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25 Jun 2020

Joanne Lockwood: Without D&I we'll end up right back where we started

Leading authority on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Despite the warm and fuzzy ‘all in this together’ rhetoric brought on by the you-know-what, does anyone else fear that we’re not going to learn a thing? Could it be that our memories are notoriously short, that the ‘new normal’ will turn out to be disappointingly familiar and we’re going to end up right back where we started – complacent, divided and short-sighted?

Not if Joanne Lockwood has anything to do with it.

Joanne is a leading authority on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging who has gained far-reaching acclaim for her work helping organisations develop vision and strategy for conscious inclusion. She also promotes transgender awareness and support to businesses and organisations developing allies’ programmes as assisting in policy and LGBTQ+ inclusion strategies.

Joanne has some important messages and warnings for organisations who want to emerge enlightened and evolved in the new normal.

Organisations that don’t proactively and properly focus on a true culture of belonging, do so to their own detriment.

“The stats and figures are out there; McKinsey has been publishing the benefits for diversity and inclusivity for many years.  Diversity is the reality of the world. If organisations purely focus on characteristics and tokenistic approaches without the right culture and inclusion vision, then it won’t be authentic.”


We need to focus on privilege more because unconscious bias training isn’t cutting it.

“Unconscious bias training and awareness isn’t working – that’s a bold statement but it isn’t. Given the millions of dollars, pounds, euros etcetera spent each year, the world still isn’t moving on.  The #blacklivesmatter movement is exposing that this huge gap in people’s lived experiences is still as prevalent as ever. 

We need to be talking more about privilege, really understand the impact of the systems of oppression that we benefit from, and then get individuals to take responsibility and be accountable for their own footprint in the world.  We can then look at how we use our privileges to acknowledge the experience of others to advocate, be an ally and drive change.”

See Joanne's talk at the upcoming Virtal HR and L&D Innovation and Tech Fest


Leaders need to get real and really listen. Regularly.

“When companies can open up the conversations, expose real stories and listen to the words of their people, progress will start.  This initiative needs to be sponsored at the most senior level in the company.  If it isn’t; it won’t happen.  It should be on the boardroom table agenda at every meeting.  The senior leadership should be constantly challenging themselves and be prepared to be challenging others and be challenged themselves as to progress they are making.

Asking the question “whose voice aren’t we hearing in this conversation?” should be a regular thought and action in decision making processes, as should “how do people feel working here?”


Working from home has been a step-forward for diversity.

“Organisations are adapting their hiring strategies – if people are not being required to work centrally in an office then some of the previous “culture fit” biases are minimised. It matters less about what you look or sound like, whether you have a disability or not – if you can simply perform the role that is more important.”


2020 has been a wake-up call on many levels but rapid adjustment of leadership styles is imperative to sustaining progress.

“I would like to think that the readjustment to the COVID-19 world has shaken up enough thinking for employers to be more reflective and empathic towards their people, but what I am seeing is budgets being cut, businesses operating in triage mode to continue trading. This in turn is leading to cutbacks in HR, L&D, D&I and other people functions – it  remains to be seen once the lockdown ends and life returns to the “new normal” whether businesses have wound back all of the momentum that was gaining in recent years. Let’s hope that #blacklivesmatter reminds them that this is not the time for complacency.”


Joanne will be challenging people to instigate a new way of doing things during her Virtual HR and L&D Innovation and Tech Fest talk. 

“I would love to think I will bring my energy, perspective and thoughts to motivate the delegates to think about their privileges, to think about the lived experience of others and to be able to step up and shout out as allies.  Most importantly I hope delegates will think more about consciously including people, and be holistic, active and deliberate about their inclusion.”


In her Virtual Tech Fest appearance, Joanne will explain why the current approach to diversity and inclusiveness taken by the organisation is broken. She will challenge thinking and will highlight strategies as a starting point for this journey - the destination is up to you.




Interested in finding out more about Joanne?

Joanne was a contributor and featured in a documentary called “The Making of Me”, broadcast in February about her own personal gender transition and its impact on those around her. (It was subsequently featured on Gogglebox UK).

Joanne and 3 other Virtual Tech Fest speakers also answer 4 questions to define 2020 here
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