by | Nov 23, 2023

Ep. 11 | Cheryl Cole, Director at AJM DEI Consulting


Cyber Glass Ceiling Podcast Episode Cheryl Cole

Listen To Episode 11 Here:

In this episode, my guest is Cheryl Cole, the esteemed Director at AJM DEI Consulting.

Tune in as Cheryl and I delve into the myriad of challenges hindering progress in achieving workplace diversity. From navigating biases to dismantling stereotypes, we explore the obstacles that create a figurative glass ceiling for underrepresented individuals in the workplace.


Cheryl Cole | LinkedIn


C-Vision International

Salt Group

Audio Transcription

Charles James: And welcome to the autumn series of Cyber Glass Ceiling. My name’s Charles James. In this series, we’ll be speaking to people around diversity, neurodiversity, as well as the challenges that leaders have in cyber security. Thank you for listening and enjoy.

So Cheryl, really good to meet you. And we’re going to kick off with a couple of questions. So we’re going to get into it and about your background. Can you share a bit about your background and, you know, what led you to your current role as a DEI communications specialist?

Cheryl Cole: Yeah, so Charles my background is super, super varied.

I actually I’m actually a qualified optician to begin with and I went into optics at a young age because when I was in school, my careers advisor told me that journalism wasn’t for somebody like me and at the time I didn’t actually, being young and naive, I didn’t actually know what they meant by that.

I just thought, Oh, you know, I’m sure I’m good at English. I love writing stories. So what does that mean? But anyway, let me go and train to be an optician. So I did that and five years later. I thought, you know what? Sod them. I’m going to retrain to be a journalist. So it wasn’t actually until I went into journalism that I realized what they meant.

Charles James: Yeah.

Cheryl Cole: You know, when I was looking around my university peers and they were all from a certain group funded by the bank of mum and dad, whereas I was on my, still working as an optician to keep myself going. They all looked the same, all had these strange names. The…

Charles James: Tarquins.

Cheryl Cole: Tarquins and the Poppys and the Chelseas and all this I was like, Okay. And then when I looked into the industry to see who was there, there were, there were very few black journalists at the time.

Charles James: It’s really weird because I remember being at school. And, you know, so long ago I was at school, I think we had one computer. And even though I was interested in it, I was told not for people like you…

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: …James. They used to say I goes, well, it’s a computer and it’s like you were rushed away. Yeah. And again I feel your pain.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: Even back then, so no. So do carry on.

Cheryl Cole: I mean, even when I decided to retrain everybody around me was like, oh, you’re being really stupid. You should stay as an optician, blah, blah, blah.

You’re never gonna get, and. No, why are there limitations on what I can do? This is what I want to do and I’m going to go off and do it. So I retrained and I Luckily landed my first role at Bloomberg.

Charles James: Oh nice.

Cheryl Cole: So it’s focused on financial journalism for a while and then moved on to Bloomberg money magazines and various other Investment magazines then I moved to the the mirror group I did some editorial stuff there, was the editor of the Birmingham Post at one point and then I went into corporate communications and landed at GSK and I spent a long time in corporate comms in the HR function, primarily dealing with HR comms the magazine that they had, which was called UK Pharma.

That was purely me. Anything to do with people and getting the message across about how we can better serve our people the needs of people within the business, and also talking about the new innovations that GSK were doing at the time, that’s what I was leading on, and I did that for But 13 years.

Charles James: It’s funny because when the guests I have on this show because they’re, you know, high ranking in, in, in the it industry, working for banks, they have to go through the comms people say, Oh, let’s see if I can do this.

I’m still trying to convince one or two, but it’s not about the bank per se. It’s about you. And now you represent the bank, but also it’s about, you know, what, what you, how you got to where you’ve got to. So no fully aware of that. And fully aware that e coms people can either say yay or nay.

Cheryl Cole: And you know what, it’s funny you said that because when I first started in GSK, because I’d come from newspaper world, magazine world, and we just told it as it is, you know, I was responsible for breaking so many stories, and then to go into the corporate world where you had to be very careful of what you said.

I had a huge battle for about six months. I used to go home crying every night thinking I’m rubbish, I don’t know what I’m doing. Why can’t I say this? This is what’s going on. And I quickly learned that there’s a language, there’s a way you speak when you’re in corporate land.

Charles James: Corporate politics.

Cheryl Cole: Corporate politics. You don’t give away the…

Charles James: Corporate BS.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah, there’s, there, well, yeah, polite way of putting it. You don’t actually give away what’s actually going on because if you did that, most organizations would be in a lot of trouble. So then… I Went into banking, back to banking, and so I worked at HSBC as a corporate comms advisor, specialist, and strategy person.

And then someone approached me, who I’d worked with way back when on my first role in media, to launch… Well to launch diversity queue. And at the time the company that was doing it, we’re working with the women in finance charter to develop the charter. And then they put on the women in finance awards to support it.

And then they wanted a publication to support that. So I joined and then within five months thought, why are we just talking about women? You know, when it comes to diversity in the workplace, it affects so many people in so many different ways. Yeah, let’s just talk more broadly about DEI, not just about the impact that women, you know, the impact on women.

Charles James: I was having the conversation again for the last few episodes back even my last episode. In, in banking, you don’t have the same people that bank. You have a diverse range of people, women, people of color again, LGBTQ, all different. So how do you communicate to them if you’ve got the same type of people in your organization?

Cheryl Cole: Yeah, yeah, exactly. How do you build the products for. the world if it’s just one type of person building them. So I developed out Deque to become the leading publication in the space across the UK and US and to some extent India which I never actually worked out how that worked but we had a huge following in India.

And then And this summer I’ve decided that I’ve done that for five years. There’s only so much I can do in building it out to the way I want to build it and then doing more. And I’m going to be completely honest, the organization I was in didn’t really want to do the more that I wanted to do. So I decided to launch my own communications company specializing in DEI.

Because what I realized over the years, the five, six years of doing this work, is that why a lot of DEI… initiatives fail is because of poor communication on the entire journey, the life cycle. Why, when you try to convince your stakeholders, your business, your employees, that this is the right thing to do, it’s how you communicate that can either make or break whether it’s a success.

And I’ve realized that a lot of organizations struggle with that.

Charles James: So brings me on to the next question about the key challenges. When you face promoting diversity within organizations today how do you, do you sort of combat that?

Cheryl Cole: Well, let me tell you about the key challenges to begin with. There’s a lot of DEI fatigue out there at the moment, you know, organizations are saying we’ve done a lot of work in this space, but nothing’s really changed.

And, you know, we’re bored of the rhetoric, we’re bored of the language, we’re pumping money into it, but what we, we’re not seeing anything come. back, so to speak, because it’s harder to measure. Then you have the other thinking where we keep talking about how we’re going to promote women. And then the other group are thinking, well, what about us?

You know, it’s not just about women all the time. You have organizations that say, where is the commercial value in what I’m doing? And if there is commercial value, I’m not seeing it because again, going back to the point that it is quite difficult, it can be quite difficult to, to measure, but there are various ways that you can measure that.

Then you have organizations that don’t fully understand what they can or can’t do because of the legal framework that supports DEI and it’s changing quite often and new bodies are coming in and saying, we want to this afternoon, or you can’t do that, etc. So there is that confusion about what you can and can’t do.

So a lot of companies don’t do anything.

Charles James: No, I understand.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: Don’t do anything in case of offense or…

Cheryl Cole: In case of being challenged in case of being well, especially if you’re in the US, in case of being sued against discrimination against one group, even though you’re trying to support another group. Yeah, so they don’t do anything. So, you know, it’s easier not to do anything.

Charles James: Again. And you’ve spoken in the U S as well. Haven’t you?

Cheryl Cole: I’ve spoken in the US yeah.

Charles James: And I’ve spent some time in America. I was in, in, luckily I was in Chicago where, you know, I was blinded by the, the, the largeness of, of America. And I’m going back to late. 1999, early 2000s, and I thought it was awesome, but you know, sometimes you, I choose, I chose to see what I did see and chose to ignore, you know, was blatantly obvious.

Because at that time it was like getting on the ladder and, and, you know, shadowing guys that are making a million dollars a year selling software. And I’m like, I want to be one of them. I don’t care what you don’t see it. But of course, I remember being at an event. In somewhere in Chicago.

And it, the company I was working for okay. Flew in all the sales guys from across the U S and Europe and the world. And I was speaking to some guy from the South, uh, and he genuinely. didn’t know there were black people in England. He had no idea that there were, and I looked at him and I said, you know, where have you been?

In, in, in, in the South, you know what I mean? So, no, I, I do get it and it, it still amazes me today. That’s another whole conversation about, you know, America.

Cheryl Cole: The challenge is if you’re an international company as well, even if you are operating in the US, different states in the U. S. operate differently so that, you know, the whole DEI Gender is a minefield, so, and then you have to then do what you do in the UK, and if you operate in Asia, again, it’s completely different how you talk to people, and address people, so, it can be quite challenging for organisations to get their head around what they can and can’t do, when and how, so, the easiest thing is to do nothing.

Charles James: Indeed.

Can you provide examples of specific initiatives and programs that you’ve implemented to promote diversity and inclusion and what’s been the outcome?

Cheryl Cole: Okay. Oh God, So I’ve written DEI inclusive leadership training modules. The reason being I’ve noticed that because of this apathy and the not understanding the commercial value of DEI, I needed to educate a certain group of people within the organization as to why it was important and why it’s important to have a DEI strategy that marries your business strategy is no point doing them separately. They have to work hand in hand. And if you do that, you can actually see the outcomes that you’re, the commercial returns that you’re trying to achieve is easier to measure. It’s easier also to realize that if you don’t engage your employees or treat your employees, right.

Even if you brought in them in as a diverse person, if they don’t stay within the company, that’s cost you a lot of money off the bat. Recruiting them, bringing them through for a certain time and then watching them leave is really expensive and you don’t want to do that. So I wrote an inclusive leadership training module and to be fair, I did have some resistance to why we need to do this.

Why do we need to sit on this program for? Was it two, four hours out of my life to, you know…

Charles James: I’ve, I’ve been doing that for years.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah. Yeah.

Charles James: What do you mean I need to take another exam in technical? Make my brain bleed.

Cheryl Cole: Seriously, people. And then it was after they did it, it was just like, Oh, okay. Yeah. I get it now.

I get it now. I’m going to be completely honest and say, how long did that? Awareness last or enthusiasm or to do better, to do right last. It lasted for as much as I kept bouncing on the door for about six months. And then it was, you know, back to how I used to behave before.

Charles James: And you know what, we’re going to take a break in a second, but no, I, I do, I do get it. I do understand that. And I’m like. Where do we need to get to? In my head, I’m, you know, I’m going to come up with another couple of questions, but let’s take a break and we’ll be back after these words.

Salt Cyber Security: This episode was brought to you by Salt Cyber Security, part of Salt Group, who specialize in providing trust across digital channels. By helping major financial institutions verify the identity of their users and authenticating high value transactions in the UK and globally.

Charles James: And welcome back. And with me, I’ve got Cheryl Cole former editor of DiversityQ and diversity and equitable inclusion specialist.

No, not that Cheryl Cole, this Cheryl Cole, the original Cheryl Cole. But we’ll get on with it. So more questions as a leader in the workplace, would you say you’ve seen a shift in culture? Promoting people of colour, women.

Cheryl Cole: Oh,

Charles James: Setting those diversity goals. What have you seen? Speak to me.

Cheryl Cole: What have I seen? I’ve seen change. I’m not going to lie, there has been change over the last few years, especially after the murder of George Floyd. There was a lot of attempts to promote people of colour into more prominent visual positions. And you know, we also have I think the Parker review, which he’s trying to get one or one member of a diverse population on a board by 2021.

And that happened but then we realized that they were still non execs. They weren’t, you know, proper execs, et cetera. And there’s still more, more work to do in the two fifties and three fifties.

