Diversity & Inclusion

What is Homeward Bound’s position on racial inequity/injustice/discrimination?

Without equivocation, Homeward Bound is categorically opposed to any form of discrimination based on the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class and gender, as they apply to a given individual or group, and which create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

We hold that through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us.

Homeward Bound is learning to do this better. We recognise we have a long way to go.

Homeward Bound’s recognises that public declarations must be matched with actions. We believe that being vigilant in this context is crucial and that we must continue this focus indefinitely. 

Our work in this area:

a. Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) – policy development and implementation

Homeward Bound is currently formalising, consolidating and activating its work in DE&I.

It aims to:

  • create a diverse cohort of participants, volunteers and staff via processes which recognise and value diversity and equity
  • be collectively ambitious in our endeavour to be diverse and inclusive
  • develop and implement a formal DE&I policy that is intersectional, underpins our strategy, and that encompasses and is integrated across all aspects of Homeward Bound

This work will be guided by a DE&I development and working group, which will include Co-founders, Faculty, Business Hub and alumnae representation.

Phase 1 of DE&I (to be completed Feb/ Mar 2021)

  • Finalise the DE&I Development Group
  • Group to oversee/ contribute to the development of Homeward Bound DE&I policies, procedures and guidelines 
  • Group to recommend specialists to support this process

Phase 2 of DE&I (to be completed Dec 2021)

  • Establish a DE&I Working Group 
  • Group to drive, support and action the implementation the DE&I policies across the breadth of Homeward Bound
  • Group to drive stakeholder communication (including alumns) regarding the work
  • There will be an expression of interest process for alumnae to join both groups, and alumnae feedback will be sought throughout the process

Under consideration by the Homeward Bound Board: raising funding for an independent DE & I consultant to ensure we are using best available expertise. 

b. Participant selection and recruitment

Summary of approaches to tackling diversity to date

  • HB1 – diversity was focused around career stage and age.
  • HB2 to 5 – diversity expanded to capture career stage, age, nationality, ethnicity (where determinable), discipline and life experience (where determinable). In recruitment, nationality receives extra “weighting” in participant scores.
  • HB6 – included an extra weighting for “women of colour”, in attempt to increase intersectionality in our cohort. 
    To date we have not asked participants to about their sexuality, religion, or social identity.

c. Faculty selection/ recruitment

  • As of HB4 – greater effort to increase diversity in the Faculty, predominantly around country of origin, age and life experience.
  • ‘Elder’ program now led by Musimbi Kanyoro: HB3 Christiana Figueres, HB4 Musimbi Kanyoro, HB5
  • Australian Indigenous leader (TBC)
  • Faculty skill development in DE&I – sessions run by Musimbi Kanyoro
  • From mid-2020 – Faculty positions advertised in HB alumnae network
  • Challenges – running an effective Faculty across multiple time zones; capacity to volunteer 

d. Program and Curriculum Development

HB4 – DE&I content delivered to participants by Musimbi Kanyoro
HB5/ 2020 

  • DE&I/ intersectionality masterclass delivered by Musimbi Kanyoro
    ‘Leadership across different cultures’ – monthly presentation and discussion series (from Sep 2020)

As Homeward Bound’s DE&I policy development and implementation work unfolds, our aim is to build on these efforts.

Research was undertaken during Homeward Bound 1 (instigated by Co-founder & CEO Fabian Dattner) by Dr Meredith Nash (awarded a scholarship for participation in Homeward Bound and funding for research by University of Tasmania), and published in 2020. Here are some of Dr Nash’s observations and recommendations and an indication of what Homeward Bound has and will continue to address.

A link to the research can be found here.

a. Lack of intersectionality: Homeward Bound (1) failed to take an intersectional approach, thereby deleting any ‘others’ and positioning the dominant group’s experience as being shared by all women. In HB, gender was treated as a demographic variable and not one of participants’ multiple socio-political identities as in an intersectional approach.  In other words, the single-identity format of HB problematically privileged gender over other sources of identity (e.g. race/ ethnicity, class, sexuality). This should be addressed in future iterations of the HB program. 

Solutions posed in the research:

  • Programs can use case studies or problems that ‘tease out intersectional workplace dilemmas’ or ask participants to share their personal experiences of marginalisation.
  • Uncomfortable conversations should be facilitated with regard to white privilege.
  • Leadership facilitators need to be open to multiple viewpoints to encourage deep learning in relation to identity.

How and when will these recommendations be taken on board and have or will be implemented?

As outlined above:

  • HB committed to DE&I policy development and implementation across the breadth of the HB organisation and program, including staff (board, faculty, HB Ops), participants and program content. Timeframe: 2020-2021
  • More transparent and accessible recruitment processes for HB Faculty. Timeframe: 2020/2021
  • Diversity quotas for HB participant reviewing and selection. Timeframe: ongoing
  • Development of the Elder Program (the Busara Circle)
  • Introduction of leadership from different cultures conversation

Ultimate aim: HB is equipped to “create the safe, intersectional learning environment which optimises success”.

