Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Journey not a Destination'

Jack and I strongly believe that the built environment has a role to play in Inclusive Environments and have started on a new journey. 

We recognise there is a need for organisations to be inclusive not just a want to be inclusive.

When I studied architecture (and even though I studied day release, working all the way through) I cannot remember diversity and inclusion (D&I) being discussed. 

Whilst, in practice, I designed to Part M, to be honest, it always felt like an add on or afterthought. I have since come to realise, through a recent diagnosis of an incurable brain tumour, it covers people with visible disabilities and not invisible disabilities. 

I really believe the pandemic has shifted our thinking and there is an amazing opportunity to bring equality and equity into the workplace. 

As part of the design process I have always believed in talking to the users, hence my experience covers workplace strategy and change engagement. Designing from the individual to the universal and being more open and collaborative, including designing for the most sensory user group. 

Jack and I truly believe we all have different neuro-cognitive abilities and profiles. So through greater engagement and the right questions everyone can have a greater benefit. 

We all have unique requirements and everyone benefits from universal design.

Our approach is that we look at a top down and bottom up approach within organisations to create a horizontal foundation rather than a vertical silo. 

When I think about design I can see that we have gone from designing 'personality' a sense of place, to 'personna' mapping and profiles to the 'person'. We all agree that 'one size doesn't fit all' now we are looking at 'human centric' design and the individual. The power of one, this has translated into my professional life where I want to embrace my talents, plans and actions. However, I know that I need other people (a collective of like minded individuals) and I can't do it alone- hence my partnership with Jack. 

To paraphrase the quote by  Ralph Waldo Emerson: “It's is a journey, not a destination.”

This is validated by our ongoing knowledge development and research. If you your organisation feels it 'needs' to be inclusive - please come an talk to us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

With National Inclusion week drawing to a close I thought I would outline my journey and why I have set up Inclusive Environments Ltd with my business partner Gillian Burgis Smith.

I was diagnosed at the age of three with Autism and Dyspraxia and there have been many hurdles along the way like learning to sit on a chair upright and developing my communication and coordination. When I was diagnosed, I had a spikey profile meaning my communication was very highly developed as I was talking from the age of two years old but my coordination was -2 on the centiles meaning that my mobility was not developed at all.

However, I have had fantastic support over the years from many different people who have helped me develop on my journey such as Lorraine Bradbury my Learning support Assistant who was provided for me through my Educational Health Care Plan and Local Authority funding who supported me for many years of my education. Other influences have included my fantastic parents who have been very supportive and allowed me to reach my full potential.

The last 12 months have allowed businesses to think differently and have adapted their working practices to be more flexible. This has allowed me to start my journey into the workplace as I have completed a Internship with Aggregate Industries which was amazing and they now have diversity and inclusion embedded within the company culture as well as working on research with Gillian. The pandemic has brought many negatives but some benefits to people with additional needs working in environments where they can be comfortable in.

I am aware that not everyone can reach their full potential due to lack of support or poor inclusive design of workplaces that’s why Gillian  who has 30 years + experience in workplace design, strategy and change engagement and myself started Inclusive Environments Ltd. We want to design environments that enable everyone to reach their full potential and bring their full selves to work, to feel comfortable and supported in an inclusive environment.

#Inclusiveenvironments is a call to action for businesses to come together to create more inclusive workplaces. We are here to help and would love to hear from you.