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Issue  80                                                                                                 April 2020

A word from the Chair

Hello everyone, 

I do hope that all is well with you and your loved ones.

So a full month has passed ....the first full month of #lockdown and #wfh for most of us. 
As the various pundits speak of tentative recovery and what the future could look like One thing that stands out is that the work that we have to do will be needed more within the organisations that we are involved with and of course in society as a whole, because one thing for sure Is that huge change brings challenges especially as the social and economic imbalances are already being intensified. Genuine and proper support is SO needed. 

Based on numerous conversations that I’ve had over the month it’s clear that many have really struggled with the dramatic change in our daily lives...and that’s not surprising. As humans we go through stages when it comes to accepting change, and the feelings induced are even more intense when it’s an enforced change that we have no say in. 

I guess that it’s fair to say that we are over the disbelief/shock stage, as well as the denial stage: currently it feels like uncertainty and confusion are very present because we have no clarity about when we move into the next stage of the pandemic management plan. 

Yes, there are those who seem to have accepted the new normal, who are very busy online, those who are pivoting their business offerings etc...but there are also those who don’t have that kind of flexibility and those who aren’t able to work and for those people anxiety and depression are very present and they are struggling. 

With each passing day the one thing that stands out is that we have an opportunity to communicate more. To listen more. To care more and to grow more. 

I hope that you’ll enjoy reading this newsletter as we’ve included some really good articles and resources. 

As always please feel free to share this with colleagues.
Stay well
 
If any of you would like to contribute an opinion piece please send us an email at info@iedp.org.uk

Have a lovely weekend.

Denise


Denise Rabor, IEDP Chair 

P.S. Please don't forget to follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook. Also please check you are in our new Linked In group - i.e. the one called Institute of Equality and Diversity Professionals - not the old one (Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners)
Here's a piece from Advisory friend, Roland Chesters, Author of 'Ripples from the Edge of Life' & founder of Luminate Consultancy [specialising in disability awareness] about Fear of the unknown – the impact of stigma. It's a long piece but certainly a worthwhile read! 

There has been much discussion of late in the international HIV community of comparison between the current Covid 19 pandemic and the ongoing global HIV/AIDS pandemic.  In terms of the statistics, as of today, 29 April there are 2.8M cases of Covid 19 worldwide, and more than 200K deaths worldwide. Since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1981 an estimated 74.9 million people globally have become infected with HIV and 32 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. Of course Covid 19 is at the forefront of everybody’s minds with concerns about our own safety and that of those near to us, concerns about our own economic future and employment and concerns about society as whole. But HIV/AIDS, with a substantially larger statistical impact (albeit over a much longer period of time) nowadays in the western world at least, remains largely ignored.
 
But there are many useful lessons to be learned from the experiences of those who have first hand experience of what it is like to have lived through a pandemic – the long term AIDS survivors. Nowadays a person who is diagnosed early with the HIV infection, placed immediately on effective treatment and adheres to that treatment can be expected to live a full and healthy life.  HIV no longer kills.  But the stigma surrounding the condition does kill.
 
