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Equity, diversity and inclusion for all

Jemma Shead, a Senior Biomedical Scientist at Synnovis and IBMS EDI Working Group member, on how and why you should get involved with EDI.

Medical Science Laboratory with Diverse Multi-Ethnic Team of Microbiology Scientists Have Meeting on Developing Drugs, Medicine, Doing Biotechnology Research-CREDIT_istock-1293772951

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) activities are initiatives that promote awareness, understanding, and respect for diversity within the workplace. They help to foster inclusion in the workplace so that employees from different backgrounds feel valued, safe and respected.

EDI activities have evolved and expanded enormously over the last few years. EDI now features in the HCPC Standards of Practice (2023), the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio, and in most job descriptions. However, one specific question I frequently hear from fellow scientists is: “How do I get more involved?”

This article suggests how to be actively and meaningfully engaged, regardless of your background or previous experience. Ultimately, anyone can (and should) participate, so here are a few ideas to achieve this, based on my experience.

If participating in EDI activities is new to you, self-reflection and background reading to expand knowledge and awareness can be a good place to start. Take stock of your current understanding, evaluate personal biases and highlight specific areas of interest. Numerous information sources already exist and are readily available – see if your employer has e-learning units or search for free introductory courses, podcasts or YouTube recordings to outline key EDI topics of discussion and challenges. Libraries often have EDI sections, with ranges of materials that can be less overwhelming to peruse than a web search.

Several IBMS articles have been published in this magazine that highlight some of the current issues and often include a personal element.

It can also be helpful to discuss what you learn with colleagues and be open to hearing others’ experiences, as this can lead to additional resource recommendations. Local IBMS branches and online events also feature EDI topics.

EDI advocacy, support and allyship does not need to be complex, dependent on a job or volunteer role, or limited to the workplace. It can consist of listening to others’ lived experiences with openness and respect. Identifying opportunities for improving equity can be as simple as challenging stereotypical beliefs or inappropriate language use, and supporting others in being heard and included in every aspect of the workplace. Your unique experiences, skills and knowledge are also extremely valuable. Consider sharing what you learn, or your personal EDI experiences through presentations or professional communications and encourage others to expand their education and engagement too.

Your local HR department or union will have information regarding what activities may be available, such as employee network/resource groups in your workplace or community, and consider actively contributing to these. They can also be a fantastic resource if you require discrimination support and advice.

Simply attending EDI events can be very rewarding and educational. In addition, consider identifying key skills or attributes you may possess and be able to actively contribute. If suitable activities or groups do not exist, consider finding like-minded individuals and creating them yourself. 

EDI activities are a fantastic opportunity for networking and personal growth and can contribute to CPD and professional development. Completing reflective practice on EDI activities is an excellent way to review your own contribution and identify further learning or activities to engage with in future.

Image credit | iStock

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