KATE HEADLEY – Well hello, and welcome to the Let’s Be Clear podcast series. Today I’m absolutely delighted to be welcoming Joanne Lockwood, inclusion and belonging specialist working globally with organisations, and particularly organisations who pride themselves on valuing their people. We share a passion around inclusive hiring processes, Joanne, so I’m sure that’s going to come out as part of our discussion today. And we’re going to be talking about the impact on different people through this COVID pandemic coming out of this COVID pandemic, and what the new normal might look like in terms of impacting all of us to ensure we create an inclusive society to return to.
So Joanne, just a couple of words from you, if I may, in terms of your thoughts and your passions around inclusion, and why you feel that it’s important for us to talk about the impact this pandemic is having on on different people.
JOANNE LOCKWOOD – Yeah, hi, Kate, it’s so great to be here today. And talking to you about this. We all know that pandemic has been with us most of 2020. And we’ve all been on this journey. And we often talk about this being in the same storm, but on different boats, and we have a different experience. So I think now more than ever, I see people getting fatigued by it and tired by. So there’s a lot of things going on now where people are kind of breaking the rules. When we went to get back to work employers again ways, okay, we’ve got our screens up, we’ve got sanitizer everywhere, we’ll be okay. But there’s still a lot of anxiety out there. So a lot of people who are scared to be banned to go back to work with that they have to commute on the baskets to train them maybe shielding because they’ve got loved ones who are vulnerable. Maybe they’re vulnerable themselves. And this is huge anxiety. And I think employers need to still think about the employee well being and how their people are experiencing this as COVID. Even as we come out of lockdown, or the vaccines on the horizon, there’s a whole lot of challenges with that, that we’re going to talk about in a minute. No doubt.
KATE HEADLEY-Yeah, I mean, I absolutely agree with you is quite interesting, isn’t it? Because we’ve got, in my experience, we’ve got people who are very anxious about not being in the workplace. We’ve got people who are very anxious about the security of their work. And obviously, we’ve had recent news with Arcadia group that as another major negative milestone from this pandemic. And we’ve got people who are anxious about the fact that they may have to be asked to go back to work, because actually, they’ve slipped into a sort of unpremeditated comfort zone of security staying at home. And there’s all those different complexities. And there’s also this there’s a lot of discussion as well. Joanne, at the moment, isn’t there about the impact on women? You know, have we taken back on our traditional role? Have we pushed the agenda back, but there’s also lots of talk about that it’s been very freeing and very enabling and empowering, having a virtual world to work in for people who find the office space and the commute to work and the crowds, disempowering, I suppose. What are your thoughts on that? You know, who’s coming out of this, you know, jumping for joy and and enjoying it? And who’s having perhaps a more challenging journey? Do you think?
JOANNE LOCKWOOD -I think people with kind of an entrepreneurial spirit in some respects, I mean, there are some obvious winners in terms of people have traditionally online, so the some of the retailers, some of the essential retailers, food are definitely coming out on top people are working in internet connections, hosting. Zoom is a great winner of this. And the technologies around remote speaking, remote delivery, that there were winners, but we know that coffee shops, pubs, the entertainment industry, High Street retail, big brands that haven’t maybe adopted as well as as they could, to the online model are suffering badly, and that that knocks on to a lot of people of low income. And we know that those industries traditionally have people of low income. And disproportionately those people tend to be women or tend to be people who are intersectional ethnic minorities, people from underrepresented communities. So we know that there’s people have been disproportionately affected. So I’d say that the incumbent, privileged people in society are probably doing okay or better. Whereas the people who are depend on that, yeah, many women work in beauty in cleaning roles in coffee shops and restaurants, and nightclubs and bars. And without being generalist and sexist here, that is the typical role that many women face. And we’ve got to remember that in many households, that income is necessary to prop up and support the family and maybe the partner also is struggling, maybe their bonuses are gone, the sales of homes gone. So it is in fact impacting a lot of people. And I’m really keen, you know, being in the D&I space, not to generalise not to create these new kind of beliefs. And I think what we have to do is look behind the obvious feelings and say, well actually this be person centric because we can’t we can’t say that women are affected. We just know that statistically, women are more likely to be affected.
