5 minutes with… Cheryl Carty

Our '5 minutes with...' series is about getting to know the people who are leading the way in the I&D industry and working every day to champion inclusion. Be inspired by Cheryl Carty's experience as a passionate network lead and how this began her journey to becoming an I&D Consultant with Inclusive Employers.

1) Can you tell us how you came to be in your role?

Well, where do I begin…

“Picture it Scilly, 1969…” (sorry I just love the Golden Girls!)

I have always had a keen interest in inclusion and people in general. I am the one at the party or in the office who will talk to anyone, make everyone smile, champion voices that are not being heard and ensure that everyone feels included regardless of any issues.

I’ve always given people a chance to be seen as they are – not as other’s want them to be.

When the opportunity came up for me to become the chair of a women’s network, I jumped at it. In this role I could really support the organisaton I was working for.

By helping them with their I&D journey I would also fulfil my need for a sense of belonging. I knew I had something to bring to the table, a voice that wasn’t being heard, a lived experience that my colleagues at that time hadn’t seen before. 

I helped to create a programme of events looking at inclusion and diversity within the organisation. These included:

Women breakfast sessions

This was an opportunity for the most senior women in the company to talk about their careers. This created a system where women across the company had female role models in the organisation. They shared their experience of their high-flying roles, how they coped with maternity leave, breaking the glass ceiling and championing the gender pay gap.

Celebrating International Men’s Day

We organised a panel discussion with three male presidents. This had never been done before. This event was a tough one to get across to the women’s network board, they asked:

“Cheryl, why are you championing a day for men?  Don’t they already have enough?”

They were right to question me and they were not wrong.  However, I had got to a point in my journey where I wanted to find ways men and women could support and champion each other.  For me it was an obvious thing to do. It’s about allyship. We need more men to be a part of all the conversations around inclusion and diversity.

On the panel we discussed the positive females that the presidents had in their lives, paternity leave, and how they intended to support the women in their teams.

Turning passion into a career

The network wasn’t just about me. I had a great group of women around me, who created book clubs, career insight days for interns, finance advice during covid, menopause webinars and a screening for our sponsored charity BelEve.

With this incredible team around me, I was able to balance my skills of influence and justice to ensure that the workplace became a more inclusive place for all staff to work. I also helped to set up other network groups around race and culture.

I absolutely loved working in the network groups, and I loved my day job, but the passion that I had for I&D wouldn’t go away. I tried to find ways to fit I&D into my role. It wasn’t easy and I had to make some tough decisions about my life and legacy and what I wanted to leave for my children. 

How was I going to get a job in inclusion and diversity? Would I be brave enough to make the leap after 10 years with my previous company? I didn’t have any experience in HR, I wasn’t a trainer or facilitator, but what I did have was this gut feeling for justice and equity.  

I decided that I needed to educate myself and searched for I&D courses. I came across the Level 6 course at Inclusive Employers and decided to apply for it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2) Can you share an ‘inclusion moment’ with us – a time when you have felt included either at work or in your personal life?

I am really lucky. I have always had lots of positive people around me, whether that be in the workplace or at home.  I have a very loving family who have supported me in everything I do and the best group of friends that anyone could wish for.

I have always felt like I belonged here at Inclusive Employers. I really love my job and the team that I work with, but I have to admit that being asked to lead on the Sparks Programme was the icing on the cake.

The Sparks Programme gives people from under-represented backgrounds the opportunity to kick-start a career in inclusion and diversity. Through professional training, certification, mentoring and networking opportunities the programme will ignite the careers of future I&D pioneers.

I feel so fortunate to be in a position where I am able to truly see the impact of positive change that the Sparks Programme has on people’s lives.

3) What do you love most about your role?

Making a difference!  Every day, I&D specialists around the world are sowing the seeds of change. I realise that for some of us this transition isn’t taking place as quickly as it could do.

It can be frustrating, and I get it, but we still need to continue to sow those seeds of hope, water them and take care of them, so that they can blossom into the change that we all need for the next generations.   

4) What is a typical day like for you?

On a daily basis I’m a mum of twin boys (aged 6), so once I have them packed off to school – which can feel like a whole day’s work in itself! – I log on to my laptop.  

I’m fortunate to have a remote/hybrid working pattern, so I work remotely but also facilitate face-to-face and online training. This model works for me as it gives me a sense of balance with all the different hats that I have to wear.

5) What’s been you most memorable moment in your inclusion career?

The first account management call that I had with one of my members at Inclusive Employers. During that call I remember the comment, “What you have just said makes so much sense”.  I actually sat back and smiled.

When it comes to talking about inclusion, I could do it all day long. So to now be working in a role where I get to talk about making a difference is a real honour to me.

I can’t leave without talking about the people that I get to work with at Inclusive Employers, and in the inclusion and diversity industry on a whole. They are all incredible people who give their time to help us all make the world become a better place.