Nish joined us back in May as Marketing Associate and wanted to take a moment to reflect on her time at Synergi so far as a quadruple-minority.
“Diversity” has become a bit of a buzzword in the professional world.
It’s undeniable that any workforce in a multicultural city like London or Watford should be diverse and representative of that city, but many don’t realise that diversity is only one piece of the puzzle, not the whole thing.
This is where Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) comes in.
These are the definitions according to Inclusive Employers:
Diversity is the mix of people.
Equity is about creating equal possible outcomes for everyone because, despite effort and merit, people can experience substantial barriers in the workplace.
Inclusion is the culture in which the mix of people can come to work, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, and work in a way that suits them and delivers your business or service needs. Inclusion will ensure that everyone feels valued and importantly, adds value.
From this we can see that though we definitely need to be making conscious, continuous efforts to hire diverse talent, it won’t mean as much unless we’re also ensuring that the internal culture is an inclusive one where every member of the team can feel at home and flourish, regardless of their identity and background.
As a lesbian Tamil woman with a few health conditions, this is something I was particularly concerned about when I was applying for jobs. I didn’t want to be passed on because I don’t fit in.
I also didn’t want to be a “token diversity hire” – brought on to boost a company’s external image as a progressive employer, only to be ignored internally and side-lined on a day-to-day basis.
My identity is really important to me but aside from how I feel about it on the inside, I look very visibly South Asian, and my health conditions mean I do at times require certain accommodations to help make doing my job a bit more accessible to me.
These things meant it was never an option for me to hide or downplay the things that make me a little bit different, so there was naught to do but grit my teeth and go for it!
Thankfully, in my second and final interview to work for Synergi, it became very clear to me that this was an employer that really meant what they were saying about diversity.
For starters, rather than parroting some typical corporate speech about commitment to diversity and blah-blah-blah or even not mentioning it at all like at other places I interviewed at, Operations Director Anna Cooper openly talked to me about her concerns that the office wasn’t diverse enough and was limited for it, and explained to me the changes she had been making since joining Synergi herself to rectify this.
I really appreciated this frank honesty, and it made me feel comfortable that despite coming in for an entry-level position without too much experience, I was being spoken to as an equal who deserved to know the reality of the environment I would be joining if I were offered the position.
So when I received the call the next day that the job was mine if I wanted it, I was more than happy to accept, and I’m happier still to report 4 months later that I made the right decision.
Although there is no one else in the business quite like me for the time being, I’ve never felt like I have to tone myself down to belong.
From my very first day, the team have been friendly and welcoming. I have spoken about aspects of my personal life and interests and only ever been met with genuine curiosity and acceptance, not judgement. I feel like I actually have just as much in common with everyone as I don’t, and don’t feel like anyone sees me as being the odd-one-out.
Not to mention, my ideas are always heard and taken seriously, and literally every single person on the team takes the time to acknowledge my contributions and make me feel valued.
Finally, Anna is an incredibly understanding line manager and has accommodated my health issues many times, like trusting me to work from home on days when I was particularly struggling to make it in despite my contract stating WFH would only be permitted after passing probation – this allowed me to recover quicker and work to the best of my ability once I returned and do good work that led to me actually passing probation!
Synergi is still a bit of a boys’ club, and we certainly aren’t where we want to be yet. But I feel confident that we’re not far off and we will get there soon, because we are all on the same page and actively striving to do better and continue to make strides with DE&I – the whole package.