In this interview, Amrit tells us about how what started out to be ‘just a campaign’ became a way of doing business.

Interview by Lisa Pantelli

Amrit Nijjar is no stranger to the internal communication world. Having spent more than 15 years working closely with the inimitable Kate Jones within the comms team at Tarmac – a CRH company – in 2019 she took on a hybrid role managing both her internal communication team responsibilities and taking ownership for launching Proud to Be Me, a diversity and inclusion campaign, to 7,000 employees. As a result of the resounding success of the campaign and recognition of DE&I as a strategic priority, Amrit is now Tarmac’s Inclusion and Belonging Manager.

DE&I is a strategic priority. Take the time to understand the perceived barriers. Having sat within the IC team, I was tasked with coming up with an inclusion and diversity engagement campaign. At the same time, we were due to launch a new survey and we were looking at a new vision, so everything needed to work together.

My first step was to hold focus groups with a random sample of colleagues from across the business and engage with members of the leadership team to scope out the vision and purpose – to make sure the campaign resonated with the direction of the business. What came out of this work, was a campaign concept called Proud to be Me. It was a concept which linked directly to our values.

Creating a platform for people to share who they are. Proud to be Me is a very simple, but highly effective campaign. Rolled out to 7,000 colleagues, it was designed to give people a platform to share whatever it is they are most proud of. It could be family, education, career achievements – whatever – it just gave people some way to show us who they are.

Find your own voice. When I was selling the idea to my director, I used myself as an example. When I was reflecting on what it is that made me proud to be me, it made me realise how I have hidden so much of it. As an internal communicator, for many years I have helped people find their own voice, but I hadn’t found my own.

As a first-generation British-Indian throughout my career, my heritage, or the fact that I am a parent is not something I have ever tried to own or talk about. All this time I’ve worked with predominantly white middle-aged men, I’ve hidden my diversity by just trying to blend in and not talk about it. Everything I was proud of, I had hidden. This gave me a sense of purpose in making this campaign succeed.

Simple campaigns can drive more positive change than you realise. Initially this was going to be a communications and engagement campaign – with a start and a finish date. In the end, what we developed went viral. It was such a simple campaign and clearly linked to our values, our colleagues really got behind it. People were talking about Proud to Be Me during team meetings, it became something which really resonated with people and somewhere people could share something safe with team members who had they had been working with for years. People learnt so much about each other – whether it was a hidden disability, sexuality, or religion – these conversations happened. Our leaders also starting using it at the beginning of events and it humanised them. It was amazing.

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THE AUTHOR

Lisa Pantelli, head of content & community

Lisa is simply’s head of content and community. She is an award-winning employee engagement and internal communications specialist.

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