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InclusionByDefault Round Table 18th April 2024

Our first Roundtable discussion was held on the 18th of April, where we had discussed ‘Faith in the Workplace’ and Muslim Heritage Month, kindly hosted by Nazmin Akthar at Womble Bond Dickinson.

We had 15 attendees at our first Round Table of the campaign, including some notable figures from the North East, such as Zoe Hingston (Head of Inclusion at NUFC), Hamid Motraghi MBE (Director of Health Equity and Inclusion for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board), Veena Soni DL BEM (Director of EAL and Diversity Solutions), Louise Kempton (Professor of Urban and Regional Policy at Newcastle University), and Sajda Nawaz-Bhatti (Senior Specialist in Policy and Transformation from Newcastle City Council) to name a few.

Other stakeholders who also shared and provided valuable talking points included:

To start the event, we introduced our ‘Inclusion By Default’ (IBD) campaign. Through this campaign we aim to help the North East become the most inclusive region in the UK by the end of 2025, emphasising that inclusion should be instinctively prioritised rather than treated as a checkbox requirement.

To do this we believe innovation and data are key drivers, and the round table demonstrated the use of our co-created Inclusive Innovation Framework which helps organisations incorporate genuine inclusivity within their workplace using the power of innovation. The Round Table itself was a part of the framework process through the initial Discovery phase and the use of 'Design Thinking' or the 'Double Diamond' approach.

During this discovery phase, and to help our data collection, an important question is always asked at the start of any event: "What does inclusion mean to you?"

Inclusion is Belonging

One of the most common perspectives shared is that inclusion means making everyone feel part of a community so that everyone feels welcome wherever they go and that they feel a sense of belonging. This way, everyone has the opportunity to succeed and grow, removing the thought that someone does not fit into a category or society. Inclusion also fosters the sense of respect, recognition, and value for everyone, ensuring that their potential is acknowledged.

Inclusion also celebrates diversity, enabling us to appreciate various cultures and learn more about people’s beliefs and cultural celebrations. Inclusion and diversity needs to be sustainable, where there is a focus on the need to ‘put people first’, where everyone can feel empowered and where the advantages of progress and change are distributed evenly among all demographic groups.

Rather than organisations viewing individuals as checkboxes, they should recognise them as people first, not numbers. This is something that the IBD campaign is striving to work towards.

Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace

During the discussion one of the questions we debated was “what are reasonable and unreasonable adjustments organisations can make?” One of the responses that resonated with us was that everyone is entitled to adjustments; they simply need to request them and start a conversation about their needs. All individuals should have the right to request reasonable adjustments if needed and to start a conversation about how these could be accommodated.

Something that was mentioned was the differing ability of employers to grant these adjustments and to accommodate such requests. For instance, larger corporations may find it easier to provide cover or accommodate special circumstances due to their greater resources and more people to cover necessary work. Whereas smaller businesses may face challenges in finding cover or making adjustments due to limited resources to facilitate these changes. Through this discussion, we returned to the idea of person-centred inclusion and having open and reasonable discussions about the needs of the individual, both employee and employer, to understand what changes can be accommodated or otherwise.

The discussion also touched upon the ability of organisations to provide spaces like multi-faith rooms. While smaller businesses may not be able to have a dedicated space for prayer rooms, some individuals across the roundtable had shared how their respective organisations have implemented rooms designated for ‘multi-faith and mindfulness or wellness’ purposes. By framing the rooms this way, it ensures that everyone feels included and welcomed in these spaces, without leaving any individuals out.

Conversations and Sharing

One of the main conclusions of the discussion during the roundtable was that it is important to learn about individuals and individuals' needs, which then encourages having sensible conversations on how these can be realistically accommodated, whatever the size of the organisation. We also discussed the importance of storytelling and sharing our own lived experiences. When people share their personal experiences, this helps to inform others of matters they may not have been aware of, and encourages a sense of community and understanding.

We would love to hear any of your stories that you would like to share about inclusion or any experiences you may have faced. If you would like to share these stories, please reach out to us (

We need your help!

We would also appreciate it if you could help us acquire more inclusion data. You can do this by simply filling out and sharing a short questionnaire that helps us understand what inclusion means to people in the North East:

We are aiming for 100,000 people in the North East to complete this survey to further our research and understanding.


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