a conversation about this.
Racial inequalities coming out with unconscious bias. So somebody's put in there in terms of unconscious bias comes in, what that means is that you can be doing an action and not be held accountable for it, because you didn't know the action you were doing was wrong. So unconscious biases is "I don't know I'm doing this wrong, so I'm really sorry". And then there's an academical debate when Macpherson comes in and it conflates the two issues together. For me, institutionalized racism is an individual act as well as almost like an organisational act, where those two issues are conflated.
What the police service still hasn't done, and it still debates in a very polarised way, is about institutionalised racism. Some people say it's an unhelpful term, other people say it should really go stronger and we should have x y and z positive discrimination. When I draw back and I speak to leaders I say, 'first of all you need to understand what it is' and then secondly, 'you need to understand what it is that you are going to do within your organisation.'
So where we've got the idea of institutionalised racism, the outcome is that actions and ideas produce disparate outcomes for certain people. That's it, that's it in simplicity so when we know that what we need to do is we need to review what our actions are and review what the outcomes might be. Now it sounds really hard to do, but it isn't because your actions are always a combination of your beliefs, the processes and the values that you hold, i.e your culture.
So we need to re-examine those and then the other bit is that the structures of the organisation, hierarchical as they are seem to always always move towards consolidation of that privilege instead of away so that that's my academia stopped, because I can go on for hours. But in in terms of these complaints, it really was interesting for me to reflect, to say we've had this debate before in 1999 and I think we failed. We actually went down a blind alley.
We went down a blind alley of institutionalised racism without coming back to see okay what isit that we're talking about? So I would urge all of you, whatever actions that you're taking, take a reflective step back and say "why is it that we are doing this?"
So whenever, whatever action that you are going to be doing why is it you're doing it? The 'why' then leads on to the 'what' and then, the 'how' becomes a little bit problematic. But there are loads and loads of innovative actions that are happening out there, so when we talk about leaders that have emotional intelligence, for me, some of the traits that I've seen that are really useful in terms of moving the dial forward, is really to have a visible commitment.
You're talking about it, but you're talking about it in a really positive way, but you understand it as well. You're not just doing management bingo which, we're all inclined to be doing, and then there's a bit of humility about ourselves about who we are and then there's an awareness of our bias, and I think that's a really good check for leaders.
And then there's a natural curiosity about others, and this is where we, if we don't know let's just say we don't know, and we have to collect that information some time ago. When I was at the college of policing, I got given a project and it was on transgender. It was a transgender conference that I'd needed to put together and boy did I not know about transgender [issues]. But you know after that conference I was so curious, I did and that was a real wake-up call for me in terms of saying there's a part of society that you know nothing of and once you really, I'm not saying I'm an expert all, I'm saying I had exposure and I was curious to find out about others.
Are you curious? Let me go on to the next slide. So, respectful conversations it's a privilege to educate yourself about racism instead of experiencing it. What that sign is saying is that we've had racism in this country for a long time we still do. I experienced racism. But the racism I experienced is quite subtle now.
When I was a kid you'd have national front skinheads. They're very overt what we've moved from the overt to the covert - and what I mean by covert is microaggressions. Microaggressions can be very very subtle conversations that people are having but what they're doing is they're exerting their hierarchy, their people are exerting a privilege about people, and sometimes you know when we're talking about these respectful conversations, this subtle racism and sexism they're microaggressions. So sometimes these microaggressions are very very innocent.
So let me just go through a couple of them that I uncovered for one particular client. One was intentionally excluding somebody from social, their social world outside and it's quite interesting when you know you're working as a team and somebody excludes you it's, um, quite a disturbing fact because you're not being included.
Sometimes a little bit of abuse in terms of your ability not your colour just your ability about you're not doing this work well or sending it back and you say well I've done everything you you wanted, what is it? But the other person is being very resistant in terms of giving you a clear framework of moving forward and then assumptions about ability. You know you can tell a lot so in terms of communication you don't have to say a lot, but I can say I can see it in people's eyes and the way that they they behave.