KATE HEADLEY-I agree with you. I mean, statistically there is that sense because of the nature of the roles that were affected the fact that we’ve become domiciliary, again, I suppose. But equally, I’ve got a sense that it’s affecting people differently, I suppose in terms of this not being in work. Part of my role, as you know, as I interview Exco members regularly as part of our audit practice, and I found it actually quite refreshing the level of openness I’m getting from talking to CEOs about, you know, the impact on their mental health of not being, you know, in that role in that office. And I think we have to retain sight of, you know, our senior colleagues as well, and the impact is having on them. But one things I particularly wanted to talk to you about Joanne was that when we last met, and I think it was a webinar, invariably, we’re talking particularly about, you know, colleagues who are from the LGBTQ plus community, and the very specific impact that’s having on people who have lost some of their face to face networking contexts and are actually at home, where that might not be their most comfortable space. What are your views on that? Because that was a few months ago. Have you any more insights in terms of that?
JO LOCKWOOD-Again, without generalising? Yes, as I said, on that webinar, it does impact LGBT people in a in a maybe a different way to some other people in terms of if they’re not fully accepted in the home environment. They can’t be themselves. Often LGBT people live in isolation, maybe they’re away from their family, maybe they’ve been rejected in the past. Maybe they rely on that contact going out meeting people, so many trans people, there’s many trans people who aren’t out or open or accepted at home. This is a very tight environment for them. Maybe they are out at work, but not at home, that creates another problem. But how do they can they be at work remotely? When they can’t be themselves at home? And that that’s another another challenge. So yes, it does have an impact on on LGBT people, their mental health, often, by socialising by meeting each other. That’s, that’s a support network. There’s been no Pride this year, there’s been no opportunity to sort of get together and talk. But I know many LGBT people who are moving online and Facebook groups having zoom coffees and chats and supporting each other in that way. So I think like every community, we’re adapting and reinventing. But I think the challenge is I, it may be hard, you need to invest by when you’re when you’re living in a in an environment where it is not necessarily you are able to be yourself. And that’s the challenge.
KATE HEADLEY-And the extra layer of stress on top of the stress that we’re all experiencing at the moment as well. Definitely. I mean, you mentioned there about reinventing ourselves, really. And I think that’s happening to a lot of people during this pandemic. And I know, Joanne, that you know, you’re a D&I, expert, and you’re advising and empowering organisations on a really great scale now, but in a in your previous career, you’re an IT expert, you’re an IT guru, which always puts me completely to shame. And I know that you particularly have done quite a lot of interesting and innovative stuff using this lockdown opportunity to communicate with people in a different way. You know, your podcast series, for example, is just fantastic. I wondered if you could share a little bit with us about you know, where that came from, and how that’s impacting for people and how people can access it as well.
JOANNE LOCKWOOD-Yeah, for sure. I must have had some sort of 2020 vision back in December last year, because I kind of sat down and thought to myself, what did I want to do this year, and I realised I was flying around the world a lot. And I was speaking at conferences, and I was spending a lot of money and not getting huge returns. I know, I decided that I wanted to do less conference speaking for no fee or low fee, and do more kind of online coaching and mentoring. And one of the targets I had to myself as a podcast, and newsletter and do more online stuff. So I already bought my camera and some microphones and some gear, Christmas time last year at the Amazon sales and I was kind of already geared up for this. So in February, I was already I just did my podcast then and it’s called inclusion bites. And if you search for that on iTunes, Spotify, the usual places, you’ll find inclusion bites you can tell it’s the right one because there’s a pair of comedy teeth read on the cover. So the big Yes, bites is the teeth. The objective – It was really just to promote inclusion at the core well being. And it’s not about a D&I podcast, it’s about people telling their stories, some relatable stuff and asking their opinion for different cross sections of society, their thoughts on how they want to help the world thrive and survive in a in a more inclusive way.