 

b. Program only focuses on the individual, and not on the systemic barriers faced by STEMM women: The HB program itself will do little to alter or impact STEMM research culture and/ or structural inequalities embedded in the workplace or household. The program’s approach to leadership is individualised and therefore does not adequately account for the contexts to which women return at the completion of the program.The 2016 program content included no specific information about gender bias or the challenges facing women in STEMM specifically.

Solutions posed in the research:

  • Focus not just on the individual, but on the context or systemic barriers facing women (whether at home or work)

How and when will these recommendations be taken on board and have or will be implemented?

  • Our purpose is to develop leadership capability for women in STEMM and to build a network in support of a sustainable future (for the greater good). We do this so that the network and women that have gone through the program have the skills to tackle the system.
  • We never intended (originally) to tackle systemic issues; the founding premise was that if we change the leadership mindset, the system will change.
  • Over time the community involved with HB (alumnae) are influencing change (MPA, COP, carbon offsetting, bush fire response, Gender Fact Sheet etc.)

However, we recognise this now needs a robust conversation and review. The Board is currently reviewing Homeward Bound’s strategy and this question will be addressed during this process.

c. Lack of physical and psychological safety for participants in the remote learning environment: Organisers were naive to the realities of such an environment and did not have adequate training or expertise to support participants on their leadership journeys. Lack of empathy from one of the program instructors made them feel unsafe. Lack of training for participants and staff in living in extreme environments.

Solutions posed in research:

  • participants undergo medical/ mental health screenings prior to enrolment
  • adequately trained staff, including mental health experts
  • adequate preparation for participants and staff in living in extreme environments
  • research noted that some of the issues regarding physical safety had already been addressed

How and when will these recommendations have been taken on board and have or will be implemented?

  • HB made 60+ changes post HB1 to ensure physical and psychological safety onboard
  • We seek program feedback from each cohort, and aim to respond to recommendations as quickly as we are able
  • We now undertake medical / mental health screenings prior to enrolment
  • We have an independent Wellbeing Team in place for the whole of the program (comprising of mental health professionals), including an onboard psychiatrist and coach
  • We have a Code of Conduct and risk assessment processes regarding the voyage (under review for more explicit response to the risk of sexual abuse and the protocols for managing this)
  • We have onboard feedback mechanisms and a hierarchy of support (to escalate issues for resolution if necessary)
The speed at which progress is being made on policies relating to inclusivity and equity needs to match the speed at which Homeward Bound is recruiting women otherwise we will see these issues perpetuate.

We agree and we are not there yet.

Homeward Bound is committed to developing a DE&I policy and implementation plan, and we are taking steps to achieve this. 

We are committed to changes in recruitment of participants, faculty, content, leadership models and engagement of alumnae.

The need for external and independent expertise in equity, diversity, inclusion and intersectionality.

We agree. The Chair of the Board has committed to elevating the focus on finding the requisite funding to ensure HB has the best independent advice on DE&I available.

We have made changes in the education of faculty, the selection of participants and faculty, and have invested in increasing our awareness of intersectionality throughout the breadth of the organisation and program.

We agree this is an ongoing journey.

How did recruitment of Homeward Bound’s Board happen? Was ethnic diversity and First Nation representation considered?

The Board formed in 2019. The current makeup is a result of the skillsets needed to establish a not-for-profit organisation in Australia, which include legal, financial, strategic, risk management and stakeholder requirements. The board make up will change and greater diversity has already been identified as desirable. 

Is the strong bias towards Australian participants a result of who knows about Homeward Bound? And can this be addressed through targeted advertising? How much advertising do you do about this program in other countries around the world?

As Homeward Bound has progressed, the geographic make-up of participants in each cohort has steadily become more diverse.

For Homeward Bound 6, only 15 of the 100 participants are Australian.

Homeward Bound relies on word of mouth from its participants and supporters, and advertising via its strategic partners. As this global network becomes more geographically diverse, so too do our participants. 

This is supported by Homeward Bound’s participant selection process, which utilises diversity quotas.

We need more scholarships to address the equity issue to deal with the cost issue.

We absolutely agree. The decision to become a not-for-profit organisation (as of 1 July 2020) was made so that we are able to receive tax deductible donations from individuals and organisations living in Australia, so as to support our fundraising efforts for scholarships.

We currently do not have the capacity to have a paid fundraising expert in the Operations Team, so we look to our network to support us with this. However, more can definitely be done at this point in time, which we acknowledge.

Feedback Mechanisms

Raising and responding to negative feedback in Homeward Bound (both on social media and via other means).

