As part of National Inclusion Week I’d like to share with you my own experience of inclusion in my career. My name is Hardik Shah and I’m the Deputy Director responsible for managing the SAP technology that HMRC uses.
My entire professional career so far has been in the IT industry, and I have worked my way up within a range of multinational environments. As a result I have had the great privilege of working with colleagues from truly diverse backgrounds.
In my personal life, I have lived in 3 different countries and so have a mix of friends and acquaintances who come from different environments. So even my son had gone to 3 schools in 3 places in 2 different countries by the time he was 7!
I’ve had many first-hand experiences of the value of working in diverse and inclusive workforces. I would certainly say that diverse teams deliver better, and more creative results. But I also believe that the experience of working in diverse work environments has helped shape me as an individual and a professional.
I have picked up so many things along the way from so many people with different nationalities, speaking different languages in different accents, coming from different academic and social backgrounds, of different heritages, of different age groups, having different sexual orientations, and so on… Unless we work with people who are different to us, or the majority of the team, it is hard to understand what we might be missing by being in a homogenous environment. This is especially true for us here in HMRC because we serve the whole of the UK. With a diverse workforce we are more representative of the diverse nature of our customers, and so have a better understanding of their needs.
The IT industry is changing at a rate that we’ve not seen before. The amount of innovation going on currently is unprecedented, and a lot of teams and organisations are struggling to keep pace. Technology has, and continues to, break barriers that have existed, or were perceived, in the past. This environment makes it imperative for all of us, our teams, and our organisations to make the workplace as inclusive as possible – to help us realise our full potential and continue to develop in the ever changing environment. Respecting views that might be different to our own, really listening and being prepared to see things through another lens can only help contribute to our successes.
I am really proud to be working in Civil Service and in HMRC’s IT, digital and security function. I think we have a good inclusive culture, and are moving in the right direction. Just this week, we have launched a new Social Mobility Network to coincide with National Inclusion Week. The department has long supported diversity, and social mobility is a natural extension of this as it’s about removing barriers to success caused by someone’s background.
We’ve already got well established diversity networks in place for other underrepresented groups of colleagues too including race, disability, LBGT, carers, age and religion. Differences are respected, and valued - everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute. It ensures we as an organisation represent the people we serve.
There is always more we can do, and there is no place for complacency. I continue to push myself out of my usual environment and build inclusive networks and encourage my teams to do the same.
‘Different’ is after all, a good thing.