Diversity & inclusion5 min read

Why your workplace needs to add ‘belonging’ to their diversity and inclusion programme

In the latest episode of Inclusion Works – we spoke to the brilliant Asif Sadiq, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging for The Telegraph. Having held senior diversity and inclusion roles for EY Financial Services and the City of London Police, Asif shares fascinating insight into putting inclusion into action across a broad breadth of cultures.

Here’s a preview of what Asif had to say…

Can you give us an overview of your role and what you’re trying to achieve at The Telegraph?

I’ve just recently joined The Telegraph as Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. It’s a completely new role within The Telegraph looking at how we can, of course, bring all those elements into our work, both internally and looking at how we can create a truly inclusive environment.

But I guess the biggest change is the belonging piece. It’s not necessarily a concept which a lot of people align to D&I but it is something I’m really, really passionate about.

We need to realise difference, and we’ve done that over the years. Inclusion is where we are. We’re trying to really make that diversity mix work, but where we really need to get to is belonging, so create a sense of belonging for all our people because I do think sometimes our diversity and inclusion efforts end up isolating particular groups.

The majority within organisations can start feeling like the minority, and to address or tackle that challenge, I think belonging is a great concept.

Can you tell us how you first became woke to inclusion and diversity? When was the moment you first realised that it matters in business and in society more broadly?

It’s probably going to start with my career journey. When I joined the City of London Police, before I became the Head of D&I, I joined as a police officer. I served as a serving police officer, working in various roles, and all I wanted to do was be like everyone else because that’s what policing’s about.

You go in, and then you go through this system of training, and you come out the other end a police officer. I did that, and then, as time went by, as I worked in different departments, I realised actually I have opinions and views which are different to others, but which can support the work of what policing was trying to achieve. That got me really passionate about how can I utilise the power of diversity, diversity of thinking, diversity of experiences, to better the police service, and then slowly started getting involved in looking at things in a different way, which became really beneficial.

All of a sudden, I found myself being the guy-to-go-to when it came to any of these diversity issues or challenges that we faced in policing. That slowly resulted in me eventually being asked to head up the Diversity and Inclusion Department by the Commissioner of the Police.

It was not something I naturally intended. I guess life took me on that journey, but I just found a real passion for the power of diversity.

In all the impact that you’ve made in diversity and inclusion over the course of your career, what single thing are you most proud of?

That’s a hard question. I guess, for me, the thing that makes me proud is creating a platform in some of the organisations I’ve worked for where I’ve given a voice to those who didn’t have one, and that’s created true inclusion.

Some of them have been very, very successful in their careers and have managed to really progress further, and that’s great to see because I did nothing apart from giving them a platform. That’s all they needed, and that’s the greatness of seeing diversity then flourish, and when you see some of these individuals then leading departments, organisations, that’s a big thing.

I must also mention one of the other things I really value is when you change someone’s mindset, when someone’s very anti-D&I or thinks D&I has nothing to do with them, and then you speak to them and they realize diversity’s got something to do with them, as well.
One of the things I always say is, “Diversity’s not about having 20 people who look like me, but it’s about having a bit of everyone.” That’s what makes a truly diverse workplace.

To listen to the full interview, download the Inclusion Works podcast in your favourite podcast app or by clicking here.

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