More from this series

Pamela Permalloo-Bass

Meet Pamela Permallo-Bass Head of Equality & Diversity at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

In Conversation With…

Yasmin Damree-Ralph

You cannot be anything but inspired and motivated by Yasmin Damree-Ralph who is responsible for Equality and Diversity at JTL Training & is a new Board member at the 'Institute of Equality & Diversity Practitioners'. She says that "You can do whatever it is you want to do, be who you want to be, just be the best at it".

Yasmin at this stage in your career, what would you say has been your proudest achievement?

Probably developing the JTL Apprentice Ambassador Initiative and seeing it launch at the House of Commons in from of the Labour Leader, Ministers and MP’s.  There have been several surreal moments & there have been many proud achievements both professionally and personal.

In terms of achievements, you have recently been invited to join the board of the 'Institute of Equality & Diversity Practitioners'...what impact do you think this will have on your work/career? 

Huge! Well I am hoping…  Being asked to join the Board was one of those moments where I just said yes without thinking about it: it was a gut instinct for me.  I see it as a great career opportunity to be part of an institute, that has like minded individuals who are giving their time to dissect Equality Law and make is real life.  The law is complicated as it stands, but when you bring it to life, there is an understanding that allows people to have that ‘light bulb’ moment.  I am hoping that I can bring a fresh way of thinking to the board, and share my experience of embedding equality within the workplace, as well as being able to speak on behalf of organisations that are trying so hard to embrace equality as part of the day to day practice.  On a personal level I feel that by accepting the Board invitation, I have to now raise my standards.

Challenge is a part of growth and development, what has been your most daunting challenge?

Coming into an unfamiliar sector and having to work to gain respect, recognition and trust.  The construction industry is really hard to engage with, particularly when talking about equality, so I had to find creative ways of explaining equality, diversity and inclusion that made sense to the people I needed to have onboard to make a difference.

Has working with a focus on diversity and equality always been a part of your career game plan? 

No!!! I didn’t have a clue about equality and diversity when I first started working, it was never on my radar.  I truly believe there is no way I could have chosen this field of work, it chose me!! I was quite happy drifting through life working away without being noticed, but I guess it’s always down to destiny: if you believe in that, I was destined to be part of something way bigger than me, and change perceptions along the way.  Believe it or not, I just wanted to be in the Beauty industry, more so a Nail Technician, it was my parents that told me I had to get a `proper job’. I guess for my parents generation it was all about having a job with status.  I went along with their wishes, and yes I have regrets but it’s never too late to do anything, as I am a qualified Nail Technician, and I have built my own business on the side of my full time job. So I actually am having my cake and eating it: yes it does mean that I have less time to myself, but then I am managing my business and job fairly well, and my family do not miss out as I still have time for them too.

What would you like to achieve in the next 3 years?  Ooh I would like to have elevated my position in my field of work and perhaps linked closer to Government, in a dream world, perhaps become advisor on Equalities, I do think that sometimes Government discuss issues without actually recognising the day to day discrimination people face.  Listen to the public and actually make it make sense for those who day in day out have to justify their position in society and be recognised for that instead of being perceived as the enemy.

Yasmin in terms of diversity, how else can we effect culture change in companies towards more diversity and inclusion at the higher levels and less tokenism? Personally I think that you need top-down and vice versa attitudes to diversity and inclusion, there’s not point setting actions or agenda’s at strategic levels and expect staff to meet the actions, that’s just lip service, I believe there needs to be a strong commitment from the top leading the way. There also has to be a strong and effective communication channel that allows those who do not buy into equality and diversity to air their concerns however, that does not mean that they are not challenged in an effective way.  Always plant the seed!!

Do you have a leadership / entrepreneurial role model? If so who? And why? I guess my Mother, I know it sounds cliché but she came to UK when she was 20 years of age, went into Nursing and has dedicated her career to the NHS, she has worked her way up the ladder so to speak and is well respected by her peers, she still works and shows no sign of slowing down, I guess she feels that she can still add value to peoples lives.  Apart from her, there are many in the public arena.

What particular qualities do you have that you believe make you an effective leader?  Understanding, driven, empathy, goal minded, honesty, integrity, strong, capable, determined & humorous.

What is your leadership style? I like to give people the creative freedom to rise to challenges, it’s what I believe provides the best learning. I’m very clear on what the goal is, what deadlines have to be met & I’m a believer in working to frameworks albeit policies, procedures or practices.  I’m a strong, practical leader, I listen, I advise.  I am very clear on expectations and standards.  I have worked hard to get to where I am now, and will continue to work hard to move forward, I expect the same of anyone who works with me, I’m not an expert in all, but I have my expertise in my field, and what I don’t know I will ask those that do. 

Do you believe that there is a difference between the way that men and women lead?  

Absolutely, I think Men portray far more confidence and are not scared of `going for it’ so to speak, whereas women I think are more logical, more systematic and probably more cautious, which isn’t a bad thing, as it shows that women look at potential outcomes rather than focus on just  one outcome.

In your opinion is authenticity important in leadership?

Very much so, you have to be authentic in everything that you do, it should be part of your ethos and drive.  If you are not authentic it will show and that’s when the façade that has been portrayed will begin to crumble, including reputation.

Yasmin based on your experiences, what advice if any would you give to a class of female graduate’s?

Be true, work hard, don’t be afraid, accept that what you had planned sometimes deviates, don’t try to be one of the lads because you are not, you are a women and should be seen and respected for what you bring to the table.

Can we have work /life balance? What does it mean to you?

Its taken a long time to get to my ‘Zen’ of work life balance, I’m lucky because I have a strong support system that encourages me to do better always: I’m a wife, a mother of two teenagers so my home life is always interesting, I am in a position where I manage my diary, if I have things going on at home, my work is planned around that, not the other way around, I also have a supportive Boss who understands that I have a family/life and with family comes challenges at times.  As long as I deliver at work, then I’m good.  Not everyone will agree with how I live my life, but then why should I care, they’re not living with me! 

Yasmin do you have a favourite quote or saying?  You can do whatever it is you want to do, be who you want to be, just be the best at it.