Stigma is caused by fear.  Fear is natural normal human reaction triggered by threatening conditions. Fear is created by lack of correct information.  The government’s nation-wide 1987 ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ campaign was one of fear designed to drive home a hard-hitting message as widely and as quickly as possible.  There has been no national campaign of education since then to combat the stigma that campaign of fear induced.
Stigma has exacerbated the suffering from every major infectious disease epidemic in our history. It is no coincidence that the term ‘a social leper’ is derived from the way that people living with leprosy over the course of many thousands of years have been shunned by society and socially isolated.  In much the same way that people living with HIV or AIDS have been, to varying degrees over the past 40 years.  And in much the same way that those living with Covid19 are being treated.
Stigma is an evolutionary response. We are hard-wired to physically distance ourselves from others who could infect us. We have evolved reactions to prevent us from maintaining contact with others who we think may be carrying a communicable disease. These reactions are what make us feel disgusted by signs of sickness, such as vomiting or skin lesions, whether or not these signs represent an actual threat to our own health.
And there is a moral as well as physical component, to our response.  In the national study I commissioned in 2018 to mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, 40% of respondents said that they felt that people contracted HIV through ‘irresponsible behaviour’.
We like to believe that bad things happen to bad people. People who are infected with a disease may have done something wrong to deserve it. Maybe people who have become infected with Covid-19 didn’t wash their hands long enough, touched their face too much, or didn’t socially distance enough. This belief is comforting, helping us believe that we are in control of our own fate. It tells us that if we do everything right, we won’t become infected. And we identify certain segments of the population, of which we are not part, as the prime carriers of the disease.  Gay men (at least initially) for HIV/AIDS and the elderly for Covid19.  The most marginalised, or the weakest and the most vulnerable members of our society.  And also the most disposable.
Stigma harms the mental and physical health of people with disease. This stigma can take the forms of social rejection, gossip, physical violence, and denial of services.  In the same HIV/AIDS survey a shocking 21% of all respondents said that they would no longer be friends with someone who has HIV/AIDS, or that they would distance themselves from them, if they found out that they were living with the condition. For the 25-34 year old respondents this figure rose to 55%.
Experiencing stigma from others can lead to elevated depressive symptoms, stress, and substance use. The suicide rate amongst people living with HIV is one third higher than the rest of the population. 5 out of the 13 people who contributed their story of their HIV diagnosis to my book, Ripples from the Edge of Life, talk openly about their attempts to end their own life.
Alarmingly, people don’t have to experience stigma from others to be negatively affected by it. Just anticipating stigma from other people — perhaps because you’ve already seen sick people be ostracized or judged for their illness — can lead to anxiety and stress.  Infected people may also internalize stigma, believing that they did something wrong or are a bad person because they became infected with a disease. Or because they have been told this is the case.
Stigma does not only impact people who are sick, but extends to people who have an actual or perceived association with a disease. The Ripple effect. In the context of Covid-19, stigma has additionally been directed at people who appear to be of Chinese origin, the footfall in many Chinese restaurants dropped considerably, before lockdown shut them down completely.
Stigma undermines efforts at testing and treating disease. People who worry that they will be socially shunned if they are sick are less likely to get tested for a disease or seek treatment if they experience symptoms. In those parts of the world where homosexuality is illegal the rates of HIV infection are still soaring as those with symptoms fear that being tested positive could mean severe penalties (in some cases including the death sentence) because being HIV+ automatically equates with being gay.
Education is one of the most popular tools to deconstruct stigma. It can dispel harmful stereotypes, such as that Asians are more likely to have Covid-19. Local and national leaders who fall ill to Covid-19 should be open about their diagnosis to help normalize the disease. On the day that Gareth Thomas announced he was HIV positive in 2019, more than 16,300 visited the NHS webpage on HIV and AIDs, compared with an average 1,300 in the week before. The photographs of Princess Diana holding the hand of young gay men dying from AIDS when she visited an AIDS hospice in 1987 had a huge impact on the way the disease was perceived.
Corporate leaders can clarify that organizational values of inclusion, acceptance, and diversity extend to people who are affected by Covid-19. In some instances, enforcing anti-discrimination policies may be necessary. A patient who is fully recovered from Covid-19 is no longer infectious and should not be treated any differently from his or her colleagues.
I am an Ambassador for Positive Allies ( https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/more/services-for-business/positive-allies/) a free charter mark created by the University of Sunderland. This charter mark, the first of its kind in the world, has been designed to show that an organisation is friendly toward, and inclusive of people living with HIV and will actively challenge HIV stigma.  I actively support this organisation as I have been on the receiving end of corporate stigma through being open and honest about living with HIV.
 
We are told to socially distance.  But not to socially isolate. One of our best reduction and resilience tools is simple social support. Employees can schedule virtual coffee hours, lunches, and happy hours with their co-workers to check in on them. We can call and send texts to our neighbours, especially those who have been sick, to update them on our lives and express hope of re-connection after social-distancing measures are lifted. We should also talk openly about the mental health struggles we are all facing — opportunities to talk with others about stressors including stigma can promote positive coping and mental well-being.  One of the biggest lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS pandemic is the strength of community support and community activism and we have seen so many examples over the past couple of months of where this has been demonstrated.
Stigma divides and turns us against each other, but pandemics remind us of how connected we all are. Our shared vulnerability to this virus is a source of solidarity. We must remember that the virus — not people with Covid-19 or affected by Covid-19  or those living with HIV or those affected by HIV — is the enemy.  Forough Forrokhzad said in his 1962 documentary on an Iranian leper colony, ‘House in Black’, “there is no shortage of ugly in the world, but by closing our eyes on ugliness we will intensify it.” Embrace the ugly. We will all come out of this so much better for it.

