“We will have an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome, valued and proud to belong”. This is a pretty bold commitment, but we really do promise to put D&I at the heart of everything we do and to help us do this is Steven Evans our Wellbeing and Inclusion Lead.
Hi, I’m Steven and I have worked for Specsavers for 6 years, most of that time spent in Learning & Development (L&D) for our store and support office colleagues. I have actually enjoyed working within L&D for the last 20 years in various companies as I’ve always been passionate about helping people to be at their best. Luckily my new role affords me the same privilege as I get to focus on the wellbeing of our people, whilst also considering how we can make Specsavers even more welcoming and inclusive.
Why did you decide to take the role of Wellbeing & Inclusion Lead?
Two years ago, along with two other colleagues, I helped to set up Specsavers first Colleague Network Group for LGBTQI colleagues, PRISM, an amazing piece of work to lead. At the time I was also becoming more involved in creating development to help colleagues look after their mental health and wellbeing. I was really energised by these pieces of work and started to look for more opportunities to shape Specsavers inclusion and wellbeing agendas, and then this role came up. I think of the role as being the conscience of Specsavers when it comes to wellbeing and inclusion, so it feels like a real privilege (you’ll often overhear me telling someone it’s my dream job).
What does diversity and inclusion mean to you and why is it so important in a workplace?
It means that anyone that works for Specsavers can bring their whole selves to work. As a gay man who grew up in a mixed ethnicity household, I understand the importance and power of being able to be honest and proud about who you are. It’s important that we can all do that both in our home lives but also when we’re at work. Quite simply, and as a good friend of mine always says, when one of us shines, we all shine. So, Diversity and Inclusion is about enabling our people to be themselves and shine, everyday!
You’ve recently launched our new D&I strategy with the big commitment of having ‘an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome, valued and proud to belong’, talk us through how this strategy was developed?
Firstly, we developed it by listening to our people all over the world in the various regions we serve. Diversity and Inclusion isn’t new to Specsavers, and we already have a lot to be proud of in this space, but we also know that colleagues want us to lead the way in this space so they can continue being proud to work here. Secondly, we partnered with Diversity in Retail who helped us identify opportunities to be even more diverse and inclusive. We have distilled the insight from Diversity in Retail and from listening to our colleagues into our new 10-point D&I strategy which we’re very excited about.
What do you think our biggest challenge will be when launching this strategy?
I feel honoured to work for an organisation that has never questioned the ‘why’ of focusing on diversity and inclusion, people here just seem to understand the importance of having an inclusive culture. I think the biggest opportunity we have is in helping our people understand that every single one of us has a role to play in leading and contributing to that culture. So, the challenge will be in bringing that to life for everyone through providing people with practical things they can commit to which ensure everyone feels included here at Specsavers. I know we’re going to rise to that challenge as I’m already involved in some inspiring conversations about how we do that in a way that engages everyone.
How are you going to actively encourage our colleagues to role model and contribute to becoming an inclusive environment?
The first thing we’ll do is encourage them to be curious about that culture, what does it actually mean to have an inclusive culture? What would you feel, see or be doing in an inclusive culture? If they’re curious, they’ll naturally want to learn more about the role they play in contributing to it. Then of course, we’ll start to share some practical things they can be doing to contribute, like welcoming diversity of thought which we all know leads to better decision making, or leading inclusive meetings as a couple of examples.
What’s been your proudest moment since starting the role of Wellbeing and Inclusion Lead?
There’s been a few actually, but If I had to pick one, it was the day our new D&I commitment and strategy was approved, There was no debate about the importance of the work which just re-affirmed what I already knew, that this really is a great place to work, one that cares about its people, and one that is fully committed to ensuring whoever you are, you’re welcome here.