02 Dec 2021
Unlimited festival 2021
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Over the past two weeks we celebrated Unlimited – our global festival aimed at championing inclusion and diversity (I&D) within our business, and increasing our knowledge and expertise in all aspects of I&D
During Unlimited, we covered the entire spectrum of inclusion and diversity, from LGBTQ+ and being an effective trans ally to microaggressions and unconscious bias training. It included live activities, talks from industry leaders, discussions from our own colleagues, expression through Mexican art, a group Baduanjin session, and even live Pad Thai cooking.
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.
Below are just some of the sessions that took place during this year’s Unlimited festival:
The festival kicked-off with a talk from Gareth Peter followed by a live Q&A. Gareth is the author of Forever Star – a children’s book inspired by his own experiences as a parent within a same sex couple. We then moved on to a talk from Sue Johnson, head of Inclusion & Diversity Consulting at Odgers Berndtson. Sue unravelled unconscious bias, explained what it is, where it comes from and how everyone can mitigate it using the ‘Accept, Label, Mitigate’ technique.
Sue started the following day with a breakdown of the different career cycles of men and women and a detailed explanation of how organisations can ensure talent progresses at the same pace, regardless of gender. Alexandra Gill, a Director at Christie’s and Head of the organisation’s European Diversity & Inclusion Team then joined us for a talk on the barriers of being a disabled employee. She also explained how organisations can improve their understanding of disability so that disabled employees have equal opportunities at work.
Other external speakers included leaders from the Luxembourg offices of Deloitte, JP Morgan, and HSBC. They shared local best practices and spoke about I&D challenges in a highly multicultural environment. We were then joined by Christopher Hafner, the lead examiner for strategy at the Institute of Directors for a discussion on artificial intelligence and unconscious bias. Chris is passionate about the benefits of artificial intelligence but argues human beings will make the greatest difference in the long-term creation of sustainable organisations.
When it came to mental health, Dominic Johnson, the global head of health & wellbeing at Barclays, led a fantastic discussion on mental fitness. He explained what mental fitness is, why it’s important to all of us, and some of the techniques we can use in attaining greater focus and judgement, as well as improved resilience to the everyday pressures of life. This was topped only by Gharry Eccles, the VP for Cereal Partners Worldwide (a joint venture between Nestle & General Mills), who discussed the eradication of racism at Nestle.
Our own head of diversity in Canada, Ryna Young, gave a session on microaggressions. And with Dr Shaneena Jivray we learnt about Ismaeli, the Shia branch of Islam, its philosophical commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and tolerance, and how it engages with other faith groups. And with Marty Belle, a partner at OrgShakers Ltd, we learnt about fostering an inclusive climate at work.
Later in the week Steve Hill spoke to us about the business benefits of neurodiversity and why neurodiversity is beneficial for teams. And on the final day of the festival, we were treated to a live Pad Thai cooking demonstration from Thailand!
Find out more about Odgers Berndtson's commitment to Inclusion and Diversity.