KATE HEADLEY-I mean, it’s just fantastic. And I think as well, it’s another it’s a great example of the fact that you know, in the D&I space and in the well being belonging, inclusion space, it doesn’t have to be heavy deal. We are increasingly good at making things accessible, making them light and having an honest conversation. We can have a tear, we can have a smile, and all of that sort of increasingly ourselves permission to have a dialogue in that way on way, I want to talk to you about the vaccines in a minute, you’ve already raised that. But just before we move on to that, because that, obviously is the next phase of opportunity and challenge, let’s just leave it hanging there for a moment. But in terms of your opinions, Jo, on it, of this last statement, you know, what, what would be your biggest takes in terms of what our audience needs to be thinking about now to ensure that they are including, and ensuring the well being of those around them in society and family and work? You know, all of those different contexts?
JO LOCKWOOD-I still say the same thing. As I was saying back in March, don’t assume people okay, well, being mental health impact on people is so unique. So intersectional, based on their own personal, lived, experience, the family grouping the job, they’re in their access to broadband access to working at home space, so many dynamics, I think we need to think about people as people, you know, we’ve got to think about individuals. And this goes across the board. I mean, you already mentioned that CEOs have their own anxiety that maybe they were in this position of power, their business was ticking along nicely, they had good sales figures. And they’ve had to suddenly react, they’ve lost their bonuses, maybe they’ve lost that they’ve had to lay staff off, they’ve had to change the way they’re working. So that was good, easy, wherever they are in the business. And it even businesses that flat out have got their own strategies to cope with the other pressures of work. They’re hiring at scale, or reinventing the product lines, because it also took we’ve talked about Black Lives Matter. So we’ve got anti racism works going on. Along with mental health, wellness, there’s still a lot of stuff that has hit the radar this year. Most people and before I think it kind of parked in is not strategic. But I think one of the things I often see is people mistaking D&I as being this kind of sitting on a shelf, you know, is this nebulous thing. But I actually think it affects all areas of the business. It’s about what employment well being it’s about product design, it’s about customer experience. It’s about engaging with people in your organisation in an inclusive way. Don’t just think about as anti racism or LGBT or gender is far more than that is about how we bring the corporate brand in. Who are you? What do you stand for your environmental credentials, your sustainability credential, all that comes into inclusion and well being to me, making people feel valued.
KATE HEADLEY-I agree with you. And it’s interesting, because increasingly on conversations from diversity, inclusion, perspective, sustainability, well being environmental, you know, our carbon footprint, all of these other aspects that that are about basically a values based organisation that’s got that’s got a responsibility are increasingly part of the conversation. And I think we’re under a lot more scrutiny, there’s something really weird happened, I can’t think of a different word, there’s something really weird happened as a result of the pandemic on the homeworking and the way that we’re communicating with each other. And what we’re communicating about that’s created some kind of transparency. That’s put everybody under scrutiny. And I also think it’s wobbled to the boundaries between employment and our life outside of work, because you can’t wait for somebody to leave the office. They’re kind of you know, as an employer, they’re your responsibility and all of the impacts that the whole societal change is having on them. How much of that is your responsibility as well? Because, you know, nobody else is picking it up. You know, we’ve got to pick it up collectively, haven’t we? We’ve certainly increasingly found that. And one of the things that we’ve been talking about actually, it’s interesting, because obviously, we already in our consultancy, and that’s kind of my day job, and also the recruitments to disability initiative, which I know you’ve supported, as well, Joanne, but we are so busy. And we’ve had to look really carefully ourselves to make sure that we’re being inclusive and supportive, because as a consultancy, when do you take the step to increase your headcount when you in normal times, you know, you’d have done it six months earlier, but you’re hanging on just that little bit longer, which puts everybody under pressure. And you’ve got people with school aged kids working for you’ve got people who’ve got parents, who haven’t seen the grandparents whose support networks just didn’t notice integrated. And all of that backdrop means that I would agree with what you said earlier, you have to talk to everybody on an individual basis, all the time, whilst actually as a leader, managing your own individual pressures and challenges and strains. And try not to allow those to go down into the organisation as well. It’s been, as you know, I mean, I’m in my late 50s. And I’ve been working a very long time. And I’ve never worked in this context where I’ve had to manage my own behaviour to such an extreme way, I think and manage those stresses, it’s, it’s kind of all consuming as naturally, then we’ve got this great is it all going to end because you know, obviously COVID is going home for Christmas, which is really kind so that we can all go out. And then we’re all going to be vaccinated unless of course, your auto immune deficient, or you’ve got some other kind of medical condition, which means that you can’t actually have the vaccine. So you’re even more isolated as a, quote, vulnerable shareholder than you were before. But what what’s your thought in terms of the impact of this? because it’s causing a lot of talk, isn’t it? And potentially quite a lot of divisive talk. And we’ve been here before around vaccines. What do we think in terms of our well being messages that that we need to be sort of sorting out now?
