“Diversity and Inclusion is one of the cornerstones of our business and a key aspect of this is the advancement of women”
An interview with Thomas Allmark
Director, Inclusion and Diversity, EMEA, CHEP
Can you tell us a bit about your organisation and your role?
My current role is Director of Inclusion and Diversity for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In this role I am responsible for building a culture of inclusion where diversity is valued, encouraged and leveraged to create a better business for both employees and customers.
In terms of my background, I studied modern languages at university: French, Spanish and Catalan. I’ve always had a passion for languages and travel. Over the years have lived and worked in the UK, France, Spain, Germany and South Africa in various roles in finance, customer service and business transformation projects.
Why are you passionate about the mission of LEAD network?
By sheer coincidence, I started my current role on the same day as last year’s annual LEAD conference in London. I honestly don’t think I could have asked for a better first day on the job. The passion, commitment and enthusiasm I felt that day were infectious.
I’ve always been a firm believer in gender equality. To me it just seems like common sense. I was once lucky enough to work in a team where I was the only man and witnessed some of the micro aggressions and unequal treatment my female colleagues experienced. Those experiences planted a seed for me that something had to change, and I began seeking opportunities to make that happen. In my current role I have a chance to make a difference in this area and the LEAD network provides outstanding support in this area.</br/>
What would you tell your younger self to ease her/his heart?
If in doubt, do it! Action is always preferable to inaction. It can sometimes be daunting to take a risk or try something new, but it’s the only way to learn. It sometimes means making mistakes – and that’s ok too. It’s the best way to learn.
How do you help diversity and inclusion as a male champion?
Men so often have a seat at the table by default or are listened to by senior colleagues in a way that women, people of colour or those perceived as somehow “different” are not.
Being aware of this privilege is critical. I try to leverage my own privilege (white, male, western, university educated) to ask the difficult questions and open up the conversation about whether we are truly committed to diversity and inclusion in actions as well as words. The road to a truly diverse and inclusive environment is long and complex. And it’s only by having those difficult discussions and getting comfortable being uncomfortable that true progress can be made.