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Creating work environments for open and honest conversations

Date and time
Thursday 25 April 2024, 12:00 BST to 13:30 BST
Attendance and participation
This is an online only event.
A diverse range of individuals sat around a wooden table in the workplace with their notebooks and laptops. Two of the individuals are reaching over the table to shake hands.

About this webinar

We’re living in a fast paced, turbulent world, where national conversations around immigration, international conflict, gender and sexuality and religion is unfolding right at our doorstep and at an alarming pace.  When people often feel silenced, people take to the streets or social media in protest.  This is where the need for creating psychological safe spaces comes in. Whether we like it or not; local, regional, national or international issues affect us, and they impact more than you think.  

Often organisations try to contain their messages or attempt to remain neutral.  But this sometimes sends out the message that organisations simply do not care.   

Creating safe spaces can take place anywhere or with little as two people, the idea isn’t to reach a conclusion or specific action, but to listen. It is where voices, opinions, questions, and beliefs can be exchanged without fear of judgement or retribution.  Managed correctly, psychological safe spaces can make people feel they belong, that they are heard, valued, and understood, it also can support understanding of others, promote trust and mutual respect.  In the real world, we can see good examples of where these spaces can foster practical steps to building peace or bridge between our differences.  

Spaces for conversations are crucial if we want to create environments where people can bring their whole selves to work. The opposite of belonging can be devastating leading to detachment, feelings of neglect and resentment as well as discrimination and general poor mental and physical health, which in the long term isn’t productive or good for society. We will be joined by an exciting panel to share examples of how psychological safe spaces have been delivered for a wide range of topics and audiences, and to share the difference and impact that this has made.  Although there is no one way of delivering psychological safe spaces, there are some general principles and good practices that we hope you will be able to take away with you to create your own psychological safe spaces to help unlock the full potential of your organisation, and to make a difference to the happiness and wellbeing of your colleagues.  

This event is primarily targeted at colleagues that work in staff engagement, EDI and HR, although we welcome anyone that has an interest in this topic to join. 

Panellist Biographies: 

Zahra Niazi, Strategic Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for The Wellbeing Board 

Zahra is the Strategic Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the lead strategic partnership; the Wellbeing Board.  She has led on several programmes on diversifying representation, promoting equal opportunity and integration and inclusion at local, national and international level. Zahra is a compassionate voice for social mobility of communities particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds. 

Marianne Cuthbertson, Strategic Equity Diversity and Inclusion lead at Incommunities 

Marianne is the Strategic Equity Diversity and Inclusion lead at Incommunities. Marianne has taken a fresh approach to embedding inclusivity, leading with transparency through the design and delivery of their EDI strategic plan, to guide their journey at Incommunities. Marianne is also co-chair of the Yorkshire and Humber EDI Steering group, as well as being part of the National Housing Federation EDI Advisory Group working to drive inclusivity across the sector.  

Liz Firth, Secondary Advisor at The Linking Network 

Liz Firth is a Secondary Advisor at The Linking Network, a national charity based in Bradford which works with schools to support children and young people to explore identity, build connections & strengthen communities so we can all live well together. Liz has a background in creative community based work to address inequalities and initiatives which use dialogue to build cohesion. 

Kaneez Khan MBE, Faith and Communities Coordinator for Wellsprings Together

Kaneez Khan is the Faith and Communities Coordinator for Wellsprings Together, a network of Christian charities that are committed to tackling poverty and transforming communities. She is also a Non Executive Director at Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust, and has recently founded Primrose Consultancy Yorkshire. Kaneez dedicates her work to creating safe spaces and cultures that promote understanding and collaboration. In recognition of this, and for her contribution to fostering interfaith relationships in West Yorkshire, she was awarded an MBE in 2021.

Harnek Panesar, Dignity and Respect Support Manager at the University of Bradford

Harnek Panesar is the Dignity and Respect Support Manager at the University of Bradford where he is responsible for managing the university's Dignity and Respect Report and support system. Before this role he worked for Leeds City Council as a Voice, Influence and Change Coordinator, ensuring that the voices of children and care leavers were heard, listened to and actioned into meaningful change by their corporate parents. Harnek also supported staff support groups, to ensure that there was structural and institutional change for individuals from protected characteristics, and delivered training on making Leeds a restorative city, through conversations with seldom heard groups.