Interview with… Pam Farmer, diversity manager

How did you get to where are you are now?

On my return to work after my second child was born my boss sat me down and said: “Have a look at our equal opportunities policy and see what you can do. You won’t achieve anything, but we haven’t got another job for you at the moment.” I could not believe my luck. That was 13 years ago and I still love what I do.

What do you spend most of your time doing at work?

I describe my job as ‘boardroom to bargain basement’ which means that one day I may be speaking about diversity alongside a government minister or BT director, and later on during the day I may be organising the catering for an event I am running or speaking at. But mostly my day job is about ensuring our policies are actually being lived by BT employees.

Which three attributes do you need to do your job?

Imagination, resilience and courage.

What legislation causes you most headaches?

The sheer quantity of equalities legislation/regulations in the UK and the many overseas jurisdictions we increasingly operate in.

How do you keep up with changing legislation?

I took an employment law course two years ago and I regularly read updated law reports. When it comes to other countries’ legislation, however, I’m on a learning curve.

What are the common challenges you face in your profession?

Some people believe that what I do is political correctness gone mad, but actually it is about ensuring that each individual is able to give their best without inappropriate barriers being put in the way.

What’s the best part of your job?

My amazing, talented and creative colleagues across the whole of BT. I feel very privileged to be working in an organisation which is truly at the forefront of technology and innovation.

What keeps you awake at night?

Have I done enough, quickly enough and with enough insight and vision? Will my children be proud of me?

What’s the most outrageous case/situation you’ve come across?

I think situations where ‘group-thinking’ prevails can create circumstances where people start to believe it’s ok to do something or say something because no-one appears to be complaining. They are always wrong. In clearing up afterwards it’s hard to imagine what persuaded people that certain behaviours were OK.

Most awkward employee you’ve ever had to deal with?

In the early days at BT I had to deliver some bad news to a group of engineering managers. Their reaction was: “Who does she think she is?” – I had to battle to control the situation. I decided I wasn’t going to let that experience get the better of me and fought on – bruised but not beaten.

What would be in your room 101?

Heavy metal bands.

What’s your party trick?

I juggle. This skill has wowed a generation of small children and taught me lots about acquiring new skills at any age.

If you could change anything about the world what would it be?

I am distraught to see children left parentless because of AIDS and the world’s neglect to provide proper health education and drugs to tackle it. But, more importantly, our collective failure in tackling underlying social morals which permits this disease to spread.

How would you like to be remembered?

She raised well-balanced children and did her bit to change the world for the better.

Pam Farmer, diversity manager, BT

CV



  • 2007-present, diversity manager, BT
  • 2002-2006, diversity policy manager, BT
  • 2001-2002, head of business policy, Commission for Racial Equality (secondment)
  • 1998-2001, employee relations manager, BT

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