The Babylonians guide to equality, diversity and inclusion
Jane Blanchard, Account Manager at The Union looks to the stars for insight and knowledge.
The ancient city of Babylon served for nearly two millennia as a centre of civilisation, and we can thank them for the discoveries of the wheel, sailboat and the modern map. Star signs as we know them today also originated in Babylonian astrology, dating back to 2400 BCE. Each sign was named after a constellation the sun moved through while crossing the sky. Following a fantastic evening at the Marketing Society Scotland Star Awards, we looked to the stars themselves for guidance, knowledge and insight. Just as the Babylonian’s were thousands of years ago; we at Union are agents of change.
We’ve been discussing and implementing safer spaces, both physically and digitally through our work and our communities. Key discussions have revolved – and evolved – around how we can ensure thought, care and respect are embedded in our core values, and expressed in everything that we do. Social interactions and gathering spaces, digital and physical meetings, and beyond should happen within inclusive and supportive spaces for everyone.
Fostering safer spaces has never been more important, but we have also been seeing the impact with our clients and the audiences and organisations with which we work. Recently, we developed a branding project with the Scottish Government for their Young Person’s Guarantee, which is the commitment to bring together employers, partners and young people and connect every 16 to 24 year old in Scotland to a positive opportunity such as a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training or volunteering.
Knowing that young people would be central to the project and that speaking to them would be a priority, we understood that the Young Person’s Guarantee brand had to be accessible and inclusive so that all young people in Scotland would be proud to support it. To connect with them, we had to ensure a space where they could speak without judgment, in an ego-free and comfortable environment. Our knowledge and understanding of safer spaces was key to engaging with this group and proved incredibly effective. As a result, what we created for Young Person’s Guarantee was nominated for three Marketing Society Star Awards: Brand Development; Design; and our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, PLUS our very own Jeanette Marshall (Taurus) was up for Rising Creative Star. Her work on this campaign was astronomical.
From that and numerous other experiences, we can confirm that the best first step is just that: an actionable first step. But it can be difficult to determine where to start. So to help get the conversation started in your own agency, organisation, business, or community, we’ve looked to the stars – those found in the horoscope – so you can discover actionable first steps based on your star sign. So from Gemini’s fostering digital inclusivity, Libra’s community building, to Capricorn’s drafting safer spaces policies, where do you fit?
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Passionate and determined, as an Aries you take on challenges without a second thought. Your honest and optimistic demeanour makes you a fantastic leader. So lead the charge in your community, business or organisation by setting up a working group for equality, diversity, inclusion and safer spaces. Reach out to people on Slack, in the office kitchen or on your next team day out. Work to understand the current challenges and issues relevant to your environment. This isn’t a challenge that can be tackled alone – be the leader to bring people together towards a common goal. Not sure where to start? This document from UBC is a bit of a read, but worth every page to get a solid grounding and foundation with which to get started, paying particular attention to sections on accountability and membership.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Always reliable and responsible – a Taurus is practical and down to earth. You’re all about sustained change through ongoing integration. You know that real change starts with business commitments that can be solidified in the long-term. Outvertising is a platform to advocate to brands and their partners for improved LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising, and they have listed the top 20 actions to urge employers to place them amongst the most LGBTQ+ inclusive organisations and safer spaces. Review their 20 actions today to start making these commitments in your workplace.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Curious and adaptable – as a Gemini you are eager for quick information. It’s no surprise that you thrive in the world of online meeting spaces to keep all the balls rolling! But, remember that digital meeting spaces are spaces too. It can be easy to forget about accessibility when in digital meeting spaces, but it is just as important as physical spaces. Try taking small steps to ensure digital participants feel comfortable by asking if there are any accessibility requirements that you should be aware of prior to setting up the meeting (e.g., if close-captions are required for the session, if a transcript is useful, or if anyone would like to see the presentation in advance to allow time to process the information). ABA has a great resource for a digital accessibility meeting checklist and best practices for all online meeting platforms.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
Deeply intuitive Cancers are very aware of their physical spaces. Now that many people are returning to their office, it is important to take a step back and assess access and comfort of the physical spaces you are in. Do those spaces include access to gender neutral washrooms? Are you fostering a physically accessible environment, and if not what steps can you take in the interim to address this? How do you ensure ‘quiet’ zones in offices for those who may be over-stimulated and anxious in this return to office? There are so many components to creating safer spaces that it’s important to take some time, think, and act to improve. Spend the day assessing the physical spaces you are in, be it offices, meeting rooms, or outside spaces you and your team frequent often. Make a note of the physical accessibility of these spaces, and how they could be improved.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