JO LOCKW00D-Yeah, I think one of the things has happened in the D&I space over the last couple of years is this rise of populism and this kind of populist opinions on Brexit, whether it’s political, red, or blue, this side of the channel, the other side of the Atlantic, or this kind of thing to come up. And the inclusion has been about allowing people to be included in their opinions about politics and the space, environmental, whatever it may be. I think the vaccine is another, another area where we’ll be talking about so anti vaccine was kind of bubbling around in the background. It’s now coming to the surface where people are having a voice on Facebook, but I won’t be vaccinated, I will be back. So we’re getting another Brexit remain polarised view of, of vaccines now. And what worries me is we’re going to have people in the office who are passionate about vaccines and people in the office of a passionate anti vaccine, for whatever reason, and I don’t want to judge which is right or which is wrong. But we’ve got an issue there, where, what do we do? What do you talk about maybe building into the NHS app? It’s certainly in England. I’m not sure about Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland, but certainly in England about flagging whether you have been vaccinated? Could we be in a situation where you can’t go to the cinema, you can’t go to a restaurant, you can’t go to an enclosed space unless you’ve got your vaccine passport. And then what do employers do? You’ve got an event where one or two people have a T shirt wearing antivaxxers which is there, right? Wait, maybe they’re, they’re non vaxxers because they can’t be because they’re allergic to eggs. They’ve got autoimmune, as you mentioned, in the same way, we’ve got non mask wearers are now being demonised on trains and tubes, and people are getting into fights because they can’t wear a mask. So we’re creating another division in society. And I think employers need to be hyper aware of how their culture works. What do they do? Do they segregate people who are vaccinated non vaccinated? Do they insist that people are not vaccinated? Work maskless in a glass screen? Do we treat it with lepers how to actually bring them in? How do we make them feel loved and respected, that if we accept it as someone’s human right not to be vaccinated? In the same way, someone’s right not to associate yourself with someone who hasn’t been vaccinated? If you have, it’s a very complex situation, and I’m worried that we’re bouncing into another divided society, polarising issue here, and employers have got a lot a lot to work on. Transport companies got a lot to work on infrastructure, they’ve got a lot to work on here. And it’s, I haven’t got clarity myself yet. But I know it’s something we need to talk about.
KATE HEADLEY- It’s interesting, we’ve seen it, we need to be aware, that term used was hyper aware of how the culture works. So that’s something that organisations need to be hyper aware of how your culture works, because we’ve got these polarised opinions coming in. And I’m reflecting as I’m listening to you there, Joanne about the you know, I worked in HR during the miners strike, that’s Yeah, that’s how old I am. And then, and that was the most I mean, it was certainly a very steep learning curve for somebody in their early 20s. In a in a pretty senior HR role doing that in Yorkshire, you know, where you’ve got wives of policeman, you’ve got wives of working miners, you’ve got wife, a nonworking miners all sharing the kitchen area, and it got pretty hairy, I can tell you, you know, we definitely learned a lot then about how to, in your terms become hyper aware of how your culture works, and what was acceptable behaviour and values within the confines of work, you know, people’s opinions and behaviours. As long as they don’t obviously, detract from the values of the brand outside of work, that’s up to them. But in work, we have to have an opinion. And we have to set some ground rules and respect each other’s views as we do in any other aspect of diversity where people feel comfortable with some things and uncomfortable with others, they have to be accepting of people’s differences at work. And this is another one of them.
