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Inclusion Must Be a Conscious Act

written by Sinéad Burke

Susanne Moran speaks to Sinead Burke about how she is working to ensure the inclusion of all generations in Bank of Ireland’s workforce in the digital era, as Chairperson of the Bank’s Intergenerational Network.

Susanne describes herself as a digital immigrant and one who is conscious of what she could learn from colleagues of a different generation. This revelation began to occur in New York, of all places. Susanne recalls “I was sitting in a friend’s house in Manhattan and in speaking with friends, I made reference to a YouTuber who is Swedish and lives in Brighton. I had barely finished my sentence before my friend’s nine-year-old daughter, a young American girl, said ‘You’re talking about PewDiePie’. Her parents and I were really surprised and asked her how she knew about him. She looked at us quizzically and said, ‘Why wouldn’t I? He has over 60 million followers and I am one of them’. She was right, I should have considered that she knew him because no one has been more informed than this generation”. It is based on this argument that Susanne wants to re-invent the dialogue between colleagues at differing levels of experience and tenure in the organisation.

Knowledge sharing across generations

“One of my aims as Chair of our Intergenerational Network is to explore the practice of reverse mentoring, where people like me develop a relationship and transfer knowledge with a person who is new, across generations, working within a graduate programme and who knows,  perhaps even employed in a different organisation. The aim is to honour our shared expertise, to challenge traditional power relationships and to ensure that the organisation benefits from the mass of untapped knowledge and harness diversity of thought.” This format is somewhat unconventional yet, Susanne is firm in her belief that this is the right thing to do

Challenging traditional ways of working to effect change

Organisational change does not occur overnight and some might not be convinced of its merit or its practicalities in traditional workplaces. Susanne told me that in many ways, she used to be one of those people. She would have identified as someone who prioritised inclusion, diversity and welcoming diverse voices to the conversation, but looking back, she says that perhaps a lot of these efforts were formulaic rather than being connected to her heart and mind.

She told me. “An illness in the family a few years ago caused me to question how I went about my life and challenged me to envision the type of person that I could become, what I could contribute.. I  am now more conscious about how I actively include others every day. I really believe it is something that we should all adapt and work towards.”

About the author and this series of interviews

Academic, writer and rights advocate Sinéad Burke met with a number of our colleagues to present their lived experience in the context of the six Inclusion & Diversity employee support networks in Bank of Ireland. In these interviews, they share their perspectives and experiences of inclusion and diversity in work and life.

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