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'But this little owl was a curious owl'

An image of a child dressed up as an owl. They are wearing a grey hoody covered in feathers made of purple, grey and black felt, the hood is up, and large eyes and ears have been sewn on to that. They are wearing grey and black patterned leggings and standing against a green wall with arms outstretched. they are looking at the floor and smiling

This quote is from Wow! Said the Owl, by Tim Hopgood, in which a curious owls stays up all day and discovers all manner of wonderful things.

Why is this relevant to inclusion? Because it starts with curiosity. I may be an inclusion and equality consultant, but I don't have all the answers – even though I've been doing this for 20 years.

What I am is curious. When I read a word, or phrase, or just something that makes me think 'hmm?', I take that curiosity and investigate further. Whether that's finding out where the term originated or learning more about the history of something.

This is how I learn new things all the time. Like how clown make up has its origins in racism – it's based on the face paints used by the Black and White minstrels. A casual illustration made me think twice so I looked into why.

In fact, I've done it just now. I was reading through a text and thought 'I wonder where that phrase/practice originates, and if it's problematic in any way?'

Identifying content that isn't inclusive or that promotes bias is as important and inclusion and representation. Embedding inclusion doesn't start with knowing all the answers. It starts with identifying when answers need to be found or research needs to be done. It's about never assuming. It's about being aware that we have biases which means we might not realise something is problematic – so double checking.

So, next time something you are working on make you think twice, don't ignore it. Research and check out why.

How do you feel about creating inclusive content?

I've partnered with Westchester Education Supplies to do some research around how publishing staff feel about creating inclusive content, the results of which will be shared in a White Paper due to be published in April 2023.

In my 20 years working in children’s and educational publishing, both from my own personal experience and with people I’ve worked with as a consultant, I’ve noticed certain trends around confidence in inclusion and the impact this has on creativity. I’m keen to see if this is just anecdotal, or whether it’s a pattern in the industry.

I've put together a completely anonymous, judgement-free survey to gain an insight into how in-house content creation staff feel about embedding inclusion in publications as well as taking on board feedback from DEI reviews, and what influences this, and I'd love for you to take part and share with your colleagues.

The survey is open until March 6th 2023.

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