In this Q&A, Network Director Jenny Moten discusses her thoughts on inclusion and what Cadent is doing to provide opportunities for all.
What does Diversity and/or Inclusion mean to you? Has your view on this changed over your working career?
Inclusion to me is about having a place of work where everybody can declare comfortably and openly their whole self and for all our differences to be appreciated and celebrated, and to be valued for what they bring to the workplace professionally. Who someone is, is the first thing we should consider from our people.
What I have learnt over the years is that there’s more to people than just their professionalism. It is important people feel valued and considered for them; we should look beyond just their profession and see the person they are and accept the package that comes with being themselves. I’d like to move away from a culture of just making reasonable adjustments, I believe we should find a space where everyone feels welcome, where every element is welcomed and celebrated, not just tolerated.
Do you feel included in Cadent?
For me Cadent embraces difference. That difference can be a subtle one, or on a larger scale like a difference to a business approach as a director from a different culture. I feel that they really do value and promote difference. For me a broad and rich range of people in our team will lead to greater success.
What would you suggest to people to help with this?
Share more about differences in the work place... there is an awkwardness where we just don’t ask about our disabilities or sexual orientation etc. for fear of offending people. I found it more offensive to ignore our differences. We should ask what we can do to really help individuals excel in the workplace. We recognise differences but then move on quickly, but we need to explore and understand and therefore value those differences more!
How do you advocate an inclusive culture?
This is a really old and worn out statement but as a leader you have to be conscious of the shadow that you cast. I think our attitudes and behaviours are perceived more strongly. If I behave in a way it gives others the permission to do the same.
I talk openly about D&I and the difference between us all. We have a flat structure in our North West network where we can call each other out and do that comfortably. The only way to bring it to the forefront is to challenge; it doesn’t always have to be in a negative way. I will always make sure women are heard in a room, I will see people from a different cultural background and help them share across the team i.e. understand days or events that are special or important to them. I push really hard to ensure we recruit from a diverse talent pool and we don’t continue to recruit in our own likeness.
As part of my role with the Women In Cadent employee community group, I don’t bang the drum but I do talk about my experience as a woman in industry. I help to ensure women are heard and have opportunities. I don’t claim to be a perfect leader so I also welcome when people challenge me about my lack of diversity. You should always listen and learn, as there’s always someone new and different.
Can you share your views on the benefits that diversity and/or inclusion brings to Cadent?
A dead easy one – the broader the spectrum of people you welcome, the bigger talent pool we will be fishing in. If we are practically demonstrating we are inclusive employer, we will attract a diverse range of people. We want the best talent and most interesting, driven people. The more diverse a team we have looking at a problem with different experience or background, the more unique and fantastic the solution to sticky problems will be! We don’t manufacture widgets, we manage a network with millions of customers with individual needs. Our people should reflect the communities we serve, if we don’t there will always be something missing in our customer offer.
We should consciously be aware of difference, so we can learn.