My D&I Journey with:
Dr Arun Verma,
Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion,
Royal Academy of Engineering
1. What was your journey into diversity and inclusion?
Equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice have always been at the heart of the work I do. When I was in school I was involved in advocating for rights-based approaches to tackling inequalities, and throughout my academic career spent all of it delving into the literature to make sense of inequities and inequalities. It wasn’t until my doctorate I gained a specialist and expert understanding of intersectionality and later went into various roles in the public, private, third and education sectors designing and developing innovative approaches to embedding anti-racism and intersectionality into local, national and global programmes and policy. My journey in and through diversity and inclusion, has been a critical part of my life, it’s not something I fell into, it’s something I have spent my entire personal life living through, and translating that into actions, programmes and policies in my professional work.
2. How would you describe a typical day in your role?
I have a variety of roles and my work spans from providing advice and guidance on how to integrate intersectionality into practice through to supporting and facilitating whole-organisation and sector-wide approaches to becoming and reaching their anti-racism, diversity and inclusion outcomes. My work also requires nurturing communities and responding to the changing social and political climate concerning diversity and inclusion work. My approach to diversity and inclusion stems from my background in clinical and counselling psychology, so I ensure that mental health and wellbeing spaces are prioritised for the people and the organisations I work with.
3. What is the best part of your job?
The best part is seeing organisations and key individuals who didn’t think that diversity and inclusion was a part of their role getting involved and doing and sponsoring the work. I see senior leaders and communities really wanting to become anti-racist and I have the privilege of helping organisations reach their goals.
4. What advice would you give to someone looking to move into D&I?
It requires a number of skills and developing experience in designing, developing and delivering programmes, policies and interventions are so important. It’s really helpful to get a good grasp of innovation and how to embed that into diversity and inclusion work. Diversity and inclusion is not a professionalised career, so speaking with those involved in and leading this work can help shed light on this area of work.
5. What are the main challenges faced by D&I professionals at the moment?
The main challenge is the level of support teams and people with a diversity and inclusion remit have to enact their work, develop accountability and achieve outcomes. For some professionals, this is an isolated role, and for others there are team, finding and building your community is critical to achieving impact.
6. Name three skills that support you to succeed in D&I
1) Tenacity: Investing in your outcomes will enable you to keep going, diversity and inclusion work is more a marathon than a sprint, but remember to always use and utilise innovation and evidence to demonstrate value and impact.
2.) Community: Find the people and build your community to ensure you have that safety, when/if things get difficult.
3.) Joy: Always find the joy in what you deliver, whether that be a programme activity or policy intervention. Remember to think about opportunities to celebrate with your community.
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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.