THE BIG INTERVIEW WITH MUKTA HASHMI
Mukta Hashmi has 30 years of Procurement and Supply Chain experience across a diverse range of industries and sectors, having worked for various blue-chip British and American companies in both Ireland and the UK.
With a proven track record in delivering sustainable improvements, driving value, and positive stakeholder engagement within change environments, she is currently Head of Procurement at Balfour Beatty.
Mukta heads up the function for the Living Places Business Unit, with a focus on collaborative relationships, supply-chain innovation, safety and sustainability.
With a keen interest in ED&I, Mukta recently took up the role of co-chair of the Gender Affinity Network at Balfour Beatty and for Procurement Heads‘ latest Big Interview, she spoke to Hayley Packham about what equality, diversity and inclusion mean to her and how she got into procurement.
What do equality, diversity and inclusion mean to you?
To me, ED&I is about embracing differences.
It’s about creating an inclusive environment where differences are valued and supported; giving everyone a voice; standing up if someone is being treated unfairly or unequally and it applies in both our personal as well as professional lives.
It is about everyone confidently sharing their identity, feeling that they can be their true, authentic selves and where different perspectives or ways of thinking are the norm.
The most conducive ED&I culture results in individuals having the confidence that they will be accepted as they are; regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, social background, faith, age, disability, neurodiversity, parental status, marital status, or indeed anything else that makes someone different or diverse.
It means an individual being able to be who they are without worrying about the impact of conscious or unconscious bias, discrimination, prejudices, clumsiness or general ignorance impacting them and their progress through their careers and lives.
ED&I requires everyone to speak up as advocates, allies and supporters to challenge inappropriate or unintended language, behaviours or actions and to do what they can to help remove barriers.
What are your organisation’s most important values?
Balfour Beatty values are; lean, expert, trusted, safe, and sustainable. Our key behaviours: talk positively, collaborate relentlessly, encourage constantly, make a difference and value everyone, reflect the things we do to consistently deliver to the standards set in the values.
We are committed to creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture that nurtures people where everyone can fulfil their full potential. Great progress has been made to embed inclusivity within the business and with our rolling 3-year Diversity and Inclusion action plan, Value Everyone, this remains a top priority; we respect individual perspectives and experiences and are open to learning and making changes based on different views.
Balfour Beatty cares about its people – a company that takes its responsibility as a custodian of the planet seriously and gives back to the communities it works in and with.
We want to be known as an organisation that is always innovating and constantly improving to leave a positive legacy.
How important is diversity to you?
I am a UK-born female of Indian descent, and by default fall under two under-represented groups, as well as the fact that I am a full-time working parent, which has its own challenges.
I am conscious of the possibility that I could easily have been held back professionally by sheer virtue of any of these factors and I count myself fortunate that I have always had open-minded leadership and not faced many barriers.
That said, it is important to be mindful of the fact that people are impacted by ED&I issues daily, and I am committed to doing what I can to influence improved change.
With more open discussion about ED&I taking place in the workplace, over the past year I have got involved in the Balfour Beatty Affinity Networks, initially with the MCAN (Multi-cultural Affinity Network) Steering Group and as an ED&I Procurement Champion, progressing into taking up a Co-Chair role for the Gender Affinity Network.
I am also a Reverse Mentor to a member of the Group Board as part of the Balfour Beatty EXCO Reverse Mentoring scheme. Despite a very packed day job, I have stepped up to these initiatives and programmes as I want to influence change to move the dial.
To complement the professional reasons, ED&I is also of importance to me in my personal life; I have experienced interfaith prejudice due to my choice of husband as he is of mixed heritage, and not the same race or religion as me.
The family I married into is a very diverse one, combining a range of faiths, races and nationalities and I have seen first-hand the value and benefits from the sheer diversity of thinking and perspectives, whilst remaining in harmony as a unit, celebrating and valuing each other’s differences.
Source: Procurment Heads
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