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Friday, 16 January 2015

Oscar does not represent.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the Oscar Nominations 2015.


Movies, at their best, have the ability to raise the issue of diversity in a positive way and challenge our thinking - think To Kill a Mockingbird, Crash and Brokebank Mountain as examples. So, whilst it pains me to write this blog, I feel compelled to do so.

Currently film has been a trigger for diversity (specifically race) conversations in the wrong way with negativity about a black Annie, a black Bond and black stormtroopers; and there've also discussions about whether able bodied actors should play disabled characters. And the biggie...

The internet has been full of comment about the 'All white' Oscars acting and directorial nominations with Jessica Chastain making an impassioned speech about the matter of #OscarsSoWhite quoting:


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jessica-chastain-makes-emotional-plea-to-hollywood-to-fight-against-racist-agendas-following-all-white-oscars-nominations-9982237.html

And that's the 'good'. Social media gives us a voice (not always kindly eg in the case of Annie and Bond) that when used well, can ensure collective views are heard. And its also good (great actually) that people are frustrated by the lack of (visible) diversity on the list.

The 'bad' about the situation is the list itself. And it's not just about no black actors, it's also that there are no women on the Directors list (no nods for Angelina Jolie or Ava) for example.
I'm sure Ava DuVernay, would not want to be recognised simply because she is a black woman, she would want be recognised if the belief is that she did a great job making a movie. And given that the film 'Selma' is nominated for 'Best Film', we have our observation about that.

But the 'ugly' in my opinion is how the race of Cheryl Boone Isaacs as President of AMPAS seems to be being used to dismiss the issues raised. Her position does not change the historical or 'institutional' issues, or the fact that the movie industry is not reflective of the society it seeks to entertain.


I will always argue that diversity is not solely about the differences of race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation etc. For example, you could be looking at three white females but there'd still be much diversity in terms of age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, not to mention a host of different behavioural styles.

Diversity is about different people being not just represented but respected, treated fairly and their differences embraced. Is this how you see it?

However, there is no getting away from the fact that it's soul destroying to look at the Oscar nominations and have to recognise that 'the system' as it stands is biased towards middle-aged white males and that it has not moved on to reflect wider demographics.

Could the  'charges' be levelled at your organisation?

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Denise x

For more:
  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
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  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD


Monday, 5 January 2015

New Years Resolutions and Retention

Ask, Listen, Learn and Act!


If you want to decide where to focus your HR, communication, and engagement attention and energy in the first 90 days of the new year then ask your staff  "What's your new years' resolution?".

We know that many people start thinking about their careers (amongst other things) in a new year, but I'm not suggesting anyone will respond to the the question by boldly stating that they're looking for a new job (though someone might!).

However, there's still something in it and that might help us keep people committed to an organisation and or re-energise/re-engage them.

- Individual resolutions:

If, for example, someone asked me for my resolutions one of them I'd willingly confess to is wanting to blog more. If my employer then helped me achieve that it might be the difference between looking to move on or not. My employer might choose to let me write a blog for the organisation, they might give me projects that would give me subject matter, they might send me on a writing course and more importantly it would mean that they were listening and developing me in a way that was meaningful to me and not just beneficial to them.

An organisation might ask "What's in it for me?" and that would be totally valid. Given the 'blog' example, one practical benefit might be me being better able to write in-house materials (eg a staff newsletter) but more importantly, I'd be more likely to feel heard, engaged with, and supported, by the organisation which can never be a bad thing, even if all it does is highlight a disconnect between my ambitions and options.


- Shared resolutions:

As well as the 'personal' aspects of understanding someone's resolutions, understanding what a commonly held resolution across the organisation (or perhaps a team's) might be, could direct an organisation to look at it's activities, policies and/ benefits.

If the majority of your workforce wanted to get fit and you don't yet have a wellbeing offer - perhaps you could consider this. If the majority wanted to go on a dream holiday - perhaps introducing a policy on sabbaticals might be of value. If the majority want to learn new skills - perhaps a more holistic approach to training, learning and development might be worth considering. If the majority want to 'give more' - a volunteer scheme with a local charity or sponsored activity/event could be considered. On so on!

And don't just ask the question - genuinely listen to the responses, think creatively about the solutions and help your staff monitor the progress. It doesn't have to be formal (in fact I'd suggest against it!).

If you introduce something that might help a group of people achieve their resolutions, don't forget to communicate it widely. And if it's part of the plan for the coming year, communicate that too. People won't necessarily hang on if they're determined to leave, but it's those people who just 'peek' at the new jobs sections in the new year who may decide not to.


In writing this blog I had this flashback:
Some years ago, in a hotel I worked in, an informal conversation with a room attendant lead us to understand she had designs on learning floristry. She was supported by the Head Housekeeper, encouraged to speak to the hotels floral suppliers, sponsored by the hotel, and began to help out with hotel displays. The result: She was promoted later that same year (I believe in part because she was able to bring her external passion and skills into work). Who knows if she'd have left the hotel and become a florist anyway, but had she we'd have lost a good, engaged employee because we'd missed a trick!

Of course, (a) some people make a point of not setting resolutions (does this tell you something?!) and (b) none of this is going to make a difference if bigger issues aren't assessed but... you might just learn some things that help you to retain some people.

So, HR colleagues - who's up for asking the question: "What's your new years resolution?" (and feel free to share yours here too!)

Thanks for reading!
Denise x

For more:
  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD