I describe my role as ‘working to create a fully inclusive culture where everyone who comes to work in our organisation can feel entirely comfortable in being truly authentic’

Michelle Mendelsson

Head of Diversity and Inclusion EMEA at Credit Suisse International

How did you get into a career in diversity and inclusion?

In a previous role I had recently joined an organisation as Head of Recruitment and was concerned to see that they were only recruiting from a very narrow predominantly ‘white male’ talent pool. I started to challenge this approach and developed a Diversity and Inclusion recruitment strategy. This led to me being asked to take up the newly created role of ‘Head of Diversity and Inclusion.’ That was 18 years ago!

What are the key responsibilities in your role?

I am responsible for strategy development, education, networks, events, new legislation, internal and external communication and benchmarking. My remit covers a comprehensive range of diverse characteristics including: gender, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, working parents, disability and age. In summary I describe my role as ‘working to create a fully inclusive culture where everyone who comes to work in our organisation can feel entirely comfortable in being truly authentic and as a result produce their best work. If we are able to achieve this then we will have a very productive organisation.’

Describe a typical day.

There are no ‘typical days.’ Even if I think I have my day planned out I am always taken off track by unexpected calls/emails or requests. That is one of the things that I love about my role. No two days are the same and there are constant challenges.

What skills do you need for this role?

You need to have a basic technical knowledge however I would say that the most important skills are a passion for people and a true belief in the value of diversity and inclusion for a business’s success. The ability to build relationships is also key. Most of our work is done through collaboration so you have to be skilled at building relationships and getting people to buy into your agenda even if it isn’t a priority for them in their day to day role. Finally, I would say that you have to be comfortable working with ambiguity.

What challenges do you face in this role?

The number of hours in the day! There are never enough!

What keeps you motivated to go into work every day?

A passionate belief in the importance of creating an inclusive culture and the variety of the role.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in diversity and inclusion?

Try to speak to D&I professionals from a variety of different organisations and backgrounds so that you get a clear insight into the requirements of the job and then be very honest with yourself as to whether this is an area that you would feel passionate working in.

Explore other areas

Career guidance

Information and guidance to help you excel in your role, transition into the profession, and manage a career break

Read more
Top