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Conference and awards fly the flag for diversity and inclusion

AN INSPIRATIONAL conference and awards are set to take place in Kettering in January, highlighting the importance of workplace diversity and inclusion.

The This Is Us Conference and Awards will take place at Kettering Conference and Exhibition Centre, on January 12, bringing together organisations from across the region and wider UK that are seeking better engagement and employability within their current and future workforce.

Here, Meena Chander pictured, founder of This Is Us Conference and Awards, talks to business-times.co.uk about what to expect from the event and why it is more important now than ever for businesses to have diversity and inclusion firmly on their agendas.

What is This Is Us Conference and Awards and what is it all about?

Meena: Diversity and Inclusion are being brought to the forefront of companies and should be recognised at a local level.

Our conference and awards will promote the values of equality, diversity and inclusion and aim to raise awareness, educate, and inform companies about D & I in the smaller hubs outside London.

The one-day event will consist of a day conference and a prestigious awards ceremony in the evening. The awards are designed to celebrate the vast achievement in diversity and inclusion and raise a glass to everyone for the part they play.

It’s really important to recognise the achievements of businesses that are doing great things in diversity and inclusion in smaller hubs outside London alongside celebrating the achievements of unsung heroes.

It’s all about supporting and improving corporate cohesion and productivity in teams by championing inclusivity and diversity for all people in an organisation.

What inspired you to launch the event?

Meena: A few things. First and foremost, I have very close friend who is a crossdresser and he inspired me to produce a conference which originally focused solely on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

I have shared his crossdressing journey with him, learning about the challenges he faces amongst society, and wanted to use my event management company to produce an event to educate and inform companies about being more inclusive. This then expanded to include BAME and women in later years, and 2023’s event will see a strong focus on intersectionality and bringing people together

I also come from a mixed-race family, and I found it a real challenge to get recognised easily in the workplace. I was highly educated, good with clients and an extremely professional events manager but there was always a reason not to promote me. I had to fight and work so much harder than some of my counterparts who were less experienced and less qualified.

I also feel companies need to think out of the box and look at people with different skills and from different backgrounds and be less prescriptive in the type of candidate they are looking for.

Which companies should attend and what can they expect?

Meena: This Is Us Conference is aimed at any businesses and individuals keen to learn more about diversity and inclusion and make it more of a priority within their organisation, from HR and recruitment professionals to educational establishments, learning and development professionals and members of internal or external networks and alliances.

They can expect to hear insight from diversity and inclusion experts, gain practical tips to be a more inclusive organisation, share best practice and network with industry professionals.

Attendees will develop an understanding of corporate diversity, learn practical ways to create an inclusive workplace environment, understand how to communicate inclusion, realise the importance of allies and role models, understand sensitivity to multiple discrimination and more.

Diversity and inclusion champion Gamiel Yafai, whose Milton Keynes-based consultancy Diversity Marketplace is a worldwide leading advocate of equality, inclusion and how companies can implement their strategy accordingly, is one of the keynote speakers at the This Is us conference.

What problems does the event seek to solve?

Meena: The aim of the conference is to bring together organisations that are seeking better engagement and employability with their current and future workforce.

What topics will the conference explore?

Meena: The conference will explore many topics, including:

Inclusive Conversations  Fostering open, honest and equitable dialogue. Attendees will learn how to hold the space and find physical and mental ease to allow others to be vulnerable

Allyship – Becoming Equality Champions Deconstructing & eliminating discrimination

Developing Unity Through Intersectionality Uniting people through differences and finding commonality

Role Models (LGBTQ+, Young People, Disabled, Gender, BAME) The benefits of role models, how people can act as role models, the purpose of a role model and visibility

Mental Health & Wellbeing Mental health illness and how we can support it in the workplace.

Why is this year’s conference going to be bigger and better than ever?

Meena: We have chosen a venue that is a very central point in the UK, making the event easy to access from all parts of the Midlands and East Anglia region.

We’ve also launched the This Is Us Awards, taking place in the evening after the conference. The awards are designed to reward the individuals, organisations and unsung heroes who help make the world and the workplace more inclusive for everyone in the region.

Everyone has a right to equal opportunities and esteem without fearing harassment or prejudice and our aim is to celebrate this and the companies that embrace it.

We believe that by continuing to fly the flag for equality, diversity and inclusion across these areas we can help make the UK a better place to work for everyone.”

Where can businesses find out about exhibiting and where can people purchase tickets for the event?

Meena: Secure your places through the website www.thisisusconference.co.uk. Anyone interested in exhibiting or becoming an event partner can contact me directly at .

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