Speech: Pre-Launch of the National Day for Staff Networks

They who water, will always be watered.

 

Tomorrow will see the first ever National Day for Staff Networks.

 

A day that started as a seed of an idea.

 

A seed that was ready to be planted because of the work you have done over the years in helping to cultivate the land.

 

Whether you are:

  • Jerome Williams who took the lead in writing a 'Partnership Agreement' of how his organisation will work with staff networks;

  • Kate Nash lighting the way for Disabled Staff Networks through her work in purple space;

  • Liz Baptise, Chair of the Network of Networks in the Higher Education sector;

  • Diane Greenidge, Founder of the Network of Networks (BAME/Multicultural chapter);

  • Vanessa Valley, founder of  Gender Networks;

  • Rob Neil, Chair of the Civil Service Race Forum

  • Someone who is involved in leading or supporting a staff network in some way.

it is because of your work yesterday and today, that we can celebrate the National Day for Staff Networks tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow is about celebrating and declaring that difference is the daddy of diversity. There is evidence that tells us that diversity is the breeding ground of innovation; I suggest that staff networks are the incubators of innovation.

 

Tomorrow is about inspiring others and being inspired; telling our stories, building empathy so that we can work in a cover free workplace.

 

Tomorrow is about a social movement of change. Where clusters / groups in organisations across the country can stand behind a cause because in the absence of a cause, circumstances and the status quo will prevail.

 

The National Day is an opportunity for staff networks to demonstrate that they can link arms to challenge the status quo; for intersectionality to arise; to declare that there are no hidden figures and shine a light on their members; to stand together under a canopy of unity and make work better.

 

The McGregor-Smith review, BITC's Race at Work, Women Ahead are just three pieces of research /surveys which recognise the value of staff networks and convinces me that tomorrow is necessary.

 

At a time when many employees are still victims of a system and a culture that discriminates or fails to recognise their potential because they are different, convinces me that tomorrow is necessary.

 

The seismic shifts in the political landscape - both near and abroad has given rise to an insidious rhetoric; tones of which have seeped into the UK workplace - that tells me that, more now than ever, tomorrow is necessary. 

 

Tomorrow (10th May) is about staff networks who, through their sheer passion, commitment, intelligence, tenacity, strategic focus and hardwork -  are stating that hope, fairness, equality, equity and justice will not be eclipsed by discrimination and unfair treatment.

 

But we cannot assume that because we have tomorrow, we can rest on our laurels. There is a Latin proverb: Equity aids the vigilant, not those who sleep.

 

We have to each decide what we will do to transform the conversation about staff networks? Ask yourself: "What will I take away from today that will help me and staff networks tomorrow? and the day after that? and the day after that?"

 

This is what I will do:

  1. Provide a space for learning and development for staff networks and those involved in them. The Power Hub will be starting next month covering topics like Mediation & Conflict, Frugal Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, Leading with Impact - essential skills necessary for staff networks in 21st century - sign up today

  2. Develop a Network Twinning Programme for staff networks - carefully pairing networks together as a source of support, sharing and mentoring

  3. Build on the recommendations of the literature review - work towards giving us something to really shout about on the National Day for Staff Networks 2018!

As we prepare to usher in the inaugural National Day for Staff Networks 2017 I have been blown away by the strength of support and the waves of love. It's like having this day set aside just for staff networks have given people permission to really go for it.

  • West Yorkshire Police are holding a week of events dedicated to staff networks;

  • West Midlands Police are holding a cake and conversation raising money to give to charity;

  • NHS England are doing some podcasts that will be broadcasted across the week;

  • Department for International Trade are holding a 'Discover DIT' day with their staff networks;

  • AIG is combining staff networks day with mental heath awareness week to launch a new staff network for mental health;

  • Sodexo held their first staff networks conference on 4th May and it was superb.

I know that staff networks can build empathy, provide support, give a hug, challenge mindsets, increase employee engagement, produce a pipeline of talent, be frugally innovative, boost productivity, contribute to the bottom line of their organisation and because they do all of these things, they are #making work better.

 

Tomorrow is possible because of you and others like you.

 

Thank you for the seeds you have sown and for the nourishment you have given to this agenda.

 

As you have watered, may you always be watered.

 

The first ever National Day for Staff Networks is taking place on Wednesday 10th May 2017. Follow the activity on twitter @day4networks #makingworkbetter

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