Being shortlisted for the Northern Power Women Agent of Change Award 2018 is an immense honour for GDP’s CEO, Farrah Qureshi. But what exactly does it take to be an agent of change?
And what does it mean for businesses looking for advice on how to be more diverse and inclusive?
Personal commitment and engagement
Farrah is a driving force behind change in corporate diversity and inclusion. Over 80% of her time is spent at the ‘coal face’, working directly with business leaders and employees on programmes that transform culture.
Working with a global FMCG company, Farrah delivered over 39 inclusive leadership workshops to management teams across the company, helping to shape the culture and create a gender bilingual environment.
Inclusion is at the very core of Farrah’s identity, fuelled by her passion, commitment and authentic desire to help businesses realise the potential that is waiting to be unlocked in their most valuable resource; people.
Farrah’s personal experience drives her desire to make a true impact. Born to Pakistani immigrants and raised in Bradford, Farrah grew up against a backdrop of cultural exclusion as well as racial and sexual discrimination. The struggles and obstacles she faced balancing her personal and professional lives shaped her determination to play a part in culture change by being part of the solution.
Blue chip expertise
The world’s most prominent businesses have turned to Farrah for advice and solutions. These companies include Walmart, Unilever, Coca-Cola Enterprises, The London Stock Exchange Group, Aviva, Microsoft, and the World Bank.
This high level and often ground-breaking work led Farrah to win last year’s Bloomberg Excellence in Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours those who have devoted a major portion of their professional life to enhancing equality and diversity.
Farrah guides organisations to first confront the full extent of their diversity and inclusion challenges and then to plan simple, achievable steps to bring about real and measurable change. A workshop she conducted with a global FMCG company, contributed to a 33% increase of females on the board of directors, 2.4 times higher than the European average.
Her work around supply chain diversity has helped the business to establish a clear thread between the inclusive leadership program and increased sales of their products in diverse markets.
Partnerships that deliver true impact
Farrah excels at working at board, executive and senior leadership levels, where she uses her expertise to gain endorsement and buy-in for company wide initiatives that drive change. She connects the dots between business strategy and inclusion, helping business leaders to unlock the potential of their people. Her commitment to the cause of diversity and inclusion ensures that none of her clients treat it as a tick-box exercise. Her work extends beyond ‘soft and fluffy’ initiatives into tackling real-world issues such as unconscious bias, gender inequality and sexual harassment.
The results of her interventions are demonstrated both in quantitative client evaluations and testimonials, and also in the impact she creates on the lives of the many people working for the organisations in which she has delivered that change.