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Step into a new corporate culture by walking In Their Shoes

Simeon Quarrie - Founder and CEO of VIVIDA

24th October 2023

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Most people rarely stop to wonder what it would be like to be another person. To experience what it might feel like to walk through the world in another person’s shoes and know how others – people like you, perhaps – interact with them.

We stopped. We wondered. Why? Because a lack of empathy can make the lives of so many people much harder than they need to be. 

As a Black man, and a professional storyteller, I wanted people to understand what it could feel like to walk in my shoes. And those of my family, my colleagues, my friends. 
This desire became In Their Shoes, an interactive team experience like no other. A virtual space that sets a challenge I know to be real: why is Gloria leaving?

Gloria works for Corpwire. She’s a Black woman who’s been working in a toxic world. All she’s wants is to do her job, do it well and progress, but every day she runs a gauntlet of quiet discrimination, unnoticed by many and agonising to her. Gloria’s boss is devastated when she resigns because she is excellent at her job and a real asset to the company. But his devastation turns to shock when he reads her resignation letter. And this is where you come in…

In Their Shoes is an opportunity to create change – both in the world of Corpwire, as you and your teammates race against the clock to discover the truth behind Gloria’s departure – but also IRL. Because while Corpwire isn’t real, Gloria’s experience is. And by putting yourself in her shoes, you now know how to be part of the change.  

It’s not been a fast process to bring ITS to life, but nothing good ever comes easy, right? It’s been years in the making and taken thousands upon thousands of hours of work by a crack team of developers, coders, researchers and scriptwriters. It’s been fuelled by our passion for change and, frankly, near-hazardous levels of caffeine consumption (I admit, most of that was me). But the brilliant diversity in our own team means that we all brought something special to the table in development process. We poured our skills, dedication and lived experiences into In Their Shoes. 

As a result, we believe it introduces the power of real-world storytelling into experiential learning in a way that’s honest, realistic and helpful for individuals, teams and their leaders. 

And we have the data to support that, which is another significant point of difference of In Their Shoes. Yes, it wins hearts and minds. Yes, it nurtures empathy and challenges stereotypes. But it also achieves its objective, has clear and measurable outcomes, and can positively reframe the way entire organisations approach their DE&I strategy. This is the beauty of using technology to drive change – we never lose sight of our destination and can use what we learn on the way to improve the journey. It only ever gets better. 

Which brings me to a really important point: In Their Shoes isn’t a silver bullet. It’s a tool, an eye-opener, a catalyst for change. It’s a way to present people’s inner lives and experiences in a way that immediately creates empathy and deepens understanding. It’s the first step in shifting organisational culture in a new and positive direction. Because, again, you can’t argue with the data – and no matter how you look at it, diversity is good for business. 

  • Hiring and keeping talented people is good for business. 
  • Effective and compassionate teamwork is good for business. 
  • Openness and willingness to receive new perspectives is good for business.

And this can be done through a culture that is both compassionate and corporate. It is all possible. And it can start by putting yourself In Their Shoes.

Take a look at our experiences and then come and talk to me. I’d love to hear your feedback and learn about your organisation and how you welcome empathy and diversity into your corporate culture. And who knows, we may have more in common than you might think. 

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