That sometimes they're doubting you they're saying can you really do this instead of having some some faith in you and being treated differently. Being treated differently could be making an assumption about one. One case we had was somebody wasn't invited to a garden party because there was a hog roast and they knew that the invitee was Muslim.
Now it's a, it's a logical leap to say there's a hog roast and it's a Muslim but it's not a logical leap to say "would you like to come" because I bet you with that hog roast there was, there would have been a whole range of other food that would have been acceptable for that person. So one of the things that is interesting, is that we have this covert nature of microaggressions. They go underground so let's take an example that I know very well.
Every police service that I'm working for at the moment, they'll have a police policy to say there is no racist language. If you do that you're out the door. Yeah, it's interesting that despite having that policy, [poor] language still abounds at a lower level. The sad fact is that people aren't reporting it as much, and then the other one is that there is no broader change in the culture.
So what is it that we're doing and how can we actually manage this? One of the ways of doing it is to actually talk and engage with people in a hierarchical organization, or a large organisation. It's really difficult to get people to talk, and that's why when I'm engaged I become the broker between the strategic management and also people on the ground. And as long as you do it in in a very sensitive way you can actually have conversations people are willing to have conversations with me that they won't have with their own organisation.
So that shows a little bit more about whether people feel safe in speaking or not now here's my... I don't know if you want to just keep going there are some questions and and comments appearing in the in the Q & A. Do you want to take some of them as we go along or do you want to wait until you finished your...? What what would you suggest?
Well it's, some of them are relevant to the various sections you're talking about, so I think it might be useful just to pause there for a moment and go into some. I think the point you just raised immediately before I interrupted you, and apologies for doing that, was a very key one about where we find these safe spaces to ask the questions that we, you know we do wrestle with. I was interested in your comment about transgender. I had a very similar experience, probably about three years ago now, a Fawcett society presentation where it was very clear to me there was a whole issue whole area of equalities and diversity that I had no knowledge of, no understanding of. I think there was there was an age thing involved in this, because clearly the young people in the room knew exactly what was going on, and I didn't have a clue and I have to put my hand up and say that.
So I went and found out about it because it was important to me. But you know having those safe spaces to ask questions is really important and I like to think sessions like this are safe. People can do that so if I just get turned to some of the comments we've got in the Q & A. We've got Liz Clements who says what you're saying about the difference between a voice at a table and a place at the table is very powerful, and chimes with her experience in so many council meetings, and meetings with residents. What techniques do you suggest for politely reigning in the voices which too often dominate?
I think everybody's been there. I think it's very difficult when you've been invited first of all, but I think a statement of intent is always useful and if you know, I would say Sharon, if you invited me I think you would try and make some access points from the chair in terms of why a certain person has been brought, but in terms of techniques of getting heard, one of one of the ways of getting heard I think is to be very respectful but at the same time be very clear about what you are saying. And I go back to that point of being evidence-based rather than opinion based, so when we're having these conversations with people with a lot to say, they have a lot to say about their brain they'll just keep going and riding over other people. If you have a good chair that's usually quite nice, you'll be bought in, but just politely, just asking in terms of a question ask a powerful question but rooted in evidence.
And I think that that powerfulness really does resonate because one of the things that we do in terms of difference and inclusion again, is that we want people with difference to come into our organisation but then the culture wants to strip all that difference away, so that they behave like everyone else and that's the nature of intent with culture. But if you were, if you were going to a table I think you need to be heard.
After the Lawrence Inquiry, I was asked to go and sit at the Stephen Lawrence training, a steering group and I sat there and I must have sat there for about 45 minutes, and there was really really important people from the Home Office from Queen Anne's gate, from the Government and I was persistent and I just put my hand up and I got ignored, so I put my hand up again, and I have to say it was persistence that drove me through.
What tactics you want to use, I would say smiling and charm sometimes does work, so I can't go through a lesson of you know influence but what I would say is if you have something to say think about it really well, and one of the things that I do, and I don't know whether it would resonate with other people, is write down your comments prior to that meeting or whilst the meeting's happening and that gives clarity when you are delivering a question or asking.
