Guest Blog: Rebecca Billen

March 13, 2023

Diversity is so much more than visual appearance

Rebecca Billen, Senior Legacy Manager at Blood Cancer UK, is the ILM board member responsible for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I). It’s a topic she is passionate about and, having gained a Level 2 qualification in the subject, says she is still on her ‘own journey’ to understand and appreciate the vast area of ED&I.

Within Blood Cancer UK Rebecca is an ED&I champion, providing support to staff and, since joining the ILM Board in September 2021, has been working hard to introduce new policies and procedures which are already bearing fruit.

In her first member blog, she talks about the work so far and reflects on some of the issues raised from the ILM’s first ED&I survey in December 2022.

Since becoming the Director with responsibility for ED&I, I’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to make sure we have an ED&I policy and a Code of Conduct in place for our members, corporate partners and staff.

I’ve also been looking at our recruitment processes and policy, which have been used in a recent recruitment round resulting in a very diverse panel of applicants. The ILM’s HR advisor agreed that the ILM’s recruitment process is the best that they have seen, so, it’s really nice to actually see that it has made an impact, it’s worked and it’s positive.

We have nine ILM members from various charities who make up our ILM Equality and Diversity Working Group and we work together to provide recommendations to the ILM on things that we can do better.

The ED&I survey was important because we needed to know where we are now and how things can change in the future. Unfortunately, the completion rate by our members was lower than what we would usually see.

One recommendation already received from the working group is that we need to do more for future ED&I surveys, to help members understand both why it is so important for us to obtain this information, and how we will use it to achieve positive change in the future.

We have to make sure all members see this as relevant to them as, if we don’t have the information, then we won’t know if there are further areas to work on that will help someone or help remove barriers.

Currently the working group is currently reviewing the ED&I survey results and formal recommendations will be laid out as part of our ED&I strategy moving forward. Once these have been finalised, they will be shared with everyone.

We have already been able to introduce some simple improvements, for example by enabling the transcribing element on all our zoom calls to allow participants to follow the transcript if they are hard of hearing or unable to listen to the call for personal reasons. We are also looking into the creation of alcohol-free events and ensuring that timings of events do not impact on attendees who need time and space for prayers.

We’ve also instigated the introduction of non-alcohol related raffle prizes ahead of our annual conference.

One question I want to address, is that we’re often told our conference panels are not very diverse. But how do people know that?

Diversity is such a big thing and I want people to move away from seeing it based on age, race or sex.

There are lots of personal characteristics – often very private – that somebody may not want to share. It may be their sexuality, a long-term illness or disability, there’s diversity of thought… and, of course, the diversity of different-sized charities as well. (A topic for another day).

I believe we can’t just focus on making a panel visually diverse. It will be diverse in nature because everyone is individual, with individual thoughts, ideas and different ways of doing things.

I also think it’s important to not just have one representative from each community, as not everyone within that community will have the same outlook or priorities, they will each have diversity of thought.

This is all incredibly important, which is why we need to take time to get it right and, above all, I am keen this is not just seen as a tick box exercise.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is part of everything we do and is considered at all times to make sure that we are the inclusive organisation that we set out to be, and that we live up to the ILM values of being collaborative, ambitious, knowledgeable and kind.

I know I am not an expert – I will get things wrong, and if I do, then please call me out or let me know so I can continue with my journey. I think it’s the only way you can learn and that is exactly what the ILM is doing as we look to the future.


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