June Sarpong came to speak in the London office on 12th September about how organisations can create an inclusive culture where people can be themselves. June Sarpong then joined a few members of the team for a panel discussion. I was asked to sit on this panel to speak from the perspective of disability and mental health.
I was delighted to also be on the panel with Ian Wrightson, Lee Cartwright and Tracy Charles who each have individual perspectives on diversity and inclusion from their experiences and understanding. The conversations were candid and highlighted that all of us have unconscious biases that we need to acknowledge and disallow to cloud our judgement.
So, what does a spider and a sky god have to do with diversity and inclusion in Mazars?
June Sarpong spoke of Anansi the spider and the story of becoming the keeper of wisdom against all odds. The story of Anansi showed the success of a combination of self-belief and opportunity. June Sarpong was able to mix Ghanaian storytelling, provocative concepts, and important takeaways for the wider discussions around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
What pleasantly surprised me was how engaged the audience were. All of the questions which were asked were difficult and key to the diversity and inclusion debates. This showed me that many people in Mazars want to get involved, have their voice heard and see real positive change within Mazars.
None of us know what the answers are to make our workforce inclusive and diverse. What I think we need to do is ask questions. June Sarpong raised an interesting point in her ‘6 degrees of integration’. She asked us all to check our circle. Do all our friends look like we do? If this is the case it is important that we speak to other people who may not fit into the same category. This will help us to fully embrace one another and break down barriers and unconscious biases. We need to challenge ourselves to speak to different people and if you do not know what to say then ask questions. If we ask all of the awkward questions we will find out more about different people, be put at ease, and know how to make their work life as easy and full of opportunity as possible.
Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’ – John F. Kennedy
Ask yourself what you can do to add to the inclusive culture at Mazars for which we are all responsible and how you can actively have an impact on equal opportunities and making our workforce diverse.
By Olivia Perry
Olivia Perry runs the Speakeasy Network at Mazars which aims to champion all kinds of disabilities in the workplace – from the more identifiable physical disabilities, to “hidden” disabilities.