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Celebrating our differences

Being new to any office is daunting. Being new and different to your colleagues is more daunting still. For the three of us, it wasn’t just our newcomer status that weighed heavy after accepting our offers to join Kaleidoscope, it was fear of not fitting in.

This was a fear we’d all felt many times before, grounded in experiences of awkwardness, discomfort and isolation. Experiences of difference.

The nature of the differences we concerned ourselves with weren’t all the same. From the ‘protected characteristics’ of gender, race and sexuality, to neurological conditions, to less apparent concerns such as the clothes we wore, language we used and places we grew up, we all had aspects of ourselves that we were worried wouldn’t fit at Kaleidoscope. Even coming to our roles with the educational privileges we had, these worries continued to raise their heads.

These concerns were certainly legitimate. We live in a society where the negative impacts of differences and their intersections still run painfully deep. We worry these will seep into how we are treated in the workplace.

That said, upon actually starting our jobs and meeting our colleagues, we all soon got the feeling that this is an infinitely safer and better place than most in which to be different. We were far from being outliers in our difference, and instead found a group of people who support and celebrate one another in every aspect of who they are.

Kaleidoscope isn’t perfect, but it’s open and willing to listen and that’s what makes it special. When Kaleidoscope says it wants to change and wants to improve as an organisation, everyone here really means it. Our colleague Rich Taunt likes to say that Kaleidoscope is only 16% done, and to be a part of an organisation that really values us playing a major role in shaping how it operates and, in fact, what it is at its very core is an amazing feeling.

Each of us gets to come to work each morning feeling like we can, and are, genuinely making Kaleidoscope a better version of itself, and that our efforts aren’t just tolerated but appreciated and encouraged. We’re still aware that we’re different to some of our peers, and won’t pretend like that experience is always easy and effortless.

We can say, though, that there aren’t many places where we could work that actually care so much what that means.

Farhath Choudhury, Seren Thomas and Theo Cox are part of Kaleidoscope.

Farhath Choudhury, Theo Cox and Seren Thomas.22 January 2020


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