feelings

An important lesson learnt today……

I enjoy attending our induction sessions, a great opportunity to meet new healthcare staff and the conversations are always different. Talking about diversity and inclusion is second nature to me now and I feel comfortable sharing my own vulnerability to bring examples to life.

Today was a reminder that this subject is all about feelings. Language and terminology can trigger strong emotions and buried memories that suddenly come to mind. A single word was hard for one attendee to hear and they briefly shared their feelings about this, the pain and hurt they had suffered as a result of this act. The support and compassion from their colleagues was wonderful to see, many of them probably wondering how that could happen in this modern world of awareness and education.

We talked briefly about bias and paper cuts, those small acts of judgement against you that at the time you may have shrugged off and now on reflection seem unfair. Being able to share this in a group setting takes guts, sometimes your emotions break cover for you and you have no choice. Either way the more we talk about the reality, lived experiences, the impact of discriminatory behaviours I hope will gives us all the courage to challenge and channel the negativity into learning and constructive feedback.

A timely reminder for me today to give time and space in diversity and inclusion sessions, don’t rush through anything. Acknowledge when we hit an emotional touchpoint and give space to everyone to process their own thoughts and feelings. This is tough stuff.

open doors

I love this photo. on a wild wintry evening I am missing the warmth of this place and the weird and wonderful sculptures on the Bondi beach trail. art has no boundaries, free expression. everyone has a talent. I loved this installation, that all the doors are open, they are not barriers, you can see through and beyond, travel through many openings. in a perfect world this could be an expression of life for everyone…no closed doors, no barriers, no constraints. we can believe we all have the same chances, the same luck, the same pathways to do what we want to do in our lives. we don’t….sometimes our own barriers prevent us from taking chances, the opportunities, taking a risk and getting lucky. recurring barriers can wear you down so you no longer try, whats the point if the outcome is always the same. those of us that believe all doors are open for everyone we have a duty…..to listen. really listen.

. the doors may be open but if you are too scared, too anxious, too worn down by systems that don’t work for you getting over that threshold may be a step too far…..feeling excluded in a world that shouts inclusion for everyone…but you

barriers

Self Belief

what an amazing couple of days I’ve had in London. I attended the first two days of a course which will enable me …finally….to gain a recognised qualification in diversity and inclusion, a personal goal for me.

I’ve loved my journey through the NHS, learning as I go, self development on health centric courses and skill workshops. Its one of the few perks of the job, continuous development opportunities, for which I am truly grateful. And yet its created a CV of experience and knowledge very specific to the health sector and its hard to break out from that mindset, its a comfortable place to be.

Working this week with colleagues from other sectors, public and private, has been inspiring. There are many differences in how our organisations are structured and funded and yet its the diversity that unites us….. we all have the the ups and downs of d&i work, being referred to as the diversity police, the fixer, the one who can answer all the questions and queries and be the go to problem solver so reputations are intact. Chief plate spinners, innovators, difficult conversations.

The learning in this role never stops, always so much to share and bring back. Its been so refreshing to work beyond the NHS this week and be able to reflect on how far my personal journey has been the last 2 years. Its been a bumpy ride and I doubt it will get easier, its the self belief thats changing. Time to break out of the comfort zone.

Privilege

Since talking to Paul B about privilege and what that means for my diversity and inclusion work its something I have been focusing on. What is privilege….such a broad term. When I use this word its in a positive frame, feeling honoured to be part of something, to be able to support others and listen, as I am trusted to manage my time and workload. To be humbled by conversations with work colleagues I know by sight, trusting me with their deeply personal stories as I hand them a rainbow badge representing inclusion.

recognising out of work what this means too….

To have time to be patient in a queue when an elderly gentleman at the front is struggling with coins to pay for his shopping , desperate to maintain his independence and not ask for help.

Being able to attend a yoga session beside a river, enjoying the peace and tranquility and warm summer breeze.

Being grateful for where I live and yet missing a garden of my own. the reverse privilege…no gardening responsibility!

I’m currently reading a lovely book received as a birthday present – wabi sabi – Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect life. lots of reflection for me on how we experience the world by truly being in it. if we judge from the sidelines how can we be compassionate and sensitive to others and their lived experiences.

what I am learning about privilege is it means many different things to all of us, at different times of our lives. we shouldn’t apologise for what our privileges are, equally never assume everyone has the same opportunities. share our knowledge, be compassionate and above all be our authentic selves. be prepared to see the world through the eyes of others and take a glimpse into walking in their shoes.

Forgiveness

Experiencing life as an ethnic minority while on holiday has been an interesting experience. I have been received with warmth, respect and generosity by everyone I have met and yet I am conscious I am constantly scanning my environment for fellow white travellers. I don’t feel unsafe or unwanted in this richly diverse and cultural land, quite the opposite. I don’t need to be surrounded by travellers who appear the same as me – I would say it has been a richer experience without them. Tour guides and drivers willingly share their knowledge and how to eat like a local. Young insta followers eager to take a selfie, families wanting a photo with us and their young children politely approaching. My red haired fellow traveller is particularly popular! At first this felt intrusive, especially in the heat, till we are told those asking are proud to say they have met someone from England. We are humbled.

History in this land is full of conflict and influence by governing bodies from different countries. Visiting a former British Viceroy seat of power a beautifully polished hardwood table is showcased as the place the decisions in 1947 were made that divided countries. The scale of this fresh in our minds from watching the latest Bollywood blockbuster, Bharat, 2 days before. It included scenes of families being separated and 2 million people losing their lives

And yet we are still welcomed as valued guests wherever we go. .at a sacred temple food is prepared daily and shared with everyone who queues for a place including ourselves, as visitors from a country that historically inflicted a terrible tragedy on their community.

What is in my mind is the power of forgiveness. It is the single thing we can do to make the world a better place, to be truly inclusive. Watching Martina Navratilova acknowledging the hurt her twitter comments about trans athletes caused…and seeking to better understand their lived experience is heartwarming. Compassionate. The world is changing.

leadership

what does my leadership stand for. a question posed in a Kings Fund webinar by Samantha Allen, CEO of Sussex Partnership NHS Trust. this has been going round in my head….am i clear on my role, the context, what it means to others. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m over thinking this. By stepping back, reflecting, listening and taking stock of how far my learning has come in 15 months i can truly see how much i have been able to influence. how conversation flows and hearing words such as excluded, not heard, barriers, bring feelings of curiosity, a desire to explore the conversation more and really understand the root cause of the dissatisfaction. and its nearly always something very small, not insignificant but a barrier nonetheless and it might appear immoveable..it rarely is.

and thats where the lightbulb moment has come this week…what my leadership stands for. i listen, i challenge, i know where to access information, support and resources to help facilitate bringing those barriers down. i am honest when i’m not the expert and appreciate others knowledge. i am a proud leader. working collectively with valued colleagues to make a difference. by recognising my leadership i want to inspire others to lead, to be the change they want to see as the saying goes. i’ve found my context.