A Message From Our CEO – A Happy Start to 2024

It is now the start of the first full week of the year, which sees many people returning to work after the festive holidays. Some of you however, might have started last week. Whatever your situation, we hope that you have managed to relax, recoup and are re-energized for what we hope will be a fantastic year ahead.

Last year at PILAA we had seen much growth in the organisation, beyond monetary value. We welcomed new Membership clients, and we are pleased to see how those relationships have flourished, with Members such as Corps Security winning awards for their commitment to EDI excellence in their specific industry.

We had won tenders at organisations doing meaningful work for their communities of service users. Some of those tenders have now come to an end, but we are grateful to the lasting relationships that we have made with those organisations. Like many of our clients that we have worked with over the years, we will continue to be good friends and offer support when needed.

We welcomed new team members at PILAA, with strong backgrounds in their respective fields. Despite the challenges of recruiting new employees under this current climate, we are pleased to say that we were still able to get the best people to join us and grow our PILAA family.

At the end of last year, we were pleased to have participated at London’s ExCeL Retrain Expo, running alongside The Business Show 2023. We met lots of interesting people from various industries and we are excited to let you know that 2024 will see the materialisation of some of those conversations into exciting projects. So do watch this space. We are also excited to share the winners of the competition we held at the ExCeL for free training. All entrants will be informed of the outcome after this message has gone out.

Finally, in December we were pleased to be on the judging panel of the DOJ Gaminz Festival, held by our clients DOJ Gaminz in Nigeria. It was an awe-inspiring two-day event; the first with leading gamers in Nigeria and the second with game developers responding to the theme of ‘breaking stereotypes’ in their video game submissions. There was so much talent and innovation in this sector, and we are grateful to our friends at DOJ Gaminz, who have allowed us to be part of their EDI journey within the gaming arena.

Further, we were also fortunate to have been able to deliver our CPD Course ‘The Grassroots of Diversity’, to Security Officers at the event. It was great to see Officers engaging with many EDI themes, such as unconscious bias, providing inclusive welcomes, (dis)ability and accessibility, but applying it to the landscape of Nigeria. Doing EDI work in the UK has its own challenges, but tailoring EDI for it to be culturally specific to where our clients are based, brings new and exciting learning opportunities and we were grateful to be in such a position.

Whilst we know there is lots more to be thankful for and to do, our focus for this year is to build on being a forward-thinking organisation, addressing EDI within and beyond its own parameters. This year you will see input from expert thinkers on exciting new topics. You will see the development of our EDI image bank and A-Zs in various identity categories. You will see the development of new PILAA-led research and resources. We will continue to deliver our workshops unpacking EDI issues at their root causes, whilst learning about the various industries that we enter through our work with past, present and new clients. We will continue to answer your mental health, accessibility, and well-being questions, irrespective of whether they seem too big or too small. Finally, we will continue to be advocates of EDI and continue to collaborate with organisations and individuals who are committed to engaging with EDI in a socially conscious way.

From us at PILAA, we would like to wish you a happy start to the year and an inclusive future in 2024.

Dr Ope Lori

Gender and the benefits of a grateful workplace

Written by B.J. Woodstein, PhD

 

“Thanks so much for your efforts! We really appreciate it!” or “You did a fantastic job on that project!”
Wouldn’t you love it if your colleagues or managers spoke to you like that? Wouldn’t you feel good about going to work and giving it your all if you knew that you would be thanked, appreciated and respected?

Well, new research shows that in workplaces where women are in the majority, this is much more common a scenario. Intriguingly, the implication is that women are more likely to show gratitude – at least in the workplace, but perhaps beyond it as well – than men. The underlying idea here is that women are socialised into being more empathic and caring, and this extends to seeing how hard someone is working and how much they’ve tried, and then feeling grateful for that and wanting to show appreciation. Men, on the other hand, tend to be socialised into being more self-focused, which means they’re more likely to recognise and brag about their own efforts, instead of looking outwards at other people. Someone self-centred might be scared of acknowledging other people, because they might worry that doing so somehow downplays their own contributions. Logically, we probably realise that promoting others makes both them and us feel good, and also makes us look like we’re thoughtful and generous people, but emotionally, some people worry that being grateful to others somehow makes us look bad in comparison.

You might wonder why this matters. After all, you should be doing your best at work anyway, so why do you actually need to be thanked for it? Don’t you do your work in exchange for pay? Isn’t your salary thanks enough? No, frankly, it’s not. As humans, we all need to be seen for who we are. We want our own skills and characteristics to be valued, because that means we’re seen as individuals, rather than as easily replaced automatons. In fact, being specific about what we appreciate about another person actually boosts their self-esteem and builds their confidence. And if they’re happier, that rubs off on us and everyone else around them. What a great cycle!

