Our Ride – from strategy to action

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Working with British Cycling on their diversity and inclusion strategy – launched today – means that as well as sharing my knowledge, I have learned a lot about British Cycling and more about inclusion challenges within cycling and I’ve been happy to be on an action-orientated group.

At the same time as working with British Cycling, I have been working on a communications strategy for a pro-cycling client. The process has been the same – I’ve reviewed organisational goals, talked to internal and external stakeholders, considered resources, made recommendations, agreed a final strategy with the board and recommended actions to deliver the strategy and a way to measure it. Without these, a strategy is expensive wrapping paper.

And now we act.

The actions will deliver the strategy’s pillars: creating an inclusive culture; making decision-making more reflective of society; developing a more diverse workforce; framing a powerful marketing and communications strategy; adapting the membership offering; developing an inclusive talent pathway and forming purposeful partnerships.

I’m encourage my cycling contacts to read the strategy and to see where they can support it through your actions. And I am encouraging all my contacts – cycling and non – to consider how you can mirror the strategic aims in your own organisation.

I am looking forward to helping British Cycling achieve their goals. They are my goals too – I have worked in diversity for two decades! I’ve not worked in cycling as long – and that has been a strength. My freshness means I am open to learning and bring other learnings to a group.

I’ve learned a lot from the other members of the Diversity & Inclusion External Advisory Group (can we call it D&I EAG?), just as I have learned a lot from my pro-cycling client over the last few months. The lack of current diversity in pro-cycling means female pro cyclists lack personal and professional protection – experiencing bullying, sexual harassment as well as lacking contracts and equality in pay, race opportunities and representation in broadcasting and print media. It means lack of racial diversity and lack of openly gay pro riders – which leads to lack of opportunities and mental wellbeing. And it means lack of race opportunities and support for disabled pro cyclists. I like it when my work is connected.

Developing the strategy with British Cycling has impacted my work with Greater Manchester charity sportive Tour de Manc – I am their diversity lead. When British Cycling launched their Transgender and Non- Binary Consultation we reviewed Tour de Manc’s practices. And of course I used my learnings from Tour de Manc to advise British Cycling. We’re being especially welcoming to women, to the LGBT+ community, to black and Asian riders and to riders with disabilities through our marketing and outreach so that the sportive better reflects our diverse community.

One of my big reflections this year has been of the importance of ‘the welcome’. This is for small clubs, community groups, sportives, the pro-circuit, the press. I’ve often been the only woman on a team, on a ride, at an event – and different things (words, greetings, attitudes) have made me feel welcome – or not. There are so many ways to make people feel more welcome: we tell them they are welcome; we visit their spaces to invite them to things – events, races, groups, to apply for jobs, to be a volunteer; and we listen and act when they are talking. We give them space to ask questions.

You will see British Cycling advertising jobs and volunteering opportunities in new spaces. You will see them inviting people from underrepresented groups to apply for positions. You will see British Cycling’s marketing (including the D&I strategy) showing diverse representations of cyclists. And you will see continued opportunities to respond.

I am looking forward to working with British Cycling on their marketing – to make sure they welcome opinions and then take these into account. They are committed to doing this – as an external advisor one of my roles is to hold them to account.

Please take a look at their strategy. Please contact them for queries on it. Please feel welcome to contact me about my own work and knowledge of diversity in action. I’m proud of being well-connected to a diverse range of people.

I’m very proud of my listening skills.

It’s what leads to action.

National day alert

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We recently celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility. Done badly, national days are but a Twitter flutter and an excuse to greenwash 364 days of (in)activity, but done well, they’re powerful, focus the mind and become hooks to hang activity on: March brings International Women’s Day; October recognises cancer awareness activity.

This year I celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility by sharing it on my social channels with a targeted call to action for my cycling contacts to engage with British Cycling’ consultation on its transgender and non-binary policy documents.

Cycling is a big circle I move in: my contacts include many ride and event leaders as well as marketing professionals and political players. All quite clued into demographics. And I am a member of British Cycling’s Diversity and Inclusion external advisory board.

I also shared it with the Tour de Manc team, a sportive I work with as the diversity lead and included it as an agenda point at our next meeting.  I asked the team to consider the ways transgender and non-binary awareness impacts our event including registrations, toilets and signage and challenged them to consider where else it impacts our event. I also asked that they share the British Cycling post, so it’s not just me as diversity lead that shows we are serious about inclusivity.

