Championing causes we’re not close to creates powerful change

Setting a benchmark for improvement drives the changes that matter

Carrie, Rav & Wahid

Carrie Clarke, Rav Shawe and Wahid Gazge are all Diversity and Inclusion Champions, working on initiatives across the business to support all employees. The trio explain why improving diversity is beneficial for everyone, and why it’s especially important we remember to champion the causes we’re not so closely connected with.  

Diversity better supports the future of our business 

Rav - As the Women’s Champion for the Manchester site, I organise and host groups, events and activities for our people based here. I’m closely involved with the lean-in circle, campaigns like WISE, and events like International Women’s Day and Equal Engineers.

Wahid - I took the role of D&I Champion for the Smart Infrastructure business unit a couple of years ago. One of the first things I did was hold an event offsite for women in the business. It was important to me to understand how my female colleagues felt and how we could better support them to progress.

Carrie – Our Customers are diverse, so we need to be diverse. Also, the rate of change in our industries is becoming ever more rapid so to ensure we remain relevant and leaders in the marketplace we need diversity in thinking to drive innovation.  I’m a STEM ambassador, so I speak to schoolchildren about careers in technology to hopefully inspire the next generation of Siemens. I also mentor women in the organisation, and I’m involved in the Workplace Equality Index for the LGBTQ community.

You don’t have to be LGBTQ to support LGBTQ rights, you don’t have to be a woman to support women

Rav - I’m proud to be an ally for other groups in Siemens. I‘ve spoken at a number of LGBTQ events and helped chair panels at LGBTQ conferences. It’s not just about supporting myself and other women in the business – that would be self-serving. It’s also vital we stand for other employees too.

Carrie – My gender alone doesn’t define who I am so whilst it’s really important to me, I wanted to do more than just work to empower women within the business. I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the Workplace Equality Index for LGBTQ, and I love it! I’ve learned so much about myself and how I can better be an ally with this and other communities. 

Celebrating everyone’s differences and recognising their value

Rav - Our board and senior management completely support our grassroots activity and more people are consistently getting involved. It’s our responsibility to take everyone on this journey, educating middle management about how vital diverse thinking is for our business and giving people the assurance that the work we’re doing supports them too. This is about celebrating everyone’s differences and recognising their value.

The most important lesson I’ve learned from all of this is being self-aware. Other people feel and deal with the same challenges I do, so I try to be vocal and share my experiences to help them do the same.

 

Wahid - The results of the Gender Pay Gap report were not what we’d hoped for, but the report is an important benchmark for us to work from. We’re a very male dominated industry with men holding many of the senior positions. There’s huge female talent across the board, but when asked, some women in my business unit said they didn’t feel that they could move into senior positions – flexibility of role and feeling that some opportunities were unavailable for them were both big barriers. There’s work to be done on recruitment, especially regarding gender and ethnicity, so we need to change mindsets when recruiting or promoting employees.

Carrie - I don’t think Siemens is alone in the need or the desire to want to continue to progress and if we ever get to a point where we think we’ve got it right, we won’t have, because it’s a continuous improvement. It isn’t static.

Working hard to support employee career development

Wahid - Based on feedback from my teams, we’ll be running workshops on how to own your career and see how we can make our work environment more flexible. We’ll also be setting up mentors in our business to better support employee development.

Rav - I’m setting up groups with a focus on ethnic diversity at Siemens and running new diversity events at the Manchester office. 

We need to do more to support diverse thinking 

Carrie - Make an effort to understand others’ situations and listen with empathy. I think it’s really important that we all take ownership for how proactively we’re creating an inclusive environment.  If you do something on a large scale, brilliant but if you do something that makes one person feel more included that’s equally as brilliant. 

Rav - Find a mentor, be a mentor, be willing to share your stories. Start by volunteering for an event and learn to walk the walk - it’s nice to say you support diversity, but you have to be willing to stand up for others and take action. 

Fighting the fear of being vulnerable

Rav - I wish that someone had pulled me aside, supported me and been my sponsor. It would have helped me to find my voice so much more quickly. Asking for help and support isn’t a weakness in business, it shows real strength. I now work as a mentor for new recruits, because I want to give them the support I knew I needed.

Wahid - I realised that as long as my work linked to supporting others, I could take real ownership of what I was doing. I have access to so many resources and supportive people, and I don’t need to ask for permission to utilise those.

Carrie - I think that every one of us can contribute and whilst it’s important we disrupt our current practices in a healthy way, we do need to ensure individual activities fit in to the wider landscape.  This will ensure we don’t duplicate efforts and we leverage the power in our large organisation.  If it’s just starting a conversation then you’re fine, but if it’s launching an initiative like Spark, see if there’s anything else similar first.  

Feeling Inspired?  Join the conversation #DiversitySparksIdeas