Nadeem Aziz expresses his passion for diversity and inclusion and his experiences of being Chairperson of DVSA’s embRACE Staff Network Group (SNG).
My favourite way of describing diversity and inclusion is that diversity is about being invited to the party, but inclusion is about being asked to dance!
In April 2015, I was proud to be elected as the Chairperson of embRACE. The group was set up to raise awareness of issues affecting Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees and to provide solutions around Religion or Belief in the workplace, while sharing information and providing a support mechanism for Staff Network Members. The SNG also influences policy around diversity, inclusion and staff engagement.
Being Chair is a fantastic leadership role. It’s given me a platform unlike any role I’ve undertaken in my career. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support received and humbled to meet others who share my passion to see transformative cultural change.
A new vision
I’m passionate about social justice and want to help staff who feel excluded and marginalised. When I took over the role as the Chair, it became apparent that the former network group (with the best will in the world), had lost its direction.
So embRACE reached out to hearts and minds to create a new vision that existing members and the agency could buy into. As a result of our transformation I was shortlisted for the ‘Championing Minority Ethnic People Award’ at the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2016.
As the ceremony got into full swing I was amazed by the passion and work of Civil Servants up and down the country who are making a real difference. Their work championing issues around Disability, Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender, Gender, Race and Faith was a source of inspiration.
The judges said they were blown away by the standards and we were ‘all winners’. Although I didn’t win an award, attending this event was a great honour and humbling experience.
Philip and Nadeem: Chairs and champions
I share Jeremy’s Heywood’s vision of making the Civil Service the most inclusive employer in the UK. There are some key challenges for us ALL to face to make that a reality. This includes ‘agents of change’ – like staff network members across the DfT Family – keeping momentum to ensure the Civil Service paves a path for positive growth and cultural change.
So last month DfT ran its second ‘DfT Network Chairs & Champions Conference’ to bring together Diversity & Inclusion leaders and change agents to review, discuss and reflect on key priorities to take forward.
I was honoured to be asked to co-host the event with David Prout, Director General – High Speed Rail Group.
The passion and drive from everyone was palpable!
What made the day even more enthralling was hearing from guest speakers like Lord Ahmed, Professor Julia Hobsbawm and our boss and Permanent Secretary – Philip Rutnam!
What wasn’t rehearsed was receiving a special award from Philip. An incredible feeling and something that will stay with me for a very long time!
My key reflection was how far we had all come over the past year and that there was real excitement about what will be coming next.
Whatever approach the department eventually takes, there is no doubt in my mind that there’s total commitment from the very top of the DfT leadership team to make DfT a ‘Great Place to Work’. As Chair of the DVSA embRACE Network I give a 100% firm commitment to help support DfT to make this vision a reality.
To end, I offer a quote by William M Chase which summarises the challenge in front of all of us:
Diversity is not casual, liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself. Instead, diversity is – in action – the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out and create the bond that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.