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Diversity is being invited to the ball, inclusion is being asked to dance and equity is being able to dance as if no one is watching….

Diversity is being invited to the ball, inclusion is being asked to dance and equity is being able to dance as if no one is watching….

Mark.Freed / 25 Nov 2021

I’ve heard this old metaphor rolled out a few times in recent weeks. For most women and other people from underrepresented groups it resounds, like most metaphors, to a point. It gives a view of what those from underrepresented groups are asking for, demanding and what our leaders are committing to. After all it is an imperative for the success of the ball and a business imperative for our firms.  

One thing that strikes me about the metaphor is it focuses on what women want and not about what the ball organisers, predominately straight white men, are doing about it. Could we learn something if we looked at it from the perspective of the ball organisers?

The invitation to the ball

So the first thought is to recruit more women. We will make our invites particularly focussed at women by taking out any masculine language. We will make sure our advertising includes as many images of women as we can and we will ask some of our existing women if they would help in this by inviting friends and publicly saying they had a great time at the last ball. 

We will set targets and join forces with other ball organisers to sign charters.

We are aware that a relatively high proportion of women who do attend don’t stay long. We should perhaps consider their lived experience more than we do.

Let’s Dance

When we ask the women to dance, we are surprised that they politely leave the floor, after the first track. We think it is because they need help and support. So we sign them up to dance and music classes, and mentor and champion them to teach them how to dance like us and appreciate our music.

Some women start dancing by themselves - but it’s our play list and our tunes…

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