Yeah I think a good chair will always notice as well if there's somebody in the room who you have to be consciously looking around the meeting, that around the table or if you're on there, if you're on a Zoom screen and you've got people sitting on the Zoom screen, it's much harder I have to say in virtual meetings to read people's body language, but you have to. A good chair will always say to someone "I notice you haven't spoken yet is there anything you want to say" so that you bring, you actually consciously bring people in. If they then look terrified and you know it's clear, you say "well you know you can always speak to me afterwards, if there's something you want to get over to me but I'll move on to the next question now" and this is Leah, I think it's Leah, I can't quite see my screen here properly but Leah from [organisation] who I think is our next door neighbour in Northamptonshire, it's about lack of and or poor communication plus the low self-esteem of individuals who want someone else to blame. Education plays a huge part of this. Raising our young people to really know who they are, where they're from.
Plus British White people don't think they have a culture of their own so that's it.
There's a lot there but I'll condense it down to two elements for me one: is in terms of knowing who we are that's evolving all the time so the - I've got another slide that I was going to do which was about culture and leadership but the British culture is changing all the time and one of the things that we fail to really identify is, what it is to be British.
So we have these these polarized debates about what it is to be British, but I think what we are sometimes is, we have a set of norms and values that everybody can subscribe to. And I think when we talk about you know in an organization, you put an action in say you put a positive action in for a minority group, you'll always hear people saying 'well what about us?' So let me let me take you back to Black Lives Matter.
So Boris Johnson says about Black Lives Matter "well all lives matter." They do that's the basis of our civilization that all lives matter. Another way of, of working through Black Lives Matter is Black lives matter as much as White lives. Now if you are then going to be pulling away at that focus so Black
Lives Matters is looking at racism and the spotlight is on racism. By saying 'all lives matter' is you're putting that spotlight away from the very thing you should be looking at. And no one is saying that it's only Black lives that matter, and I think people are missing the point when, when they say that. By saying that sometimes you can dilute what it is that you should be looking at.
And here I'll go again with organisations sometimes trying to put staff associations together as if they're homogeneous and they're one. So Sharon you spoke about the transgender. You know if you had a transgender group that wouldn't really chime with you know a BAME group, you know you'd have totally different issues that you're trying to focus in on.
Yeah I think that's very clear from listening to you that that's, that is the case and I think people have that's chimed with people, because they they're responding to that in the Q & A. Tom says, his is just a comment really, that the footage of Diversity that you showed struggling to see why it was controversial. I think quite a lot of us did at the time and and since then, but Tom wonders if the large number of complaints were orchestrated by a relatively small number of people, and of course we know that that does happen. Particularly with complaints to TV and radio stations, and then May, how do we walk that very fine line between being racist and making a remark that some may see as racist? This can cause resentment to some where they feel the freedom of speech has been curtailed.
An example is one of the characters in a TV comedy series called Chinese Allen because he likes Chinese food. To some that is not racist but to others it is. I don't know if you want to comment on that?
Well I've got to say with 30 years of policing we had nicknames uh galore, and one of the things that I, I really stamped out was nicknames. And one of the nicknames that we found was in Greater Manchester police, where a black officer was celebrating their promotion, sorry their retirement, and his nickname was 'reggin'. And at his retirement somebody said to him, "well do you know what reggin means" and well if you spell it backwards it means [ __ ] So his nickname was that. Where you've got where you have an association with nicknames, there is an unconscious bias that is flowing through. So you got Chinese Alan so why isn't it just Alan? Just because he likes Chinese food?
And you we can make all sorts of sort of assertions around this, but you know if you're calling somebody "chalky" but you know I don't mean any offence, I I would say that if you're unsure first of all what, why we're using nicknames? And we use nicknames in a number of ways for your own children, I've got nicknames for my children.
But when we associate a word with something it really is putting a privilege marker. So think back to..there was London's Burning, a program and there was a guy called 'sick note' because he was always being sick. Well that's denoting a value judgment on somebody who's always sick. So for me I get really the hairs on the back of my neck go and the other bit, in terms of having a conversation is I would really encourage you to have a conversation with people of difference and one of the things that stops people is that fear that I'm going to say something wrong.
