A conversation with Jude-Martin Etuka on Diversity and Inclusion in Australia and the UK

20th April 2020

Jude-Martin EtukaWe recently spoke to our D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Consultant in Australia, Jude-Martin Etuka, about the D&I agenda down under, his take on the effectiveness of e-learning and how he supports the learning process in his daily work.

What are the differences in the UK and Australian D&I agendas?

I would say that for many organisations in Australia D&I is a fundamental part of how they work.

When I left the UK about eight years ago, I found in some organisations that D&I was still very much lip service with limited action or a desire for real change.

I remember as a D&I consultant while working for a large consultancy firm in 2011, l delivered a leadership development programme to senior management at the BBC which included several Inclusion-driven recommendations aimed at diversifying the Board.

Recently I read a LinkedIn article about the BBC’s response to a newspaper article suggesting that senior management were not inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds. It was quite disheartening to read considering the effort put into the same initiative nine years ago.

Australia is a beautiful country and well-progressed in the D&I arena considering it is only 200 years. It is also a country of ironies. It takes D&I seriously, yet it hasn’t dealt well with its Aboriginal past.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to this day don’t have equal rights with their white Australian counterparts. For example, presently, Aboriginal history is not taught in schools as a mandated subject by the Australian Government. It is optional – and subject to the decisions of the education systems of states and territory governments. On the contrary, western history, including the colonial settlement of 1788, is taught as a normal part of the curriculum. In effect, kids graduate from primary and secondary school, not knowing the history of their own country.

From a D&I and fundamental human perspective, it simply isn’t good enough to recognise Aboriginal people as the Owners of the Land, while not proactively investing in their education and overall mental health and social wellbeing.

That said, the corporate sector in Australia tends to lead the way in diversity and inclusion initiatives and strategies. The public sector drive D&I as a legislative requirement as well as a best practice approach to business. Generally, it is taken seriously at organisational levels, particularly in terms of specific inclusion-driven educational programs for the disadvantaged.

In the UK, the D&I agenda has been around for such a long time, and I feel that, as a consequence, it should be more embedded in corporate and social life without too much government intervention. I don’t believe this is the case yet – which is disappointing.

Why does there appear to be a slow movement in inclusion in the UK? I think it has a lot to do with the “class system”. I think it (the class system) is a deep ‘structure’ that the UK society and certain sections of “High Englishness” keep fully functioning as a source of historical pride and social standing. The outputs of this deeply engrained unconscious (or conscious) mindset are an indirect thwarting of the inclusion agenda and its progression in the 21st century UK workplace and society.

If the UK does not tackle class as a fundamental inequity, it could keep spinning in the same “D&I web” that it has been for the last eight years.

Do you think e-learning is a box-ticking exercise?

No, I don’t. But for me, it’s crucial that e-learning, like all learning, strives to engage all the senses; auditorily, visually, and kinaesthetically as part of the overall learning process. It needs to be more and more experiential, which is also a D&I requirement.

The real challenge of e-learning is to ‘touch’ the learner. This aspect is pertinent, particularly during this coronavirus epidemic and the massive takeup in online learning. With classroom learning, you have something to hold onto, so it fulfils this aspect of education. With virtual learning, it’s a different framework.

Marshall’s e-learning modules combine auditory through voiceover, the visual through video and the video scenarios with actors in many courses, and the post-course quizzes provide a kinaesthetic experience (touching and interacting), so they engage with many of the learner’s senses.

What type of work environments have you experienced?

I’ve worked in the HR function for private and public sector organisations in the UK and Australia. My specialism is in diversity and organisational development, meaning I run management and leadership development programs aimed at building capability and create inclusive workplaces. I’ve done this for 15+ years and continue to learn a great deal about myself and others.

My passion is facilitation – something I have done since the age of 17. My angle is leadership, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence. Facilitation makes a big difference to the learning process as it responds to what’s happening in the room and directly meets the learner’s experience. With traditional training, you’re dealing with a far more structured and one-way stream from tutor to student.

I’m currently reading for a PhD in Leadership, Emotional Intelligence & NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). The aim of the study is simple; to contribute to enabling people to become the best version of themselves.

Training in the 21st century is far more experiential, and research in human development, including learning and, organisational development, etc. shows us that learning works best when people learn experientially (Bandler and Grinder, Structure of Magic, 1975, 1976, Ken Wiber, Integral Psychology, 2000). It can make such a difference if we can engage with different sensory functions, and get learners to ‘think about their thinking’ and ‘learn about their learning’.

All forms of learning, including e-learning, should enable learners to feel the emotionality within the learning element itself. I find that Marshall e-learning modules meet this fundamental principle.

What do you do to support Marshall clients?

Marshall E-learning is the first and only provider that I would recommend to clients, especially in the arena of D&I and Unconscious Bias.

I work with Australian companies that have e-learning needs and will continue to embed Marshall in the D&I market in Australia.

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