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Why ED&I is central to employee wellbeing

What is the relationship between ED&I and employee wellbeing? Being accepted for our ‘whole selves’ is a central theme of ED&I. It’s a given that when, as employees, we are provided the psychological safety to being our whole selves to work we are more productive, more creative and happier. We can also reveal our vulnerabilities and fears making us more rounded, understood and accessible to our colleagues.

In this episode of That Wellbeing @ Work Show, host Chris Taylor talks to Sandi Wassmer, Chief Executive of the Employer’s Network for Equality and Inclusion or enei for short. Enei supports employers of all shapes and sizes from the Bank of England and Balfour Beatty to Primark and Pfizer, as they embark on their DE&I journey. In this interview, Sandi Wassmer also describes her own experience of surviving discrimination. She lost her sight in 2008 and suddenly the world saw her and treated her less favourably. However, she credits this devastating blow as giving her renewed energy and enthusiasm to campaign with even greater zeal for a fairer more inclusive and equal workplace.

What is enei? [01:59]

Sandi Wassmer introduces enei explaining that it’s a membership organisation that supports members on their DE&I journey by offering services such as training and consultancy grounded in the Equality Act 2010.

Isn’t DE&I just a box ticking exercise? [02:55]

As Sandi says, organisations have to start somewhere and she’s comfortable with that. Organisations are at different stages in their evolution and if enei can support organisations move from just compliance with the Equality Act to using it creatively to boost their business that’s great.

Is there a link between DE&I and employee wellbeing [07:07]

Sandi states the link is absolute. Being able to bring your ‘whole self’ to work because you are working in a psychologically safe space is critical to emotional wellbeing.

What is psychological safety? [08:28]

An environment without fear or discrimination is how Sandi describes it. Being able to be who you are and being open with your colleagues.

What can organisations do to foster a sense of psychological safety [09:25]

It’s a leadership thing! Leaders as the top of the business set the culture. It’s not about having policies and procedures. If DE&I is important to the leadership then it will be part of that organisations’ culture.

What is culture fit? [17:04]

We discuss ‘culture fit’ during the recruitment process and in particular the rejection of a candidate based upon ‘culture’. Sandi prefers to use the term ‘cultural contribution’ which is grounded in diversity of thought and approach. She considers the term ‘fit’ as an almost historical term.

What drives Sandi zeal for equality? [20:45]

In 2008, Sandi Wassmer lost her sight and suddenly the world was a very different place. With such a major change, came a period of grief and anger that slowly moved to acceptance. This acceptance has led Sandi to discover as she describes the ‘person I always was inside’. She describes this as her ‘integrated self’ – the same person inside and out.


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