At IntoUniversity, I’ve been a vocal advocate on the Board of Trustees, calling for a focus on D&I, so I’m delighted to see that within recent months we have been able to launch our new D&I strategy publicly, having placed significant focus on this as an organisation over the past two years.
For diversity and inclusion to really be embedded into the fabric of an organisation, I believe it’s essential that every level of the organisation gives it the necessary time, input and consideration to truly make the changes that are needed. As Trustees, this is not something we can simply delegate down the line and then forget about, and that’s why the role of IntoUniversity’s D&I subcommittee, which I’ll be leading, is so important.
As a female Muslim who migrated to the UK from East Africa, and went on to make a career in the legal and financial services industries at a time when D&I was far lower down on the agenda for most organisations, I’ve seen well-meaning attempts to create more inclusive cultures fail because there wasn’t the requisite amount of support and ownership within the board and senior management.
Equally I’ve been privileged to witness and play a leading role in implementing meaningful D&I improvements, typically when the decision-makers at the top of the organisation have recognised its importance.
During my time working at Slaughter and May, I was a member of the firm’s diversity and inclusion group, leading and promoting various initiatives to support diversity and inclusion at the firm. This included revising recruitment policies and approaches to staff training, partnering with social mobility charity Upreach to sponsor diverse talent, broadening university recruitment and various engagement programmes to encourage diversity and inclusion.
Another area of focus was staff retention. A lot of emphasis can be placed on getting a more diverse workforce in the door, and rightly so, but arguably an even truer measure of how included they actually feel is how long you can keep them for.
Now, at Legal and General, I’m trying to implement similar strategies to create a more diverse and inclusive culture at one of the UK’s leading financial services providers. My passion for D&I hasn’t wavered and I hope to bring this passion and experience to my role heading up the D&I subcommittee at IntoUniversity.
The role of the subcommittee
IntoUniversity has spent several years reflecting on its culture as an organisation, with a particular focus on D&I, the culmination of which has been the launch of its new organisation-wide D&I strategy.
As part of this the organisation has set itself some ambitious targets with the aim of achieving real and lasting change. The role of the subcommittee will be to support the execution of this strategy and to be the eyes, ears and, perhaps most importantly, voice of D&I within the Trustee Board. We’ll be working closely with the Head of D&I, the Senior Leadership team and the D&I Forum to ensure the organisation is getting the support it needs to bring the strategy to fruition, as well as advocating and providing strategic D&I counsel to our fellow trustees. At the same time, I recognise how important it is that the subcommittee also reflects on the make-up of the Board of Trustees itself, and considers how best we can ensure that the diversity we want to see within the organisation is fully reflected at Board level too.
I’m committed to ensuring the subcommittee fulfils this role and wholeheartedly believe we have the people and the passion to bring about the change we all want to see at IntoUniversity.