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8 Mar 2024

Practical Ways to Inspire Inclusion

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For today’s International Women’s Day I wanted to highlight the ways in which the team at Fuse are active in supporting and inspiring inclusion.

Starting Fuse last year, we knew that the strong basis of inclusion our leadership developed elsewhere over the last 10 years could be built upon. In addition to outreach we also looked within. What more could we be actively doing to inspire inclusion, not just in attracting diverse talent to the studio, but in helping them feel supported and understood once here?

At Fuse, how we make games is as important to us as what we are making. One of our leading studio values states it is our responsibility in “…creating spaces for everyone to feel safe and included to be the best we can be”.

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…creating spaces for everyone to feel safe and included to be the best we can be

Fuse Studio Values

Creating Safe Spaces and Inspiring Inclusion

We wanted to get some honest views on what we were doing, and what we were not doing, in helping women at Fuse feel supported in being the best that they can be. I was enlightened and inspired during a meeting with Cath and Sian who were so open and honest talking about their experiences and offering me insight on what could help our women at Fuse gain a deeper sense of engagement through the support that they were offered.

I was told a story about a woman and their partner needing to plan when their first child could be born based on their ability to afford to be parents. We revisited the maternity policy that we’d introduced in the first version of our studio handbook, went back and re-read it, and immediately ripped it up. It was difficult to understand and, to be frank, it was cheap.

We’re a new studio in challenging times, but we can do better than boiler-plating a policy based on just the statutory foundation. Of course you shouldn’t have to take antenatal class time as holiday. Of course you should get a year of paid maternity leave. Of course we understand the changes to life that parenting brings and hope that all our employees wish to return to Fuse at the end of their leave and they should not worry about that if it’s not the case.

Menstruation

It’s 2024 so we should all feel comfortable talking about periods, however, the unfortunate reality is that’s not the case. Whilst periods are a completely natural bodily function, they can still feel like a taboo subject for some. A lack of knowledge and understanding fosters a culture of secrecy around menstruation at work, making working life tougher than it needs to be. Any lack of openness and empathy surrounding periods can have the effect of minimising or dismissing period pain which, for some individuals, can be debilitating. It’s time we change that mindset and it starts with education and confirming our view on this to all in the studio.

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Surveys show that 57% of those who suffer during menstruation have had to lie to their managers about reasons for sick days.

yougov.co.uk

We want a space where our colleagues can speak openly and from the heart, then we’re all able to better support each other. Normalising periods helps us create the inclusive environment we strive to achieve at Fuse.

Creating a menstruation policy was the first step in doing this – Presenting, referencing, talking and including the policy was a way that we can help educate those in the studio who don’t menstruate about the challenges that those who do face on a regular basis.

Menopause

Hormonal changes that people experience, for a number of reasons, including pregnancy, fertility treatment, gender transitioning, conditions needing hormone treatment, and menopause can affect our people in a great variety of ways. Hot flushes, anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, depression, headaches, aches and pains and reduced concentration amongst many others – largely going ignored, unknown and unsupported.

A fundamental for support is education and so we encourage everyone at Fuse to read through our guide and educate themselves on what the menopause is and how, through their actions and behaviours, they can help support their friends and colleagues who may be experiencing the menopause. From simple awareness to knowing where heat pads, ice packs, desk fans and where our quiet rooms are. That access to general flexible working arrangements is available wherever possible and access to a menopause champion who’s able to be there to listen and offer further support in addition to directed medical access through our benefit provisions.

We also recommend this practical guide for people managers from the CIPD offering guidance on supporting those employees going through the menopause, including how to approach conversations appropriately and sensitively.

Being Active

Being active and in building on these three areas we can derive real benefit in a number of ways.

  • We document active support for the women in our team – a public show of commitment and support.

  • For potential employees, we show that we’re serious about how we represent our support by referencing our handbook policies in interviews.

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It’s a responsibility for those of us who aren’t women to take the time and the effort to understand more of what matters to be better able to support our team.

Matt Webster - Fuse Founder & CEO

Being active in these ways takes the educational load off of our women and our teams become proactive rather than reactive. It’s a responsibility for those of us who aren’t women to take the time and the effort to understand more of what matters and in doing so be open and better able to support our team mates.

Lastly, these policies aren’t just for our Women at Fuse. Encouraging everyone to read and absorb them to better understand the unique processes and challenges our colleagues experience - to forge a better culture of understanding and to more deeply inspire inclusion.

Matt