I would say that if you approach it with the right intent, the other person will always receive it in that way, and go back to the transgender [example], it's asking a question. It's not putting a value mark why aren't you like this? That's the value mark, asking a clear question of who how did it feel and doing it in a sensitive way gathers a lot of a lot of information. And one equation I'd like to give you is that if you are going into a conversation, that is is you thinking or I might slip off the edge somewhere, but you approach it with respect the outcome will always be dignified for both of you.
So if you use respect the outcome is always dignified. If you don't use respect and you use bias or privilege, then that's where the outcome won't be the outcome that you're looking for.
Thank you for that answer and I'll just summarize some of the other comments and then I'll stop interrupting you. So Kerry's recommending a film on YouTube called The Hundred Dollar Race. A couple more comments around education and young people and the fact that the curriculum isn't very diverse, so how do we expect conversations and organisations to be people bringing their whole self to work. And I think that's been interesting in the virtual world as our questioner says you know people's children come in the room.
They've got their animals, there my dog's always interrupting and heckling me when I'm on calls. So you're sort of learning more about people perhaps than you would have done in the workplace. Some people talking about high performing organisations they've worked in creating those mixed teams and celebrating the difference that inclusion brings to those teams, that does, you know, that's certainly my experience. I used to work in policing as well Kul so I'll have to put my hand up and say that and very much, that was the case where the more diverse your team, you know the more creative and innovative you could be in the workplace and I think that's been a very positive experience for me.
And then you know people talking about opportunity, access treatment and of course, who holds power and control and whether they really give that up or they just. I think you've you talked quite powerfully about people making the gesture of doing that without actually doing it at all or wanting to do it, which is very true. So thank you to people for all the comments. Keep them coming and we'll go back now. I'll stop interrupting Kul and let him get on with with his presentation, but thank you for those comments, they're really I think that somebody did mention that are we on a webinar like this, are we preaching to the converted? I hope we're not because you know we always learn something from each other and I think you know it. As I said earlier it's really important to give people a safe space. You might not want to do ask the question in your workplace it's funny, I'll just give you a quick example.
I was on Twitter. I'm an avid Twitter fan, and I was on Twitter the other night and somebody had posted a film of Everton winning a football match and when they come on Everton they come on to the Z Cars theme, and I thought I wonder, there's obviously a very...there's a reason that everybody knows about why Everton comes on to the Z Cars theme. I don't know the answer to that so I posted it on Twitter. Oh my goodness I had about you know, I don't know, 100 replies from people that all of the answers to that question were nearly all of them were different so nobody did know the actual answer, but people said I'm really glad you asked that question because I've always, I've wondered that for because I'm an Everton fan and it was a bit embarrassing to ask the question.
So the question that you're thinking of may be the one that everybody else wants answered too.
Okay thank you very much Sharon that was a great great interlude thank you for doing that, I think that that's helped set the scene a little bit more.
So here we have what is British? You know I love all of those those symbols are fantastic you know Mini was my first car. When I go away on holiday, let's hope we can in the near future, and all I can think about is my first cup of tea, those iconic boxes that when it was raining or you know you needed to make that phone call to your first girlfriend you'd run out and that was fantastic. So culture changes and leadership changes but what we do know is that in terms of this culture change, how do we change culture?
Well first thing is we are the culture. That's what I say to people, everybody in every organization that I go into always says it's not us, it's them, and I always say but you are the culture you are the middle management, you are people. So one of the things about culture is it talks about occupational norms and values that are rooted in hierarchy.
So everybody wants to be top of the tree and these occupational norms are the bits that we really need to get. Remember what I said about the 2 a.m test that I always used to do on a strategy? If somebody is going to do a strategy or a change of behaviour and they do it without supervision that is fabulous, without somebody watching, or without somebody monitoring saying put that form in, that is fantastic.
