Celebrating Diversity at Centurion By Nick Hurt (CEO)

17 February 2021

This is taken from a speech delivered by Centurion Safety, CEO, Nick Hurt

Diversity means different things to different people …. some think it means gender, some think it means sexuality, some people think it means race.

All of those things are right of course – but I think they are only part of the story.

The first point I want to make is that there are three types of diversity.

The first one is the most obvious. Our demographic diversity – and that means our gender, our race, our nationality, and our sexual orientation. These are the differences we cannot change. These are the differences and characteristics that classify us at birth and that we carry for the rest of our lives.

So, how are we doing on these criteria?

Well we have 110 people, 50 are women and 60 are men and in fact, in manufacturing we have more women than men and there are women working at every level of the company. That is a good thing. One of my best bosses ever was a woman, called Lei. She pushed me, challenged me and inspired me, unfortunately she died young but I will always remember her. When I have tough decisions to make, I often think: “What would Lei have done?”

We have at least 11 languages spoken and nationalities in the company and at least 3 nationalities could organise a soccer team each. That’s pretty cool. I love the fact that Centurion has so many people with the brains to master a second language and – to be honest – I am a bit jealous.

The second type of diversity is experiential diversity – what we like, what we learn, our hobbies and our abilities. Experiential diversity is based on our life experiences that have shaped our world. Are we football fans, rugby fans, gamers or film fans? Some of us are sports mad and some are foodies… we all learn from our hobbies and our life experiences and we bring that learning to work.

The third type of diversity is cognitive diversity – which is how we approach problems and how we think about things. Cognitive diversity makes us look for other minds and other approaches to complement our thinking: what we might call identities of aspiration.

So could we benefit from broadening our perspective? Could we benefit from NOT hiring people who are the same as us? Yes.

We are a stronger and better company because we welcome differences of opinion and different perspectives.

Our cognitive differences find their place and are valued in a community of aspiration. In a community or company of aspiration, we are valued for our different ways of thinking and understanding of the world. A community of aspiration is a space where our ideas are valued for their contribution to a common project, regardless of our differences.

All three types of diversity shape the identity of our company.

The second point I want to make is that some people and some companies recognise and talk about diversity in a tick box way. They do it so HR can say we have a “tick in the diversity box”.

I value diversity because I think it makes us a better company. I value diversity because I think all our individual differences – whether they are different approaches to problems and finding solutions or achieving our purpose – these differences make us a stronger, healthier, and a more resilient company.

People want to work for businesses where they feel appreciated for what value they add, not excluded because they are different. We should welcome and celebrate differences.

I am delighted to celebrate all our differences and all the things we have in common. I welcome you and celebrate you whatever your gender, sexuality, or nationality, whether you love Rugby or Football, whether you are sporty or a foodie, whether you prefer Apple or Samsung… We are stronger, Centurion is stronger, because you are here in this company.

Centurion is better because all of us, with all our differences, unite when we come to work – with a single common purpose: to design, manufacture and sell the best safety equipment/products in the world – safety products that save lives.

Thank you for all the work you do. Thank you for being different, and stay safe.