Charles James: Yeah. I’m not the Parker review. Can you…

Cheryl Cole: Yes it was, it was a review that looked into how diverse boardrooms were. And it, I think it first launched in, quote me, 2019, and what they promised was to try and make at least 4100, or all boardrooms, have at least one member from a diverse population on their board by 2021.

Charles James: How’s that going?

Cheryl Cole: Yeah, so, at present we have, well, don’t quote me again, because I’m going back to March figures. We have no CEOs of colour on any board. FTSE board. I’m not sure that we have anybody of color on a FTSE 100 board CEO anymore. We have some non executive people and we have mostly non exec, if they are of color they’re mostly non executive men, rather than women. So women are still doing quite poorly in terms of representation.

So that was what the review was trying to do, improve. Diversity on boards. So I’m struggling still to realise why, given that there’s so many brilliant people of colour in senior positions around organisations, why it’s still so hard to make that leap into a boardroom. And I’ve noticed that, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the reason why it’s so hard is because a lot of people are And forgive me, but I’m going to be honest and say they’re there as a visual representation.

Charles James: So, in my language, I’m going to say token.

Cheryl Cole: Thank you. And the support behind them is still not really there. It’s not as meaningful as it should be. And you can get so far… But there’s only so far you can still get.

Charles James: And so I can hear the argument coming the other way is that no we Hire on ability and they don’t see it doesn’t matter what they look like or who they are what sex they are or gender they are or or you know, it’s about their ability and That’d be the argument coming back “no, we hire people on ability only da da da da da”.

Cheryl Cole: In reality It doesn’t happen because in reality I’m going to give you an example. We know for a fact that most people of colour who are professionals are overqualified for most roles. They’re overeducated, overqualified with experience and still they can’t get a foot through the door.

Recruitment agencies will come back to you and say, we don’t know where to find them. We don’t know where, you know, there aren’t enough of them out there. You know, we don’t have access to these people. So what do they do? They go and hire what’s easiest to hire the majority that what they know and what they’re most comfortable and the majority applying for the roles who are going to be not people of color.

So it’s, it’s. It’s a myth to say that people hire on merit, because if they did, I think we’d see a huge shift in people getting roles from underrepresented groups, because as I said, we’re overqualified.

Charles James: So, what advice would you give organisations? Or individuals looking to improve their diversity and inclusion practices.

Cheryl Cole: First of all, I think you really need to understand your business. Because I don’t want to say that all organisations need to look to improve their DEI metrics. Because it may not be relative to their organisation. And what I mean by that is… If I’m a small farmer in the middle of the cops world, for example, and I’ve got three or four employees and you’re going to turn around and say to me, I have to make one of those, it makes no sense.

Charles James: No, cause I ain’t working out in no club.

Cheryl Cole: Exactly. Or, you know, the, the, the demographics around you or whatever it is, it makes no sense to force organizations to change if it’s not necessary. What we’re saying is that if a person. wants to join your organization, make it a possibility, be fair, be open, be transparent, be willing to look at difference to make your organization fairer for anybody who wants to be a part of it.

That’s what we’re saying when we’re talking about how, why organizations to should need to improve their DEI. And also. For example another argument that I hear is that we need more black people So we’re going to employ more black people Actually, if you actually look further down your organization, you probably find that you’ve got quite a lot of black people in your organization So you don’t need to employ more what you need to do is support the ones you have In your organization to grow and develop equally to the others who don’t have to work so hard to get to the top.

Charles James: Indeed now it’s funny you say that because again for all the episodes and interviews. That I’ve done with would be women, people of color black, Asian, female, do matter. I’m yet to get some LGBTQ representation, which I’ll be looking for over the next few weeks. What I’ve seen, and the conversations we’ve had is that these individuals that are at the top of their game, whether they be heads of CIO, CEO, CISOs, whatever it may be, ,it’s their drive.

