If you have any form of Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging remit then this is the show for you. From thought-provoking conversations about parenting, gender stereotypes and racial inequality through to neurodiversity, sexuality and more, you’ll build your knowledge and get amazing advice from experts. To be the best in your field, you’ll need this latest thinking in Inclusion and Diversity so you can speak with enhanced confidence and credibility. Join Nadia Nagamootoo each month for inspiring conversations that you can use to accelerate your organisation’s journey towards inclusion.
“To ignore reality for as long as people have is a cultural illness, quite frankly – a delusion”
In this episode Nadia talks to Andrew Fairbairn, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London, a Charity set up engage young people from low socio-economic backgrounds and create opportunities for them that would otherwise have been unlikely for them to attain due to societal inequity.
Andrew discusses the intersectionality between ethnicity and socio-economic status which can doubly disadvantage these young people, resulting in a lack of access to professional career paths and low self-worth driven by their lived experiences in these domains.
He explains how SEO London aims to combat this by working on a daily basis with a broad spectrum of front office executives and HR leaders at global multinationals to offer placements to talented young people on the programme. The programme encourages student self-belief, and provides them with the skills needed to thrive in the corporate world.
Andrew talks of the bigger picture. “It’s not about you, it’s about those who come after you”. He hopes that their work can go on to create a ripple effect of workplace opportunity for underrepresented groups and that a community of like-minded people will emerge who not only want to develop themselves but also the community at large.
Finally, Andrew leaves us with his thoughts on the intersectional impact of COVID-19 on those from ethnic minority and low socio-economic backgrounds and the importance of acknowledging this in order to create equity in our society.
SEO London’s Website
SEO London LinkedIn
SEO London Instagram
SEO London Twitter
Get in touch with Andrew at:
Andrew’s LinkedIn Profile
“The world is set up for neurotypical people and when someone who is neurodiverse tries to fit into that neurotypical world, that can create a lot of stresses and strains on them mentally, that then manifest themselves in kind of broader mental health issues. That is not to say that everyone who is neurodiverse has a mental health challenge as well, but there is a very strong correlation between the two.”
In this episode Nadia talks to Sean Betts, Managing Director at Annalect, the data, technology and analytics company within the Omnicom Media Group, who looks back at a highly successful career in the media industry. He discusses his experience of burn-out, depression and anxiety and describes what happened after his return after having time off for mental health reasons.
On a mission to break the stigma that people with mental health problems and neurodiversity face in the workplace, he has since not only been a vocal advocate and public speaker on the topic, but also created a storytelling and support site and organisation for the neurodivergent community and for those who have experienced mental health issues: Mihnd (see link below).
Sean explains what neurodiversity is and the challenges neurodiverse people are facing in the workplace. He highlights the benefits for organisations when hiring these individuals and how these efforts need a different approach in the recruitment process. Finally Sean leaves us with valuable advice for organisations and all of us, to get more comfortable in being uncomfortable and practice more listening and learning, as stigma comes from misunderstanding.
More about Sean and his mission to destigmatises mental health and neurodiversity:
Sean’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanbetts/
Mihnd Website: https://www.mihnd.co.uk/
“And then there is the opportunity to flip it on it’s head. Rather than seeing it as a burden or another thing to manage, inclusive leadership and driving a successful D&I agenda actually has the potential to be a huge source of energy.”
In this episode I talk to Eric Pliner, CEO of YSC Consulting, a global leadership consulting firm, which has partnered with nearly 20% of the Global Fortune 500 to help leaders achieve their future business strategies. He has written many insightful articles on leadership development and diversity and inclusion for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune and Fast Company (see links below) whilst also being a talented playwright! Eric shares his unusual career path from working in education to the performing arts and his conscious exploration into the private sector.
Together we take a deep dive into the combined impact of the pandemic and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the challenges for leadership and advice for organisations as they face potentially a tough journey ahead. We explore what inclusive leadership means, the traits of an inclusive leader and how it all starts from a place of being a learner and listening. Eric speaks about the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes, institutionalised racism, and he points out how connecting with each other’s humanity is more important than ever.
Whilst revealing some manifestations of exclusion he still experiences as part of a minority group himself, he brings many convincing perspectives to Diversity & Inclusion and calls for leaders not to see it as a burden, but to embrace the opportunity as source of positive energy that will benefit the whole organisation. I hope you will feel as inspired and energised by listening as I did by talking to Eric!
A Framework for Leaders Facing Difficult Decisions - Harvard Business Review, 2020
Holding Difficult Conversations: Tips For Leaders - Forbes, 2020
Legal protections for LGBTQ people at work - Fortune, 2020
How to Get Your Diversity & Inclusion Initiative Back on Track - Fast Company 2020
“You are far more likely to work with somebody that is experiencing suicidal thoughts than with somebody that is about to have a heart attack”
In this episode I have a powerful and inspiring conversation with Emma Mainoo, Partner and Head of Mental Health at Utopia, the culture-change consultancy I collaborate with, which works with businesses to create more purposeful, more inclusive, and more entrepreneurial cultures. She is the creator of the platform Surviving Sundays, a Mental Health First Aid Course instructor and a remarkable keynote speaker on mental health.
