Learn more about our diversity and inclusion book festival, which helps our staff challenge their perceptions and expand their horizons.
We held our second diversity and inclusion festival, Beyond Words, in November 2021 and it is fast becoming an annual event with the addition of a series of short podcasts. The festival is an opportunity for us to learn, explore and better understand the many facets that make up who we are, as individuals, and to celebrate our differences.
Baillie Gifford places great value in hearing and learning from distinguished thinkers and authors who can challenge our thinking, broaden our horizons, and generate new ideas. Through personal experience, years of research, and award-winning storytelling, the festival is a chance for our staff to hear from respected journalists and academics, comedians and activists, and prize-winning authors. It’s an opportunity to learn more about people, hear other points of view, and discuss in a safe environment the things that we often shy away from.
With over 1,800 engagements across the sessions and more than 1,900 books requested, staff were able to learn about the issues and share their own experiences.
- “The festival provides the opportunity for teams, managers and colleagues to hear from authors and then discuss topics that would previously have been unlikely in a work setting.”Kathrin Hamilton, Partner Sponsor
Highlights from the two festivals included renowned business psychologist, John Amaechi on why diversity and inclusion is important in the business context; award-winning journalist and mental health campaigner, Bryony Gordon who shared her experience with mental health; MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist Akala discussed racism and class division; barrister Hashi Mohamed shared his story of growing up in the UK as an unaccompanied refugee and the social barriers he faced; Juno Dawson shared her experience of transitioning; Owen O’Kane explored how we all can be happier; Kate Power and Kathy Forsyth championed the brilliance of the dyslexic mind with comedian Marcus Brigstocke; Tom Allen and Amelia Abraham celebrated queerness; Wendy Mitchell gave a first-hand account of living with dementia; and professional wheelchair tennis player, Gordon Reid, told his story of overcoming adversity to become one of the UK’s most successful athletes.
Adam Rutherford, Laura Bates, Cerrie Burnell and Gelong Thubten also took part in our Beyond Words Short Stories podcast series, discussing their research and personal experiences.
Both festivals were closed with two of our most celebrated fiction writers, Booker Prize winner Bernadine Evaristo discussing the characters in Girl, Women, Other and Elif Shafak exploring how we stay sane in an age of division.
Staff could request a copy of the books and make a voluntary donation to our Charity of the Year, so far raising in excess of £6,000 for our 2020 and 2021 charities.
We plan to continue the conversation when we hold another Beyond Words Festival in 2022.