- Our first in-house diversity and inclusion book festival helped staff challenge their perceptions and expand their horizons.
In November 2020, we held our first diversity and inclusion festival, Beyond Words. Covering a variety of important topics, we brought together a series of speakers and authors with the aim of informing, educating and challenging perceptions. This allowed for a safe environment where staff could discuss the events and books as well as tackle the conversations that people often shy away from.
With over 1,800 attendees across the sessions, and more than 1,300 books requested, staff were able to learn about the issues and share their own experiences.
Renowned business psychologist, John Amaechi led our keynote session on why diversity and inclusion is important in the business context, providing an overarching view on the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. Following the keynote session, nine authors provided insights on issues around mental health, neurodiversity, race, social mobility, dementia and gender.
- “The festival provided 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
Events included award-winning journalist and mental health campaigner, Bryony Gordon who shared her own mental health struggles with Laura Bates; MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist Akala discussed his experience of 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; award-winning science writer Steve Silberman gave us an insight into autism and the strengths of neurodiversity; professor of behavioural science Paul Dolan talked about the happiness myth with author Claudia Hammond; Juno Dawson shared her experience of transitioning with writer Damian Barr, and Wendy Mitchell gave a first-hand account of living with dementia.
The festival was closed with Booker Prize-winning author Bernadine Evaristo discussing the characters in Girl, Women, Other with Guardian Books Editor, Sian Cain.
Staff could request a copy of the books in exchange for a donation, raising over £2,500 for our 2020 charity of the year Edinburgh Women’s Aid.
We plan to continue the conversation when we hold another Beyond Words Festival in November 2021.