By Dr Mark Thorpe
On Wednesday 27th September, Truth held an event celebrating the fantastic achievements of those who had been short-listed for the annual Market Research Society, Changemaker Awards, which were held in June. The inspirational Jane Frost MBE, CEO of the MRS, gave a keynote talk, in which she walked us through her own inclusion and equality journey and her thoughts on how ‘we’, as an industry, can move forward. Three of the short-listed, and highly commended, finalists gave us very personal accounts of their journeys through ED&I and changemaking. It was an evening rich in inspiration.
I made notes throughout the meeting and, on reflection, it seemed to me that there were five core themes strongly present in the narratives and discussions. I want to outline these themes here. However, I’d like to do this through a very human lens and to present the themes based on human archetypes. The archetypes I shall use are part of a set of brand tools, inspired by an archetype tool-kit that were first created in the 1970s. These archetypes have been re-modelled and extended by Truth to better reflect a world that has changed significantly in the fifty or so years since the first tool-kit was developed.
From my perspective, it does seem as though the Changemakers active in the ED&I space (and very probably beyond) are a composite of five archetypes: Pathfinder, Mediator, Translator, Creative and Rebel.
ED&I changemakers generally need to be able to find their own path. There aren’t clear lines to follow and changing the future doesn’t come with a ‘how-to’ manual; it’s a process of discovery, of finding out what works and what doesn’t. Making mistakes is part of the process. Pathfinders have to be flexible in their approach and focused on finding the best ways forward. Some paths are not straight; they twist and turn around obstacles but reach their destination in the end. Pathfinders have an inner confidence that they will, eventually, be able to find a way to progress. Every new future needs a Pathfinder.
ED&I changemakers are translators – of other people, cultures and experiences. Often, they are bringing new understandings into environments and organisations that are relatively mono-cultural in heritage, behaviour and perspective. Translators have to recognise and understand the dominant vantage points and have the ability to build dialogue. The translator’s gift is to make the hidden visible and to render it intelligible to others. This is a process of ‘soft education’; of helping people to see more and more widely, and to understand the value of that which they now see.
ED&I changemakers are mediators of worlds of difference. Mediators are also Translators, but Mediation is more than translation alone; it is the process of making differences work well for all. To do this, there must be an ability to rise above the detail and see how the whole ‘puzzle’ works. Mediators believe in the need to find a common way forward, one that benefits everyone. This kind of mediation is not a process of tolerance-building. It is, in contrast, a mediation that inspires collective growth, through recognition that we are better together. By harnessing the experiences, attributes and skill-sets of everyone, mediators open doors to better, more inclusive and rewarding futures.
ED&I changemakers are creators. They are building something purpose-full and laying the foundations for more equitable ways of living and working. Like artists, they have a canvas – the workplace, community or home for example. In this context, they are working to build something better, not simply to adjust the current status-quo so that it is less damaging to those labelled as ‘minorities’ (isn’t everyone a minority now?).
ED&I changemakers are rebels. Every single one of them. You can’t change the order of things without pushing against the way things are done. Rebels want change; they push against the status-quo. Some rebels can be destructive. ED&I rebellion is most often ‘soft’ – the aim is to challenge so that there can be progress. Some changemakers may not at first come across as rebels, but they have learnt to reinvent themselves in order to create the change they feel is needed. It’s not easy. It’s often exhausting; but the fire inside pushes them on.
In summary: becoming a changemaker
Not everyone can become a changemaker. It requires passion, commitment, a certain never-say-die attitude, and a belief that change must happen. Being a changemaker is exhausting at times and not everyone can cope with this, and that’s absolutely fine! Because, after-all, we are all different, aren’t we?
Why not contact us to find out how we can become a Changemaker together.