We’ve all got something to shout about (theatrical Leos especially), but make sure that it is accessible to everyone. The world is now mostly online, be it on phones or computers. It’s important that websites and online spaces are as accessible as possible for your audience; these are community spaces, too. There are loads of accessibility checkers and blogs outlining digital accessibility standards, and these are updated as new technologies emerge. We’d recommend this resource from A11Y as a jumping off point for web accessibility, and this resource from Accessible Social to review your social content.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Virgos are logical, practical, and systematic – you’re all about improving skills through ongoing learning. You also understand the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion from a business and community level. For the research loving Virgo – why not try an online course dedicated to a certificate in training? We suggest the Diversity and Inclusion Essentials Certificate from the IPA as a starting point, and the Inclusive Design Adobe workshop.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
Cooperative and community-oriented, Libras bring people together. Get involved in your wider communities to ensure cohesion across topics, and work towards common goals in your industry. Along with internal policies and education it’s important to ensure that those around you (be they partner organisations, clients, other teams) are also aware of your steps and actions towards creating safer spaces. This work is collaborative, and needs to be reflected as such. Invite others to your discussions, have collaborative workshops and work together for a more inclusive future. Start by hosting an introductory session. Invite some core people you know will be interested in discussing safer spaces, get the coffee brewing and let the conversations begin.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Resourcefulness is a key strength of a Scorpio. You love to share knowledge and are passionate about factual evidence. There are so many resource logs online, and a great place to start is with accessible language. Accessible language is important when fostering safer and more inclusive spaces. Start your research and become more comfortable with this practice in your day to day. Use clear, uncomplicated language and avoid acronyms. Give descriptions of what you’re speaking about, and explain theories or complexities that others may not be familiar with. Ask people what their pronouns are if you are meeting them for the first time, and practice using correct pronouns, even if the words are unfamiliar to you. NCDJ have a fantastic resource dedicated to accessible language, and we also think this document from NASAA-Arts is brilliant.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Generous and always seeking knowledge – as a Sagittarius you have a goal to make training, education and support accessible to anyone who wants and needs it. Creating safer spaces includes creating more open, thoughtful and transparent communities where education is central to development. Leaders must be clear on their commitment to creating safer spaces, and ensuring access to support, training and education. This includes supporting staff members to cover costs of training, ensuring consistent equality, diversity and inclusion training across the organisation, and providing quick and easy access to support should it be required. We are all responsible for our individual learning, but leaders need to lead the charge.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Capricorns enjoy order, planning and policies that keep everyone grounded and on track. Safer spaces policies are used by many organisations, and like every other policy, they offer guidance, best practice and support at a business level. Creating a safer spaces policy provides a document for people to turn to, and to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding what is expected of them, and the overarching commitment to providing safer spaces. It is impossible to ensure a 100% ‘safe’ space, but it is necessary to take steps and be diligent in ensuring safer spaces for everyone. Any policy should outline what you do not tolerate (e.g., abusive, disrespectful or discriminatory behaviour or language) and action points should an issue arise. Be clear in what you can and cannot contribute (e.g., we cannot mediate conflicts or provide advice on conflict or crisis resolution). Post this on your website. Be proud of your commitment. Click here for a draft safer spaces document for some jumping off points.
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
For the most empathic of star signs, why not try this resource that provides empathy prompts? It showcases prompts to consider when making things for others. Try using this as an introductory activity to get people thinking and conversing. These prompts are intended to help build empathy and showcase experiences when building a digital environment. They’re not intended to describe a singular experience, or to tokenise the experience of the individuals experiencing these conditions. You’re all about the intellectual conversations and bringing people together – all while driving enthusiasm, excitement, innovation.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
You are a creative seeker of wisdom. Invite outside facilitators to educate and provide perspectives that engage and inspire. Always be sure to discuss the content and your policies beforehand. Bringing in educators and facilitators is key to encouraging participation and education, but be sure to do your research to ensure it’s an appropriate topic and fit for the group.
No matter your astrological future, ask the hard questions, challenge the norm, and start to implement change. It’s okay to make mistakes, but show appreciation for those who are working to make spaces safer for everyone. And be considerate in how you approach criticisms. Everyone must work together and support these initiatives (especially at a leadership level), for the betterment of everyone. What may feel like a small inconvenience to you could make a huge difference to someone else. So don’t assume your boundaries are identical to those of others. And consider your words, actions and feelings before you act. Treat others with compassion and respect the space that you take up. Be willing to learn from mistakes and stay on the journey.
Let us know your star sign and what steps you’re taking to make change in your workplace or community by tagging @union_agency (IG), @the-union (Linkedin), @theunionagency (Facebook) or @unionagency (Twitter).