That’s got them there. Yeah, it’s their mentality and drive. That’s made them stand out, if that makes sense. And so, you know, whether it’s, you know, the people that I’ve, I’ve spoken to, I would have noticed is that it’s not a massive barrier for them because they’ve gone on and been driven and this is what they’ve wanted to do.

And I’ve, I’ve seen this all along the way. But I also fully aware. That their stories also mirror a lot of other stories where people haven’t been so driven. People haven’t, haven’t, um, had the opportunity. And sometimes they just go, do you know what, you know, this is it. This is who I am, this is what I’m gonna do. ’cause they know that they can’t break through that ceiling and break through that barrier.

Cheryl Cole: Can I ask a question? I dunno if you’ve noticed this child, but is it about also, which is something I’ve noticed, it’s about. Your cultural background as well. So I’ve noticed there’s a very big difference between people of color who were born in the UK and people of color who have come from Africa or the Caribbean.

Charles James: And let me see if I can get that answer. And we’ll, we’ll, we’ll work for it together. When you are from the West Indies, we’re from West Indies. My parents are from the West Indies. My parents are from St Kitts and Nevis. Yours is from Jamaica?

Cheryl Cole: Yeah, my mum’s from Jamaica and my dad’s from Nigeria, so I’m half and half.

Charles James: Ah, I see. Now, in the West Indies my parents grew up having the same, schooling as people over here. Whether it be history, geography, maths, English, it was the same. And… When my parents came over here, it was hard. It was tough. You know, I grew up in the seventies and eighties, and even then it was hard and tough because, you know, quick story, I came, I live, you know, I was born and raised in Luton, uh, or Luton, depending where you’re from.

And where I lived was behind a God, what was it? What would you call it? Bunch of warehouses factory. So it was a trading state. And I remember one time my mom sent me to the shops. It’s about six, seven years old to go and get something for her. And there was a guy on a bike and he’d come through the alleyway to come down to the main, main, main road to the shops and he spat at me and says, go home.

I’m like. Is he talking to me? Sort of thing. And I went home and told my mum what had happened. Some guy spat at me on a bike, for goodness sake. And he told me, you know, go back home to where I came from. And I was like, yeah. And, you know, my mum sat me down and says, we are different. We’re not the same. At seven, eight years old, you don’t see colour.

You just see your mates and, you know, you go to school and, you know, you’re having fun. And she, you know, she talked, she spoke to me and she said, look, you know, we are different. And it was hard growing up. When we look at our African brothers and sisters, it was slightly different because the path was already cleared for these guys to come over in my opinion.

They didn’t have such a hostile atmosphere as our parents did or my parents did in, in the, you know, fifties and sixties. And so I guess it was slightly easier for them.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: Does that makes sense?

Cheryl Cole: I agree. I agree in that most people that I’ve met who are not born here and grew up and worked for a period of time elsewhere. Do you not had didn’t have the same. negative restrictions put upon them. They, because everybody looked like them, everyone behaved like them, and they, all they knew was they were driven, they could achieve, no one was going to tell them you can’t achieve anything. Whereas when you’re here, growing up here, especially in the 70s and 80s, you’re constantly told, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.

So… When you move off into the workplace, you already thought, in your head, you’re already thinking, I can’t attain this, I can’t achieve that, etc, etc. And you put self limiting barriers on yourself, I think, to a degree. And it’s hard for you to, to move through that unless you are of a certain nature.

Charles James: Well, exactly. And you know, you just saying that I remember I went to an all boys school in Chorney and I always joke about it used to be, it’s, it’s a bit like, it was like Borstal. It was, it was hard. And the teachers didn’t give a toss about you to be fair. And by the time I was in my last year at school, it was like, this is a complete waste of my time.

Because as we spoke about earlier, absolute negativity. No, that’s not for you. I remember one guy and I’ll name him, Mr. Williams, Paul Williams. He turned around and said to me, was it him? I think it might have been, allegedly anyway. You know. Charles, you know, you’re no good at X, all you’re good for is, you’re like, you’re a jungle bunny.

