Diversity & Inclusion Director EMEA – Hacinta Naidoo

Name:

Hacinta Naidoo

Role:

Diversity & Inclusion Director EMEA

Company:

Ralph Lauren

Website:

Ralphlauren.co.uk

Time with the company:

4 + years

 

What is your morning routine?

I’m definitely not a morning person, so I like to start my day with coffee, yoga and then work my way through emails. I hardly schedule any calls between 8-9am. They just feel so inhumane.

How did you become involved with the fashion industry ?

Ralph Lauren was my first introduction into the fashion industry, and I haven’t left. I saw a job opening with RL and thought this is something I could do. I applied for it but thought that I would never hear back from them. A couple of weeks later, Rebecca (my first manager at RL) contacted me. We had a good conversation about myself and the role. She invited me in for the 1st interview… excitement and then dread dawned on me… what do I wear to Ralph Lauren? I don’t look like the models nor do I have the body for this role. Should I even go, or am I setting myself up to fail?

I ended up wearing a shirt dress and heels. If you have never been to the Bond Street store, it’s a must! My interview was in the offices above the store, and as a candidate all I thought was WOW! How lucky would I be to work here? Rebecca had offices on the 6th floor and the view was breathtaking.

What was your journey that led to your current role?

I’ve been in Talent Acquisition for the past 14 years, so it was a no-brainer when a TA manager position came up. Rebecca was re-starting this function and I really wanted to be a part of it. I really started to think of D&I as a career at Korn Ferry, and then at Mothercare. So, I tried to implement a couple of ideas around inclusion and when I joined RL, I knew it was my goal to be in this team and role.

I started to join the local D&I team and get involved in school talks. When the role came up during the pandemic (especially after the social reckoning in the US), I knew this was something I had to do. I was always known in the team as the social warrior and now I was doing it for a living. I also had some incredible managers along the way that believed in me and supported my passion.

Being an immigrant, you always know your place in the British landscape, and I wanted to do better for the generations that come after me. When I first joined the D&I department officially, I thought as long as I change one person’s life, I was making a difference. I still believe that, but now it’s about more than one life.

 

What is your main responsibility?

My role consists of two parts: I am the D&I lead for EMEA as well as the Global Lead for our 360-disability strategy.

I ensure that our global strategy resonates locally, and encourages, supports and works within our local communities to drive initiatives. This could include anything from events to communication. My work around disability is at the foundational stage, and it’s the most complex pillar in D&I. How do you make an organisation inclusive for seen and unseen disabilities from a consumer and employee perspective? I’m lucky to be partnering with amazing advocates and allies on this journey. Not only am I learning, but I’m excited to see how the organisation and industry will transform in the next couple of years too.

What’s the best part of your job?

Honestly, it’s speaking for communities that wouldn’t normally have a voice to do so. It’s all about seeing social change emerge within RL & externally.

What’s the worst part of your job?

The world is a complex place and there are so many social issues, at points you take on those as your own problem. Feeling that the whole world’s problems are on your shoulders… wishing you can do so much more than you do. Wishing that the day sometimes had 48 hours just so you can service all those people that need an outlet to speak, be heard and seen.

What is / are your most memorable work moment?

I have so many since being at RL…

Holding a career’s day for schools around London that would not normally have access to a corporation like RL. Meeting and presenting to the CEO of RL (a FTSE 500 company) was a huge achievement and memorable moment, especially as a woman from a minority group who grew up in a small Indian area in South Africa due to apartheid. Stories like this are few and far apart, especially where I am from.

Finally attending Wimbledon as a RL guest!!

The whole experience from being fetched from my door to watching a match in centre court… super memorable moment.

What advice would you give to anyone ?

In the UK, it’s easier for the younger generation to get into any profession. If they have a passion and work hard for it. I know depending on your background this may seem impossible I’m not naïve to understand how the system works, but there are MORE opportunities for you than ever before.

Yes, there is still the element that doctors, lawyers etc. still require a degree and if that’s the avenue you wish to pursue, great, but those aren’t your only options.

In other parts of the world, you have few options and need degrees in order to get into that profession.

Find an apprenticeship, find an internship and develop your skill from there. I attended a talk for black history month and it just stuck with me since; you are your ancestor’s wildest dreams. Unless your ancestor was Mandela, you are your ancestors’ greatest gift and wildest dream. It is your responsibility to do better, to be better, to allow the next generation to surpass what we have done in this lifetime.

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A few words about the article author

Dwayne Ferguson is the director of Digital360.mobi and head of Digital at Outside The Box Recruitment.

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