Our founder, Ria Kalsi, reflects on how inaccessible inclusion work can be.
There’s a great irony in the fact that inclusion work is not very accessible.
If you go to a school or work at a company that provides inclusion work - whether that be talks, training or events - on a regular, committed and consistent basis, then I would call that a rare opportunity. Often, EDBI (equality, diversity, belonging and inclusion) work boils down to the mandatory bones and many of us felt like we were left high and dry after 2020.
"Big promises were made, big claims were stated, but what’s the legacy left behind?"
Unfortunately it is the case that inclusion work and commitments are not protected assets of schools and companies, often being the first to be cut with budgets, which nearing a recession, looks increasingly bleak. So unless we are lucky (I use that word hesitantly) to attend a school or work for a company who are genuinely invested, both in terms of purpose and budget, in inclusion work, it can be an inaccessible necessity.
If we can’t rely on our employers and educational structures to provide us with inclusion opportunities to build our anti-racism skillsets, we’re left turning to ourselves. What do we have the autonomy and capability to achieve? The majority of us will have the privilege to access information and resources online, even perhaps the odd virtual event here and there. We might have the privilege of self-education and the agency to learn more. I urge anyone to do as much of this as possible whether it’s reading, listening to podcasts, widening your news and media intake, watching diverse media, creating new inclusive habits, participating in discussions, engaging in social issues, attending events or webinars - whatever you can get your hands on!
"Self education is a fantastic tool and it is absolutely essential."
However, it is not enough. Whether you’re thinking about unconscious bias or how to confidently conduct a conversation about race, many inclusion and anti-racist skills are knowledge and understanding that we have to put into practice. We can know the theory behind something but putting it into action is a different thing. It’s like knowing how to throw a ball by extending your arm and flicking your wrist, but not actually throwing it. Self education is like holding the ball. Inclusion work - workshops, training, events, discussions, roundtables, modifying behaviour, putting what you learn into action - this is throwing the ball. There’s a big difference between reading the definition of unconscious bias on Google, versus engaging in a workshop which provides activities and discussion to identify your bias, process and grow your awareness of it.
More so, what opportunities are being missed? There are plenty of people who want to take their personal responsibility towards racial inclusion further than self education. What potential growth and inclusion are we limiting by not providing them with accessible solutions?
Well, we’ve been thinking and acting on this at MatriarchLtd.
Whilst more dedicated budget is the dream, in the meantime, we’re doing what we can at MatriarchLtd. to tackle this. Part of our mission is to make inclusion work accessible in the mainstream to provide opportunities for anyone in the public to grow their inclusion and anti-racism skill sets. So, we created a course - the inclusion basics course.
This is a 3 part, virtual course that covers 3 essential inclusion principles - unconscious bias, inclusive language and how to confidently talk about race. In our classic MatriarchLtd. style, you leave every session not just with knowledge, but practical tools and further resources to action and support learning even after the session. All of this is summarised in a takeaway PDF, with a certificate upon completion of the course. We also created a free add on 10 page BIPOC Mental Health toolkit for any BIPOC participants. We announced the course in February, and by March, it had completely sold out.
"There is a clear need for more accessible inclusion work, an opportunity to provide where your company or school won’t."
We were overwhelmed by the demand and positive response. There is a clear need for more accessible inclusion work, an opportunity to provide where your company or school won’t. And we’re here to do it. We started running the course at the end of March and the feedback has been fantastic. Participants come from a range of backgrounds, ages and industries and a need is clearly being met by MatriarchLtd.
Yes, inclusion works needs to keep being baked into the DNA of schools and organisations - this is our main mission at MatriarchLtd. But we are also determined to provide alternative products to people who might not be being reached. Those are the people we want to support and promote - people with a genuine care and engagement to make the world a safer, more inclusive place.
We know we’re on the verge of something great here at MatriarchLtd. Make sure you’re a part of it! Sign up to our newsletter here to not miss out on fantastic inclusion insights and any future opportunities!