Embracing Equity- Top tips
Updated: Aug 23
This blog was first published on Medium in June 2020.
Unless you have been living on the moon or in an underground bunker, these words #BlackLivesMatter #BAME #HealthInequalities have probably reached you- tugging at the edges, demanding to be heard. In truth, they’ve been there for some time; whispering, crying, shouting to get your attention.
For the first time in my life, I am witnessing a change in the tide. A change in our conversations, in our social media posts, in our willingness to stop and listen. This blog is for those of you who are grappling to find ways to join the tide of change. I’m inviting you to explore how you can cultivate equity in your personal and working lives. My intention is to share ways in which you can plant the seeds of change that will outlive our social media attention spans.
I have spent over 20 years working alongside grassroots communities designing public health innovations aimed at addressing health inequalities. What I am sharing with you today has taken years of sense making. It is deeply rooted in my practice. I have tried to simplify without over-simplifying.
Tip #1 - Acknowledge your own power and privilege
You need to get out of your own way, skip over your embarrassment and find the words to acknowledge how you benefit from systems that perpetuate inequalities. #Allyship comes from appreciating that our systems are fundamentally flawed, calling that out and finding ways to address it collaboratively is an essential step.
Tip #2 - Invite seldom heard voices into the room
Embed seldom heard voices into the boardroom. You know, the easy to ignore because we struggle to reach them. Promote subsidiarity in your organisations. That means, ensuring that the people most affected by decisions, products or services are a part of the decision-making process.
"People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change." – Brene Brown
Tip #3 - Ensure you are enriched by multiple perspectives.
Don’t just surround yourselves with people who hold similar world views. You can’t innovate in a vacuum. If you are a leader then it’s your responsibility to recruit a diverse team. Celebrate approaching your work from all angles.
Tip #4 - Adopt a bottom up approach.
Start with the people you serve. Adopting a bottom up approach to learning, designing, development and deployment will drive reach and impact. Deepen your practice through co-production.
Tip #5 - Don’t hold onto power like it belongs to you.
True power comes from sharing and creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to speak for themselves. When you let power flow through, you will not just transform your life, you’ll transform the world around you.
Tip #6 - Collaborate and share.
Maximise efficiencies and resources by collaborating and sharing. You will be a better informed human as a consequence! Share grassroots stories locally, regionally and nationally; build on what is already taking place. Both what has worked and not worked so well.
Tip #7 - Communicate with simplicity and precision
Simplicity and precision is a driver for change. Leave the jargon and the judgement statements at the door. We must create products, services and systems which are accessible in the widest possible way.
"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens" – Michelle Obama
The trouble with us humans is we get in our own way. Do the work on yourself and keep coming back to the steps above, reflecting and paying attention. Talk to colleagues, friends and family about what you are trying to achieve and why you want to be part of the change, the movement towards equity.
In this spirit, I welcome your stories, reflections and insights. Peace be with you and your people.