Let me tell you some of my story. When I was 15, I learnt that the world was made up of atoms. Ever since, I have wanted to be a scientist. This unseen world fascinated me more than anything else, and 12 years later I had a PhD in analytical chemistry where I had learnt to see and detect all those little atoms. My professor and mentor encouraged me to do an international post-doc. However, I wanted children. And having children and a career as an academic did not seem to go hand in hand.
I knew that to balance both kids and a career, I would need my family around and access to parental leave. I also understood that my husband wouldn’t be prepared to follow me around the world as I established my career in academia.
So, I left. I pursued a new career path and had a permanent position within a year that provided 12 month’s paid parental leave, return to work leave and the option to work flexibly upon return. I don’t regret this change of path because it resulted in the establishment of my business, which is the dream I didn’t know I had.
However, it should’ve been possible for me to pursue the career I’d intended. My story is not an unfamiliar one, and it continues to replay over and over again. Everyone should be encouraged to do what they are good at and passionate about, whether they were born with a womb or not, whether they have a disability or not; whether they are straight or queer; Black, white or brown; Muslim or Catholic.
Because this world needs the best talent doing what they are best at. We need the best scientists being scientists, we need the best technologists being technologists, we need the best lawyers being lawyers. And we don’t get that without Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.
Someone asked me recently, how do you create workforce diversity? It’s not a straightforward answer – if it was we would all be doing it already and you wouldn’t need me. It takes work, it takes understanding the specific context you are operating within, it takes broadening your thinking to perspectives and experiences other than your own, and it takes not just stepping into someone else’s shoes but everyone else’s shoes.
If I attempt to answer it, it would look a little like this: firstly, it’s important to recognise that fostering Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace takes a lot of work and secondly, you need to understand that you need help to get there. Who knows what I could have contributed to the world should a permanent position with paid parental leave have been available for me in science at that point in time. We can’t let the drain of talent continue. Our world can’t afford it.
If you’re getting started on your personal inclusion journey, please get in touch so we can have a chat. Alternatively, you could register for my online course in Diversity and Inclusion to develop your role in creating a more inclusive world.
10 May 2022
04 January 2021
25 February 2020