The theme of international women’s day was choosing to challenge. Exploring the true meaning behind this proposition deserves deeper consideration. Choosing to Challenge is a positive, empowering and seemingly simple message but it becomes much more complicated and even dicey when we contextualise it in different scenarios.
The theme of international women’s day was choosing to challenge. Exploring the true meaning behind this proposition deserves deeper consideration. Choosing to Challenge is a positive, empowering and seemingly simple message but it becomes much more complicated and even dicey when we contextualise it in different scenarios. Choosing to challenge implies there is the option to. It assumes a dynamic workplace culture that encourages diverse thinking, that openly encourages expression of self, embraces, acknowledges, and accommodates difference, is receptive to challenges and most importantly is willing and has the skillset to enact change. It assumes empowerment and leadership are encouraged as part of every role. This assumes that when we do amplify the voices of the unheard person, this is praised not condemned. When bias is met with resolve. When we not only challenge but change the underpinning strategy so that not only what a person said gets heard but the typically preferred channel of communication becomes a multifaceted option where the individual can use their preferred channel and then importantly, this is judged on equal merit, then we can confidently and fearlessly choose to challenge. The status of quo is being challenged – excellent, but it is important to note that the execution of this dance needs to be carefully choreographed.
For some, the disparity is too systemically ingrained for this to effectively resolve deep issues such as disability. Disability is often forgotten, even left off the bottom of the list. I have been in situations when the nine protected characteristics are referred to and only eight mentioned. Equity of opportunity can only happen when we have the inclusive processes to enable, empower and encourage a multifaceted approach to reach and recognise working alongside disabled people, co-creation is the answer. This links back to the huge value in diversity. If we want to become truly inclusive, we have to actively listen and observe. As inclusive leaders, we have to utilise the most powerful tool in our box as leaders, empathy. And foremost, we have to respond and not react. Inclusive strategy is as much as implementing change as it is how we choose to implement it. Transparency, accountability and empowerment are the three foundational pillars to building a robust inclusive strategy, inclusive leaders are the care-takers of the all-important approach, embedding and evaluating change as we progress.