As part of National Inclusion Week we caught up with Mumtaz Patel, a senior operational manager in the North West, to discuss her personal experiences on Diversity and Inclusion and how she strives to create meaningful change.
What does Diversity and/or Inclusion mean to you?
It means feeling included in working life and appreciated for the differences rather than the ‘everyone is the same to me’ attitude. I used to think that I had to change or not bring any attention to the fact that I was different. People would not discuss ethnicity or gender and a lot still find it a difficult topic to discuss.
As my career has progressed I now feel more able to express my views and be myself. I’m also able to ensure I have a diverse workforce around me and make them all feel included.
When I walk into a room where people don’t know me, it can feel like people are looking at me and judging me for what I look like and not for what I can do. It is difficult to work in a largely male environment and try to network with people where I do not have the same interests, as it makes it tricky to find common topics of conversation. I’m a lot more confident now but because of the racial and religious discrimination I have faced in my life it sometimes feels hard to ‘fit’ in.
Do you feel included at Cadent?
I think Cadent support me at work but not because of my gender or ethnicity, just as an employee and manager.
How do you advocate a diverse and inclusive culture, and what will you commit to?
I believe that everyone is different and can add a lot of value – we need to know our teams and appreciate their input. Learn about people’s strengths and find out what makes them feel excluded to allow them to feel included.
Thinking about your position, why do you think it’s important to address diversity and inclusion issues?
There is still plenty of work to be done to create a more diverse environment in the area I work in. Most of the people I work with will not have experienced sexual or racial discrimination so would not understand my personal experiences.
I want to make sure the teams I work with, and the new talent joining us, have a better opportunity to have that diverse and included experience and they’re able to bring fresh ideas and outlooks to improve the business.
Our workforce needs to truly reflect the communities we serve, because we can make a bigger difference if we can understand them.
Can you share your views on the benefits that diversity and/or inclusion brings to Cadent?
Yes, there is a rich pool of people with a lot of experience and different viewpoints. We can improve our process by thinking outside the box and meeting our customers’ needs in a more focused way. It will also make it a better place to work from a job satisfaction point of view.
Are you involved in any work to diversity and/or inclusion outside of your day job?
Throughout my career I have done a lot of work with schools, colleges and universities in the North West as an Asian female engineer, promoting Cadent, engineering and challenging stereotypes.