My D&I Journey with:
Head of Diversity and Inclusion,
1. What was your journey into diversity and inclusion?
I didn’t know roles on diversity and inclusion existed when I first entered the world of the workplace. My first corporate role was as a court clerk where I was surrounded by diversity of every sense and there was a strong sense of belonging. It was only when I moved into the head quarters that I felt ‘other’ or ‘less than’. I took on a few roles never quite feeling fulfilled and always feeling a sense of being an imposter. But each role became more people focussed rather than business focussed and that felt right to me. Moving into the D&I space felt like a natural step.
2. How would you describe a typical day in your role?
I talk to a lot of people! I’m sure I won’t be the first person to say that no two days are the same and that’s because it’s the truth. Somedays I spend the majority in back to back meetings with passionate people to continue driving the progress on D&I within the workplace. Other days I’m speaking on panels and at board meetings. And others, I’m networking, at conferences or writing strategies, terms of reference, or guidance! All of that is done with collaboration with multiple different people at multiple levels within and outside of the organisation. Which is why I talk to so many people!
3. What is the best part of your job?
Knowing that what I’m doing makes life better for people. Even if it’s just one person who benefits from policies I put in place, or one conversation with someone makes them feel better or gives a sense of direction, it makes it all worth it. Also knowing that I’m leaving a legacy behind – my work now will have positive impact on people in years to come. Hopefully!
4. What advice would you give to someone looking to move into D&I?
Those who have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment can carry this around with them. I call it ‘the trauma backpack’. It’s hard for people to get rid of that backpack but they can lighten it slightly by revealing some of their treatment to you. You’ll need to practice differentiating between caring but not carrying everyone’s backpack in your own. It’s a hard balance and sometimes it can feel impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the negative experiences of others. Resilience is a key skill – not everyone understands why our roles are needed.
5. What are the main challenges faced by D&I professionals at the moment?
The woke population vs the anti woke population, and then those who are neither. There can be some very strong views about inclusion vs those who don’t engage at all and it’s hard not to get caught in the middle of it. This is true within the workplace. You will have to navigate the views of lots of different people and try to find a pace and direction that brings everyone along on the journey.
6. Name three skills that support you to succeed in D&I
1. Resilience – sometimes things will stall, or be frustrating, or be quite difficult. Resilience will help you to navigate through this.
2. Authenticity – be unapologetically yourself. Your passion, your story, your personality will all be the things people follow. You’ll be a role model to so many.
3. Take the small wins. Sometimes you’ll want the big things to happen and they might not. But the small wins will pave the way to the big wins, so celebrate them equally.
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Online Training Workshop
Level 1 – The Foundations to Being an Effective D&I Leader
This online Level 1 CPD Accredited training workshop has been designed for professionals looking to move into a D&I role, or those who have been in a D&I leader role for less than 12 months.
It offers a unique opportunity to learn the foundations to being an effective D&I Leader directly from three experienced D&I practitioners: Gamiel Yafai; Fiona Daniel and Toby Mildon.