Unlimited festival 2020

06 led 2021

Unlimited festival 2020

We held our first global, virtual Unlimited festival – a celebration of our culture, philosophy and commitment to inclusion and diversity in November.

Over the course of this week-long event, we covered the entire spectrum of Inclusion and Diversity (I&D), from faith and social mobility to neurodiversity and disability. It included talks from industry leaders, live discussions from our very own colleagues, group yoga and Pilates, guided relaxation and meditation, and even cocktail making and live Taco cooking sessions (via Zoom). 

The objectives of the talks, live discussions and random fun were to educate ourselves, celebrate our differences and showcase all aspects of I&D within Odgers Berndtson.

The global festival kicked off with a talk from Jo-Ann Robertson, CEO of Ketchum and Sam Phillips, leading CD&I officer in the media sector, on how organisations can improve social mobility within their organisations. We then moved on to a talk from Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, and Danae Leaman-Hill, Director of Fundraising and Development at Autism Schools Trust, who made a great case for supporting neurodiversity in the workplace.

We entered our own discussion around social mobility within the company with a live session led by Andrew Bulloss, Head of our Gaming Practice, and Hannah Peech, Head of our Communications Practice. Cliff Oswick, a professor of organisation theory at The Business School, then joined us for a talk on social mobility in the corporate world, explaining its importance and how to get it right.

When it came to the challenges and opportunities of hiring neurodiverse candidates, Catherine Stewart, Public Affairs officer in Brussels, Inarm Osborn, founder of AutiQuest, and David Webber, one of our Partners in Brussels, gave a fantastic talk on how this can be achieved and made easier with the help of innovative digital solutions that can assist both candidates and recruiters. This was topped only by Rob Gallafent, Programme Planner/Master Scheduler at UK Research and Innovation, who dispelled many of the myths surrounding autism in his talk on the condition.

With David Jessop from Leonard Cheshire, we learnt about the perceptions of disability in the workplace and the recruitment process, and with Rob Stephenson, CEO of Inside Out, we learnt how to positively influence our mental health and that of those around us.

Later in the week, Dr Philip Orumwense, who heads up the Information and Technology Commercial and Procurement Group at Highways England and Procurement Director, and Dee Garbelotto, the current joint chair holder of the BAME Employee Network at Highways England, gave their views on I&D and being BAME. Sally Cabrini then shared her journey and views on gender diversity and how it has evolved, and we had a live discussion on gender stereotypes and what we can do to improve this within Odgers Berndtson, led by Hannah Peech and Alex Acland, Head of our Education Practice.

The live discussions continued with Suresh Lal, Head of Odgers Interim’s Housing Practice, and Hannah Peech, talking about faith and how it positively affects the work within Odgers Berndtson. This theme continued with a talk from Faeeza Vaid, Executive Director at the Muslim Women’s Network UK, on challenging stereotypes of Muslim women.

As the week drew to a close, we received a brilliant presentation from Amel Murphy, the Co-Founder of the Inclusion Partnership on the emergent future of inclusion, right before we took a deep dive into the world of ‘health hacks’ with Emma McKenna, the Clinic Manager and Wellbeing Physiologist at Nuffield Health.

On the final day of the festival, some of the leading NEDs in India discussed gender issues in business, we learnt about the appropriate use of gender identify terminology from Elizabeth James, Head of Berwick Partners’ Education Practice, and Tracy Williams, a level 3 British Sign Language practitioner taught us the basics of sign language.

Odgers Berndtson is a truly diverse and inclusive place to work, and the festival gave us a chance to celebrate this and our continued commitment to the cause of I&D in the corporate world.

Find out more about Odgers Berndtson's commitment to Inclusion and Diversity.