21 October 2020 - Article
I was born in India and moved to the UK at a young age, unaware of the cultural differences that I would face. Arriving here gave me an understanding of what it is to feel ‘different’ and what it is to feel as though you don’t fit in. I remember it was the small gestures that helped me feel accepted and valued and I’ve never lost my appreciation for those acts of kindness.
The experience has given me a deep passion for diversity, a strong sense of justice and a desire to help create a level playing field for everyone. For me, it’s about enabling and empowering people to achieve their potential.
So when I joined Withers 12 years ago, myself and Simon Luckett (our former HR Director) set about creating the Withers diversity function, which included the creation of LGBTQ+, Women and Parenting networking groups. I joined the LGBTQ+ group because I was determined to become an ally to my LGBTQ+ co-workers and together we began a partnership with Stonewall to further improve our business culture, provide additional support to staff and encourage prospective LGBTQ+ applicants to join our firm.
Our diversity function has put in place procedures to ensure that all recruitment practices – from those at graduate and apprentice level to senior members of staff – embrace Withers’ ambition to be an inclusive employer and as a result we’ve secured and retained an excellent workforce from a multitude of backgrounds. With all of these talented people sharing their collective knowledge and experiences we have demonstrated that having a diverse workforce is vital for our organisation to succeed. Withers has always been a place where I have felt proud that I can be myself and where we encourage our workforce to bring their whole selves to work.
However, we still have a long way to go to achieve true equality. As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to continue to work to reinforce the importance of inclusion, and remind everyone that acceptance and spreading kindness helps build a better and more equal world for everyone. Working with the group has also taught me that being an ally doesn’t require you to be an expert, if you don’t know the answer or meaning of something it’s OK to simply ask someone to explain it to you.
Pride is a great moment to reinforce those messages. It’s the time of year when people from different cultures and identities come together to celebrate one another. At Withers, we have celebrated Pride by arranging events and roundtables which have been a great success and which are enjoyed and valued by both our staff and clients.
I firmly believe that all businesses should not only develop progressive working practices and safe environments for everyone, but that they should go further still and celebrate diversity within their organisations. If we do this, and embrace diversity in all that we do, everyone benefits.
Be proud. Be you. Happy Pride everyone.