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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

The key to unlocking inclusivity is continual learning

By Daniel Davis

Upon entering the workforce, I thought that everything would be structured top-down, initiated and managed by a senior team member who would train me in all things communications and public relations.

Instead, what I’ve found is that my colleagues and I are continually learning from one another – regardless of age, level or years of experience. This sense of two-way learning goes beyond the day-to-day client work – it’s core to our culture of collaboration and teamwork, and is built into the fabric of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

Continued, long-term learning has been core to Evoke KYNE’s DE&I strategy since it was established in 2018; the goal has been to form a better understanding of one another to help foster an inclusive environment. When I first heard about the company’s DE&I programme upon joining in late 2019, now comprised of a 40+ person committee across our five offices, I was eager to join.

Since then, I have been invested in DE&I efforts not only at Evoke KYNE, but also within my personal life. During Pride month, a time to celebrate the different and unique members of the LGBTQI+ community, I am reflecting on what I believe are the essential learnings to creating more inclusive spaces at work and in life.

Learning 1 – foster an environment of openness, honesty and curiosity

The first step of any DE&I initiative is talking. If you are not in an environment where you can speak openly about your own community and identity, it can be challenging to be vulnerable and empathise with others.

I will always remember the numerous in-depth conversations I had with colleagues and friends on the topic of transgender identities and why some genuinely did not understand why certain remarks by a fantasy author were hurtful to the trans community and their allies.

Several friends told me they were not willing to engage on these topics at work as they feared that if they did, it would damage their working relationships. It was a realisation that opened my eyes to the importance of creating open spaces where people feel comfortable having frank conversations, no matter their views.

Learning 2 – provide learning forums to nurture better understanding

One reason why many people, including myself, can find it intimidating to engage in DE&I-related conversations is the fear of saying the wrong thing.

While this fear is understandable, we must all lean into our discomfort because this is where learning and growth happens. To help address such fears, we have organised global and regional opportunities for broader learning and understanding in the form of unconscious bias and inclusivity in leadership training.

Learning 3 – create platforms for people to celebrate and share their identities

To me, this is the most important element. Everyone has an identity, and everyone should have an equal opportunity to feel proud about it.

As an openly gay Jew, I have often disclosed my identity early on to help establish connections with new colleagues or friends. Being able to do this in a way that helped educate my colleagues while showcasing the pride for my identity truly allowed me to put my best foot forward.

Motivated by a previous panel for US Black History Month, and under the direction of our Head of DE&I, Chanta’ Stewart, I was inspired to bring a community to light that few people have the opportunity to meet.

We created a live panel discussion on ‘Gender Identity and its Impact on Healthcare and the Workplace’ with three speakers from diverse backgrounds, to help dispel myths and learn from them how our work, and our company can be more inclusive for those in the LGBTQI+ community.

Building on the event’s success, we continued this interactive learning through a lunch & learn to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and brief quizzes to celebrate Passover and Pride month.

Learning 4 – encourage continual learning and self-improvement

While these larger activities provide opportunities for in-depth conversation and learning, it’s also important to create time, space and forums for continual learning and education.

That’s why we have established company-wide communications channels where colleagues can share advice, articles and resources, and engage in conversations with one another on a variety of topics. We have also created a quarterly newsletter that has covered inclusivity around religious holidays, Black Lives Matter, gender identity and much more.

Since the initiation of our DE&I programme at Evoke KYNE, I have seen a massive impact and willingness from employees across the globe to have simple and honest conversations.

Since opening up about my identity, several colleagues have approached me to tell me how they are now more comfortable sharing their own identities and traditions. I am optimistic that through simple actions of openness, honesty and curiosity from one another, we can all help create a space where people can live as their authentic selves each and every day.

Evoke KYNE is an award-winning communications agency that harnesses insight, experience and creativity to advance health and wellbeing around the world.

Daniel Davis is a Senior Account Executive at Evoke KYNE

Daniel Davis is a Senior Account Executive at Evoke KYNE

24th June 2021

From: PME

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