Emma shares with us her personal experience from being an extraordinarily successful Marketing and PR professional who has worked on award winning campaigns with leading brands, to experiencing life-threatening depression and a total mental breakdown and the subsequent healing process she went through. She now helps leading companies to address the increasing problem of tackling mental health issues amongst their workforce with her unique and taboo-breaking perspective.
Together we explore the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health and we discuss the link to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and how it affected us. Emma explains some actionable steps organisations need to take to create a culture where people feel like they can speak out and people know how to reach in. You can also hear about Mental Health First Aid training and why it is now a necessity for any successful and creative organisation. I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned from this conversation and I hope you will too.
Surviving Sundays: www.survivingsundays.com on Instagram @surviving_sundays
Emma Mainoo on LinkedIn
Utopia: www.weareutopia.co on Instagram @weareutopians and LinkedIn
“Most work-family policies and the whole way work is set up is still based on a really outdated model of what a family is.”
In this episode I talk to Dr Laura Radcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the University of Liverpool and author of many research papers on the topic of parenting and work-life balance. Together we published the Business in the Community Equal Lives: Parenthood and Caring in the Workplace Report in 2018, where we shed light on the barriers men face to get more involved in their caring roles.
We discuss what fundamental changes society and organisations need to embrace to achieve more gender equality and explore topics like maternal gatekeeping and the importance of making male caring visible at work. We talk about the relationship between equal parenting and wellbeing, as well as the impact of work-family conflict for both.
Laura also gives us an interesting preview into her current research project, due to be published this year, where she studies single parents at work as well as blended families. We hear how 1 in 4 families are single parents, 90% of them women and how the current system fails them as they struggle to fulfil society’s expectations. The norms of being a good worker and a good mother at the same time are completely opposite to each other and therefore unobtainable.
Maybe the global pandemic and its profound implications on how we work has been a reset and started the momentum for a fundamental change so employment and wellbeing can be possible for anyone with caring roles?
Laura’s University of Liverpool Page
Laura’s Linkedin Profile
Find her on Twitter @laurasue888
“The puzzle is solved when all sides are equal, and it takes time and patience.”
In this episode I talk to Christina Brooks, an exceptional talent acquisition expert with 15 years industry experience and Co-founder of executive search firm Ruebik, a name that represents an analogy of D&I and the famous cube game. Remarkably, her firm is the only executive search company to offer a one-year onboarding service and coaching programme to support the transition of a candidate with a diverse background. They have also developed a unique internal digital platform for talent pipelining.
Together we explore the challenges faced by organisations when they attempt to bring in diverse talent without dedicating the time to promote the right mindset and culture. We also discuss why diverse executive disruptors are needed in every industry. She gives us answers on what organisations can do in the short term to attract and retain this diverse talent.
At the time of recording, George Floyd’s murder was breaking news so it led to an insightful discussion on race and racism. Christina offers her insights about the challenges Black people face in the UK and she tells us about her volunteer work with young adults with behavioural issues and offenders. We discuss how we all can become more culturally intelligent and what role curiosity and creating safe spaces to talk play in the solution. She leaves us all some great recommendations on how organisations should be responding to the #Blacklivesmatter movement.
Ruebik website: https://ruebik.com/
Christina’s Linkedin Profile
“People would say ‘oh I heard you’re going on a long holiday?’ and I’m like, ‘No, no, no I’m not going on a long holiday!’ And that’s what people think it is - 3 months of fun! It’s not fun – it’s amazing, but it’s challenging”
Yash Puri has been working in the financial sector for 20 years and was one of the under 2% of entitled fathers, who decided to take 3 months of shared parental leave with his second child. He was featured in the widely shared BBC article “Millennial men demand better parental leave” and has since then founded the blog and networking site Papa Penguin, where he shares many other stories of other dads taking an active role in raising their children and the impact on mother’s lives.
In this episode Yash shares his story on how he was a pioneer in his company to make use of the UK shared parental leave policy introduced in 2015 and how his organisation reacted to it. Yash likes to make a point that his active and visible role as a father should not be considered remarkable and refuses to be called a role model. He gives us insights into what is unique about millennial fathers and sheds light on the special circumstances and social expectations in the Asian community.
Together we explore what organisations can do to enable fathers to actively embrace caring for their children because, as Yash puts it, “Before you know it, they are not going to need you anymore.” I very much share his dream that one day the topic of gender division in parenting roles will hopefully not be a conversation for our children anymore.
Papa Penguin Blog: https://papapenguin.org/blog/
Yash Puri on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yashpuri/
Follow Yash on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/papapenguinblog/
“As a manager, this type of work arrangement is phenomenal, because I can give the flexibility and then I can get the coverage and help meet my quota.”