Homeward Bound has recently developed a feedback form on our website, which is available to alumnae to give feedback anonymously. This will be advertised to alumnae via The Convergence and provided as a link pinned to the top of each private alumnae page.

We will acknowledge all feedback received via this platform and will give an indication of when we are able to respond. Please note that depending on the nature of the feedback, response times can vary. This is not due to an unwillingness to action feedback – some things take longer than others due to the complexity of the task at hand.

Social media is not a vehicle for feedback to Homeward Bound, and nor are the private alumnae pages. The (alumnae-developed) code of conduct that governs the private alumnae pages states the purpose of the pages and provides contact details on how to feedback.

HOMEWARD BOUND’S PURPOSE, VISION AND PROGRAM

Potential for mismatch and misunderstanding between Homeward Bound program content and public-facing comms.
  • Communication has been a central pillar of Homeward Bound, to ensure a visible platform for all participants and alumnae to use
  • We articulate our purpose, vision via the Homeward Bound strategy map, which is published on our website here
  • We purposely activate our expanding alumnae network and global partners to communicate our message on our behalf – which occurs across many languages and cultural contexts. This results in comms that have not been as ‘on message’ as we would wish, and this has led to confusion regarding Homeward Bound’s purpose
  • As we build capacity within HB HQ, we have been addressing this lack of consistency. Most recently, we have appointed a Communications Manager to the Operations Team, who will facilitate communication between contributors, alumnae, participants and public
  • We acknowledge that we have some distance to go in improving our communications.
Is Homeward Bound a climate change organisation?

Homeward Bound’s purpose is to develop leadership capability for women in STEMM and to build a network leading for a sustainable future (for the greater good).

We have specifically focused on women leading with a STEMM background as they are the best equipped to take the skills that they learn in the program and use them for the sustainability of the planet.

Our skill is in leadership development, visibility, science communication and Antarctic science – the participants skills are in what they do with what they learn and the network after the program, in a way that best reflects their area of expertise and influence.

This network is already collaborating on multiple projects around the planet, all of which are focused on the sustainability of the planet (and not limited to climate change). Our definition of what constitutes projects that focus on the sustainability of the planet are those that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. You can read about Homeward Bound’s commitment to the SDGs here.

Building the network of STEMM women is central to creating a collaborative environment in which ripple projects and initiatives occur. We do everything we can to support this, but it is not our core contribution or focus.

In our current strategy review, building the global network will receive greater focus.

The articulation of our purpose has not always been as clear as it could be, and we are working on this.

Why don’t we pay contributors (faculty, coaches, alumnae who contribute)?

The Homeward Bound program was designed to be as inexpensive as possible for participants. This has been achieved through relying on a predominantly volunteer workforce, which through their generosity and the in-kind support of our many program partners and donors, has allowed us to charge participants half of the actual costs of the program.

However, times are changing: Homeward Bound is much larger and more complex and requires more and more time from its contributors.

As of 1 July 2020, Homeward Bound became a not-for-profit organisation, a step instigated by the need for a different kind of operational approach and structure. As a registered charity, this will give us access to more funds, which will in turn build our capacity to pay contributors, including key staff. 

Please refer to the diversity, equity, and inclusion section (above) for more questions relating to Homeward Bound’s purpose, vision and program.

PARTICIPANT SAFETY AND WELLBEING

Does the crew have to agree to a code of conduct? What rules or regulations are the crew bound by?

The Homeward Bound Code of Conduct is built into ship and crew agreements. In addition to this, all ship crew operate under the Merchant Navy Code of Conduct, which they commit to within their employment contract (a Seafarer’s Employment Agreement). The Merchant Navy Code of Conduct specifically addresses offences of gross misconduct, which includes sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment, intimidation and coercion. There is a strict no-fraternisation policy and no alcohol consumption policy in place for ship crew.

 

Please refer to the diversity, equity, and inclusion section (above) for more questions relating to Homeward Bound’s policies regarding participant safety and wellbeing.

THE LEADERSHIP DOCUMENTARY

 

The Leadership is getting lots of people talking about gender equity and Homeward Bound but wasn’t 100% representative of what HB is or what HB1 was.  Was it worth it?

The Leadership sends a strong and powerful message to audiences: we must accelerate change by having more women leaders in STEMM and remove the structural inequalities in STEMM to create a better future for the planet. The film captures the highs and lows experienced by some of the brave women who took part in the first Homeward Bound program in 2016. The documentary offers viewers a raw insight into the first Homeward Bound journey, which four years later, is on track to reach its goal of supporting and creating an international network of 1000 female leaders by 2026.

The film is not always comfortable viewing. However, it models the leadership that Homeward Bound promotes – collaborative, inclusive and legacy minded. Our dreamer and leader Fabian Dattner has been and continues to be open to feedback, and recognises she will continue to have as much to learn in the journey as the women participating.

