Diversity and inclusion

Beyond Words

Learn more about our diversity and inclusion book festival, which helps our staff challenge their perceptions and expand their horizons.

Beyond Words logo

Why do we do it?

Baillie Gifford places great value in hearing and learning from thought leaders 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.

Staff are at the heart of Beyond Words. Our employee-led networks were involved in selecting the shortlist of books that were featured during the festivals. By attending the author sessions and requesting books, staff have been able to support the great work of the authors, learn from others and share their own experiences. In addition, those who requested books were able to make a voluntary donation to our charity of the year.

Past festivals have included renowned business psychologist, John Amaechi, journalist and mental health campaigner, Bryony Gordon, comedian and presenter, Tom Allen, and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist Akala.

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 HamiltonPartner Sponsor, Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Group

2022 festival

We held our third diversity and inclusion festival, Beyond Words, in November 2022. It continues to be 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.

We were able to host our first hybrid festival, and welcomed a range of authors including:

  • Prof Nicola Rollock, one of the most influential experts on racial justice in Britain, discussed the hidden and often ignored acts of everyday racism.
  • ADHD advocate, Alana Reeves shared her experience of living with ADHD and being diagnosed as an adult.
  • Dr Tina Rae opened the conversation about young people’s mental health and why It's OK Not to be OK.
    Orwell prize winner, Darren McGarvey (aka LOKI) discussed social mobility in Britain.
  • We also heard from Dr Pragya Agarwal, behavioural and data scientist, who shared her research into gendered and misogynistic assumptions about male and female brains.
  • Toby Gutteridge, founder of extreme sports brand Bravery discussed finding courage, strength and the resilience following a life changing injury in Afghanistan.
Three people sat round a table with Human Library poster in the background

The Human Library

For 2022, we added an additional feature to our festival line up – the Human Library. This international organisation aims to tackle prejudice using a library analogy, by lending people rather than books. It aims to create a safe space for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between our human books and their readers. It was a safe place where difficult questions were expected, appreciated and answered.

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