Celebrating International Women's Day - Susan Day, Connect Solutions Group
Hear from Susan Day, Connect Solutions Group
Susan Day shares what her organisation is doing to be more inclusive and drive change and what a diverse and inclusive future means to her.
What have you/your organisation done to be more inclusive and drive change?
The Connect Solutions Group was established to promote inclusion and to ensure that “Everyone can” (our founding ethos for the Connect group) achieve their potential. This ethos runs throughout both companies: Connect Training and Connect Design. We strive to ensure that we offer opportunities to all of the great people who make up the Connect team to continue their learning and development with us and we celebrate what makes each member of our team individual.
Connect Design supports children, young people and adults with a visual or print impairment to access information. We work extensively on educational materials such as examination papers, healthcare and financial documents producing them in Braille, Large Print, Audio and Digital Accessible Files. We also contribute to a number of national and government committees and organisations supporting the development of educational policy and standards. We continually push for change at a national level to try and improve the experiences of those with a special need or disability.
Connect Training grew from the regular requests I received internationally to provide training for teachers. We developed the UK’s first virtual reality role play platform in order to allow me to provide live coaching online without the travel! The platform allows learners to interact with avatars in a variety of environments – all live and in real time – no artificial intelligence or pre scripted responses! We can provide many different settings including classrooms, offices, shops, restaurants and healthcare spaces. This allows people to practice difficult conversations in a safe but ‘real time’ environment. This is game changing in facilitating inclusive coaching in an environmentally efficient way which builds the confidence of employees.
We now work with Universities, Charities, government organisations, large international corporates and public and emergency sector clients. We are helping them to break down barriers in their organisations, promote inclusivity, well-being and increase the confidence of their teams in order to drive effective change. One of the highlights so far this year is our project with MIND to support mental health training in businesses.
A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved in and supported in all areas. This also needs to be believed, shared and committed to by the senior team in an organisation. It always surprises me that organisations miss out on employing or partnering with people with significant expertise as they are not willing to embrace people from different backgrounds, demographics and communities.
What would an international future that is diverse, equitable and inclusive mean to you?
I am a real believer that everyone is an individual and that everyone has such amazing and individual qualities to bring to make our world a great place. I would love to see people being embraced for who they are rather than whether they fit into a traditional mould. Our world, country, towns, families and friends are all made up of real people with very different experiences and that’s what makes it so special. I desperately want our world to be a kind and supportive place for my children to enjoy and thrive in – free of bias: ‘#BreakTheBias’. I love when I feel that someone has been given a chance in life through my actions. We are so lucky at Connect as we get to impact someone’s life and their life chances every day by the work that we do.
Which (global/international) woman do you think lives these values and inspires you?
I think that I have two that I am finding it hard to choose between this year!
The first would be Sarah Gilbert who is the Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University who created the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. I am in total awe of everyone in the NHS who kept going through the last 2 years in some of the most horrific circumstances but the findings of this “superwoman” has had such an impact on so many lives now and in the future. This vaccine gave so much hope at such a key time to so many people.
I also feel that Queen Elizabeth has to have a mention! Whatever people feel about the British monarchy this woman has totally given her life over to her country. She has acted throughout her 70 years with decorum, quiet leadership and has consistently led and supported change. She has seen this country through many peaks and troughs but has remained steadfast throughout. I really admire her inner strength no matter what challenges she faces.