In this episode, Sophie Smallwood, Co-founder of Roleshare talks to me about her first maternity leave experience where she took a full year but was actually feeling ready to come back before that if there would have been the option of 3 days. She tells me about her experience of overcoming the challenges to come back to a fast-paced organisational environment of a digital global player (Facebook) - a challenge faced by many successful career women.
She explains the story about how she took a leap of faith to set up her tech start-up company, Roleshare.com, together with her partner, to create a platform to match people wanting to job share and for companies to find their perfect job share pairs. Together we explore why companies do not have a choice to invest in job sharing if they are going to compete for talent. And how they need to make flexibility truly happen for roles at all levels of the organisation and for everyone - not just working mums.
“We believe in equal opportunity for flexibility - gender neutral and reason neutral.“
Sophie Smallwood is a career-driven leader and committed parent, her mission is to enable a sustainable workforce, where people get more from their roles and where full-time balance at work and in life is possible.
Roleshare is a matching site for professionals who want to combine their skills to share their roles with others for greater career flexibility. She previously worked as a Strategic Client Success Manager at Workplace by Facebook and was a Head of Customer Success at Ebay. Mum of two (her newborn baby features as a special guest on the show!), she speaks five languages and in her free time she can be found on family adventures or on a spin bike.
Follow Sophie on her personal LinkedIn page or the Roleshare LinkedIn page.
Twitter @roleshare or Instagram @roleshare.
“Men often say to me: “So what can I do?” and the first thing I say to them is: listen.”
In this episode, I have the privilege of talking all things inclusion to Rob Baker. He is a thought leader on diversity & inclusion and on engaging men to support gender equality: at work, at home and in all aspects of life. In recognition of his achievements in supporting women in the workplace, he was named an Agent of Change 2019 by Management Today. He’s just completed an incredible 42-year career at Mercer, with his final role being Leader of Diversity and Inclusion Consulting. And has now embarked on the next stage of his career, setting up Potentia Consulting (whilst consciously not calling it retirement) and of course is an amazing member of the Avenir team!
Rob and I explore how organisations can become more inclusive, happier and successful by valuing everybody in the organisation and unlocking each employee‘s unique potential. Rob is not new to the experience of being in the minority and tells us about his time served on the all-female board of the PWN (Professional Women’s Network), where he was Co-President. He also offers his personal ‘ah-ha’ moment when he read Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates and gives us an insight into the little things men can do to promote everyday gender-equality.
Rob also reflects on the moment of profound change we are experiencing with the Covid-19 crisis and together we explore the current paradigm shift for inclusion at an organisational level as well as at a micro-level in each family‘s home. He shares how many leaders still think diversity sounds good, but they do not see the immediate need to act now. Today, I wonder if progress in inclusion and diversity in organisations will move up the leadership agenda with the global movement of #BlackLivesMatter, which began after this podcast conversation. I hope you enjoy listening!
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates available on Amazon.
PWN Global: https://pwnglobal.net/
Follow Rob on his LinkedIn page or on Twitter: @robertbkr.
“If all men and women could let men be more gentle, vulnerable and caring, that would be useful”.
What better way to kick-off my podcast series than talk to the articulate and inspirational Inclusion & Diversity thought leader, Brian Ballantyne. Brian is a Senior Program Manager for Inclusion & Diversity at Amazon, father of two and author of the book, Confessions of a Working Father. In this episode, Brian and I discuss the challenges of working from home and parenting from work or PFW, as Brian calls it – a concept that has come into its own following the Covid-19 lockdown (we didn't know this at the time!). We also discuss the notion of the ‘ideal worker’ and the what commitment means to employers today and how it manifests. Brian explains his strategy for work life balance and coping with the demands of being “Mr. Available”.
Brian gives us his personal and honest view on the consequences of gender stereotypes and the importance of psychological safety and a sense of belonging in an organisation. He also offers an insightful link between the climate crisis and an overheating at an individual level through an increase of psychological pressure and overtiredness as downsides of technology.
Together we explore the importance of a change of culture and Brian gives practical tips on how organisations can achieve a caring and inclusive culture as well as how men can be allies to gender equality.
Brian Ballantyne is father to two children (age 13 and 11), and like most working parents he is figuring out how to integrate work and family life. His career has been working for large multinational companies like Heinz, Vodafone and now Amazon, where he started off in Product Marketing and now is a Senior Program Manager for Inclusion & Diversity within the International Technology team. He is a long-time supporter of women’s advancement, and the inclusion of all people, e.g. LGBTQ+, accessibility, etc. With that aim in mind, he wrote a book “Confessions of a Working Father” to encourage more men to invest into active parenthood.
Please do be sure to check out Brian Ballantyne's book - Confessions of a Working Father. All proceeds go to charity.
Follow Brian on his Linkedin page.