Over the last 12 months, we have globally witnessed enormous social upheaval and change. The world as we know it will never be the same again, and we’re now faced with decisions on how we choose to act moving forward, as individuals, as communities, and as businesses.
30Acres has recently started the journey towards B Corp Certification, and with these societal issues more prevalent than ever, it felt appropriate to begin this journey with Diversity and Inclusion Training.
While we like to think of ourselves as a pretty progressive bunch, we know everyone has their biases and blind spots - born from our experiences, context and beliefs. Whether we realise it or not, sometimes those biases or blindspots manifest in non-inclusive ways. This is referred to as Implicit Bias.
For our team, it’s not so much about proving that racism, sexism, ageism, etc. exists - we know that already. We’re also not interested in tokenism for the sake of it. Our D&I sessions are intended to be more about how we can foster inclusivity to create better products and services, and to give our team the tools to become better allies.
The first step is the willingness to do the work to understand yourself and others. This means examining yourself and your own biases and lens. Be interested in how other people see the world by actively connecting with others, read books/magazines/news written by and representing different cultures and identities, watch films you wouldn’t choose, expose yourself to otherness.
In our first D&I session we watched a TED Talk by Valerie Alexander. It goes without saying that you need to watch it, and you can do so here (approx. 17 mins). Valerie is an author, writer, director, entrepreneur, and a “globally-recognised speaker on the topics of happiness in the workplace, the advancement of women, and unconscious bias”. Impressed? Prior to all this she was also a securities lawyer, an investment banker, the Vice President of Business Development for two Internet companies, and a screenwriter and film director. To summarise; she is an absolute powerhouse and inspiration, thus who better to inspire us this International Women’s Day?
Valerie Alexander’s TED Talk was released during a time of upheaval in the tech industry - tech companies have been facing enormous backlash for their treatment of women and their ‘recruitment biases’. As the CEO of a tech company herself, Valerie has experienced this bias firsthand with potential investors and partners reacting poorly to finding a woman in a position of power.
Her TED Talk talks us through how our unconscious bias works, demonstrated using relatable daily scenarios and applying scientific explanations to the responses our brains generate when faced with something unfamiliar. These unconscious responses are what have kept our species alive all these millions of years.
So what happens when we’re looking into the face of the unfamiliar? In short, our brains trigger a stress response that occurs in a matter of milliseconds (long before we’re able to consciously decide how we want to feel about it). *cue rapid heart rate & sweaty palms*
In her talk, Valerie walks us through a few visualisations to reflect on what images our brain generates based on some very ordinary scenarios. Why? Our brains are wired to create images based on what is familiar to us, so when we’re asked to visualise being at a conference where a CEO of a large tech company walks on stage, most of us are going to acknowledge that we visualised a man in that position. The unfortunate reality of our society is that the majority of tech companies have historically been run by men. In fact, most CEOs globally are predominantly men.
While the fight for gender equality looks very different to how it did decades ago, sexual harassment and violence, unequal laws, discrimination in the workplace, and more, are still very much a part of our day-to-day society. International Women’s Day, celebrated on the 8th of March each year, is a day for us to reflect on these issues and continue to advocate for women’s rights and equality.
What has been a tumultuous year for all of us, has had a significantly negative and regressive impact on gender equality. Women, who make up 39% of global employment, are 1.8 times more likely to face job vulnerability due to the crisis. Why? A significant factor for this is the disproportionate representation of genders across industries, with sectors that are dominated by women being the most negatively affected during the pandemic.
To add salt to the wound, when the pandemic saw the forced closure of childcare facilities, the burden of these tasks seemed to regress back to the mentality that this responsibility was that of the mother figure. This trend wasn’t exclusive to those who lost their jobs; women that still maintained full-time employment were also expected to balance this - an expectation that is so deeply ingrained in our society that the regression almost felt... natural.
It’s easy to feel disheartened after seeing setbacks like these, but it’s more important than ever that we continue to fight and advocate for equality.
There are numerous inspiring organisations that are tackling these issues head on, and are a great resource to get inspired and involved. A few of our top picks that focus on increasing opportunities in the workforce, are:
Interested in how ecommerce businesses and brands can become more diverse and inclusive? Blog post on this topic coming soon! Watch this space…