What’s most important is what we are doing in the long-term. I had vetted our rider communications when I joined the organisation, but this threw up a new lens, so we are doing it again. One of the team asked for us to respond to the British Cycling consultation as a team and I like this – more conversation – and our discussion will inform our own policy and practices.

I received training in inclusive engagement and terminology from the Proud Trust a decade ago and I revisited their guidance and that of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Best practice is to offer an open field option and this has led to a conversation with our ticketing platform.

Although we are not a race, we collect gender information – gender, not sex. But we’re not a race and we’re open to everyone. The the reason we record gender used to be because of habit and toilets. (We’ve gone unisex with toilets containing sanitary bins marked). Now, it is so that we can benchmark and improve our gender diversity. Should we do it?

But the Proud Trust challenges us as to why we measure one protected characteristic and not another. Interesting challenge. We’re used to answering questions about gender and may fear any other questions may sound nosy and ‘not relevant’. But for our purposes, characteristics including race, disability, sexual orientation are just as relevant and not capturing the data leaves a data gap. The sportive is not a publicly funded body so does not have to promote itself across all protected characteristics. It’s something we want to do. Thoughts please?

I recently read the Social Mobility Commission’s 72 page report The Long Shadow of Deprivation which is an interesting read but I battled with for its reliance solely on data from males. It rankled. Being excluded rankles.

So my conversation isn’t over – I wanted to share my work and my thoughts because I have interesting people in my circle who can help me with my thinking and the day I know it all is the day I sit alone and not on boards!

Please share your thoughts and your guidance.

Engaging webinars

We’re delivering our third webinar for Trek Bikes this week. Here’s why Trek are doing it. And here’s the value we’ve added. And that’s why they’re working with These Four Words.

The more you do of something, the better you get.

We’re delivering our third webinar for Trek Bikes this week.

Lockdown led to a big bike boom. We’re working with Trek to share the love of bikes. So far, we’ve inspired mountainbikers to get out on their bike, engaged in the very current topic of diversity in cycling. This week we’re helping cyclists to plan routes.

To a non-cyclist this may sound dull. But if you cycle, not knowing how to plan a route is the different between staying in or going out. It’s the difference between feeling safe. If you lead rides for groups, planning a route can take hours.

No wonder the free event booked-up so quickly.

So – good topic.

Each event takes a lot of planning – liaising with speakers, producing an outline, getting visuals, promoting the event and making sure each event is engaging.

So – good event.

What we’ve learned so far: drop-off rates are higher with online events than with in-person ones.

We keep people engaged with polls, with preparation of speakers and with visuals.

So – good delivery.

Not once will we encourage people to buy a Trek bike.

By curating and hosting an interesting event we’re showing how much Trek cares about cyclists.

By choosing knowledgable speakers, attendees can ask questions and can decide whether it’s worth investing in a planning app.

By having a gender diverse panel we’re showing that Trek values and cares about female voices.

By showcasing a speaker from Trek’s Bath store, we’re advertising they have a store there and can care knowledgably for cyclists in Bath.

And These Four Words measures how many people enjoy it, how long they stay connected, ensures it is promoted to inner-city cyclists, long-distance cyclists and more.

That’s how much we care.

Goal-setting for kids and me

I had an interesting conversation with British Cycling road and TT coach Sue Allen last week.

We were talking about goal setting. Not for Olympians but for people like you and me. Or even you and me when we were kids. And for you and me in lockdown. These can be technical, mechanical or learning.

We’ll be talking about this on Thursday at 6 pm on Trek Women Manchester’s Zoom Cafe – let me know if you’d like the login details.

I’ve also had some thoughts about how goal setting can be dangerous for me. Ten years’ ago I made a three year career plan. Hit it in four. Then didn’t replan – well – for a while.

Last year I did the bike ride of my life. London – Cannes. Trained for five months. Fundraised so hard I won an award for it. (It helps when you really admire the charity (Coram) and used to head up new business for the corporate fundraising team of The Children’s Society.) Smashed the ride. And then came the come-down. And I didn’t replan.

So I will be talking to coach Sue Allen about how to ensure I don’t make this mistake a third time.

I know part of this is mindset rather than goals-orientation.

Its funny, with clients or team-members I’m great at keeping my eyes on larger goals. I must take my own advice. The communications calendars are full and aligned to their missions, their values and their aims.

Thank you Kathryn Eade from Up and Thrive for your many words of wisdom last year. I was dithering between the known and unknown and she continually challenged me that I had more control over the unknown – after all, I was making my path.

This is important for me – coaches need coaching.