1. What were you like when you were younger? How were you educated? How did your parents’ or milieau cultural diversity influence your growth?
I grew up in poor areas of Cornwall and Bristol, we moved from council estate to council estate until I was ten, I went to several schools so was always making new friends, I was a happy-go-lucky kid. My mum and dad divorced when I was 4, I was brought up in a single parent environment by my mother. She was very inclusive and we live in areas that had high ethnic diversity, my mother had many friends in the LGBT community. Diversity has always been in my life.
2. What did you study? Did you study in your country or abroad?
I did not go to sixth form, college or University, I got a full time job at 15.
3. What was your first role and what expectations did you have when you started there?
During my teenage years I had several jobs, from bagging potatoes, delivering papers to working in shops on a Saturday. I also used to buy things I thought the other kids would like at school with my staff discount and sell them making a profit.
My first full time job was as a telesales cold caller for a recruitment service provider in London, I worked there until I was 18 until I got the sack by a manager that didn’t like me. Ten years later I brought into the same business and became a director of the company.
4. How have you seen the Diversity and inclusion change in the last 5 years?
I have seen it become more of a competitive advantage by employers that are beginning to understand diversity is an asset. It seems diversity and inclusion are being taken more seriously, I think there’s been a real shift from D&I being a ‘should do’ to a ‘must do’ but for the right reasons.
5. What does Diversity stand for you?
Diversity for me connects us all, I love sharing this planet with people that bring a rich variety of cultures. I have travelled the world on 2 occasions over 2 years and see the good in 99.9 % of humanity, people are really nice if you’re nice to them first.
6. What are your key commitments?
Diversity to me is a way of life, it’s in me and who I am. I don’t feel I need to commit to it because it part of me.
7. Why is Diversity a strategic lever for sustainable growth?
If organisations want to tap into the share of wallet (spend) from a wide audience they have to understand the purchasing habits and needs of differing cultures, having a diverse staffbase that are part of these communities gives valuable insight. As the world becomes more interconnected those with the greatest cross culture appeal will win.
8. What are the issues that need to be resolved today and what positive changes does the near future bring? How would you like to effect change?
Businesses need to reappropriate their budgets, I often hear employers talk about wanting more diversity, but then not matching the want with the spend, only to then spend a huge amount on a single hire via a recruitment agency. The budget allocation hasn’t yet made its way into the right place within the corporate, especially when it comes to hiring practices.
That said there are organisations making hugly positive changes at speed, it’s as though they have suddenly woken up and seen the light and are forging ahead, business like EY and Bloomberg are embedding diversity deep within their culture and it’s filtering into their supply chain, this is creating a domino effect and is positive to society during uncertain times on the political landscape.
9. How do you define an inclusive workplace?
One in which you can bring your whole self to work and not have to hide things about yourself through fear of ridicule. Inclusive workplaces are happy environments that feel have a sense of belonging, this is a powerful force of attraction.