Paul Deemer, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers, kick-started our first D&I 2.0 event of 2019, leading an open discussion surrounding how to make our workplaces more inclusive, embracing diversity and various leadership challenges. Here, Paul looks at the reoccurring significance of circles that came up during the session. 

As I reflect on the themes and ideas that emerged from our Diversity and Inclusion 2.0 roundtable at Common Purpose in February, I realize there was actually just one – circles! Yes, circles. Not what we were expecting, I’m sure, but actually very logical and here’s why…

We began the session by talking about a couple of thinking models which both had a circular theme. The first was Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, which is a technique to get people to focus on the real nub of an issue or, as he would call it, the ‘why’. The second thinking model we discussed was the Five Why’s technique, which uses a circular interrogative technique in order to get to the core of a problem. The theory (which we tested during the roundtable and which worked incredibly well) is that if you ask up to five ‘why’ questions relevant to any particular issue you are experiencing, you will eventually got to the ‘real’ question you must ask yourself. Try it!

Following this, the core of our conversation veered very much towards intersectionality and the commonalities between the different aspects of diversity within organizational culture. We began to draw concentric circles, in a theoretical way, overlapping and overlaying each other. The interesting conclusion from the discussion was that the common factor in all of those areas was culture; specifically that the extent to which progress could be made in any aspect of diversity was very much dependent on there being a conducive and supportive culture, which enabled and empowered such progress.

But the final circle, which for me was the most powerful, was made after the meeting when I was talking to one of the delegates. He said to me that the thing he most remembered from the conversation was my reference to diversity being about life. And that is something that I say often and truly believe! Namely, that diversity is very much about the circle of life – an integral part of our day-to-day existence. Maybe it’s just me but I see and feel it everywhere. Even as I sit here, writing this blog post on a train, I am looking at the toilet signs in front of me and thinking, if I was a trans person, would the overtly male and female symbols help me to decide which one to use, or would a universal symbol might be more attractive to me. To paraphrase that famous Wet, Wet, Wet song – Diversity Is All Around Us.

What’s your circle?