Going beneath the surface
Selene explains their process, emphasising that a lone workshop – without any follow-up – is often the endpoint of diversity work: “Ableism and racism are built up over years of a person’s lifetime. You can’t erase it in an afternoon. We knew that this work had to be something that’s sustained. We ask people to do some deep work which goes beyond the surface level.”
The approach they take is compassionate but proactive, attempting to tackle the racism and abelism we are all conditioned in. Selene says: “We get patterned – how we’re socialised, how we’re educated, who our friends and networks are. If no one’s ever asked you to do something differently, why would you know how to? I’m not going to give you the answers. So much of the work that we’ve done is about designing questions, about stepping back and critically thinking.”
Looking to the past allows for a deeper exploration of our current context. Teresa says: “What I’m going to do is show you why, historically, we are here. And the role you play in that today.”
Success means shifting power
Teresa and Selene believe the success of the curriculum will be demonstrated when their colleagues are thinking about their practice differently and asking themselves critical questions, for example about power in decision-making processes and about how they will bring other people in.
Teresa sees this approach to power as central to their work. “In the change that we’re seeking, it also means shifting who has power. Because one of the things that is fundamental and core to this is power. Who holds the power? Who’s willing to give up the power? And what does giving up power look like? I think this is one of the things that challenges people,” she says.
This focus demonstrates how conversations around diversity have progressed, as Teresa explains: “I think we’re in a different era now, and people are coming for people very publicly now. They’re demanding accountability, and in that people are going to have to think about power differently. It’s not just about bringing a black, brown or disabled body to make decisions, but it’s about how they’re making those decisions and the information they have. Also to acknowledge that shift doesn’t mean losing power either.”
Inspiring other organisations in Camden
Wellcome is committed to making real and deep changes to create a more equitable and diverse place for visitors and employees.
We hope its work will inspire other organisations in Camden to offer more inclusive spaces and training in order that we can increase diversity in positions of power across the borough and beyond.