Equity and inclusion is an important - but can often be a very divisive - topic. While the point of it is to ensure everyone is treated fairly, the conversation is often hijacked by polarised views which only work to undo the great work being delivered.
When I got into this field of work, I set out to be as open minded and objective as possible, knowing that sometimes this would be a challenge. I wanted to bring a level of empathy, consideration and emotional intelligence to this work and hopefully pass that onto the people I met along the way. My experience so far has been filled with meeting great people from all walks of life and having very insightful and meaningful conversations.
I have also had to have some very difficult conversations and experiences with people whose opinions and values are a lot different to mine and those of many others. Some of these experiences have led to serious action being taken, some have provided an opportunity for all to learn and grow, and some have ended in a respectful ‘agree to disagree’ scenario. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles.
However, through all of this, I have engaged and listened and I always try to understand the perspectives of others. It can be tough and challenging but if we don’t understand where the other person is coming from, how can we truly bring them along on the journey? If we don’t know their triggers, how can we provide the proper intervention to get through to someone whose behaviour is inappropriate, abusive or discriminatory or begin to challenge that behaviour?
Campaigns like Everton’s All Together Now initiative, which will soon celebrate its fifth birthday, the equality shirt released by hummel last week and this weekend’s No Room For Racism campaign are important because they open the doors for conversations around equity and inclusion to be had. And the more we talk, the more we learn. Life and the experiences which shape us aren’t always black and white, or as binary as we’d like. We need to remember this and take the time to think critically and objectively as possible.
At Everton and Everton in the Community, our commitment to EDI is all-year round. Yes, we take opportunities like these campaigns to shine a brighter spotlight – but our work and our progress in this area as a football club and charity never stops. We are currently working towards retaining our advanced status within the Premier League’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard - a mark of which we are rightly proud. We will continue to put ourselves at the forefront of championing equality in football and beyond.
Lastly, when it comes to having conversations about equity and diversity, it is also important for people to know it’s okay to get it wrong. I am not perfect. I do, however, accept accountability, apologise if needed and learn from my errors. It’s a tough pill to swallow but, I promise, it’s a humbling one, too.
Ben Osu, Everton's Senior Lead for Equity and Inclusion
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