#truInclusion is going on-line!

#truInclusion on-line is a global unconference event focused on inclusion and belonging, hosted by Joanne Lockwood, Founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen.
Who is it for? - It is for everyone, be you an HR professional, a D&I practitioners, a vendor wanting showcase or promote some tech, or maybe an innovation to build, measure or track inclusive behaviour, or simply that you are someone that wants to join in a conversation and have a voice
 

Find out more

Neuro-teamC19 - your free guide

Here’s a wonderful new initiative from our friends at Creased puddle - this is a resource designed to Support organisations and their teams - so click the link to download 

“The Coronavirus situation is presenting new challenges for us all, including the neurodivergent.
With so much changing for so many we were keen to help out. By collaborating with some top neurodiversity professionals we're proud to have produced a meaningful support resource for business. The intention is to give your business the confidence to start conversations with these very different thinkers.”
 

Download it here

Survive and thrive during unpaid leave/furlough

Sally Bibb, author of the Strengths Book and CEO of Engaging Minds, and her team have created a fantastic online course for furloughed employees

This programme will support, encourage and inspire you at this time of change and uncertainty. 

It contains practical tips, insights and exercises to help you now and in the future. 

There’s a mix of ‘living’ and ‘working’ content for you to pick and choose from.

Find out more

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

I think we can all agree: there's an awful lot of misinformation out there at the moment concerning this virus - and a lot of the time, this leads and undue panic. 

The best place to get information regarding updates - what's the best thing to do in the case of symptoms etc, is to directly refer to the government website - the link to it is below. 

Stay safe and informed, everyone!

In a study by the Mental Health Foundation, it found that three in four Britons were completely overwhelmed by stress.

It also revealed that stress affected women more than men with roughly 81% of women left unable to cope, compared to 67% of men. Young adults are also the most vulnerable to stress with 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds left overwhelmed or unable to cope.
COVID-19 highlights how caregiving fuels gender inequality
Unpaid caregiving falls disproportionately on women and girls.
Read More
Why Our Beliefs About BAME People Are Costing Lives

Where are the voices of people of color when it comes to decisions made about their lives?

Read More

Hungary prepares to end legal recognition of trans people

Trans people fear more discrimination as Orbán pushes through law defining gender based on ‘sex at birth’
Read More
Young people twice as likely to work in sectors shut down as a result of coronavirus, report finds
Businesses encouraged to consider future recruitment as study identifies six million workers at higher risk of job insecurity
Read More
Diversity Voices: Michelle Gyimah
Diversity Voices Interview: Michelle Gyimah
Read the Interview
Ethan Lisi: What it's really like to have autism
"Autism is not a disease; it's just another way of thinking," says Ethan Lisi. Offering a glimpse into the way he experiences the world, Lisi breaks down misleading stereotypes about autism, shares insights into common behaviors like stimming and masking and promotes a more inclusive understanding of the spectrum.
IEDP accreditation dates
If you join the IEDP, or are already a member, you can apply for our accreditation process. You have plenty of time to apply for the next round, as the closing date for expressions of interest is 17 May. You would need to confirm and pay the fee by 17 June for submission by 13 July. Further details on the accreditation page of our website.
 
Contact us

The Institute of Equality and Diversity Professionals
2 Old College Court, 29 Priory Street, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG12 0DE      

tel:     0844 482 7263
fax:     0844 8225 215
email: info@iedp.org.uk 
web:  www.iedp.org.uk
And finally...

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and would welcome any feedback or suggestions about how we could improve it for the benefit of our members. If you have any ideas for future editions or would be interested in writing an item for the next issue please contact the IEDP office on: info@iedp.org.uk 

The deadline for contributions to the next issue is 15 May 2020. Please circulate this newsletter to anyone who may be interested in our work or who may wish to join the Institute.
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