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

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

A Message From Our CEO

Welcome to the launch of our new website which marks a turning point for our organisation. Pre-image Learning and Action (PILAA) was conceived as an idea back in 2015. Our hope was that we would be a company that could tie in making a difference to organisations and the people we work with, by using the visual arts to unlock the bigger picture. We never imagined the impact that a combination of these two factors would have upon people’s everyday lives. 

From working with our earliest clients, we could see that there was a need for employers to support their staff and navigate through difficult conversations around common equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) themes, as well as those not typically talked about. Our clients knew what they wanted to do but didn’t know how to do it. They were nervous in getting it wrong, yet just needed that little bit of expert support to help them lead the way. By having  an open and honest friendly conversation with them, we managed to understand their challenges and the context in which they operated in. Fast-forward to today, these relationships have helped to build on who we are and what we do. PILAA prides itself as an organisation that genuinely wants to make a difference to everyone we work with, hence why most of the people that we serve have found us organically, through word-of-mouth recommendations. 

Joining us on our mission to make a difference to the EDI community, we are excited to announce that we have expanded our team of experts. In addition, we also wanted to take this opportunity, to let you know of our PILAA Friend Memberships, which we launched in May 2022. 

From us, you can expect everything we do to follow our five key values, which are embodied through the acronym FOCUS: Fun, Open-Mindedness, Creativity, Understanding and Sincerity. If you are reading this and have signed up to our newsletter, then this is your first step to being part of the PILAA ecosystem.

Dr Ope Lori