"Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment is about championing difference. It’s vital we offer more support and peer challenge, rather than assuming someone from a diverse background will cope.

 

 

Introduction 

Our interviewee has spent nearly 30 years on the frontline across the sector, and is currently an Assistant Director, championing Race Equality and Diversity in Adult Social Care. Their work has been recognised and awarded nationally. 

What does diverse leadership mean to you, and why do you think it's so important? 

More diverse leadership means having a more representative leadership team.

This should be at all levels and across all organisations to enable better depth and breadth of experience and perspectives in the everyday work we do. This is critical to ensure we do not become dominated by one or two dominant perspectives – often the majority perspective – that may not allow a fully inclusive approach to our service delivery and workforce. 

What were the biggest barriers you faced and are facing in your journey to a leadership role? 

I’ve faced many different challenges: lack of support; lack of recognition; lack of essential tools and resources; lack of direction; lack of vision; being taken to task for offering a unique perspective; labelled, ignored, or left out of important work and projects; language barriers; micromanaged.  

I continue to face many of the struggles I’ve outlined above. Beyond that, I do sometimes feel I’m treated in a tokenistic way to be all things and activities that display equality, diversity, and inclusion. 

This attitude allows institutional racism and issues on equality to continue.  

At times, I don’t feel part of a team, I must work harder for decisions to go in my favour and manage on reduced resources, being expected to just get on with things. I have often felt held back by a lack of direction – at times I still do. 

What is a simple but often overlooked change senior leaders could implement to create a welcoming and inclusive work environment? 

Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment is about championing difference. It’s vital we offer more support and peer challenge, rather than assuming someone from a diverse background will cope.  

It’s also important that your environment actively recognises your value and what you bring to the team. Being nominated and recognised for making a difference in my work outcomes and team development was essential both to my development and also sending a message, which helped several colleagues from various backgrounds' confidence to grow, and make a real difference to the outcomes achieved in the service.  

What piece of career advice would you offer those of us from traditionally marginalised or underrepresented backgrounds? 

It’s important that we don’t give up. Look at where there is support across the organisation than the immediate department you are in.