All you’re good is for running and jumping, because I was very good at athletics and winning stuff for the school. And I just looked at him and went, yeah, I’ve got your number type thing. And I won’t tell you exactly what happened, but it was like, I got your number when you compared to a jungle bunny and all you’re good for running and jumping.

You’re right. That could stay with you for the rest of your life and thinking, I’m no good. I’m, it’s not going to happen to me.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah. And if you take all the experiences that you have, have as a child, teenager, and those of your peers. Growing up with you into the workplace, you, you know, you’re already on the back foot and I feel that what I’ve seen is a lot of the high achievers Weren’t educated in the UK…

Charles James: Hmm

Cheryl Cole: …from a young age and I admire them. I admire I admire their strength. I admire the fact that they don’t give a toss, you know, don’t tell me I can’t do this because I’m going to go and do it and achieve it whether you like it or not.

Charles James: That is my mentality. And that has always been my go to. I, you know what, I don’t care if you’re the blooming king of Sheba. Yeah. You’re a human being.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: We can achieve the same.

Cheryl Cole: Yeah.

Charles James: I well, I’ve really Nice guy called Rushie, Joss, and this guy, very privileged, went to two different universities. We work the same job, yeah? And I said to him one day, I goes, How’s it feel, Rushie? He goes, Well, you’ve got to get yourself educated.

You’ve gone, you know, two different universities. You didn’t really start working until you’re 20 something, seven years old. But yeah, here we are doing the same job, getting the same pay. Do you know what I mean? And it’s that sort of mentality, you just have to be driven.

Cheryl Cole: You have to be.

Charles James: And you know, we slightly digress, but I love the conversation because You know what people need to hear it. And for all those guys at Chorney school, yeah, it don’t matter if you’re a millionaire, it don’t matter if you’re a bim and it don’t matter if you’re a blue collar worker or white collar worker. It’s not a judgmental thing, but sometimes you’ve got people who have made a different stuff. And anyone who knows me knows my upbringing, you know, the tragedy of my mum passing away at 14.

Men that I had to get my shit together eventually didn’t happen till I was like 27, but you know, when it did happen, you know, you’re on that focused road. And all I would say is that even at that tender age, even at my tender age now, make sure you’ve got the right people around you.

Cheryl Cole: Absolutely.

Charles James: Because if you don’t have that support around you. Yeah, you can have that lead weight around your neck and you know, it’s always, always important to do that.

Cheryl Cole: And it takes me on to the fact that, you know, we, we talk about, have we seen change in the workplace? Yes, we’ve seen change. It might not be the absolute change that we want to see, but these people are still standing up as role models for the next generation.

To say that, you know, they’ve done it, doesn’t matter how they did it, or why they’re there, or who put them there for whatever reason, they’re actually there. And whether they’re rolled out every now and then, as opposed to child for DEI, it doesn’t matter. There’s actually a person who’s in this position, so you can get there as well.

And I think, you know, I didn’t have any real role models growing up, in… When I was trying to do journalism there were very few but I think my mother was my role model. Mm hmm She was so determined I mean think she was one of the first women in the UK to get a mortgage back in the 1960s and I was like Wow, okay.

She was hardcore. So looking at her and thinking if she can Do what she does, as a single woman. There’s no reason why I can’t do what I really want to do. Which is one of the reasons I said to everybody, sod that, I’m going back to retrain, because you can’t tell me what I can’t do.

Charles James: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Getting back on the question thing, we’ve sort of talked off kilter, but you know, it’s a great conversation to have. In your opinion, what role does leadership play in fostering a diverse and inclusive culture? So what would you tell the sort of the board members or the management of the C level guys that, you know, to be successful?

And I’m thinking about banking especially because I tend to get the same sort of answer. You know, everybody needs a bank account of some sort, so you can have a diverse bunch of people. And it’s. You know, speaking to in my last episode, I spoke to a guy called Fox Ahmed and, you know, especially in the organization where he works when he joined 20 odd years ago, it was already diverse.

And it’s kept on going and his peers were from a diverse background and you know, that gave him heart to, to continue. And so again, yeah, what would you sort of give that advice?

