Fearless Futures uniquely works within organisations to engage people in critical thinking to understand and challenge the root causes of inequalities and to grow powerful new leadership for transformative change.
What makes us different and why it works
Nobody is ever just one thing
For too long, most diversity and inclusion work has separated out issues into silos, prioritising one issue over another. While in theory this may sound sensible and on the surface appear ‘practical’, it is in our view flawed, and why so many initiatives for inclusion do not make the change they seek. As an example: most organisations have embarked on a “gender diversity” programme intending to improve the number of women in leadership.
However, the outcome of the initiative is often positive for only a narrow group of women: ‘white, middle class, cis-gender, heterosexual, able-bodied’. This happens because we ignore all the ways some women also benefit from power and privileges. Without actively attending to the interconnected nature of inequalities - the connections between racism, ableism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, anti-semitism - our policies will exclude and tell some people they need to wait their turn.
Exploring these connections with participants in accessible ways is fundamental to our educational approach and necessary we believe in creating policies, practices and cultures where people can show up as their whole selves every day.
There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.
Our programmes are experiential
All learning episodes begin with participants experiencing - through a carefully designed activity - a crucial dimension of the issue the session aims to explore. For example, when exploring privilege, the participants will engage in an activity that involves a physical and mental experience that brings to the fore our own privilege, the relationship we have to others within our teams, as well as the emotions and assumptions connected to this differential privilege.
From this standpoint, participants are then encouraged to critically explore the experience they have had, with the support of our facilitators. Through engaging and listening to others in ways that are uncommon in the workplace, and with supportive challenge from the facilitator, new insights are gleaned. Then, we move on to extrapolation - to draw overarching learnings from the experiential and analytical activities they have engaged in, to relate them to wider occurrences outside of the classroom, in order to craft new ways of being and doing.
The power of a free mind consists of trusting your own mind to ask the questions that need to be asked and your own capacity to figure out the strategies you need to get those questions answered.
Patricia Hill Collins
We are fearless
We are explicit about power and privilege because effective social change entails honesty and clarity about the root causes of inequities. We encourage participants to dig deep with their thinking through challenging their viewpoints and assumptions. This challenge, and overt focus on power and privilege, is often uncomfortable for participants. Many organisations prefer to avoid this and it’s why so many D&I initiatives fail. Avoiding expertly engaging discomfort head on with staff, means avoiding meaningful and transformative change.
For transformative change to occur, we cannot side step around discomfort, we need to do the work, and move through it. Pedagogically, we also understand moments of cognitive discomfort to be some of the richest learning experiences.
Further, in a world where none of us will likely ever be perfect and where mistakes will happen, it is necessary that we are equipped with the tools to navigate the emotions that emerge from confronting and acknowledging our privilege so we can be accountable for our mistakes. This is why we work with people on developing the skills to have courageous conversations that really listen to others’ experiences of injustice and that work towards an active commitment to do better. It is what we know is essential for cultures and environments where everyone is given the space to really be their full selves.
CASE STUDY: Gareth Lambe, Head of Facebook Ireland
Since the programme, Gareth from Facebook has gone on to work with colleagues to re-frame the strategy for their Diversity and Inclusion Council so that it is aligned with challenging root causes, not symptoms. Gareth has also stepped up to take on the role of Diversity and Inclusion lead for the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland (employing c.200k people and a large portion of Ireland’s GDP), re-imagining their strategy for 2018 in line with Design for Inclusion principles. He spoke at Facebook’s Women@ conference in December 2017 reflecting on how he has historically not used his power and privilege to actively do allyship and that since the programme he truly recognises the risk and action required of him to be an ally. He has committed to use his power and platform to engage with other white men about the ways they need to shift their behaviours for real inclusion to happen.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Our Training Programmes
We engage with organisations in a number of ways tailored to both their context and levels of courage and commitment to making powerful change happen.
Our programmes provide a powerful and necessary space that:
- Facilitates participants’ critical thinking & learning;
- Builds a community that is deeply cognisant of inequalities and commonalities among their lived experiences; and
- Develops the tools to re-imagine power relations, build up collective power and grow leadership for transformation
- Design inclusion into all dimensions of our internal cultures, as well as for the strategies, solutions and products that we develop
We currently offer three training courses:
WHAT: Our taster session will introduce new concepts and approaches to exploring inequities in your organisation
FOR WHO? Up to 20 of your staff or sign up to our public workshops as an individual
DURATION: 2 hours
DESIGN FOR INCLUSION
WHAT: DFI unites human-centred design with critical approaches to inequities, power and privilege for transformational change across both people and product
FOR WHO? Senior leaders with strategic responsibility for diversity and inclusion, heads of product and design, heads of HR, technologists etc
DURATION: 3 days (with a half-day follow-up 3 months later)
WHAT: This training supports leaders to build their skills and capabilities for building equity and diversity in their teams
FOR WHO? Anyone managing people
DURATION: 2 days (with a half-day follow-up 3 months later)
I am committed to challenging the status quo at work and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. I am much aware of the importance of this than before.
Hanna is one of the few people I would say has had a truly powerful and pivotal impact on my life and the way I live it. She has helped me to discover the person I want to be and given me the tools and inspiration to be a better human being.
Great energy from the start – welcoming, accepting and positive. Nice balance between being relaxed and active.
I found the training session involving, challenging and encouraging. I feel it increased my conviction to tackle gender inequality, and learning more about it. I think the openness led to some positive and progressive discussions which were of great value to me. Thank you!
One of the best trainings I have received. I positively challenged myself and I am willing to be more critical towards my research skills, work and the contribution I have to the world.
I think everyone in the world needs to do the Fearless Futures programme.
Below is a sample of our impact measurement focused on shifts in knowledge, action and attitudes pre- and post- programme.
If one desires a change, one must be that change before that change can take place.