Equity at Work:

Virtual talk

Open to all colleagues
in the organisation

“The time really flew”

Celebrating Disability recently delivered a talk for Peabody, with a goal to improve their employees’ understanding of equity in the workplace. The talk, called “Equity at Work,” was held on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March 2023), which this year had the theme “Embrace Equity.”

After working with Celebrating Disability, Peabody reported that staff now feel more confident in understanding the difference between equity and equality. Additionally, staff feel better equipped to engage in active allyship.

The Background

Peabody is one of the UK’s oldest not-for-profit housing associations, and its purpose is to ‘help people flourish’. It does this by providing great homes and services, making a positive difference in communities and creating an inclusive and inspiring place to work.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Peabody

Peabody is committed to building an equal, diverse and inclusive workplace where all individuals can be themselves, feel represented and supported at all levels. We spoke to Vuyo Halimana, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Peabody, to learn more about the work Peabody is doing to transform its culture.

Vuyo Halimana said: “It’s great that we have diversity networks – LGBT+ Awareness, Disability, Gender, Family, and Race Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – which provide a safe space for colleagues to discuss issues, find support and help us work together to deliver positive change throughout our organisation.”

She continues: “To celebrate International Women’s Day at Peabody this year, we wanted to take our understanding of equality beyond the general female perspective, to acknowledge how gender intersects with other aspects of identity – through the lens of equity.”

They were looking for a “really well-rounded conversation” with “the more intersectionality, the better.”

Vuyo’s team wanted to find a speaker who could provide a “bird’s eye view” of what their professional experience was, what best practice looked like from their perspective, and what their lived experience was.”

After discussing whether they could source such a speaker internally, the team decided to seek outside help.

Vuyo explained: “We chose Celebrating Disability as our external facilitator because I believe they have a wealth of knowledge as they’ve worked with other organisations. If we just have internal conversations, it’s very easy for us to become an echo chamber because we’re not able to compare challenges or experiencing.”

A vector illustration of seven people smiling and laughing. The people are of different genders and ethnicities, and some of them are visibly disabled: one man has a prosthetic leg, a woman uses a wheelchair and another woman wears dark glasses and uses a cane.

Our Successful Proposal

Vuyo had worked with Esi previously while in a role at a different organisation. So when the team at Peabody began their search for an external facilitator, Vuyo told a colleague: “I think I know the person that we can have a discussion with and see if this is something that she can support.” Vuyo looked Esi up on LinkedIn, and quickly got in touch. Soon enough, they had set up an exploratory call.

“I really enjoyed my first discussion with her,” said Vuyo, who recalled being impressed by Esi’s honesty and sense of humour – noting that these qualities are useful for opening up a conversation around sensitive topics.

“She’s very frank, she will tell it as it is. She uses humour, but she really gets under the skin of things that most people are afraid to talk about. She makes topics relatable so you can have a conversation about them. You can ask questions, you can see it from the perspective of someone who’s immersed in that world professionally, as well as personally.”

Peabody were looking for a facilitator who could simultaneously provide professional expertise and a lived experience perspective: Esi proved to be the right fit. Vuyo recalled:

“We wanted somebody who was well-versed with talking to other organisations, and who had lived experience. I think Esi’s skill – of breaking down a very complex topic into something that can be understood and discussed really easily – is because she has that intersectionality as well.”

Another part of our appeal over competitors was that we were able to design and facilitate the talk within a short turnaround time. Vuyo explained: “We were actually in the process of going through a merger, so it was very busy. We wanted to have an event, but we knew that we were really short on time. Esi was very flexible and very accommodating. She turned this around quite quickly for us.” Vuyo recalled being “deeply appreciative” of the speed of delivery of the project, adding that it “speaks to Esi and her team’s agility to support the client.”

A vector illustration of a wheelchair-user with short hair. They are wearing a red top, blue jeans and red shoes, and are using a laptop which is rested on their lap.

Embracing Equity at Work

The talk, called “Equity at Work,” took place on 14 March 2023, and was open to colleagues from around the organisation.

The talk was tailored to the Peabody needs and to the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. Vuyo was impressed by how much the content was individualised to Peabody’s specific requirements:

“I think what Esi is really good at doing is understanding where the organisation is. And I can say that hand on heart because both times I’ve worked with her, she’s taken the time to understand: What does the organisation do? Where is the organisation right now? And what are the challenges?”

A vector illustration of three people smiling at each other. A man in a wheelchair is waving his hand at a man with a prosthetic leg and a woman standing beside him, her hand on his shoulder.

Key takeaways for Peabody

Peabody is left with a number of takeaways:

  • Recognising Intersectionality
  • Understanding that equity differs from equality
  • Encouraging active allyship

Next Steps

Going forward, Peabody intends to continue to celebrate awareness days and different faith holidays. These occasions provide an opportunity for conversation: they give reason to “share webinars, share links to events, host events, and engage with our networks on a monthly basis.”

Additionally, Peabody is starting to expand its EDI working groups within the different directors. Vuyo explained: “Again, we’re talking about equality, we’re talking about equity. We’re asking: what does that mean? And we’re encouraging people to think: what does that mean for them? What do they need?”

We hope to work again with Peabody in the future, as they continue to embed equity and inclusion across the company.

Training sessions tailored to your needs

Designed around your specific goals and outcomes to empower disability inclusion

Designed and delivered with lived experience of disability

All trainers talk from a pan disability experience. We couple that with realistic recommendations for your workplace.

Immersive, interactive and outcome focused

Using a variety of engagement methods to encourage safe, open conversation

Resources to track your return on investment

Benchmarking and action plan tracking enabling you and your delegates to track progress

To discover how you can build disability awareness and confidence across your organisation, send us an enquiry or book an exploratory 45 minute call with Esi. We would love to discuss your goals, objectives and how Celebrating Disability can best support you and your team: hello@celebratingdisability.co.uk