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A Real-Life Approach to DEI – 20 years of experience in a Global Organisation

Companies are busily appointing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) officers. How much is a genuine commitment and how much virtue-signaling I shall leave others to decide, but again, Access Financial is ahead of the curve. I have found very few references to the scientific evidence that DEI is necessarily a good thing. The benefits are proclaimed rather than proven.  

I would rather speak of my experience, my lived experience of DEI in my business. Since 2003, when no one talked about this, we have had DEI boiled into how we work. We have had an office in New Delhi, India, since 2004; my wife is Indian. Our other founder member is from Essex, which evidences some real inclusion! We have nine offices worldwide with Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, German, Greek, Russian, Luxembourgeois, British, and Swiss. We have people of all colours. However, we currently have no colleagues of African descent, as we rarely have job applications from them. Our skin hues vary from highly dark to ultra-light; frankly, no one cares, and this is a non-issue for us. 

We celebrate Christmas (which we still call Christmas), two Easters (Orthodox and Western), Ramadan, Passover, and the birthdays of the Sikh Gurus, Holi, and Divali because we have colleagues from all the major faiths and many of none. Many staff come to work with Hindu religious marks on their foreheads, turbans, crosses, and stars of David and no one minds. 

We have one female founder director and have broadly equal numbers across the sexes. Our pay rates are identical for men and women for any given role. Our HR Manager is female. We do not care about whom our team members love: their private lifestyles are not our concern but theirs. 

When we have a role to fill, we try to recruit internally as we believe in first offering opportunities to existing staff members. We try to accommodate staff who want to move abroad or alter their lifestyle. We now have about half our people working from home; the rest are hybrid working. We train people we know, preferring to deal with known weaknesses rather than the complete unknown of an outside recruit. All of this is equity in action because no one is ever debarred or dissuaded from applying for an open role on any grounds whatsoever. If they can do the job or we can build them up to do the job, that is what we like to see. Nothing gives us more pleasure than seeing people grow. 

We will never insult somebody by promoting them to a job just because they represent a group. We will always treat every job application fairly, irrespective of a person’s colour, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. What is essential for our company and clients is that we have the best person for the job in every role, and we do not unfairly discriminate against anybody. 

I hope you will appreciate why we do not have a DEI officer as we have a happy working environment where our people can commune with whom they want and have the opportunity to meet people from different cultures and climes, which for me, has been an enriching experience in my life having lived in the UK, Switzerland and Cyprus and having my life spent across my family and friends in the UK, Switzerland, India and Namibia and wherever in the world our clients and local associates find themselves.