Marian Jarzak
Oct 23, 2018 · 5 min read

Joanne Lockwood is the founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen, an Equality Diversity & Inclusion Practice specializing in providing Transgender Awareness and support to organizations and businesses. Her mantra is Smile, Engage and Educate and she passionately believes that “people are people” and, no matter who they are, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

When did you feel that you were different than society expected from you? How did you deal with it?

Personally, I can certainly trace the early signs back to when I was 6 or 7 years old. I also have very vivid memories of standing in front of a mirror brushing my hair and clipping it in a style like the girls at school.

In the 1970’s there was no internet, no points of reference and my family was pretty “traditional” for the day so LGBT just wasn’t something we talked or even knew about.

In the UK homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1967 and the media and television portrayed LGB & Trans people as comedy or parody characters. More about a performance like Drag or Rocky Horror.

So I kept it buried whilst I got on with my life… no one to turn to, not knowing any different.

How do you feel and react when nowadays someone doesn’t accept you as you are? Do you have a strategy for people who may face the same?

Personally — I am not about justifying my right to exist or debating the validity of trans identities. I am me, I am happy to talk about my experiences, what makes me happy, and what makes me sad that can be used as a basis to educate people about trans and gender nonconforming individuals — I am always keen to point out that everyone is unique, everyone’s experience, situation, and journey is different, and you know what.? — that’s really cool!

Why does diversity & inclusion matter in business life?

Diversity is a reality — we are all unique individuals.

“Inclusion is important because as a human race we like our tribes and communities we like to know our place in society. When we feel included then we matter, we have a voice, we are respected — this is a basic human need.”

Mental health suffers if we are excluded, bullied, victimized or harassed for existing.

Why do you think Transgender Awareness is especially important?

Trans people are just people… much of the issue around acceptance is due to lack of awareness, education, and familiarity. Anxieties develop over the fear of “getting it wrong” — so if we can be visible, be role models, smile and engage then the world will figure “hey they are just people too, no issue”

Companies sometimes argue that diversity & inclusion matters for them due to performance or financial reasons. Is this fine with you or do you think it must go beyond this thinking?

Firstly, I don’t have any “stunning data”, there are many organizations that specialize in that — For me, if we need to have ROI, justification or a business case for treating people with dignity and respect, then I think the company or organization needs to reflect deeply on their values and ethos. We know that the type of companies that do well have great employee retention metrics, are able to recruit from a wide pool of talent and are more responsive to innovation and market trends.

This goes way beyond the protected characteristics of gender, BAME etc.. It’s about building that core ethos and brand that runs right through the heart of an organization so that their own employees become their best advocates and brand ambassadors.

For me, inclusion is an absolute…

“You can’t be a bit inclusive, in the same way, you can’t be a bit pregnant or a bit of a virgin”.

You can’t pick and choose how you are inclusive, its an inner resonance and harmonic of many instruments.

What are the most important steps when jumpstarting diversity & inclusion efforts?

I believe it has to be employee-led, but it must be embraced from the top down, each board member, each of the executive team, the middle managers and supervisors must buy-in and believe.

“When employees truly believe they are valued and listened to then this true sense of belonging will evolve.”

Employee engagement networks are great, but what is the outcome, what is the “why”? — if they are talking shops that have no teeth or influence then people will quickly disengage. People can tell when an organization is insincere, just throwing money at hashtags and initiatives to satisfy social media. Let’s look at Glassdoor, let's ask the teams what they think and feel about an organization.

Businesses need to develop new ways of engaging with candidates — often we hear about “lack of pipeline” — but are we all fishing in the same pond, let’s try a new approach to engage, look beyond traditional recruitment methods, take yourselves in to communities and speak to people who would normally not consider applying for roles due to their background or culture.

What would be your vision/ wish when it comes to diversity & inclusion?

Simply, that everyone will have the chance to succeed and live up to their potential, and organizations take responsibility to create an environment where that can happen.

There is a saying that “there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes”, I’d like to believe that “there is no such thing as the wrong employee, just the wrong role”.

If we see through to the heart of a person, find out what engages and motivates them, we can then truly inspire them to be the best they can be.

In Work 2.0 Managers and Supervisors need to evolve to support the rise of flexible working, gig roles, different learning and engagement styles and to support and recognize artisans, for these are the people of the future that can build value in an organization. Look after people or lose them!

Meet Joanne and me at Social Recruiting Days 2018 in Berlin and listen to her keynote “I am” and my talk “Supercharge your Talentpool: How to Convince and Convert your Leads”.

Connect with me on Linkedin and like TalentCrush on Facebook.


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Marian Jarzak

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