Torchbearers – standing out for Diversity & Inclusion at Fujitsu

By , - Responsible Business

At Fujitsu we’re committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in our organisation. It’s not only the right thing to do, but also a powerful force for our future success. Raising the visibility of role models within our company is vital to making progress – and Stand Out aims to make this happen.

Over the past several years our D&I networks such as Shine LGBT+ have made huge progress in strengthening and celebrating the importance of diversity in our business.

Yet for all the progress we’ve made, there’s still far more for us to do. We know that diverse role models can help break down stereotypes and make people more confident that Fujitsu is an organisation where they can succeed. But recently we realised that we were tending to rely on a few familiar faces to represent diversity within the organisation.

So we set out to create a programme to identify and raise the profile of role models across all areas and at all levels of our business – what we’re calling Stand Out.

Learning from diversity & inclusion best practice

Rather than starting from scratch, we wanted to see what we could learn from the wider diversity & inclusion community.

In Stonewall’s Role Model Guide we noted their definition of a role model as “Someone who understands the potential they have to influence others and uses that influence constructively. He or she recognises that they can use that influence even if they hold the most junior role in the organisation.”

The Rockefeller Foundation emphasised the importance of women in leadership: “Having female leaders in positions of influence to serve as role models is not only critical to the career advancement of women, but stands to generate broader societal impacts on pay equity, changing workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women, and attracting a more diverse workforce.”

Audeliss discussed the lack of BAME role models and the impact on global business: “The visibility of successful diverse people is vital in both challenging negative attitudes towards minorities and increasing the opportunities, confidence and personal wellbeing of young BAME people.”

The Business Disability Forum explored the role of disabled role models: “Organisations with disabled role models tend also to be the most disability-smart on other criteria such as having disabled employee networks, good and consistently implemented policies and more confident and skilled line managers.”

After doing our research we were even more convinced that action was needed – so we began to develop Stand Out.

Stand Out recognising inclusive behaviour at Fujitsu

Based on our learnings & feedback from D&I network members, we were keen to demonstrate that role models could be anyone – from the most junior employees to directors, from our most technical engineering teams to our central functions.

Therefore a key element of Stand Out is openness. We want to highlight people who stand out for all the right reasons – both their performance and their inclusive behaviours – regardless of their personal identity and background. All of our employees can nominate another as a Torchbearer, so long as they embody the Stand Out criteria – see below for the details.

We were wary about giving people the status of a ‘role model’. My personal experience – as the first female Fujitsu Fellow – was that this can be uncomfortable, as people may have excessive expectations of you. Feedback from our D&I Networks agreed that this could be a concern, with some feeling that if you were highlighted as a role model you had to act and behave perfectly at all times.  Not a realistic expectation for any of us!

So we decided to embrace Stonewall’s definition:

A role model is not an example of a perfect individual. They recognise their fallibility and they share what they’ve learned with the people around them.”

The language we use also matters – so we decided to use the term “Torchbearers” instead of “Role Models”.

Putting the plan into action

The first step in making Stand Out a success was to tell our colleagues about it!  We worked with our internal communications team to raise awareness and invite nominations for the first phase of Torchbearers.  We were strongly supported in this by our executive sponsor, James Johnston

Having received lots of fantastic nominations, we had the tough task of selecting our first set of Torchbearers. To avoid any bias, we anonymised all the nominations before scoring them against the Stand Out criteria. The final selection was made by a panel formed of the Executive Sponsor, the Graduate of the Year, an Apprentice Ambassador, the Diversity & Inclusion Lead and myself – the Stand Out Project Lead.

The most important part of the programme is what the Torchbearers do during their tenure! Each Torchbearer is asked to spend at least an hour per week sharing their story and promote inclusive behaviours. This could include:

  • Writing blogs on their experiences
  • Sharing social media posts
  • Speaking at events
  • Networking with peers in other organisations

The Torchbearers are supported by the broader D&I community and networks within Fujitsu, together with the internal and external communications teams, to ensure their stories reach as wide an audience as possible.

We’re planning to select new Torchbearers several times each year.    After their tenure, they become alumni of the Torchbearer Network and act as mentors for the next wave of Torchbearers.

Looking forward to many more diversity and inclusion stories

We’re very excited to have selected our first four Torchbearers!

  • Liberty Clarke – Events Manager for UK & Ireland Headquarters London
  • Raj Bhaduri – DTS Head of Technology, Hybrid IT
  • Hannah Baugh – Infrastructure Lead, Application Hosting
  • Beverley Jones – Delivery Manager, Intranet Global Collaboration Platform

These four individuals work in very different functions for Fujitsu, and their roles vary widely in seniority and responsibilities.  This has already helped us to demonstrate that diversity has no boundaries within Fujitsu – it’s something we benefit from at all levels and in all areas of the business.

Over the next few months look out for blog posts from our Torchbearers introducing themselves and telling their stories.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what our Torchbearers have to say – so watch this space!

Are you working with a role model in your organisation?  We’re always keen to learn from others and share our own experiences, so please do get in touch.

Myfanwy Edwards

Fujitsu Fellow and lead for the Stand Out Programme at Fujitsu UK&I
Myfanwy works as a Solution Architect in the Products Business Line at Fujitsu.

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