Ranjit Blythe, Cadent’s Chief of Staff, discusses what Diversity and Inclusion mean to her, and shares an honest insight into her career experiences.
Diversity to me is the simplest thing that we all have in common. As individuals we are all different, even within our own families. I have twins at home, who have been raised in the same way, but their differences are very apparent. They truly are their own people – right down to their different blood groups.
Over the years, I have seen change in how the places where I have worked have approached Diversity and Inclusion. For it to truly work, everyone must believe in it, otherwise we just won’t realise the true potential that it can bring.
I remember starting out to pursue a career in journalism and being really interested in presenting diverse stories, so I signed up to some training at a well-known broadcasting establishment. The lady who was running the training session asked me if I had considered changing my name so that it fitted in more with other people who worked there and so people would find it easier to say my name! I look back and still can’t believe someone would say that…
Later in my career, I can recall experiences of putting a view or recommendation forward in a meeting, only for a male colleague to paraphrase me and be given acknowledgment for the idea. In those moments, I would feel entirely invisible. Sadly, I don’t doubt many of us have shared experiences like these.
Things started to change for me a few months after the journalism training, when I got my first marketing job with an established car magazine. This was one of the most diverse places I have ever worked, from management down to new recruits. I didn’t have all the experience needed for the role – not compared to others who interviewed for it – and I certainly wasn’t as polished, but I was determined and showed commitment and spirit. Instead of hiring the person that ticked every box, they gave me my chance. In return I worked really hard and took up some additional studies in the evenings to support my on-the-job learning. I was so determined to do well because I couldn’t believe I had landed this brilliant job.
I would hope that every job I have been given has been because of what I can do or have the potential to do rather than because of my gender or the colour of my skin. That only happens if you have open-minded people like my first manager, who gave me an opportunity, worked with me on my development and really set me off on the career path I would be on for over 20 years.
In my role as Executive Sponsor for the Embrace employee community group at Cadent, I ensure our people can play an active role in making this company a great place for people of all faiths and ethnicities to work in. We’re still in the early days of establishing the community, but we’re already seeing fantastic engagement across the organisation and a real appetite for change.
Someone took a chance on me once, and if I can give a chance to someone else then I will. Sometimes it works out and occasionally it doesn’t, but I commit to always trying. I commit to finding reasons why someone should be included rather than finding reasons to exclude them. And I commit to supporting Cadent in becoming a more diverse and inclusive company – it will genuinely be the thing that sets us apart.