First of

Cheryl Cole: all if we’re going to talk about banking, for example, I’m going to say what, what leaders need to realize, especially if you’re in a large organization, is that the global majority.

I’m actually people of colour. Okay, so if you’re going to work in a homogenous group and only produce products based on your homogenous small group that are only going to serve, at the end of the day, 30 percent of the world’s population, then You’re missing out commercially on 70 percent of the world’s population because I can guarantee you the products that you’ve built with your homogenous team who look exactly like you, behave like you, think like you, and expect the same outcomes as you, is not going to appeal to everybody else.

It’s not going to appeal to the person who’s in Africa, who is doing all their banking, I don’t know, on their little mobile in a certain way. because they don’t have access to proper bank accounts, cetera, et cetera. If you’re not going to produce the products that are going to meet their needs come 10, 20 years, well, 10, 15 years, you’re going to put yourself out of a business.

You might not care because you think you’re at the door in 10, 15, 20 years, but what about your children? Yeah. You know, what about the legacy that you’re leaving them? If you’re going to ruin the banking system in the UK, because you can’t be bothered to think differently or engage with people who are different to you, then you’re not leaving anything behind for your children.

And that’s why I think leaders play a huge role in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. You know, they should be role modeling certain behaviors, which is going to support the business growth. Role modeling, aspirational behaviors as well that others can learn from whether you’re from the same demographic group or social group or whatever role model behaviors that people behind you are going to think, yeah, that’s how I want to be work and treat others in the workplace.

Charles James: I think it’s starting to happen. You know, like I said, the conversations I’ve had over the last, God knows how long months and the guests I’ve had on the show, you know, those green shoots are starting to happen where there’s function, there’s groups especially being promoted within these large corporations, you know, whether it be a NatWest, whether it be a Deutsche Bank, whether it be, you know, Lloyd’s, they’re starting to promote that.

And maybe, you know, promoting it with women in, in banking and then, you know, that diversity of women and people of colour in there. So I’d say, yeah, it’s on the right track lot more to do. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight.

Cheryl Cole: I mean, I’m going to be honest and say parking, you know, putting the FTSE 100 aside, they have their act together in a certain way.

And they, because they’ve got the resources to have their act together in a certain way. But when you leave that group and you go to the 350, 250 or smaller organizations, it’s still very, very challenging. When it comes to DEI in the workplace, and I understand completely that they may not have the, the KNOW-how, you know, the resources, the funds to put behind good DEI initiatives.

Mm-Hmm. . But it’s also the leadership that you know, you to have a good DEI initiative. You don’t need a lot of money. You just need willingness. And know how I’m finding talking to some of the leadership in that space, still, the focus is purely on commercial returns. And if you, you can’t, if you can’t draw that red thread with how your DEI is going to help with that commercial return, they’re not interested.

I’m going to be blatantly honest. They’re not interested. Because it’s nice to have, but it’s not going to make me money.

Charles James: Not essential.

Cheryl Cole: It’s not essential.

Charles James: So. We’re coming to the end. What’s next for Cheryl Cole?

Cheryl Cole: I’m gonna continue to help Organizations tell the story they need to tell in the right way not just tick bock exercises not Just saying they’re doing something for the sake of saying they’re doing something, but really help them on this journey of communicating what they need to do, why they need to do it and how they’re going to do it so that it resonates with all stakeholders within the business, even if they don’t recognize somebody as a stakeholder.

Because I think, as I said at the beginning, communication is the key. To getting people engaged to do what you want them to do and believing in what you’re saying you’re doing as well So that’s my journey.

Charles James: Thank you Cheryl. It’s been an absolute pleasure We’ve had a great chat. Thank you for coming on to cyber glass ceiling and I wish you all the best.

Cheryl Cole: And thank you Charles for having me.

Charles James: Thank you very much.

Salt Cyber Security: This episode was brought to you by Salt Cyber Security, part of Salt Group, who specialise in providing trust across digital channels by helping major financial institutions verify the identity of their users and authenticating high value transactions in the UK and globally.


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