You’re Head of Diversity and Inclusion at DIAL Global (Diverse Inclusive Aspirational Leaders). What is DIAL and what does your role involve?
DIAL Global is a global community for Diverse Inclusive Aspirational Leaders. The purpose of DIAL Global is to create a more open, diverse and inclusive society. To achieve that we help organisations grow authentic cultures to unlock more innovation, more creativity and more profitability.

We equip business leaders around the world with the insight, inspiration and personal support they need to make brave choices and make real, measurable change.

In my role as Head of Diversity and Inclusion I support our members strategically to drive and implement authentic diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, structures and processes holistically across their workplaces. This includes areas such as talent acquisition and marketing, staff learning and development, employee resource groups (ERGs), data monitoring and procurement.

It is important to help organisations understand that authentic diversity and inclusion needs to be driven from the top and needs to be an organisational responsibility. The onus should never be on marginalised groups to educate those around them and we see time and time again that those organisations who are most successful in implementing long-lasting structural and cultural changes are those whose boards and senior leaders are taking ownership, are accountable, and do not shy away from showing vulnerability and a willingness to learn. And of course, in every organisation we have the “keen beans”, as I like to call them, who are eager to start or get involved with employee resource groups, help to shape inclusive policies and structures or want to take a lead on community engagement.

Diversity and inclusion will always be a journey and while it is great to see that organisations increasingly recognise the need and also benefit of prioritising diversity and inclusion, there is a lot of work ahead of us and the journey will always continue.

How important do you think it is to be “true to yourself” in the business environment – whether regarding your sexuality, creed, background, or race? And what benefits does being out give to not just the individual but a business as a whole?

I have always been fortunate enough to be my true self at work and I feel the positive impact of that every day – I never felt like I needed to hide anything about myself. While that is just my own experience, we do know that statistically people are happier, more comfortable and subsequently more productive when they can be themselves at work. I highly doubt that there is anyone in the business environment who has not experienced either what it feels to be disadvantaged because of one or more parts of their identity or how great it feels when you can unlock your full potential. One way or another we all had either good or bad workplace experiences and often a mix of them.

The notion of “bringing your whole self to work” is becoming more widely known and organisations like Stonewall or Open For Business are doing incredible on-going work to reiterate that it is indeed very important to be “true to yourself” in the business, and all other environments, of our day-to-day life. Both organisations focus on LGBT inclusion, but they also highlight how diverse our identities are and how important it is for organisations to approach intersectionality in a meaningful way. Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain – Work Report 2018 for example, found that “one in eight black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (12 per cent) have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT, compared to four per cent of white LGBT staff”.

That is why it is so important for organisations to approach diversity and inclusion in a holistic way and to recognise that it is a never-ending journey. While there is a lot of research out there which discusses the business case and economic benefits for diversity and inclusion, it is also the right thing to do from a human rights perspective. Why would organisations not want all their employees to feel comfortable, happy and thrive in their work? Why would organisations not want to contribute to a better future for all of us and benefit in return by attracting and retaining the best talent and increasing their bottom line?

The demands of the future generations are for organisations to take proactive and serious actions to make a difference and reduce inequalities and being true to ourselves in the workplace plays a crucial part of that.

On a personal level what has been your proudest achievement?

I always held the belief that the world would be a much better place if everyone would be able to be their true self, including doing what they love, in a place they love, and with people around them who love them – for exactly who they are. It may sound a bit dreamy for some, but this vision has always driven me in life. I am a big believer in the universe, positive energy, and that everything happens for a reason.

So when I think about what my proudest achievement is, it must be the fact that I always listen to my intuition and that all my experiences, the good ones and the bad ones, have shaped and helped me to be where I am today. I have a wonderful, loving family; I am surrounded by amazing and caring friends; and I was always fortunate to work with some awesome colleagues. All these people allow me, and more importantly empower me, to be myself every single day. That is why I feel like every achievement I experience in my life is a collective achievement.

I am a true extrovert and social butterfly and having so many wonderful people in my life and constantly meeting people who are passionate and want to learn about diversity and inclusion is what gets me up in the morning and fills me with a seemingly endless supply of energy to keep going. Every day I am grateful to do what I love and that gratitude drives me to become better at what I am best at for the benefit of others.

And as long as I can help others to be their true self, thrive in what they do, and help to drive organisational changes to ensure we’re making the world a better place every day, I will never stop working in diversity and inclusion.