I’m not talking about winners I’m referring to people who take up a cause. If you want to change the world or just your tiny corner of the organisation first you have to accept that you are going to have limited impact, your enthusiasm and effort will be disproportionate to the progress of the cause you are championing. Even Martin Luther King said of the Promised Land I may not get there with you. I am not suggesting you scale back your ambitions just recognise it is a long road. How many other black people must have refused to stand at the back of the bus when there were empty seats at the front before Rosa Parks?

So rather than an Equal Opportunities steering group your organisation needs a champions group. Rather than HR staff and a rep from each department who reluctantly, other priorities permitting, infrequently turns up to uninspiring lack of progress meetings you need a self selecting group of individuals who are prepared  to put time and energy into promoting equal opportunities. May be their interest is disability or sexuality rather than race or gender but which ever strand of equality they wish to champion they are highly motivated. The champions don’t attend monthly meetings they don’t have meetings! The champions group is a social network set up on the organisations intranet to share ideas, get support and challenge what they see happening in their team or office. The numbers grow by word of mouth, it’s not an exclusive club anyone can join. Being a champion doesn’t give you any special status but it you were in HR or a senior manger tasked with taking forward equal opportunities wouldn’t you want to tap into  a social net work of  nearly a hundred people all desperate to share their ideas, all keen to spread the word, all equal opportunity champions?

A short article describing a champions group can be found in Community Care A detailed case study of an equality and diversity champions group in a large organisation can be found in An Elephant in the Room published by Russell House

Blair McPherson      

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