- Describe Under The Rainbow to someone who may not have heard of it before?
Under the Rainbow is the Diversity and Inclusion agent of 2021! We are an award winning inclusive Social Enterprise focused on wellness. We help build an authentic workplace culture empowering people to be their true selves. We do diversity with a difference as our training is based on psychology, sociology and equality. We have an expanding inclusive therapy centre with both fully qualified and student therapists who see a wide range of clients, with a low-cost option available.
- How did Under The Rainbow come about? What are your backgrounds? How long did it take to come up with the name for the company?
Founded in March 2019, when Gillian Fagan, Dermot McCarthy and Philippa Ryder met for brunch. We were united by our activism for human rights and equality and knew that as a team we could make a bigger impact. We wanted our training to be accessible to everyone so fund our free community events from our corporate work. We have grown from the core three directors to both qualified and student therapists along with a large team of volunteers.
Gillian, Dermot and Philippa come from the corporate and public service fields where between us we have over 80 years’ experience.
- Gillian Fagan, CEO, has over 20 years’ experience working in a combination of finance, leadership and risk management. Her mission is to make an impact by normalising “mental fitness” and helping people accept themselves for a healthier and happier life.
- Dermot McCarthy, CFO. Dermot is an accredited psychotherapist. He previously worked as an accountant with over 20 years. Dermot deals in the areas of Low Self-esteem, Depression, Anxiety, LGBTQ+, Grief, Loss and Sexuality. He is an openly Gay Man and is an active runner.
- Philippa Ryder, COO, joined the civil service in 1980. She is married with one daughter. She came to terms with herself as transgender, eventually transitioning about 12 years ago. A board member and chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), part of the Steering Committee of Transgender Europe (TGEU). She is also chair of her Civil Service organisation’s LGBTQ+ Network and a director of Dublin Pride. Gillian named the company Under The Rainbow as she felt it embodied a sense of hope and inclusion.
- Did you avail of support from government or start-up grants? How helpful were they in terms of mentoring and financial support?
The start-up money for Under The Rainbow came from the 3 founders, Gillian, Philippa and Dermot. We all availed of mentoring and the Restart Grant from the Local Enterprise Office (LEO). They have been so supportive with their training, networks, and advice.
- What are some of your most successful training programs?
Our LGBTQ+ Inclusion and Pride at Work talks are very popular. We are an LGBTQ+ lead organisation. Our formal links to Dublin Pride also enable us to deliver free events to the LGBTQ+ community regularly, especially during May and June. Some of our other trainings are The Diversity Toolkit, Stress Management, Unconscious Bias and Women In Leadership.
- Describe what happens in your therapy clinic? How do you get to “breakthrough” moments?
Our therapy centre has expanded to meet the demand for our unique services. We try to make our therapy as accessible and as equitable as possible and offer a sliding scale of fees to include people who may not afford it otherwise. Our therapy clinic is both online and on Capel Street in Dublin. We try to create an environment where the client can really be themselves and be met without judgement. Each therapist has their own unique story, background, and skillset, those special breakthrough moments are different for everyone. We have therapists who are autistic, LGBTQ+, disabled; we are human first, therapists second.
- Who are some of your best clients? How did you go about getting customers starting out?
Word of mouth and the minority groups we were affiliated with filled our diaries when we began. Initially we offered free events through partners like Dublin Pride, JCI and Social Enterprise Networks. We developed a substantial social media following who can hear about our free supportive events through our social media channels. In March 2019, we were speaking in Maynooth University, and the bookings for Pride at Work training started coming in. We literally haven’t stopped since. We often receive emails from attendees claiming our event challenged their belief about something and they left with a different perspective.
- What are your plans for growing Under The Rainbow going into 2021 and beyond?
Under The Rainbow has just been awarded the AIBF Business All Star Accreditation, an award that highlights our dedicated team and commitment to excellence. We are theDiversity and Inclusion agent of 2021. The management team have waived any income for the first 3 years so that we can continue to reinvest into the company. Since Covid-19 our events have gone international. Speaking virtually in Singapore, Russia, and the USA. The more corporate work we do the more we can provide affordable therapy. We’ve started to work on a new interactive website you will have to wait until next year for the big reveal.
- How has the pandemic affected your services?
Our therapy centre was able to continue online but the corporate talks booked in from March to June stopped. We put our energy into offering free care calls to people, hosting free online community, attending networking events online, availing of the events with LEO. We held 12 free talks in June 2020. By the end of the summer, we were recruiting a team, expanding the therapy centre and presenting internationally. It was a steep learning curve, but we’ve gotten bigger and better because we wouldn’t allow ourselves (or each other) to give us.
- Are there any people, programs or organisations in EDI in Ireland that particularly inspires you?
Absolutely! We are so proud of how progressive Ireland is growing, we do have quite a bit of work to still do but we’ve come so far. Our inspirations include Sandra Healy from DCU and their Inclusio programme, Margot Slattery (ex of Sudexo), Furkan Karayel, Deborah Somorin, Brigit Farrell of AllTalk, Grainne Healy, Sinead Burke, Adam Harris, Leyla Karaha of YourY Network, Sara Phillips from TENI, Moninne Griffith from BeLonGTo and Paula Fagan from LGBT Ireland
- If you had one magic wish for EDI in Ireland what would it be?
Genuinely? That there wasn’t such a need for our training. We feel like our work will never be done, however we will continue to challenge. Diversity awareness is one thing but to achieve true inclusion and equality there is a very long way to go. It can be emotional, difficult, and challenging work but each time we get feedback from any of our 3 sectors; community, therapy and corporate, it makes it worthwhile and keeps us motivated.