Experiencing exclusion, rehearsing for inclusion: creating an in-the-moment culture shift

DProf thesis

Ndlovu, S. 2023. Experiencing exclusion, rehearsing for inclusion: creating an in-the-moment culture shift. DProf thesis Middlesex University Business School
TypeDProf thesis
TitleExperiencing exclusion, rehearsing for inclusion: creating an in-the-moment culture shift
AuthorsNdlovu, S.

This research explores the phenomenon of ‘inclusion’ in global organisations where, for some, the lived experience of entry and development at graduate and apprenticeship levels does not always equate to the espoused values, nor do the encounters with staff embody the diversity that has been expected from such statements. The overall purpose of this research is to contribute to achieving culture shifts in organisations. I was at the time the Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity Lead at Investec UK, an international financial services organisation that recognises existing ‘diversity’ training delivered at a distance does not seem to bring about sustainable changes in attitudes towards belonging, inclusion and diversity. The aim of this particular research was to bring about a change in individual and organisational awareness to inform changes in behaviour, the very basis for culture shifts. Drawing on my professional role and having experienced similar challenges myself as a Black woman during my twenty five year career in this space, I chose an autoethnographic approach, evocative and analytical, to weave my narrative, the narratives of those young people who are, for a time at least, within the culture of the organisation but not necessarily a part of it, to find out what might be able to shift cultures when attempts through policies, formulas and theory have failed to have the substantial impact needed to address minoritised groups and individuals. I listened to the stories of the young people in my organisation and experienced resonance between them and resonance with my own story; I immersed myself in the stories during a contextually disruptive and painful period globally and locally. To honour the stories, a play began to form as a way to bring the challenges they experienced to life through performance, as well as audience and actor responses, thereby facilitating the opportunity to have in-the-moment culture shifts as an intervention at an individual level. This innovative participatory process during which I have been at times moved, frustrated, strengthened, humbled and lost for words, has, I believe, the potential to bring about change in organisations beyond the management approach to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) directives. We have to see and perceive differently before we can reconceptualise and shift our perceptions that have been formed by tradition and habituation. The research experience has fundamentally shifted my own perception, practice and direction and has freed me from the constraints of which I had not been fully aware.

Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Department nameBusiness School
Business and Law
Institution nameMiddlesex University
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online25 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted07 Dec 2023
Deposited25 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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