5 minutes with… John Zafar - Inclusive Employers

5 minutes with… John Zafar

'5 minutes with...' is our interview series that allows you to learn more about the Inclusive Employers team and other I&D professionals working to make inclusion an every day reality.

Here we learn more about John Zafar, Chair of Inclusive Employers.

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

I have known Palatine Private Equity, the investor, for ten years so when they were putting together a shortlist of candidates for the Chair role at Inclusive Employers, I was fortunate that my name was added to the list. After having been interviewed by Claire and the Palatine team I was deeply honoured to be offered the role of Chairperson. I then joined in October 2022, alongside the Palatine team, after the acquisition was completed.

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

Despite being born in Lancashire, because of my mixed race, I was targeted on an almost daily basis with racial abuse, both verbally and physically, between the ages of five and fifteen. At sixteen I entered the world of work as a Business Studies Trainee and from the very first day everyone I worked with and met, treated me as a person rather than a “thing”. The world of adults was so radically different for me than school, that it took a while for me to adjust to how I was being treated. I found myself…included, and have been fortunate enough to have been included throughout the rest of my professional career by my employers and my peers

3. What do you love most about your role?

There are several aspects to what I do, that I love. The first of which is working with a world-class team here at Inclusive Employers. It’s difficult to convey in words just how much I’m in awe of the quality of our people and the journeys they have also been on in their lives. The second is how proud I am to be a part of what we are doing regarding Inclusion and the impact we have on the lives of others. I’ve estimated that since the company was started by Claire and Richard, our clients have employed over 1 million people between them, so that’s how many lives our work has already touched. Looking forwards I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about our future, about the growth of Inclusive Employers, the development of our people and the opportunity to add several more million lives to our sphere of positive influence.

4. What is a typical day like for you?

In a word, busy! I’m up early every day to take Bailey, our dog, out for a walk and to enjoy the peace of the early morning. We live very close to the Downs so climbing up the hills to get a view across the countryside is a great way to start the day.

In terms of my work for Inclusive Employers, I support Claire, Robin and the Directors as well as provide input on a number of fronts including hiring, systems, finance, strategy and business development.

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

Aside from being offered the opportunity to join Inclusive Employers as Chair, meeting our staff, which I haven’t completed yet, and learning about them and their roles is wonderful. A recent event also stands out in my mind, which was when Claire and I were presenting at the Palatine Impact Fund AGM. This was the first time I had represented Inclusive Employers in such a way and, with Claire’s help, was able to talk about our future to the audience. We were rewarded with the longest Q&A session there had ever been at this event, which made me feel very proud to be part of the team. Again…!

Get to know more of the Inclusive Employers team