As our Diversity and Inclusion week continues, today we hear from Sheema Segal, the Chair of our youngest network promoting cultural diversity.
What is the Fujitsu Cultural Diversity Network all about?
I went to see the musical Kinky Boots with a friend earlier this year. It’s based on the story of a failing British shoe manufacturer who was able to turn their business around by creating the Divine brand of footwear, a unique range that focuses on male diversity. The strap line of the show is ‘Sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out’ and through celebrating our diversity this is what we are asking all our employees to do.
The mission statement of our cultural diversity network is – ‘Celebrating and enabling a culturally competent Fujitsu where people of all cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds feel confident and comfortable to be themselves, to succeed and to work together.’
We want to encourage cultural diversity in all aspects of recruiting, enabling and retaining a multicultural workforce. One of our main challenges is recruitment and retention, we have seen a much higher than average turnover of BAME employees. Our network aims to establish a culture that reflects our customers and in so doing adds to our competitive strength.
Our network provides support for managers that promotes culturally inclusive practices to ensure that both employees and managers are equipped and enabled to work in a multicultural environment.
We aim to provide a channel and a voice for employees on matters relating to cultural diversity and inclusion. We asked members of our employee network about their personal experiences of working and living in different countries.
What cultural differences have you noticed through working internationally?
‘I have noticed subtle differences in how to build business relationships and credibility within different countries, for example in Japan your word is your promise and it is vital you stick to it, in India, it is the rapport that you build with individuals that makes the difference and in England, communication and first impression is paramount.’
Asha Narasimha, Head of Apps Support and Maintenance UK&I, ITG EMEIA
‘I grew up in Zimbabwe, where my parents still live. I’ve lived and worked in the UK for the past 5 years and found it’s a very similar environment to the one in which I grew up in (roasts dinners have always been a fixture of my Sundays). However, the working environment here is more formal than in Zimbabwe, both in appearance and in ethos, and this has required a little bit of adjustment for me.’
Sarah-Jane Littleford, Project Manager in MIS UK&I
‘Having worked in Spain for one year I can say that the working culture in Spain is very relaxed and laid back compared to the UK. There is also a long break of up to three hours in the middle of the day in Spain commonly known as the “Siesta” which can usually hinder the speed and efficiency in which work is completed.’
Nazim Amin, Project Manager
What does Cultural Diversity mean to you?
‘With the changing face of Britain, the world getting closer and closer, coupled with technology enabling people to work anywhere, cultural awareness is more significant today than it was even two decades ago – yes, Cultural Diversity is Everybody’s Business.’
‘Cultural diversity does not only bring benefits to a corporation, but brings personal benefits as well. It opens our eyes to different approaches, increases flexibility, and can also have positive effects on our motivation. It is everyone’s business because we should all (and can all) benefit from the positive impacts that diversity can bring!’
‘Cultural diversity is focused on enabling individuality and embracing the fact that people from different backgrounds think differently. Innovation and creativity thrive when people from different backgrounds work together and for that reason cultural diversity is in the best interest of all stakeholders as it helps to promote a more effective and transparent workforce. In addition to this, the American philosopher, Walter Lippmann famously mentioned – “when all think alike, then no one is thinking” emphasising the importance of leveraging the different ways of thinking in different cultures.’
We asked our Executive Sponsor, Ian O’driscoll, what it means to be the sponsor of the cultural network.
“As the Executive Sponsor I am pleased to be the Cultural Diversity Champion for our region. The Cultural Diversity Network for me is about celebrating a multicultural Fujitsu and enabling our people from whatever background, from whatever mix to feel confident and comfortable as themselves. To be valued for who they are and for what they are and to be able to work together in integrated and cohesive teams.”
As a young network we are still finding our feet but will focus on celebrating our diversity and in so doing establishing our common interests. We are all different, each one of us, and there lies our competitive strength.
We looked to organisations such as BITC and ENEI for best practice when setting up our network. They have helped us identify ways to address unconscious bias and we have implemented awareness training that is now mandated across the company.
As our cultural network grows, we also draw on the established work from the other employee networks and have joint discussion forums. We work together on common focus areas, a key one we have already identified with our gender network is STEM. We are looking to inspire more young people into STEM subjects through our increasing number of partnerships into schools and colleges through our Education Ambassador Program.
As Fujitsu is a global organisation, awareness of cultural diversity is very important for all of our colleagues – particularly as we strive to connect our global workforce more effectively. We hope that through our network we will help to ease this transition..
I look forward to seeing what our network can achieve over the next 12 months. Growing awareness, delivering a positive impact to our strategic objectives and celebrating our diversity through Food and Music are all key to achieving our goals.
Visit the BITC Race Equality page to keep up to date with the latest cultural diversity news and events.
Visit The Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion to learn more about equality and inclusion in the workplace.
Visit Diversity Inc to learn more about the business benefits of diversity.
Follow our Culture Network on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news.
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