I never thought that at the age of 28, I would be starting a grad programme. Throughout my higher education and working life I had focused on psychology and teaching, so I certainly did not expect to be working in the corporate world, let alone the insurance industry! However, after teaching for 3 years, I felt it was time to venture into a new career. The well-being of others has always been very important, so I decided to go into HR, and subsequently applied for an HR role on the Direct Line Group (DLG) Graduate Programme. The prospect of being on the Grad Programme was daunting to say the least, especially since I was going into a completely new field I had no knowledge or experience of. I often wondered how I would fit in, being a black woman in my late twenties, who had come from a completely different background.
Whilst working at DLG, I have been pleasantly surprised by the opportunities available, as well as the diversity of the people working there. It is clear that DLG is making a real effort to encourage and embrace diverse thinking and ideas. The staff is made up of people from different ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientation and age groups. As a black woman in my late twenties this has helped me settle quickly into DLG. Having said this, DLG, like many other companies, has a long way to go in ensuring a completely inclusive working environment where minorities are represented fairly across the organisation. DLG has made great strides towards this and it is reassuring to know that the company supports initiatives such as the Women in Finance Charter and the National Diversity Awards which promote the many benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive workforce. For instance, in relation to the Women in Finance Charter, DLG is committed to increasing the number of women in senior management roles. Furthermore, DLG set up the DNA group to encourage employees to participate in activities which celebrate the diversity we have.
As someone from a minority background, knowing that I work for an organisation which is striving for diversity and inclusion has helped me become more confident in sharing my thoughts and ideas, as I feel they will be valued. Within my current role, I endeavour to share the experiences and achievements of various people across our many sites. As Desmond Tutu said, “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” The variety of perspectives, talents and skills that diversity brings to a workforce is invaluable. It is good to be working in an environment that acknowledges the benefits of diversity and how it contributes to the success and growth of a business.
Source – Written by Mina Coker (Direct Line Group)