December 7, 2022

2022 in Review - The Equal Group

As we close 2022 and look ahead to what 2023 may bring, some of our team shared their thoughts on the progress (or lack thereof) made in the EDI space this year.

2022 has been a year for development, not only for The Equal Group but for the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) space in general. In 2021, we saw more companies evaluate their EDI efforts, reflecting on their organisations both internally and externally. This year we have seen further improvements across the board as more companies and sectors have begun to work within the EDI sphere to understand what they could / should be doing. 

As we close 2022 and look ahead to what 2023 may bring, some of our team shared their thoughts on the progress (or lack thereof) made in the EDI space this year.

Human Rights & the Equality Act - Dan Holley, Associate Consultant 

This year workplaces have shown that legislation needn't be in place for people to just do the right thing.

There are concerns about the attempts to amend, or remove parts of, the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act 2010. They have protected vulnerable people from further harm, and have been a foundation upon which accountability exists for violations against any human being.

The proposed amendments thus far do not bring comfort, and suggest a removal of human rights for specific identities in British society, making it harder for them to simply live and exist comfortably. Alongside this, there is mention of ‘loosening the belt’ on Freedom of Speech. Whilst enabling healthy discourse is key to facilitating understanding, this should not be used as a justification to allow a divisive and non-inclusive narrative. 

What I hope to see is more of what we have already seen. Since the inception of the Equality Act 2010, and the rise of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion practices, workforces have become more comfortable, more productive, healthier, more vibrant and happier. There is, of course, more work to do, but I wish to see people stay the course, even if the law does not directly ask this of them.

Lionesses Lift the European Cup - Charlotte Lombardi-Whitehouse, Associate Consultant

This year, the Lionesses lifted the UEFA European Cup.

To see women lifting the European Cup, compounded to me how crucial representation and equal opportunity is, particularly when it comes to changing the world for our younger generations. To see a woman swinging her shirt around her head as she celebrated was enormous; a woman, with full ownership of her own body, celebrating its strength, skill and agility, without it being notarised as a display of sexuality and desire.

Before 1921, Women's professional leagues were pulling in crowds of 50k+. They were then banned from playing; it was seen as an “unladylike” sport. They were banned for 50 years, with the ban only being lifted in 1971. Let that sink in. What were your favourite teams achieving in 1971 after years of training, sponsorship and funding? What could the women have achieved with the same opportunities? 

The England Women’s Football Team were not given an equal opportunity to excel within their sport. They were told it's a man's game. They were wolf whistled. They were banned. They were laughed at. Well, Lionesses, whos' laughing now? 

2022 for The Equal Group - Allan Reid, Senior Consultant

2022 has been a rollercoaster at The Equal Group.. We've had some great wins, but equally as many challenges. 

I meet people working in this field that have been doing it for 20-30 years, yet it is still very much an emerging sector. This could mean that we get to shape the landscape alongside the clients we work with, but it also means everyone else can project their own expectations onto practitioners, companies and sectors.

This presents a number of challenges. 

Challenge #1. Client expectations.

Clients expect data and case studies that, for the most part, aren’t readily available. It’s taken 19 months to get any sort of understanding on Ethnicity and Religion from the 2021 census, the most complete but now out-of-date understanding we have available. And we still don’t have a reliable understanding of gender identity, sexuality or disability representation.

As for case studies, this is still an emerging sector, most of the available case studies are either somewhat superficial or from consultancies (like us) sharing their successes. I firmly believe we learn more through failure than success, and a case study that doesn't talk about the struggles or failures will not help our clients. It is also worth pointing out that most success in this area can’t truly be measured in weeks and months, but rather years and decades.

We also need to facilitate a clear understanding of where clients  are regarding their EDI efforts and where they should be. This often involves us pointing out where they don’t have data or where they have missed key issues by not doing intersectional analysis. Challenging the client is rarely easy, particularly when you’re pointing out potential areas of discrimination within their organisation.

Challenge #2 and possibly my biggest challenge, was adapting our knowledge around equity and inclusion to redesign and enhance established HR processes. For example, for one project, we identified gaps in the process and the areas where additional EDI understanding was needed, we developed robust and extensive training for the client, and we created a new service delivery option that we can replicate for all of our clients. Perhaps this is a win? Though the late nights and constant redrafting definitely felt like a challenge.

As with all previous years, we've had some very challenging projects, but without those challenges, we'd never really have any wins. Those challenging projects have pushed us to question our delivery capability, evolve our provision and be better at what we do. Through our collaborative partnerships with clients, we will get to shape how this sector evolves over the next decade and beyond - and for me, that's the biggest win.

Closing Statement - David Thorne, Chair

2022 has been a year of consolidation and growth for The Equal Group. Consolidation insofar as we’ve deepened our relationships with existing clients, building on the quality and value of our initial assignments. And growth with many new clients across the public; private; and third sectors. Our revenue has increased by over 70% and we are now a team of 17 permanently employed people, who have a passion and drive to transform the workplace.    

Our focus for 2023 is to bring to market an EDI platform that will deliver relevant, insightful, and actionable data for organisations to make informed, impactful decisions to foster inclusive, productive work environments.  All of us here at The Equal Group are excited about the opportunities for planned, evidenced change that this platform will bring. We want to work alongside the organisations striving for real change and help make it happen, for the benefit of all in the workplace and society as a whole. Bring on 2023!

Depending on whether you celebrate the festive season or not, we wish you a wonderful Rohatsu, Pancha Ganapati, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ōmisoka, or New Year!