JO LOCKWOOD- If you’ve got staff who are unable to be vaccinated, or, or not wanting to be vaccinated, and they’re in a field service role their customer facing Well, what do you do? Are you protecting your customers? Could you send someone in someone’s home to repair the dishwasher, if they hadn’t been vaccinated? Do you have to declare that this person is potentially but they could be more vulnerable as a person who hasn’t been vaccinated to someone in that home? They could pick it up easily? There’s a whole note of things that I think we need to think about. And it’s, it’s because beyond the minus two, it was about opinions and strong opinions and division that way, we’re actually talking about not only that, so health or wellness of the individual, of course, the people that come in contact with
KATE HEADLEY -absolutely, and I mentioned to you earlier that you know, as a family, we’ve been shielding, it’s complexities because people who were healthy haven’t been impacted by COVID in any way. I’ve got more and more relaxed, I suppose about what the rules might be interpreted as being and that can be very isolating if you’re in a in an environment where you can’t relax to the same extent. And I think employers also have to be thinking now about individuals, fears and concerns. You know where they’ve been, as I said, You know, working from home or not working from home, as the case may be for some considerable time now. So there’s lots of challenges, lots of things to think about. And you know, I’m sure we’re going to get some great examples of best practice to share some things that lightbulb moments for people that we can, we can share amongst our wider community is interesting. You know, even in a pandemic, we get positive stories, don’t we, and positive impacts of people, you know, to your word, reinventing themselves, Joanne, and it’d be interesting just to discuss with you, you mentioned earlier about the entrepreneur, so your view on, you know, the emergence of the entrepreneur and people doing something different, I think the word you used before we came on air was, if what you’re doing doesn’t work now, then you need to think about doing something different. any examples or thoughts on that, that we can, we can share some sort of light relief, if you like, of some positive outcomes of what’s been happening. Yeah, we can find them, we’re British, we can find them
JO LOCKWOOD – completely. And if I, if I speak through my own lens, or what I see, I’m now working with people on a global basis, I can be in Australia, in 10 minutes, kind of I could be online, and timezone a little less relevant. So it says, I’ll be doing that we need you online at three o’clock in the morning, I’ll go, Okay, I’ll either not go to bed, and, and work through or get up early and deliver and have a nap afterwards. So I could be in Australia in the morning and San Francisco in the afternoon. And so my market or the people I can talk to is grown. And if you just took that on a UK basis, you can now deliver services, I’m delivering training, consulting, mentoring to all over the UK, and those people who live in the UK offering organisations but we haven’t got to bring people together, we can deliver online. So it means that people are far more ready to engage in services. Because the cost of a meeting anyone we’re not trying to fit people’s diaries, we can all make ourselves available as a different a training course to a local council, to their elected members and their elected politicians. And I deliver this in the evening to them. And one of the remarks one of the senior councillors in said was that this was fantastic. They will get this training in the evening from their own home after the evening meal after their dinner, and have this enrichment in their lives without after travelling for two hours sitting in a boring meeting and uncomfortable chairs. Why can’t they do more of this. So I think people are now waking up to the idea that they can use this opportunity to come together and get some great engagement training, wherever that may be, or even discussions and workshops where we do with this new medium at different times of the day. And I think hopefully what I see is breaking this nine to five paradigm and saying actually, what we need to do is we need to pick up chunks of people as we need them. I have a chunk of you here I have a chunk of you here. If you say that the best time to do this is six o’clock in the evening, which is acknowledge that there has to be a give somewhere else in the day, we don’t work nine hours and six evening. Yeah, we start later, we have a big a big siesta, wherever we want to call it, and we break it up. But then we also think about the impact of the home life and the family. And I also talked to a lot of people who have this has given them an opportunity to spend more time with their children. I speak to many male friends who are spending time that they’ve never would have had before. So this is an immense positive. And they don’t want to go back, they want to do the school run, they want to do breakfast they wanted to lunch. So I think if you think about positive impact, is having a real positive impact in young families and allowing men to be to be to be fathers or, or whoever, in whatever parent family you are. Both pay people to be active parents in these relationships.
