8 March, 2019
As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day 2019 Mariella Giancola, Head of HR at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), gives us a personal insight into why she is passionate about diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace.
I have always had a great interest in social sciences and a strong desire to understand how people who, like me, are proud of their own cultural heritage could function effectively in a multicultural and ethnically diverse society, whilst maintaining their identity.
It started many years ago when I was living and studying in a small area of the South of Italy where cultural and social integration was causing a few challenges. However, it was only while studying for a Masters in Intercultural Human Resource Management (HRM), that the complexity of human interactions and the variety of factors influencing relationships truly became apparent and understood.
The world of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (D, E&I) has evolved since then. The concept of bringing together people with their cultural, educational and professional uniqueness is now well embedded in the culture of many organisations, including BAS.
Driving change at BAS
I am incredibly proud to lead the Human Resources team at BAS and champion these principles in the workplace. Part of what I love about my role is the ability to drive change, one step at the time for the benefit of everyone. A few years ago, we joined the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and gradually developed an Equality & Diversity agenda. This led to a review of our recruitment policies and practices, the engagement in the disability confident scheme and a collaboration with Vercida, a disability recruitment platform, to attract and recruit a more diverse workforce. Staff welfare is our priority. Over the last couple of years, we have worked in partnership with Mind to raise awareness about the impact of work-related stress and help build personal and team resilience. We are currently working with Adelle from the Sweet Potato Consultancy on a wellbeing strategy that takes care of all of us. With all of this and more going on, how cannot I be excited when I go into work every morning?
Developing a more inclusive workplace
BAS is an amazing place with extraordinary people. Since our commitment to the Equality Charter in 2015 we have launched a number of programmes and initiatives to foster a discrimination free culture and develop a more inclusive workplace. We are working closely with other organisations to reach everyone in the community who share our values and interest in science. While much remains to be done, I believe that there is real energy and momentum in BAS to embed diversity and inclusion in all that we do, not least because of our history and heritage.
We are what we are. Our cultural heritage, our identity, our values and idiosyncrasies are part of us and what we do. There is no perfect fit or special label to identify us we are all just people.