That increase to people’s self-belief and overall moods should be reason enough to do it, but if you want to look at it from a more cynical perspective, you could say that happier people who feel good about themselves will work more efficiently and more effectively. That makes it good for the workplace too. However, there’s a depressing downside to the idea that women are more grateful. The fact is that even in this modern era, women are still paid less than men. You’d think gender pay gaps would be something from the past, but research shows they are still disturbingly common. Two people doing the same sort of work should obviously be paid the same, regardless of their gender, or any other aspect of their lives, such as their ethnicity or marital status or class. Women may not speak up about the pay gap because they have the feeling that they should be pleased to have any job.

Women more likely than men to suffer from imposter syndrome.

To read the full article, you must be a PILAA Member.

Representation Matters

Written by B.J. Woodstein, PhD

 

I don’t think anyone would argue against the idea that representation matters. We know how important it can be to, for example, see people who look like you or who you share other traits with and to know they are being treated how you would like to be treated, or that they are achieving things that one day you’d like to achieve. If you don’t see people like you in jobs you want to have, or in positions of authority, or on TV, or in books, it can be hard to believe that one day you could do those things too. When there’s representation, there’s inspiration. And furthermore, when there’s representation, you feel included and acknowledged.

But another important aspect of representation is that it can actually save someone’s life.

I was heartened by a recent short news piece about medical students who have developed a website that depicts skin conditions on a variety of skin tones. Since textbooks and other materials frequently resort to white skin as the “norm”, medical students and healthcare professionals don’t get the chance to see the way that skin conditions or other illnesses might look on black or brown skin. And if they don’t learn that, then it is very possible they might not understand what they’re seeing when they are examining a non-white patient, and they could misdiagnose the issue or tell someone they are well, when in actual fact they are not. In the worst possible circumstances, that could result in death. So depicting different ethnic groups and skin tones is vital from a medical perspective, but it also is vital when it comes to countering the inequalities experienced by many minority groups. Seeing people like you depicted in a textbook shows you that you matter and that people care about you and your well-being. You’re not an afterthought and you’re not seen as a challenge to the norm; instead, you change what people perceive to be the norm.

I personally learned this lesson some years back when I was training to become a lactation consultant (IBCLC). Nearly all our books and websites showed breastfeeding positions solely on white skin. Similarly, they only talked about breast conditions as they applied to white skin; an example would be focusing on whether an area of tissue has turned swollen and red in order to help diagnose mastitis, but unfortunately mastitis could be missed if a practitioner focuses on the redness, as it does not present in the same way on darker skin. Thankfully, an IBCLC recognised this gap in knowledge and developed the Melanated Mammary Atlas, which is a huge help to healthcare professionals because it depicts breasts and breastfeeding in brown and black skin. Now we just have to hope that our lactation textbooks are updated to likewise include a range of ethnic groups in their images of breastfeeding and that they explain the differences in words as well.

 

To read the full article, you must be a PILAA Member.

How to support employees and colleagues during the current conflict

You are likely to have Jewish and/or Muslim colleagues, who will have friends and relatives in Israel and Palestine, and who will be experiencing strong emotions about the current conflict in the Middle East. How can you best support them at this difficult time?

The most important thing to remember – whether for this conflict or any others – is that it’s better to say something than to ignore the situation. Don’t worry about getting it wrong; showing people you care and that you’re there is what matters.

  • Acknowledge the war. You could perhaps mention it in your weekly newsletter or in your next meeting. You don’t have to offer any opinions – and you probably shouldn’t – but just say you’re aware that it’s happening and that it could be impacting on colleagues. Remind them that you’re there if anyone wants to talk.
  • Write specific colleagues who you know have friends or family in the region or who belong to the affected ethnic groups an email or a text message that says something like, “I just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you at what might be a challenging time for you. You don’t need to reply, but I’m here if you need anything.”
  • Similarly, you can say something along those lines in a face-to-face conversation, but be careful not to pressure them into talking about it, if they’re not up to it. Avoid any nosy questions, as it isn’t your business to know if someone has relatives in the region. Make no assumptions about political views.
  • If people come to you to say they are struggling, consider whether you can reduce their workload or give them a personal day or two off.
  • Ensure you know what your workplace’s mental health policies are like and if there are any helplines or healthcare professionals that your colleagues can contact if necessary.
  • Consider whether your workplace can make a charitable donation to an organisation that is actively working towards peace in the Middle East. It can help people to know that a small, proactive step is being taken.
  • Try not to get into political discussions, especially in the workplace. You don’t want to sow any discord among colleagues. Make work a friendly, safe space. Set up guidelines for conversation, if you feel that would be helpful.
  • Take care of yourself too. Even if you’re not Jewish or Muslim and even if you don’t fully understand the situation, it can still be painful to keep up with the news. It’s okay, and often necessary, to take a break from reading or watching the latest updates.
  • If you are asked to facilitate a conversation on the topic and you don’t feel able to, it’s okay to say no.
  • Remind everyone that a little kindness goes a long way; the world is hard, and your workplace doesn’t need to make it any harder.

Life goes on, even amidst such depressing conflicts. People need to keep working, and sometimes even find it helpful to keep their heads busy. At the same time, though, we’re humans with feelings, so show awareness of what’s going on, and how it might be affecting people.

 

The Team at PILAA