LGBT History Month - Alastair
Why is diversity really, really, important to me.
First of all, I’d like to say that it is a huge honour to be asked to write an article to celebrate LGBT History Month, and I’d particularly like to thank Louise (Beale) and the Association for giving me this opportunity.
Honoured? Yes, I am absolutely thrilled, as I’d never been asked to do something like this before and I feel very, very, passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion.
I can’t (and wouldn’t) claim to be an expert in equality, diversity and inclusion, but I am a great believer in trying to learn and to strengthen the sense of ‘belonging’.
I try to imagine how it would feel if I was ‘in their shoes’, I celebrate not having colleagues who are a ‘bunch of robots’ and making sure that what we do passes the ‘red face test’. These phrases will be well known to the people who work with me, and to those who know me best.
When asked to write this article, I thought long and hard about why I feel so strongly about this, and (after some soul searching) I think it probably began in my family home in the North of Scotland (almost half a century ago) long before I knew anything about equality, diversity and inclusion. My Mother and Father were very down to earth, working-class parents, had faced some challenges in their lives (as we all do), attended Church regularly and tried to live their lives doing ‘what was right’. I saw my parents making everyone feel very welcome in our home, and at that time I would have described some of our visitors as being very ‘different’ from me/us, but my parents got great satisfaction from making them feel welcome, generating almost an ‘inner peace’ – it’s something I try to reflect on regularly.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, I remember (vividly) being bullied at Primary School (by being ‘sent to Coventry’, and excluded, by people I called ‘friends’), and I’ll never, ever, forget how horrible it was and how it made me feel completely miserable (as I was a bit different). I don’t want others to feel like that.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a conventional thinker. Far from it, I tend to think a bit differently – I feel this really helps me, especially when it leads to constructive discussion and debate. I think (hope!) I have mellowed with age, and I really try not to make the same mistakes more than once. I guess we are all human, and we all make mistakes every now and again….
I try to view ‘diversity’ as a way of describing how we positively celebrate our differences, to create a sense of ‘belonging’. Truly understanding and embracing these differences, whether they relate to age, disability, gender, sexual orientation etc, or just people’s decision-making preferences, or whether they demonstrate introvert or extrovert tendencies, or many other aspects, is the key to creating this sense of belonging. Many (different) views are better than one, and it may be that the ‘lone voice’ has the best solution. Also, importantly, it’s the ‘right’ thing to do.
I was lucky to attend the Police Scotland/SPA ‘Your Leadership Matters’ Programme last year, and it would be fair to say that it was outstanding. I learnt so much, and reflect deeply on this learning regularly. Some of the personal stories which were shared by colleagues really, really, ‘touched’ me – this emphasised the importance of the following:
Having the courage to do the right thing.
Leading and learning inclusively
Collaborating for growth
‘Belonging’ is the name of our bi-monthly ED&I newsletter in Forensic Services and I hope it gives a sense of what we are doing locally. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion sub-group has a fantastic mix of staff, managers, supervisors, scientists, scene examiners, business support staff and really brilliant colleagues from the Diversity Staff Associations (including Scottish LGBTI Police Association).
Why do I mention this? Because many, many, people on this sub-group inspire me, in one way or another (and they don’t realise it). It may be their positivity, or their stoic nature when faced with a disability, or their commitment to champion the work of their Association, or that they have had a challenging upbringing which has helped shape them into the person they are, or simply because they have volunteered to help make a difference – the energy is this group is immense, and I am extremely proud to be part of it, celebrating our diversity.
True diversity is achieved when a company’s employee base represents the society in which it lives.
I am proud of the advancements that we have made, but it’s clear that we have more to do (and that is not a criticism of Forensic Services, which I believe is a great place to work, to work with, and to visit.)
Chair of the Forensic Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion sub-group