D&I at The Lab : Belonging

type - features
category - gender
category - society
category - workplace
sector - diversity & inclusion
category - d&i at the lab
Welcome to the first of our Diversity & Inclusion at The Lab series. This edition supports our overarching aim – to become a business that not only embraces diversity and includes under-represented groups, but also positively represents them

Our aim is most clearly demonstrated by our adoption of the latest moniker for those that we often choose to abuse, marginalise or ignore: PGM.

We appreciate that at times this can be a lexicographical landscape seemingly fraught with PC minefields and fast-moving boundaries, but we believe PGM is a term that is here to stay for some time. The change from BAME to POC to PGM – People of the Global Majority – marks a radical shift in terms of thinking and positioning, recognising that the very groups we have to date regarded as ‘other’ or ‘minority’ in reality make up 80% of our planet’s population – historically and systematically disenfranchised and extorted by a white minority. PGM proactively recognises this imbalance and seeks to re-address it in no uncertain terms, shifting the focus from positive recognition to affirmative action.  

As profoundly important as PGM is, our Diversity & Inclusion aims at The Future Laboratory are broader than ethnicity, embracing diversity in all of its myriad manifestations.

The theme of this roundup is belonging. Our need to feel part of a family, a group, a community, a fellowship – however we describe it – is an integral part of being human. And yet, just as much as we use social groups to bring us together and provide meaning and support, we also use them to divide and exclude, and the structural boundaries and social barriers we create often preclude belonging for many marginalised groups. 

We hope to keep you informed, engaged and inspired by a diverse selection of D&I-related news and features content. 

All of the contributions are from members of The Future Laboratory team. In this edition, we look at various projects, pieces of research and individuals around belonging. We hope you find this a thought-provoking and engaging read, and that it stimulates your reading and interest in the topics shared.

This is the first in the D&I at The Lab series. Stay tuned for upcoming articles. You can also read more on our post-urgency approach to diversity and inclusion, our approaches to Trans Inclusion and how we’re transforming the way we recruit.

Published by:

19 May 2021

Author: Chris Sanderson and Gursharan Panesar

Image: Breathing Room, a Black-led creative coalition of volunteers promoting the message of taking room to breath amid anxieties many Black communities face by Joshua Kissi​


REJECT, official trailer

Alena Joyette, senior business development manager :
An Examination of Social Rejection

Reject is a film that outlines the role of rejection in our lives. It sheds light on various societal issues that show how we enable and even support rejecting those who are different.

The findings shared in the film, from social and biological scientists, and first-hand accounts from children and their families, lead us on a journey from rejection to acceptance. 

The documentary invites us to re-evaluate our own actions; we learn how our behaviours can create negative outcomes for the people experiencing rejection, while also sharing the importance of providing an environment of belonging and acceptance.

‘We learn how our behaviours can create negative outcomes for the people experiencing rejection, while also sharing the importance of providing an environment of belonging and acceptance.’
Alena Joyette, senior business development manager and D&I coach, The Future Laboratory
Julia Samuel, Grief Works

Rachel Wilson, senior strategic foresight writer :
Accepting Grief

National Grief Awareness Week (NGAW) was conceived in 2019 to help promote conversations about grief, particularly during the festive season, which can be incredibly tricky for those who are missing someone important. The campaign hopes to try to normalise grief and get people talking about this typically uncomfortable subject on a national platform.

For anyone struggling with grief or wanting to know more about how to support those who are grieving, Julia Samuel’s Grief Works is highly recommended. 

Chris Sanderson, co-founder :
Discovering Shared History and Making a Drama
Out of a Tragedy

The Being Human Festival goes right to the heart of what it means to belong, contextualising society and the role that individuals play in shaping, forming and informing social history.

The National Youth Theatre’s latest work in progress, Freedom and Revolution, forces us to re-assess our deeply myopic view of our shared cultural history and to better understand the role that ethnic minorities played in shaping our future, by exploring the story of a group of French and French-Caribbean prisoners of war who were held at Portchester Castle in 1807 and performed a historical drama tackling how enslaved people of African descent fought for their freedom on Haiti in 1793.

‘Flexible working hours give employees the opportunity to define their own working pattern whether it’s influenced by home-schooling, mental health needs or circadian rhythms’

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Fiona Anderson, people director :
Debunking Myths Around Autism 

There are many myths surrounding autism spectrum disorder that contribute to people who have the condition often feeling isolated. The world simply isn’t wired for people who have autism, from sensory overload in public spaces to the exaggerated portrayal of savant autism in film and media.  

Perhaps the most common misconception that contributes to feelings of loneliness and alienation among people with autism is that they do not desire love and affection, which is why Love On The Spectrum provides such an important perspective, debunking some of the most common myths around autism.

Jan Morris, Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Martin Raymond, co-founder :
Knowing Your Place

Travel writer Jan Morris died recently aged 94. Morris, in case you didn’t know her, reached Everest base camp at 22,000 feet in 1953 to report Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit. She was also a great war reporter, political commentator and indeed fought with distinction in World War II.  

As a travel writer she conjured up a sense of belonging – and belonging to cities which always seemed to occupy and transmit as she saw it, a sense of otherness – belonging as non-belonging.

Morris wrote a book called Conundrum in which she wrote: ‘I was three or perhaps four years old when I realised that I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl.’

This book, a travel book of a different sort – describes why Jan Morris belonged, and why James Morris, military officer, climber, historian, journalist and writer, was in fact a conundrum, a body, like a place she had been born into but had no lingering desire to stay with. So, like all great travellers, she moved on, made as she put it, her own nowhere, a place of somewhere.

Momo Amjad, senior strategic researcher :
Representation as Truth

When media, research and insights no longer represent or include marginalised and diverse groups, it becomes a flawed version of the truth that only continues to serve an oppressive status quo. As researchers, it continues to fall on us to ensure that we are not only reflecting the changing demographics and shifting values, but also driving the conversation for ourselves and our clients in a way that feels equitable and just.

‘So, like all great travellers, she moved on, made as she put it, her own nowhere, a place of somewhere.’
Martin Raymond, co-founder, The Future Laboratory
B-Sides by @free.yard commissioned by Brent Biennial

Gursharan Panesar, graduate trainee :
Including Young People in the Design of London’s
Public Spaces

The Blueprint Collective is a collective of 100 participants aged 15–24 based in the London borough of Brent who are challenging the current ways that public spaces are being designed. For its latest campaign, they have collaborated with Brent Youth Parliament to host workshops and activities, and created the Blueprint Charter, a rallying cry for young people to be included in the design of public places in Wembley Park and Brent. For many people aged 15 and older, they are often too old to socialise with friends at children’s parks, and with knife crime rampant in these areas, they believe in creating age-appropriate and safe spaces for their generation as an outlet for an often-forgotten age group.


Want to read more?

This article is part of our Diversity & Inclusion work at The Future Laboratory. Explore our work on D&I on our blog and discover what steps we are taking to make a better tomorrow happen.

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