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Celebrating diversity at The Lived Experience conference

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General Nick Cavanagh, standing at the front of the room, speaks to the event attendees, who are seated facing him.
General Nick Cavanagh, DIO's Diversity and Inclusion Champion, addresses the attendees of the Lived Experience event. [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
For me, diversity means being open to people who are different to you, whether that involves race, age, gender, religion, sexuality and physical abilities. It means being considerate to the people who think differently to you and accepting others for who they are.

DIO is committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to how DIO can become a more diverse place to work. One of the ways we do this is by hosting The Lived Experience Conference.

Overview of the conference

I recently attended the third annual conference and the day was full of many inspirational speakers sharing their experiences of dealing with challenges they had faced due to their race, gender, disability or sexuality.

I learned from the Ministry of Justice about how it created and developed a Gender Forum as a means of providing staff with a platform for debate on issues that concerned them. The presentation was very informative and challenged the audience to consider their own unconscious biases and related decision making. The recently relaunched DIO Gender Forum aims to ensure everyone is treated fairly and has access to the same development opportunities and support regardless of their gender.

The Army LGBT Forum provided an interesting session on the lived experience of the current generation of serving soldiers from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Their presentation provided some insight on those who joined the Army at a time when homosexuality was banned in the Armed Forces and how the recent changes in legislation has impacted on their lives.

A large room is full of people at multiple tables. They are sitting down talking to other people at their tables.
Attendees at the Lived Experience event learn from the experiences of others. [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
Disability can be disguised in a variety of forms, from someone who has a visual impairment or mental health condition, to someone with a physical disability. DIO has a Disability Network to support staff with issues that affect them, and two members from the network provided a personal perspective. The first raised awareness about caring for a child who has Type 1 Diabetes, providing the delegates with the opportunity to consider how being a carer can impact on someone’s every day and working lives and how the organisation can provide support. Another member highlighted the fact that underestimating individuals due to a visible disability can often cause us to fail to provide an environment in which they can succeed due to our low expectations of their ability or ambitions.

It was fantastic to see so many people talking openly about the diversity and inclusion issues that affect them. The conference is a great way to gather feedback on what the organisation needs to do to ensure that everyone who works for DIO has the support they need to fulfil their full potential.

A great place to work

DIO’s vision is to be recognised as an inclusive employer that respects difference, attracts talent from all areas of society, embraces equality of opportunity and always challenges unacceptable behaviour.

Some of the ways we are addressing diversity and inclusion issues are by providing leadership development, mentoring opportunities, introducing diverse interview panels and encouraging applications for positive action initiatives. We also have a range of diversity and inclusion networks which play an important role in breaking down perceptions and stereotypes across the organisation.

DIO has an increasingly diverse mix of people with a range of skills and expertise who are helping to achieve its goals. We are continuing to increase the diversity of our workforce by recruiting talented individuals from different backgrounds.

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