A new website challenges unconscious bias in Lewisham

Mabadiliko are a Community Interest Company based in Lewisham. Their Cultural Humility Workshops help people to discuss race in a non-judgemental environment. They have just launched their new website, built by Affordable Web Design, Catbytes' Web Design wing. As part of the research for building the site, I attended one of their workshops.

Mabadiliko workshop
Mabadiliko workshop

During the workshops we discussed how we see ourselves in terms of our identities as women, men, black, white, Christian or Muslim and other identities. We talked about the prejudices and implicit associations that are made about us according to these identities. We also talked about how we handled situations of conflict. I found it very enlightening to find out about other people's experiences, and share my own.

One of the female participants I was with talked about the fear of being labelled as "the angry black woman" if she raised concerns in the workplace. I talked about the implicit association of working in IT with autism, which has been a concern for me on a couple of occasions. The open and non-judgemental forum helped to create a feeling that progress was being made in terms of deepening understanding of these issues. More importantly, perhaps, it made me feel that this kind of activity could bring about positive improvement in inclusion if it was carried out more widely.

Hillna Fontaine
Hillna Fontaine, Mabadiliko's founder

On their website, Mabadiliko describe Cultural Humility in this way:

"At Mabadiliko we know how important unconscious bias is, but we believe that it’s not sufficient to raise awareness of bias in our thinking.  We also need to understand the inherent systems and structures within our society that perpetuate discrimination, and how we as individuals can develop our leadership capability through an appreciation of race, personal humility and empathy."

Unconscious bias training programs are an important means by which employers can tackle bias in the workplace. Many of the participants at the meeting were employers trying to improve their policies around diversity and inclusion. Catbytes has also worked with another Lewisham based organisation that aims to improve equity and inclusion in the workplace, Spiela.

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