What we do know about culture within this country is that all the reports that I've seen so far are saying that we'll have more inequality, we'll have challenges with technology in terms of automation within our society, and then how can our leaders stand up to this challenge? So leadership has really changed in terms of first of all, being quite insular in terms of just your organisation and perhaps partners.
In 1989 when the Government changed and pushed us all together. But how do we make those changes? And the only way we can make those changes is really being clear; one about our values and then really being clear also about what our preferences are. So very quickly what I'd like you to do is if you got a piece of paper can you please write your name on a piece of paper. Just do a signature quick signature, now what I'd like you now to do is to change the pen over to the other hand. The other hand, and write down your signature.
Now I'm not going to be able to get responses from you live, but I dare say those of you that put your signature first time round it was nice and clear and succinct. If you then put it in to the other hand that would not be, it might be a bit shaky like this signature.
But god forbid if what we then got, was what if your writing hand was chopped off? You would develop a skill, and you could sign it as well as your good hand. Excuse me. Why I'm saying this is that each one of us carries around a preference. A preference that the way in which we do things around here and that preference can sometimes stifle the way forward. If we can start learning to use our left hand and what that does is it takes us into another dimension that we don't know about ourselves and others. That really does clarify our thinking about how we can move forward and be more inclusive.
So how to leadership questions now these are not exhaustive I've not written a book, there's loads out there but some of these some of the questions that I'd like to really ask you, just does your leadership reflect the talent pool in the market? Are Black women being promoted at the same
rates as White men? So for you, our BAME and women chairs of scrutiny committees, do they form the same proportion and does your recruitment reflect a diverse talent? How, how will you attract a more inclusive councillors in the future?
Do you have pay equity? Having worked with Crawley Borough Council I did this and please don't, you know throw anything at me, but I was on the Remuneration Committee and boy was that an eye-opener in terms of who got what, and you you can tell what happened with me is that we did have pay equity.
For the actions that were taken do all our employees feel that they are fairly treated? Now this is really interesting in terms of organisational, this is organisational justice, this is where we have a value of how much input we put in all the hard work that we do, and all the hours, all the you know extracurricular stuff that we do and then the output is do we get rewarded for that or do we get bypassed by others?
So organisational justice is really really key in terms of making sure that your organisation is motivated, and does your organisation commit to a difference in inclusion policies, strategy? And finally, I'll go on on this one, if I came to your local authority and it had an improved culture of inclusion, what would I see feel and do? And they're really important, in terms of culture what would I see feel and do? Once we've got those nailed down it gets quite easy in terms of what you want to achieve within your policies, and that the final word I really want to take is create a safe environment, encourage discussion, take that leap, be brave about race.
Develop leadership teams to truly understand your own culture, and the leadership challenges and allyship. BAME people in my experience don't need fixing. I don't need fixing but what I need is support, sometimes I just need you to stand next to me and support me.
We're going to do the Q & A, but what I'll do is I would really like you to make some notes so you don't forget, and commit to one action that you'll take away from this webinar. Just one small action and even if it's to talk to somebody when you go back that will be enough, and commit to an action. And if you do that I'll be eternally grateful.
Here's another way of having conversations: this is just a deep insight inclusion conversation mat in terms of how people feel valued, and also these are some of the tools that we have to look at inclusion so we do a lot of facilitation and workshops to develop strategy and inclusion plans. And we do some programs as I say that are underpinned by the ILM.
And lastly, I've got to say thank you very much please do join me on Twitter and Linkedin, and if you want to please do contact me after this for anything in terms of networking. I network ferociously and I think that is the way to go. And I think where are we 15:22.
Yep that's absolutely brilliant, thank you very much Kul. What an interesting and detailed session, and how much ground you've covered in a relatively short space of time. I have got a couple more questions coming in on the chat line which I always struggle with on Zoom when you've got chat and Q & A, but I will just come to these questions. I don't want people to feel they haven't had their opportunity. One from
Councillor Basil Solomon: How can equality leaders in organisations encourage diverse voices to come forward with their issues and concerns? So you've spoken about you know, not having the diversity committee or whatever people call it in their organisations. I think that's absolutely right but how do we - what's it you know, what are the best ways of encouraging people to come forward and express the issues that are concerning them? You need to unmute yourself Kul.
