Respecting our differences
Creating a workplace where everyone matters
What it's all about
One of our greatest strengths is the huge diversity of people that make up the Serco community.
It’s a strength because different ways of thinking give us the wider insight to find new ways of meeting the needs of those we serve.
We see people first and foremost for their unique perspectives, performance and potential.
And we know diverse teams that reflect the communities they work in deliver better services to those communities.
That’s why at Serco we set out to develop a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace.
Diversity is about creating a place where we all can be ourselves and thrive in places of work that are strengthened by our individual differences, diverse cultures, interpersonal styles, abilities, motivations and backgrounds. This means respecting the differences we find in our colleagues and partners and recognising that we can learn from them.
We all perform better in an inclusive workplace where we feel we belong and are valued. By making each other feel that, everyone wins.
Our success depends on the skills, integrity and diversity of our people.
“Respect and value every colleague as an individual.”
What we all need to know and do
We respect every colleague as an individual, and we give everyone equal opportunities.
We take the time to listen and to understand our colleagues and appreciate they may say or do things in ways that may bring a different perspective and view.
We respect different values, beliefs and opinions of others as well as the culture, customs and traditions of the countries we work in.
We educate ourselves and others, challenge unacceptable language and behaviours and welcome different ideas.
We treat colleagues in a way they wish to be treated, rather than the way we wish to be treated.
We welcome different ideas. The innovation that comes with diversity can generate new ideas. It can also make work more interesting, engaging, and fun.
If we witness or experience unfair treatment, we always report it at once to our manager, Human Resources or Speak up.
I’d just started on the job. It was hard work, but the team was really friendly - lots of jokes and banter. That helped make the days pass more easily.
Only thing was, this one guy. He’d pray at particular times of the day - no matter what. I suppose some of the others thought he was skiving, or maybe they were prejudiced, I don’t really know.
Anyway, he was the butt of jokes, mostly behind his back, and mostly not particularly nasty. I know he was aware of it, but he seemed to just accept that was the way things were.
It made me really uncomfortable. But you know, I felt like I couldn’t say anything. I was new on the team, it wasn’t my place.
A couple of months in, I came to work one Monday and he wasn’t there. I asked if he was okay and one of the guys said he’d moved on. When he said that, one of the others said, ‘Yeah, good riddance.’
We show tolerance to the values, beliefs and opinions of others
when they are different from our own.
It was the weekend, and I went into town. There was a public holiday - huge crowds celebrating in the streets. Then this Monsoon storm scattered everyone and I took shelter in a bar.
There were three young men sitting talking at a table. I didn’t understand their language but I kept hearing the word “Serco”.
Eventually I called out that Serco was the company I worked for. It was like I was their worst enemy. One of them said, ‘We don’t like Serco.’
I was surprised - shocked. This is a company I’m proud to be a part of. So of course I asked why.
They told me they’d come to town the year before on exactly the same day because they’d heard Serco was recruiting a big new workforce. But this man had taken one look at them and waved them away. When they asked why, he’d said, ‘We don’t take your kind here.’
‘But that’s racism!’ I said, ‘we’re not racists. We value diversity - that’s one of our strengths.’
‘Then why do you allow a racist to choose who will work for you and who will not?’ they asked.
I tried to persuade them to tell me who this man was, but they weren’t interested. They were already bored. ‘Why? Nothing will be done.’
So that’s the Serco they know. The Serco they talk about. The Serco that gets passed from one person to another by word of mouth.
And I think, ‘There are people in our company who know this man. Who he is, and what he is. And by not speaking up they have allowed him to continue to be all that we are not.’
Is that really what we want? Is that really what we do?
If we witness or experience unfair treatment, we always report it at once.
Lucas was special. Sweet, gentle, vulnerable. I suppose you’d say he had “learning difficulties”. But what he may have lacked in what people might call “intelligence” he made up for in his willingness to please and work hard.
He made such a difference to our team. I honestly think he brought the best out of everyone. We all wanted to look after him, and that made us a much better team.
A team that looked after each other.
When I left, they gave me a party, and asked Lucas to give me the gift they’d got. They rehearsed a little speech with him. But when the moment came he stood up, and he said, ‘This present is really nice. Can I have it?’
We all laughed so much. And this lovely person, Shiv, said to me, ‘Isn’t it amazing that Serco has the wisdom to employ such special people like Lucas?’
I went on to work with another company that I won’t name. There was a boy with Down’s Syndrome there who reminded me so much of Lucas. I was interested so I asked someone about him, and I remember exactly what they said: ‘‘I don’t know why we employ people like that. What’s the point? We should get rid of him.’
Shortly after that they did, and I never saw any special needs people working there again.
I often think how this expresses everything about how one company allows itself to be enriched by diversity, and another lets discrimination and prejudice poison the workplace.
I know which company I’d rather be with.
They pray together every lunch time. Okay, yes - of course they’ve got a right to do that. But should they really be so conspicuous about it?
I mean, we’ve got all sorts on this team. And that’s great. Personally I’ve found out about so many different faiths and cultures. Stuff I never knew that has made me appreciate where people are coming from.
And you think that Serco’s got it just right - our diversity really does make us stronger.
But is it right that one faith establishes an “in your face” ritual every single lunch?
It’s like they’re saying, ‘Hey, you may all have your faiths, but we have the one true faith. And we’re going to make sure the rest of you all know about it.’
That’s why I’m registering a complaint.
It’s doesn’t create a sense of equality or inclusiveness. It creates a sense of difference and exclusion.
It’s not right.
What do you think?
“Our success depends on the skills, integrity and diversity of our people.”