I knew that EDI was a long way off when I failed to succeed in the eye department because of my visual impairment.

Over the last few years the EDI conversation has really heated up, a lot more organisations are talking about EDI and EDI leads have been appointed in a lot of organisations. A lot of people will argue that this is step forward and on paper it is a step forward. However, I am still not excited by this development for a number of reasons, first of all let me take you a step back on my own journey. Over a year ago I started working in the eye department, this was like a dream for me because I have an eye condition called Nystagmus, I had a just left a job because I struggle due to the fact that my line manager did not manage my eye condition so going to work in an eye department was like dream. However very quickly I started to struggle and after seven months in the job I handed in my notice. I was surrounded by the best eye doctors in the country but my condition was not managed and I was bullied by line manager and sometimes I felt like she was mocking my condition. The place that I thought was going to be the best place for me to work turned out to be the worst place for me to work, I ended up having one of the worst working experiences. This was a department that I should have thrived in but I didn’t.

This experience left me wondering if someone with my eye condition was not able to succeed in a department that deals with that part of the body, How can anyone survive in other departments? I was left feeling cheated, EDI was being thrown about but the real impact of the lack if EDI rarely looked at and discussed. When I say that I am not excited, it is because a lot of leaders are talking about EDI, there might be a lot of talking but there is very little action. Before you talk about the big plans you have over the next five years, if a person with wheelchair comes in now, would they have access? I Went for a meeting to an organisation to talk about EDI, my friend is in wheelchair but when we got there the lift was not working and despite the fact they knew that she was in wheelchair they didn’t think to make sure the lift was working or to find an alternative room just in case it is not working. This meeting did not happen, they invited us for an EDI meeting but they really did not have EDI in my mind. One thing that they had a was massive EDI strategy which they asked her us to look at but has it happened all they had was a lot of words put together, the words of inclusivity where just that, words.

As the discussion about EDI grows it brings about a lot of things for different people, for some it brings recognition, for some opportunities to progress their careers and the basics are forgotten. We are not nurturing new blood to lead EDI roles, we using the same staff who have been in charge of al the failed EDI schemes over the last twenty years as a good friend of mine once said about EDI discussions in his organisations “they want me to go to EDI meetings as long as I am nice little black boy” This is so wrong at so many levels. When black people start to feel that EDI discussion are another form of exclusive group we are in trouble. So many people from minority feel that a lot of senior managers have an answer for everything including things they don’t know. If an employee with a visual impairment fails to succeed in the eye department, you are in more trouble than you thought were in.

This Is the reason I say that I do not get very excited just because there are a few more discussions about EDI. What gets me excited is action, a year and half ago I delivered a training session at Eastman UK and a few months later they had put a lot of what I trained them in action and I could see the different. I am not saying we can create equality overnight, what I mean is that we can make more progress if we take more actions than we are currently taking, we will make more progress. Think about this, an employee with a visual impairment was bullied out of the eye department and EDI consultant was not able to deliver her training she was delivering because the organisation that asked her to go and train them did not consider what happens if the lift was not working or even consider an alternative venue. We talk EDI but we don’t act EDI, the key to ay successful project is how quickly you go from talking about to doing it.

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