Ensuring inclusion is the normEveryone can Thrive I Communicate our inclusive culture I Our journey so far I Experiences from our team

Ensure inclusion is the norm across our Charity

To enhance our workplace culture and improve the level of inclusion within our Charity, everyone will understand what is expected of them in creating an inclusive environment. Everyday, inclusion is about awareness and understanding of the actions it will take to create a genuinely inclusive environment where every individual can be their unique self. We will consistently treat one another considerately, respectfully and fairly.

Create diverse and inclusive teams where everyone can thrive

For our people and culture to thrive, we appreciate the positive impact having a diverse range of people from various backgrounds and life experiences brings. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 places a duty to not discriminate based on the nine protected characteristics (age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity leave, marriage and civil partnership). We will take this a step further and consider intersectionality, ensuring people can be their best self.

Communicate our inclusive culture internally and externally

As we work to improve and meet our strategic goals within diversity, equity and inclusion, we will also communicate this externally to influence future employees, volunteers, and our stakeholders. We want to be known as an inclusive organisation. To achieve this, we aim to communicate our priorities within inclusion. We recognise that stakeholders will have different lived experiences and levels of current understanding, and we commit to considering this in our approach to bring everyone on this journey with us.

Our journey so far

Our Culture
  • In 2020, we revisited our organisational values and behaviours. Our employees, volunteers and other stakeholders were invited to take part in culture workshops where we considered the values that we saw in our organisation, what we would like to see, what we do well and what fantastic looks like.   
  • Lots of information was gathered during the workshops and our project team used this to define our values and the behaviours that describe them. 
  • From this, we created our Culture Code and our Culture Icons and recruited and trained Culture Champions. Our Champions each represent an area of our Charity and help drive behavioural change through acting as ambassadors for our brand and our values. 
Inclusive Recruitment
  • Our inclusion statement welcomes applications to join our Charity from all groups of people.
  • To support us to gain better insight from our recruitment activities we invested in an online recruitment portal.  
  • The portal assisted us to streamline our application process making the process much more user friendly and accessible.
  • We reviewed our Recruitment and Selection Policy and Procedure through an inclusive design lens, considering the language used throughout and being mindful of accessibility and ease of use for our recruiting managers and to ensure the best applicant experience. 
  • We have considered our advertising media and use targeted platforms to reach a diverse range of applicants in addition to our current advertising. 
  • We are reviewing our website and communications to showcase our inclusion activities.
  • We will be transparent regarding our salaries and every role will be advertised with the salary as standard.  

Learning and development
  • As a result of the findings of our latest inclusion survey, focus groups and interviews, we delivered bespoke training for all our employees. 
  • We introduced a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion e-learning module to our learning management system. All employees and volunteers complete the e-learning on joining us as part of their induction activities. 
  • We have delivered Menopause Awareness training for our managers and introduced and implemented our Menopause Policy. 
  • We have delivered Neurodiversity training for our managers and developed a Neurodiversity Awareness webinar for all our employees. 
  • We are developing inclusion training for all levels of our Charity to explore topics such as privilege, psychological safety, inclusive leadership, inclusive decision making, allyship, anti racism, bullying and banter and inclusive recruitment. 
Employee Voice, Communication and Awareness
  • We will conduct an annual inclusion survey to understand the perception of how inclusive an environment our Charity is and publish our Inclusion report to showcase progress. 
  • We will develop our internal communications to inform all employees and volunteers of our overall inclusion approach, including how they will receive information and how to provide feedback.   
  •  We will provide opportunities to actively participate and communicate chosen awareness days, weeks, months (e.g. International Women’s day, Neurodiversity Celebration Week, World Mental Health Week, Pride Month).

Experiences from our team

We hear from Finance Officer (Committed Giving & Gift Aid) at The Fire Fighters Charity, Sorrel Griggs, about her autism diagnosis and experiences.

When were you diagnosed with autism?

November 2013, a couple of years before my 30th birthday. It was a real lightbulb moment, helping me to understand some of the struggles I had experienced and allowing me to make adjustments to my life and plan for the future.

How does it impact you in day to day life?

Dealing with sensory inputs is a bit like having a really sensitive car alarm – you know it’s just the wind that set it off but you still have to go and turn the alarm off, and you know it will happen again in a minute! Managing sensory inputs uses a lot of my energy, so taking steps to minimise sensory surprises and stressors is really important. I can be very literal minded and have to remember to translate what people say into what they actually mean. When I’m really overwhelmed I stop being able to manage sensory inputs, go mute and cannot make eye contact. Grocery shopping can be very challenging!

Have the Charity been supportive? If so, how?

Yes; I was up-front about my diagnosis at my interview and let the Charity know that I struggle with phone calls, and function best if I have a really solid routine with advance notice of changes. My managers at the Charity have always advocated for me and supported me not being available on the phone, and ensured that I am able to make use of my strengths. My role in the Finance Team dealing with Gift Aid and Payroll donations is a perfect fit – lots of regular scheduled tasks and strict rules to follow.

Do you feel it’s important to be open about living with a neurodiverse condition?

Yes; people aren’t mind-readers and they are unlikely to know about an invisible disability unless they are told – they just think I’m a bit odd!  Invisible disabilities can be frustrating for everyone involved, because some people assume that you’re neurotypical and are surprised when you have a neurodivergent response to something. No-one should struggle in silence.

Sascha Wiltshire, Senior Marketing Executive at The Fire Fighters Charity, talks about living with Right-Side Hemiplegia.

When were you diagnosed?

I was officially diagnosed with Right-Side Hemiplegia when I was three years old, after my parents realised that I was struggling with my coordination and balance. I was three months premature, and developed an infection in the incubator, which doctors believed could have affected the left side of my brain, resulting in a weakness to my right side. It has been compared to a form of cerebral palsy.

How does it impact you in day-to-day life?

I have always tried to be positive and take on tasks to the best of my ability, but there are moments, like when exercising and general day-to-day lifting and carrying, that I notice it more. I also get tired easily, so must pace myself throughout the working day…it took years for me to accept that my tiredness was often due to my disability! When the muscles in my hand start aching while typing at work, it can be frustrating.

Have the Charity been supportive? If so, how?

Yes, they have. I used to try and hide my condition from people at work and would feel very self-conscious if someone looked at my hand. I didn’t want to be different. When I had my interview with the Charity, it was the first time I openly talked about it. I was concerned about mentioning my condition to colleagues as I didn’t want them to think I was seeking attention, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Everyone has been supportive and doesn’t treat me any differently. I may struggle increasingly with my movement and joints on my right side as I get older, but I know I can talk openly with the Charity and raise any concerns, and they will do their best to help.

Do you feel it’s important to be open about living with a disability?

Absolutely! Over time, I’ve learnt to accept my condition, rather than trying to hide it and comparing myself to others. I still feel frustrated at times, but having close friends and people you can turn to helps. It’s natural to have moments of doubt, but by being more open with people, I have definitely become more confident and resilient.