Diversity in the Workplace: What Does it Mean to Me?

Adeo Business Development Manager, Cara Dzivane discusses the first-ever Adeo Rocks event in conjunction with Glasgow Rocks’ Duncan Smillie. The event saw business owners, colleagues, and people across LinkedIn, tune in for a masterclass in diversity from Yasmin Khan, government advisor and founder of the Halo Project. Here Cara reflects on the success of the event.

As the dust settles on the first Adeo Rocks networking event, I’ve had the chance to reflect on the amazing time and conversations we had at our inaugural event on Friday 19th March.

Since I started at Adeo last August, I have been searching for the perfect co-host to launch a series of networking events with – and I didn’t need to look any further than our client, Duncan Smillie of Glasgow Rocks.

The synergy between our company cultures and values is so strong and our passion for diversity and inclusion formed the first theme for our inaugural event. We had the absolute pleasure of inviting Yasmin Khan, Founder of Halo Project to lead the conversation – and we were not disappointed.

EVERYONE had a story.

There were so many “a-ha” moments with people speaking candidly and openly from start to finish. The conversations it has started have been phenomenal and I couldn’t have asked for more.

The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 made everyone, including myself, think about diversity and what it means to them. After a lot of continued soul searching, reading, listening, and talking, I admitted 38 years of being complicit in not speaking up when I should have, not questioning injustices and playing my role in the racism and sexist behaviour I have experienced throughout my life – and my career.

Reading such books as, So You Want To Talk About Race, Why I am No Longer Talking About Race and The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table – filled me with such hope that we can do better.

We must do better. And it all starts with a conversation. What better topic to start our networking event with?

I have worked in some amazing companies but have always found frustration in their lack of focus on the agenda of diversity and inclusion. I have had over two decades of always feeling like I had to work so much harder to be taken as seriously as my peers; for my voice to be heard.

To me, inclusion doesn’t just cover your gender or race. I have also felt excluded and that I have been treated differently due to my lack of university education or my working-class background or for being a working mum.

In my mind, having a diverse and inclusive workplace absolutely could change the world. We spend so much time at work and in this time, it’s only natural that we learn from our colleagues.

Having a clear diversity and inclusion strategy will of course make your business more profitable, but for me, even bigger than that. Being at your work for at least 30% of your weekly hours means it is our chance to learn about each other – to walk in someone else’s shoes.

I have learned so much from colleagues over the years and still have firm friends from my very first roles. How amazing would it be if you could work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, genders, races, and religions whilst all working towards the same common business goal?

Over the last 20 years I have wished so badly to even have a colleague with the same skin tone as me, let alone look to a board member or director who was a POC or female. That of course, all changed when I started working for Adeo Group.

At Adeo, our individuality is celebrated every day. I no longer need to wish for a director who is a POC, or a female. I don’t need to have the internal rage of my surname not being said amongst every other colleague’s first and last name.

I don’t ever get asked ‘where I’m from’. I am asked my story, my insights, for my voice. I’ve never felt like I must work harder for my voice to be heard or taken more seriously than my peers.

When I was made redundant last summer, I was in the extremely fortunate position that I could choose who my next career was going to be with as I had a few different choices of offers. Although Susie’s pitch was brilliant, what shone through were the voices in the company.

At Adeo representation is important. There are women in senior roles, there are people of all walks of faith, there are people from all over the world – it really is a rich tapestry of representation and diversity. As well as our UK offices, we have a Dubai office and an amazing team in Lahore.

When I suggested doing a campaign for Black History Month last year, the directors were 100% on board. The resounding feeling was one of ‘we can still do better, so let’s listen and learn’.

That is the importance of conversation. Let’s listen and learn. Let’s do better.

Want to start a conversation? Get in touch with Cara today and connect with her on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to read or understand more about diversity, inclusivity, or the BLM movement, here are some helpful links: 

Kenneth Johnson: The Face Of Workplace Diversity

What To become: Diversity in the Workplace Statistics

Haygarth – Opinion: Solving the Pink Pound Problem

Brain Labs Digital: Diversity Inclusion UK Report 2020

 

 

 

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