Thank you. I think there's two ways that that I've seen that have been really effective. One is that you get signals. You get these subtle signals, and where I see strong leaders who are really actively committing to inclusion, they are giving a signal to everyone that you can have these conversations.
Two: is you can have workshops. The workshops work really well, you can get anybody in, but external facilitators are fantastic because they don't bring the baggage. They're not from the culture and actually they can allow some free conversation so in terms of what I do, that I do a lot of workshops where we hold these conversations with people, but then with Chatham House rule. We take the organizational intelligence back to say this is what it looks like to you, what are you going to be doing but you've got to be committed. There are two themes that I would give to people to take away: the areas that, that people need to really work on and they are interlinked is leadership and culture. One drives the other, and sometimes we get the culture envelops leaders and it sometimes it can be stifling, leaders need to break away from that and they need to influence the culture.
So I do a lot of that with people but you are creating safe spaces by even going around on a one-to-one basis and what you really need to do is you need to develop relationships so you can't just go up to somebody and say "well what's it like being black then?" and it's like you're not gonna get anything. What might be useful is "do you want a coffee" and be really curious but again be respectful and there's always a dignified outcome and the the first thing is you know the curiosity back to you, why do you want to know? Why is it you want to know?
What- what is it that you're you're hankering after? So I think there's a whole range or suite of tactics that you could do, but is dependent on what the outcome is for you. For me all I'd like you to do is go back and speak to one person and show them support, just show them support. That's all I think you don't need to give them anything.
I think you've actually answered Justine's question, which was how can we be effective White allies? I think that speaking to one person provide them with some support, be a mentor for somebody and you know work with them. And another question from John Who, who's interested in your thoughts about the fact that this may require on occasions some of us to give up power and space to allow somebody else to step into that space?
And he's interested in your thoughts on that Kul? And that'll be our last question you'll be pleased to know, but just to reassure people we will circulate questions and responses, and there will be a recording of this available on the LGA website afterwards so we won't lose anything. But your comments on those that last question?
Well the last question is really on privilege and power and what we are doing. Certainly if you remember what I said about myself as being a leader I've been the, you know Clint Eastwood: Good, Bad and the Ugly. The really good part of being a leader is when you can delegate that power. And the last four years of my career, working with some talented people, I- I was a senior person in policing but you know, I felt more liberated when I didn't have rank.
And when you can take that off and you are, you are there as a human being and you cultivate this relationship. It is marvellous. You will fly and your team flies.
So in terms of this power, as I say power is actually either inferred you're born with it, or you work towards it. Why are you using the power? And what I would say is, and forgive me Sharon this is the only response I've got and it's going to be the last one is, you know in Spider-man his uncle says "with great power, comes great responsibility" and that's my last word to you.
That's been absolutely inspirational Kul. I'm really grateful to you for giving us such a terrific insight into all of the issues that you know, we must take on. A personal challenge in our workplace to do something about this. Not just you know be talking about it. Putting in strategies what is, what are the actual things we are going to do to make this come to life in our own workplaces?
Or, you know in our other settings that we operate as well. I think that's really key, so a huge thank you to you. A big thank you to the marvellous team at the LGA, you've already mentioned them, but honestly they do an amazing job. They, they get all of this organised when the rest of us are rushing around, and then just turning on our Zoom screens and it all happens, but it doesn't because they've been in the background, doing all the work to make it happen.
So a huge thank you to our team there, and to everybody that's attended this afternoon. I do hope you found it useful but, do give us your feedback because we want this to be a learning environment where we improve everything all the time and make it better for you to come along and join in these sessions.
So please do give us your feedback, and as I said, the recording of this session will be on the LGA website as well as all of the slides. So if you'd like those, and go back and talk about this, and encourage people to come along to our future sessions. Thank you all so much, thank you Kul. Thank you team, and we'll see you all again soon.