Many changes were made to the Homeward Bound following the first voyage, and we know that participants of HB2, 3 and 4 had very different experiences to those portrayed in the film. We undertook an extensive feedback process following HB1, and continue to do this each year. This resulted in over 60 changes to the program and many HB1 alumnae joining the faculty and leading subsequent programs and voyages.

Was it worth it?

The film shows just how hard leadership can be and the “story” chosen by filmmaker Ile Barre and Bunya Productions highlights personal stories that show the effects of the bias faced by women in STEMM.

In November 2020 Homeward Bound began a visibility campaign around our Gender Fact Sheet resource (genderfacts.org) which compliments the film and calls for women to keep drawing attention to the real barriers weighing down women in STEMM. We can’t change what we can’t see, and only by sharing our stories and having these difficult conversations will we see changes. In this, the film becomes an important tool for engaging audiences and starting the conversation.

The Leadership Film is significantly increasing HB visibility as a program but I find this really difficult as I don't feel it accurately represents the program and how much it has evolved. The program is big and everyone has different wants and needs so it's never going to be perfect for everyone but so many people have taken so much away from it in a positive way, and continue to take so much from the network and each individual journey. How are others navigating these conversations around the film? And will we ever tell a different story of the evolution of HB?

We can’t change history – the events portrayed in the film did happen. However, we can frame it in leadership terms as a story of growth and change, of strength, purpose and stubborn belief in values. It shows how hard leadership really is and it is a testament to the vision of Fabian and co-founders Justine Shaw and Mary-Anne Lea that they persevered and grew Homeward Bound into the initiative it is today. There is still much work to do.

The themes in the film – of imposter syndrome, leadership, working mothers, diversity and harassment – are difficult subjects and, in some cases, triggers for women in STEMM. But they are real barriers that women still face. The film is an opportunity to start having these conversations in your own organisations.

Will we ever tell a different story?

Yes, as the initiative evolves the story will too. In the meantime we all have a part to play in being open about the barriers, but also sharing stories of success and collaboration.

Homeward Bound employed a Communications Manager in October 2020, dedicated to driving the external and internal story-telling for the initiative. Make sure you’re sharing your own success with media@homewardboundprojects.com.au

Are there any plans to film The Leadership 2 with HB10? Could be a great follow up to see how HB has evolved over the process?

That is a fabulous idea.

In order to use HB as a platform, it is important to understand the external perception of HB, i.e. for those who have no knowledge beyond The Leadership. Hence my question is what is the perception for those who only know HB through the film?

The reception has been mixed, but generally very positive. 

Bunya Films reported that when they  showed the film to a young audience of year 10 through to first year uni students, the young women in the group felt really empowered and positive. Being prepared and knowing these issues exist in the workplace allows them to be ready as they move through their training and more empowered to call out and stand up to these behaviours. 

A boys school principal  had also asked that the film be made available to young men because often gender issue education is framed in an “us vs them” format and the film gave them a much better understanding of the real effects of gender bias. Through Good Pitch funding, Homeward Bound and Bunya Films are working together to produce educational segments from the film, and unseen footage, that will explore some of the issues touched on in the film in a training context.

At Homeward Bound we have tied the film to our Gender Fact Sheet campaign, which will develop over 12 months to promote the issues faced by women in STEMM and engage leaders and change makers in solutions and actions that can be taken in the workplace to combat them. We plan to tie it into the 2021 International Women’s Day theme #choosetochallenge to create resources that can be used to keep the conversation about gender bias alive. We can’t change what we can’t see.

So, it becomes even more important that as HB alumnae, faculty and staff we own the story around the barriers to women in STEMM, the growth of the program, what real leadership looks like, and the importance of following your dreams and not being stopped at the first hurdle. We can be proud that the film shows there is a real need for this program, that the issues are real, and damaging, and that our leaders must be inclusive, collaborative, legacy-minded and trustworthy with assets – people and money. We need more women at the leadership table to contribute to the very complex challenges we face as a planet. 

HOMEWARD BOUND FUTURE PROGRAMS

What is happening for HB6? On hold until more clarity or selected?

The Homeward Bound 6 program will run from 1 March 2021. Participants have been selected. You can meet them here.

Due to the global uncertainty, we have offered the program in two stages:

Stage One: Online Program – 1 March 2021 to 28 Feb 2022

Stage Two: Face-to-face Intensive, Argentina and Antarctica – March 2022 (TBC)

We will not be confirming the face-to-face intensive until a WHO accredited globally accessible vaccine is available, and that all participants can travel. At such a time, participants will have the opportunity to withdraw from the program if they are unable / unwilling to travel. Participants will not be required to make payments for the face-to-face intensive of the program until it has been confirmed.