As a team, FCDO Services believe in creating a culture of conscious inclusion. It means we actively strive to make sure that everyone feels included – that every individual of every background and culture feels heard and celebrated for what they bring to our team.
It’s a goal that means a lot to us – and it means a lot to the wider Civil Service too. In fact, this year is the Civil Service Year of Inclusion, with all kinds of government bodies coming together to mark what we’ve achieved so far; to celebrate our people; and to set new goals for the Civil Service to continue to be a great place to work.
With that as the backdrop, we went into this year’s National Inclusion Week ready to make it one to remember, full of celebration and commitment to creating a supportive environment. As some of our senior colleagues put it:
“National Inclusion Week is a time for reflection and celebration of our achievement, as well as an ideal opportunity to maintain awareness and promote the benefits of an inclusive working environment.” – Co-Chair of the Wellbeing and Listening Network
“This week is a way of celebrating inclusivity, reminding everyone that we all have our part to play to encourage each other and recognise and support difference.” – Head of Commercial Management
But what did we aim to achieve in the week? Well, as a team, we’d embrace this year’s theme, ‘Each One, Reach One’, and create new connections with colleagues across the organisation. Involving both our own diversity networks and those we share with the FCDO, we’d celebrate every culture, every background, every identity within our organisation – and because of 2020, we’d aim to do it online.
In fact, in many ways, that’s what made this week so important. In a year where colleagues may be more remote from each other, inclusion is more important now than ever. As our Talent Outreach Lead told us, “this week is a chance to highlight all the good work that happens every day, as well as exploring some of the challenges and having the opportunity to connect with someone else.”
So, how exactly did the week play out? Well, we kicked off with a live-streamed panel discussion, focused on the importance of tolerance and open-mindedness. In this moving and memorable session, we explored the idea that the strongest and most successful teams are the ones where every individual feels free to express themselves, to live and work without fear, and to play an active role within their team. And that’s exactly what makes inclusion so important to colleagues who attended the event:
“Inclusion is important to me personally, because it enables people to be their authentic selves without fear of recrimination. That enables them to be the best version of themselves, to be successful and to be happy.” – Colleague
“Inclusivity creates a feeling of unity and team spirit, which makes for a happier workplace, where staff feel invested in their work and empowered to come forward with ideas, voice their concerns, and support each other.” – Operations Manager
Then, on Thursday, our central event was the Civil Service’s full-day cross-government launch of Black History Month. With panel discussions, fireside chats, and creative sessions, it was a day packed with vital thought leadership, and celebration of the Black British community.
As well as speakers and panellists, this week was also about enabling personal connections. That’s why we also ran a whole series of informal sessions, from an LGBT+ virtual coffee morning; to an information session with our Mental Health First Aiders; to an online cake and chat event organised by the FCDO Parents of Children with Disabilities Network. At every turn, we aimed to help colleagues get to know both like-minds and allies, growing everyone’s support network. In the words of our Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, “We all gain and grow through this rich, two-way communication, both as colleagues and as individuals.” At the same time, we also offered a variety of practical training sessions, so that colleagues could be better equipped to support one another every day. Our popular Managing Good Mental Health and Wellbeing session, for instance, helped attendees to recognise, understand, support and promote good mental health. As our Apprentice Manager and one of our Mental Health First Aiders points out, it was also a good opportunity ‘to highlight that inclusivity is broad, supporting every aspect of our individual identity.’
As the week drew to a close, it was important to look ahead to what we’ll do next and provide our teams with ample ways to continue their learning. From providing educational resources to promoting sign-ups to our interactive Dignity at Work workshop, we know that the work to maintain an inclusive environment will continue far beyond this week.
Ultimately, that’s the real message we’ve all taken away with us: inclusivity takes a conscious effort on everybody’s part. We have to stay conscious of each other’s needs, keep listening to each other’s perspectives, and keep learning how to support one another every day.
“Workplace inclusion is important to me personally, professionally, and morally. Personally, because it’s always great to be part of a supportive team. Professionally, because inclusive teams work better and solve problems quicker. And morally, because it’s just the right thing to do. Inclusion can be tough to achieve but the benefits are huge.” Regional Director for Asia Pacific
For more on what we do to create an inclusive team here at FCDO Services, take a look at our Diversity and Inclusion page.