“Enlightenment, discovery, empowerment and progress” at the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation’s annual conference


“Enlightenment, discovery, empowerment, progress.” These are just a few words that would describe this years Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation’s annual conference: Empowering The Individual.

Followed by their prestigious awards ceremony, StandUp celebrated the many amazing organisations making a stand against bullying in both schools and the workplace, shining a light on LGBTQI venues working hard to create safe spaces in their local communities. 

We are all hearing and talking about diversity and inclusion in schools and in the workplace, which is great, however when we really break it down, what does that actually mean to us as individuals? 

After attending the conference, I can shed some light on this… We know that any type of bullying is wrong but as adults do we really take it as seriously as we would if it was happening in our schools?

The conference had an array of experts and keynote speakers in the field of diversity and inclusion and providing advice and guidance around tackling workplace bullying. From sharing personal experiences to understanding policy and legislation. Key discussions of the day were around empowering the individual, the importance of not being bystanders and workshop case studies. 

Highlighting best practice with discussions on supporting each other as a team also came up because, when employees feel confident in being themselves and feel they have a voice and a safe space to speak up in the workplace, there is less likely to be discrimination. Therefore, businesses have a higher chance of retaining staff as well as more success in promotion and growth (which overall results in higher profit margins…) I love a win, win situation!

Clear takeaways from the conference show that, although executed in a different way, bullying is as real in the workplace as it is in our playgrounds… but there is hope for an inclusive, brighter future for employees and there are many organisations striving to create inclusive workspaces for equality, thus “empowering the individual” as the aptly titled conference suggests!

Closing the day was Jill Scott, CEO of Flexible Work Solutions, sending a clear and honest message, that whilst we have policy and procedures in place to help resolve issues as adults and humans, lets start celebrating our differences and treating each other with the respect and kindness we all deserve. (Here, here Jill!) 

On that key note, the evening’s events swiftly moved onto the StandUP Awards: Lee Marshall, Chair of Trustees for the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, was master of ceremonies and presented the awards, alongside the Foundation’s founder, Ben Cohen MBE.

The night highlighted the achievements and successes of those making a difference around equality and diversity, including tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in the workplace and schools. 

There were many well-deserved winners on the night, and I am also proud to say that the Hero Of The Year 2019 Award went to Diversity Role Models, plus further acknowledgment to David and Raymond Riley-Cole of The London Hotel for creating LGBTQI Safe Spaces. 

Check out Saski’s interview with Diversity Role Models on DIVA’s YouTube channel now

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