Diversity & Inclusion in Resilience Part I - by Andreas Bryant
Series Introduction The Resilience Think Tank has developed a two-part series on Diversity & Inclusion. In this opening article, one of our Co-Founders, Andreas Bryant, MBCI, provides some insight into this topic and unreservedly shares his views and experiences which highlights the importance of D&I.
To level-set what we are talking about in defining diversity & inclusion, we are agnostic on the focus of specific demographics. For the purposes of this article, a “demographic” is defined either or a combination of Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Experience or Academia.
What traits are important as a Resilience professional?
Based on conversations I’ve had with industry peers, it seems that a lot of Resilience practitioners were formed from specific industries such as Security and IT. Quite a few have proclaimed to have “fallen” into a Resilience role or performed it as an appendix to their existing role. We are glad to note that the industry is growing.
In light of the pandemic and other global threats like cybersecurity and supply chain, organisations are finding that resilience professionals perform important roles in ensuring they can withstand and respond effectively to major incidents. But how do we attract the next generation of practitioners, who are they, what do they look like, where are they from?
While there is no formal prerequisite to emerge as a Resilience professional, I believe the fundamentals include:
Ability to be adaptable across multiple cultural environments
Flexible in the execution of disciplines
Willingness to explore and learn what is important to an organization
Importantly, to think outside the box and consider the “What ifs”, “hows” and “whens”
The traits can be acquired over the course of one’s career, so if you don’t currently resonate with the above, it doesn’t mean you never will. Perhaps the willingness to explore and learn is fundamental and the key to the development of others.
Why is Diversity & Inclusion important
I have worked in male dominated environments and have been witness to some extremely sexist points of view.
Early in my career, while participating in a recruitment process to hire a new member of staff, I was encouraged to look more towards hiring men - because of the age group of the candidates involved. A colleague gave me this misguided piece of advice because, according to him, the women we interviewed were within the “birth giving age”. I was told to move away from the female candidates because in the next few years they might decide that they want to have a baby and take maternity leave. This is an example of how I was “educated to the things we have to be aware of” (according to that same colleague) - which is obviously completely wrong. That organisation quite likely missed out on a great candidate with a unique set of skills because of this abhorrent point of view.
In another role, I was told that I “should not apply emotion to business decisions, leave that to the women, us men make better decisions because we are logical”.
There is no room for this antiquated and uninformed point of view in this day and age. To claim that women are not capable of making logical decisions is absurd, and deserves no additional commentary. Men and women bring varying levels of emotional intelligence and logical reasoning to the table. It’s unacceptable to make assumptions about this based on their gender.
The value of diversity in the workplace is that people of different demographics do indeed approach problems differently. This isn’t to say that one approach is better than the others, but instead to suggest that all perspectives, working together, provide a more comprehensive approach to problem solving. Often these varying points of view aren’t gender based at all, they can be the result of cultural differences, work history, industry knowledge, life experience and can vary as much as the personalities of those involved.
A combination of emotional intelligence and logic can form a base for good business decisions as by most, we deal with humans and not robots. Factoring in the human element, rationale and perceptions will help us all make better decisions that continue to support our growth.
The resilience industry is already benefiting from professionals with various backgrounds. I’ve worked with a few former military personnel who have, (for example in the Financial Services sector), demonstrated their composure and structured decision-making in high pressure environments. I found this useful during Crisis Management planning.
As a result of the pandemic, flexible working is becoming ever popular and accepted by employers. We in the Resilience industry should leverage this to support groups that may have previously struggled to get a seat at the table. For example, remote working can present opportunities to those with physical disabilities who - until now - may have been challenged by long commutes. Likewise, I believe the resilience industry consists of many components that are not just focused on the 9-5 physical office, especially given that a business continuity event can happen at any time on any day. Therefore, those requiring flexible working patterns (parents included) should not be put off joining this industry.
As the industry grows, we need to ensure we continue to attract a diverse array of talent varying in industry background & experience. Diversification can lead to an industry free of stagnation and can encourage innovative thought processes that can benefit our resilience programs.
What was my journey like I am not immune from persecution, particularly during my school-aged years. These difficult times helped form me into the person that I am today.
I should point out however, that although I have faced instances of being treated unfairly; there have been occasions where I would position myself as a victim before anything negative had been said or done. While this is an understandable by-product of previous events, I believe this had a negative impact on my mindset. As a result, it restricted my ability to showcase who I really was.
My story has lots of variables and quite frankly, this article would lose its value about Diversity & Inclusion if I solely focused on writing an autobiography so in summary, I share an experience which I hope might inspire some to look on the bright side.
Owing to multiple factors, I was unable to obtain higher education once I graduated from school and was thrust into the big wide world of work. I was led to believe that my lack of higher education would mean that, by default, my path to success would be slow and painful. In essence, this was true but in hindsight, how many people do we know where their success was fast and painless?!? Also, success means something different to everyone so this can’t be measured by your bank balance, assets or how many followers you have on social media.
I got into this industry because there were certain individuals who believed in who I presented myself to be. I had been told that I had a series of soft skills that displayed a high level of “Personal Resilience” which will help lay a foundation to succeed in the resilience industry professionally. This industry can benefit from exploring an array of valuable skills that might have only been obtained through experiences of stigma, persecution, and exclusion. These experiences can help shape our collective understanding of how a component of personal resilience is developed.
Conclusion I believe that we should all work in a world that is free from misconceived biases. Regardless of our demographic, I believe that we should all have the opportunity to demonstrate our abilities on equal levels.
It is important to approach bias from a position of debate and not necessarily righteousness. Those who have been biased towards demographics that they themselves do not represent, may not consciously know that they are actively contributing towards it. The point here is that they may not necessarily believe it is hurtful or wrong due to being institutionalized by their social and economic conditioning.
The path forward then is this; we must all treat each other with respect and promote equity, I would not be here without it and how boring would it be if we were all from the same background, looked and acted the same.
Diversity & Inclusion is beautiful
About Andreas Bryant, MBCI
Andreas is the co-founder of the Resilience Think Tank and currently an employed BC practitioner in the Financial Services industry based out of the UK, but operating across multiple jurisdictions. He has been in the Resilience space for about 8 years with an additional 12 years’ experience operating across Financial Services, Management Consulting, Banking, Property Management and Retail.