KATE HEADLEY-I love that. Such a warm heart was a heartwarming reflection, isn’t it. And it’s something again, that I’ve personally experienced as well with with friends who have been perhaps non working mums whose husbands have had global roles. And now they’re sharing the parenting and family and we get photographs of the family, you know, the kids, you know, help to cook and all of that proper family values coming back in which I think that’s a real positive that I’ve definitely observed as well. And the flexibility I like as well in terms of you know, a meeting to suit you that the challenges and I think we’re all learning and we’re getting better at it, the whole zoom teams podcast does the back to back and suddenly realise that, you know, you’ve not left your desk and when you try and stand up, your knees won’t bend in the middle. So I think we’re getting much better at building in those those gaps. And I think you know, you’re my message to our listeners isn’t that I’ve sort of sown the seeds in a few of the podcast series so far as you know, I’m going to get firmer about it is we have to build those gaps in. The problem of course is that because everybody’s at home at the moment, and we’re all working remotely and online. The assumption is if you’re not going to have a meeting your diary, you are therefore available. So you’ve got no life other than sat in front of your laptop. And I think for some people you need time away from your laptop massively. For other people what we’ve come across as well, Jo and I don’t know if you’ve if you’ve come across this is people who are living on their own. Who historically work in a team and predominately around younger people we’ve come across this particularly, it’s applicable more broadly, though, is they leave their laptop on open on teams or zoom, and just crack on with their day. And as they would if somebody was in an office sitting on a desk across the room from them, so they’d be cracking on the day, go make a cup of tea, what the dogs come back in, and then say, Oh, I’m just working on such and such for so and so has anybody got a view? And we’re seeing more of that happening, which I think I think there’s, I think there’s going to be technology changes, of course, that will support that much better. Because the other thing that strikes me is the only way we can communicate at the moment is sat in front of your laptop. I don’t know whether we’re going to be wandering around with webcams on our heads like we have when we’re
JO LOCKWOOD- mobile phone.
KATE HEADLEY- We have got mobile phones, you have to hold a webcam on the helmet. Yeah. I don’t know whether we can do around that. But yeah, for some people, they need to get away from the screen for some people that openness.
JOANNE LOCKWOOD- I’m of that generation that remember file of faxes and
KATE HEADLEY- still got one. Yeah, the
JOANNE LOCKWOOD- I went on to a TMI for time management, international, electrical. But these are these time management courses. In the course you’ve got yourself a free Filofax with it with the course it taught you how to time manage. And one of the things you pick up from that is making sure you book meetings with yourself book space in your diary. So that it doesn’t look like you’re free. I used online diary tool. So I freely hand out my calendar link to get people to book meetings when it suits. And the only way I can do that is I have to put block time out in my diary, right I need that morning, I need that afternoon, I’ve got a I’ve got a rap time, I’ve got to do some work of it produce something. So I’ll put work gaps in my diary. And I’ll create personal gaps in my diary. So if I if I want to go do something, I’ll put a block and I, I did it we set a calendar up so you can’t book me before 10 o’clock on a Monday morning. And after three on a Friday. I deliberately set that up so that I know that I haven’t got to have an early start the Monday I like to finish on a Friday.
KATE HEADLEY – I mean talking time management, we need to wrap this up in a moment we’ve just really struck me with something because of course, the way most corporate organisations are working now is open diary management. So isn’t about allowing slots so that people can choose them. It’s that total transparency about what you’re doing when you’re doing it, because anybody can go into your diary. So maybe there is another way which I quite like. But in the interest of time we have run out of time. It’s been absolutely fantastic as always talking to you, Joanne and as you say if anybody wants to find your podcast series, tell our viewers again,
JO LOCKWOOD- inclusion bytes they’re on or Apple, iTunes, Spotify Deezer all the major channels I’ve registered with so look out for the red, the red plastic teeth. There was a little mini me on top. I also have a newsletter if you’d like to sign that up for that it’s called Inclusion Bites spotlight. It goes out weekly on a Thursday. And it shines a spotlight on interesting topics around DI so please sign up for that. So go to my website seechangehappen.co.uk This is doubly change happened at UK for spotlight and you can see the back issues and register if you want to get a newsletter to have you on the list. Thank you.
KATE HEADLEY- Well, I can only encourage people who are listening to get involved definitely and from the Clear Company podcast series as well. So the Let’s Be Clear podcast series can be found on most podcast platforms, including Spotify and Google podcasts and captioned versions are available on our YouTube channel at the Clear Company. So thanks for listening. I look forward to you listening to us again. Thanks very much indeed to Joanne Lockwood. It’s been my absolute pleasure to be with you this morning. Thank you.