D&I at The Lab : Workplace Attitudes

type - features
category - gender
category - society
category - workplace
sector - diversity & inclusion
category - d&i at the lab
In the second edition of our Diversity & Inclusion at The Lab series, the team here at The Future Laboratory explore the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for workplace attitudes

The world of work experienced a number of life-threatening shocks over the last year. But rather than the patient being DOA, there’s a new-found life and energy in the conversations around work-life balance, remote working and culture in the workplace. But many friends, colleagues and family members may also find themselves in the precarious position of now being out of work, possibly for the first time in their career.

The interruption of Covid-19 and the disruption of BLM activism offers employees and employers a unique moment to consider how we collectively want our workplaces of the future to truly reflect us and also to present more equitable working environments for all in the future.

We hope you find the following insights in workplace attitudes insightful and stimulating and provoke deeper conversation and a broader understanding of the challenges ahead – both collectively as a cadre and individually as professionals.

This is the second 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:

3 June 2021

Author: Chris Sanderson and Gursharan Panesar

Image: Interiors of the office building for Medibank designed by Hassel, Melbourne



Momo Amjad, senior strategic researcher :
Transformative Recruitment Blog

With acceleration in the equality, diversity and inclusion conversations as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year, it’s clear now more than ever that businesses need to be significantly more open and willing to push for a complete cultural transformation.

As one of the D&I coaches at The Future Laboratory, I believe that inclusion should be an investment. Businesses should not just be making their workplaces inclusive – they should be making workplaces accessible and looking at what they are doing to prioritise marginalised voices in the team. Here are some of the key steps that our business is taking.

‘‘Businesses must consider the systemic influences and barriers that continue to hold generations of marginalised groups back.’
Momo Amjad, senior strategic researcher, The Future Laboratory
Star Trek : Discovery

Martin Farrington, head of IT & Martin Raymond, co-founder :
Star Trek & workplace pronouns

The best kind of science fiction tells you what could be and should be. And Star trek, the original series, and its many spin-offs, does just that. Especially its latest incarnation, Star Trek: Discovery.

It handles the subject of non-binary pronouns so smooth and effortlessly without making a big deal about it. Just a character with one line among many saying they never feel much like a he or a she but were more comfortable with They or Them – and it’s not mentioned again. And that’s just one example of many.

There’s also science specialist Michael Burnham, who has a man’s name, but she’s a woman. She’s human, but raised as a Vulcan. She’s also in love with Ash, an albino Klingon, who undergoes transformative surgery so that he can present as human.

Hugh Culber, the ships’ Afro-Puerto Rican medical officer, is married to his husband, Stamets. Adira, who is non-binary, bonds with Stamets and Culber, while Gray, a trans person that has spent their life accommodating an alien species that lives in different hosts over their lifetime. And yet, all of this is mere background to the ship’s many adventures, rather than the reason for the adventures themselves.

But all – as with every Star Trek adventure – are about transformation, self-knowledge, the understanding that what lives with us all, no matter how alien, it seems to some, is really the essence of our humanity. Or, as the name of the latest series suggest, the path to true Discovery.

Worth boldly going.

Sophie, senior production planner :
Neurodiversity and the creative industries

Here is a handbook published by Universal Music beginning of this year covering how organisations can begin to embrace neurodiversity in the creative industries and throughout many industries.

‘The understanding that what lives with us all, no matter how alien, it seems to some, is really the essence of our humanity’

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Alena Joyette, senior account manager :
Black in The Workplace

I highly recommend everyone look at this panel discussion hosted by the UK Youth Charity about being black in the workplace. A few key take-outs include how the panellists were made to feel that they did not deserve to be in the workplace and that being there was a privilege, insufficient opportunities and representations, having to conform to be accepted, and the barriers and challenges POC face comparatively to the wider organisation.

Ethel’s Club, Brooklyn

Gursharan, graduate trainee :
Emphasising the importance of mental wellness in the workplace

Dealing with a year full of health challenges and collective grieving is taking a toll on employee mental wellbeing. Its hopeful to see the rise in workplace initiatives that focus on reducing employee stress ranging from virtual therapy and resilience training videos. A report by learning platform, Udemy for business saw a 4000% increase in logged hours for courses that teach anxiety management. Specifically seeing a 784% increase in hours spent on mindfulness courses and 884% in hours learning meditation. As we move past this year and deal with future stressors, an emphasis on the importance of mental wellness in the workplace is imperative for the protection of employees.

Fiona, people director :
Disability equality in the workplace

Momo and me recently attended WECIL’s disability equality training. WECIL is a user-led organisation dedicated to supporting independent living to create a more inclusive society. During the session we looked at attitudes towards people with disabilities. The feedback showed that people often see those with disabilities as a victim to be coddled or a problem to be ignored. One of the best learns from the session was around solidarity. People with disabilities will never be fully equal to those without disabilities and so the best thing to do is establish relationships built on foundations of solidarity and respect.

‘The best thing to do is establish relationships built on foundations of solidarity and respect.’
Fiona Anderson, people director, The Future Laboratory
Left : Leo, e-reading platform. Right : Anxy Magazine, US

Sophie Boldog, junior strategist :
Improving office spaces for neurodivergent employees

Neurodivergent people are those with varying brain functions, including individuals on the autism spectrum, and individuals with ADHD or dyslexia, as well as those with anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD. The office can prove to be an unproductive space for the neurodiverse community, with many feeling overwhelmed with excessive noise resulting in panic attacks. Rob Austin, professor of information systems at Ivey Business School suggests that environmental changes such as softer colours, natural lighting, more greenery and creating quiet zones or even giving employees noise-cancelling headphones, will make a huge difference in productivity and comfortability for those who are sensorially sensitive. Such modifications will benefit the entire workforce as it encourages a larger conversation about one’s needs.


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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