Reflections from Equate’s Director – June 2022

Reflections from Equate's Director

Reflecting on our 3-day online conference on Intersectionality, I want to first of all thank everyone who attended. And to also, prompt the question about those who were missing. Examining using an intersectional lens, as to why this topic is seen as primarily the domain of women – and how we get men into the room, onto the agenda, and building with them the allyship that we know is needed to move the dial on inclusion. Why were they not there? But that is a topic for another day.

Today, we take the time to stop and smell the roses.

To thank all our sponsors, wonderful speakers, panel members and participants for their insightful, inspiring and at times moving contributions. From day 1 to day 3 it was an uplifting experience.

I would also like to thank the Equate Scotland Team for their passion and professionalism in delivering another wonderful Equate event, and with special thanks to Robyn Harris who put together the programme we all enjoyed.

I wondered how best to reflect the road we have travelled over the last 3 days – for those that were there, and for those that we missed.

When we started with our idea for this event it was with the intention to raise awareness not just around the word and theory of intersectionality but a deeper and more meaningful connection to what it actually means at a human level.

Not in an abstract, dictionary or theoretical way, but in a truly authentic and connected way, a way that would allow us all to be better informed, but also wiser and kinder from the experience. Over the last 3 days I feel we have achieved that.

When holding an online event, it’s not always possible to feel across the screen the emotional connection when experiences are being shared and stories told. But over these 3 days there is no doubt that the honesty, the integrity shown and shared by our speakers, our panels and participants – will have left each of us with our own personal take away from these events.

Each of our guests, in their own way, have broken new ground in terms of the journey they trod, the challenges they faced, and the success they have achieved. But they also shared the fragile moments – the imposter syndrome moments, which at times, even for the successful, whispers negative thoughts in their head. And so inspiring us all to live better more authentic and more supportive lives but also to know that it’s ok to feel angry – yet purposeful – in our efforts to make the changes that allow women and other disadvantage groups to be heard.

Achieving meaningful change requires all of society to engage with it – and we all need to realise that we are all part of that change movement. In one of my earlier blogs I used the quote by Lily Tomlin which said “Why doesn’t someone do something about that, and then I realised I was somebody.”

That might just start from feeling confident to be an ally. Feeling empowered to tread your own path. Feeling inspired to encourage the change we want to see. Feeling you have found your voice and taken your place at the table – and encouraging others to do the same.

As we listened to all the experiences over the last few days we learned that nothing is achieved with faint heart or mind. Perseverance was a key theme from speakers and panel discussions. Proving the doubters wrong. Toughing it out in the lads’ culture. Finding your own tribe. Staying stubborn.

And when all else fails – and you can’t get a seat at the table – then build your own table. We liked that sentiment very much.

We also learned about allyship and the importance of engaging everyone in the societal change that will create a more inclusive and level playing field, not just in terms of STEM and employment, but in terms of opportunity, well-being and reflecting the diverse nature of people that make up our communities and organisations.

We all have a part to play, change is never passive, so in your own way be a change maker. Paraphrasing from the words of our collective poem on day 1 – not least for yourself – but for the daughters that come behind us. That torch is in our hands.

 

We were grateful for the support of our conference sponsors

Canon Medical Research, Diageo, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks and Edinburgh Napier University