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Join staff groups to develop Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work further

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Many of you attended the recent Equality, Diversity and Inclusion drop-in sessions led by Owen Lewis which highlighted how important it is for us all to pool our thinking, experience and passion to shape how Sport Wales leads the way.

One of the next steps is to create a series of smaller ‘discovery’ staff groups to develop the work further. Huddle caught up with Owen Lewis and Jess Williams to find out more… 

What happens next?

Jess: We have been mulling over how to bring staff together to share and learn from each other for some time now. The recent drop-in sessions proved to be an effective way for us to explore equality and inclusion in different areas of our work. I think we all recognise that to move forward we need to better understand who we are first and understand the different experiences and thoughts that arise when working in this space. I would like us to use the platform created by Owen to set up a series of smaller, discovery groups which meet relatively regularly over the next few months. I know that’s one ‘next step’ for us – I’ll let Owen explain the others. 

Owen: I think you’ve picked the best place to start Jess – with ourselves. Our strategy commits us to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be active through sport, and it’s important to remember that we can all make a choice to take responsibility for helping to make that a reality.

The point I’d make here is that the next steps are not mine or Jess’ to own. They’re all of ours. If you can’t come up with an answer to the question, ‘what can I do next?’ then the next step is probably to explore this with someone you trust.

There is also other work under way in three broad areas – broadening our networks to better understand diversity of need; ensuring our resource gets to the right places (and being comfortable that the best solutions won’t be ones we come up with); and supporting our partners.

Can you tell us more about the groups you mentioned?

Jess: I see a real opportunity for us to come together and share our stories about what being equal, diverse and inclusive means to each of us. In this, I fully appreciate that there will be a range of differences between us all. I anticipate that there is a spectrum of people who feel frustrated, passionate, confused and, at times unsure about language, or what they do or do not know! 

I must emphasise that it is exactly this mix which will make this process worthwhile. Smaller group sessions could be a great place to come and share some of this, or listen while building confidence, and learn more about what this all means. I think the point of the groups should be: to share our EDI journey; learn together (at times with resources); network with and build support between us as colleagues and hear about common themes.

Owen: I think Jess has hit the nail on the head. This is a space where we can support each other. We’re having similar conversations with partners through the EDI forum and we’ve learnt from approaches taken by other organisations, including SportEd.

What will the format be?

Jess: The groups could be led (in part) by members of staff who feel passionate about us coming together to learn about EDI, but perhaps more importantly are owned by us all. I would like them to be ‘safe spaces’ for sharing, asking questions and learning from one another and, although there are some ideas of format and structure – they are really driven by the group itself. There are some excellent resources groups could work through, or it might be that in some instances it is better to share experiences and chat.

Based on how many people are keen to be part of this, I would think that each group would have a maximum of up to eight people to allow for conversation and learning. The idea is for them to be made up of as many different staff as possible from all areas of the organisation, meeting on teams or zoom.

Will the information I share be known to others in the organisation (such as my line manager?) 

Jess: No. Creating a space where people feel comfortable to share (or not share) and knowing that this is all in confidence is important here. Similarly, I would not want the sessions to be recorded. Realistically, there will be common themes and actions that arise from these conversations. One of the things that is important to us all (I am sure) is trying to make change, and quickly! There will be a method for someone in the group (most likely the facilitator) to feedback some of the broad common themes – but these will never be attributed to one person. 

What will be the result of these groups?

Jess: I think naturally, there will be some core actions that develop from a process like this and if that is the case, they should be captured and fed back within the organisation to make change. I’ve spoken about how we hope to do this, but it might be that others have different ideas; in which case I would be really keen to hear them. I am not quite sure that we will know the ‘result’ until we have started but I would hope that we feel more connected, confident and informed, but also that we share creative ideas that can really help the organisation and sector.

Owen: I agree with Jess. I hope the result is that we gain the confidence and capability to approach things differently and to try new things. We’ve seen from research like the recent race in sport reports that inequalities in sport are significant and longstanding. There’s no reason to think we’ll make an impact without being brave enough to do things differently.

What should I do next?

Jess: Look out for further information which will be sent out soon. We’ll also need some facilitators within the groups, so if you’re happy to be a facilitator then please get in touch with me. 

Owen: We’ve already had people suggest potential topics of interest off the back of the EDI drop-in sessions. We’re really grateful for these so please keep them coming.