Lesley Cordial is the Global Talent Manager and D&I lead at FrieslandCampina. She’s always had interest in people’s psychology and behaviour, and combines that with her international experience. As the D&I lead, she works together with Refugee Talent Hub on mentoring programs and other initiatives in The Netherlands, and with TENT on international projects.
“I enjoy working with different people and different perspectives. And driving forward initiatives that are strategic and intercultural gives me lots of energy,” Lesley says. “My two roles really hit a joint spot. There has been such a big shift in a manager’s focus in the past few years: it’s no longer just about delivering results on the job; now it is as important to inspire people and help your team grow. People development is an essential ingredient in delivering sustainable business performance.”
“In my work, so much is about simply being aware. I organize workshops about unconscious bias, for instance. The right focus and showing facts and figures can already trigger an a-ha moment for someone. A great thing to witness and be a part of! As part of our partnership with Refugee Talent Hub, we’ve organized “meet & greets” as well as two mentoring programs for talents with a refugee background. Those initiatives really boost intercultural awareness. It shows we’re all here to learn – endlessly! We all have unconscious biases. When colleagues meet talented professionals with a refugee background, it really opens up their world. Mentors have been saying the Refugee Talent Hub program has been eye opening. Meeting intelligent, articulate and motivated people, who happen to have had a particularly difficult life experience, and realizing that you are able to help and support them is very enriching.”
“Because these are talented people, one might assume they would fit into a new culture easily or naturally find their way in a new organization. That’s not necessarily true; they need our support. They’ve moved to a different country with a different culture and are starting from scratch. Our mentoring program is focused on helping professionals with a refugee background find employment. We match mentors and mentees based on locality (so it’s easy to meet for a walk or catch-up). Our mentors help their mentees with everything from building a LinkedIn profile, designing your CV, preparing for an interview, breaking through cultural barriers to building a professional network. It really is a win-win because our mentors also get a cross-cultural experience that they can truly benefit from. And around half of our mentees have since found employment which is fantastic. But I’m sure we can improve on that!”
Start small, but do start!
“My message to others is: please don’t think this has to be big. Neither does it take up huge amounts of time. You can start small and mentor say, five refugee talents, for example. It’s important to just get started. So, often easier than you may think! I have been so impressed by the support that we have received in launching this program within FrieslandCampina. So, it’s not difficult. This is something we all can do!”