Lesley Cordial | Friesland Campina

Lesley Cordial | Friesland Campina
“The first step towards being inclusive is understanding that as a human you have a natural bias.”
Lesley Cordial
Lead for Inclusive Diversity at Friesland Campina

Lesley Cordial enjoys picking up the challenges that drive change. It’s a spirit that’s led her to many different countries and lines of work, including to her current position as Lead for Inclusive Diversity at FrieslandCampina. The role is typical of the shift multinationals are taking to make their policies more human, more inclusive. And it’s why diversity and inclusivity plays such an important part in the International Human Resource Management programme.

Writing HR policies for today’s people

“The first step towards being inclusive is understanding that as a human you have a natural bias, then recognizing what that bias is and doing something about it. One way we create such awareness is by recognising and respecting different sexual orientations. At FrieslandCampina, we have a rainbow-coloured key cord which we handed out on International Coming Out Day as a symbol of support. We also brought in an inspirational speaker who explained why it’s important to share your choice of pronoun. Such activities help to demonstrate our support for our LGBQT+ community. But focusing on diversity & inclusivity for just one day isn’t enough. We also need consistent demonstrations of understanding. It’s fine to raise the rainbow flag, but how do you back it up? The key cords are good because it’s something tangible you see every day. We reinforce our standpoint by ensuring all our people-related policies are consistent with and support our Inclusive Diversity strategy. We’re currently looking at our parental leave and support policy and guidelines to ensure they include and respect rainbow families and cover adoption, surrogacy, and so on. Celebrating relevant events and days throughout the year helps to drive awareness of our Inclusive Diversity Strategy, and by adapting our ways of working, we actively demonstrate our commitment to implementing this strategy.”

Understanding our bias

“We take the implementation of our Inclusive Diversity strategy a step further each year. It focuses on four areas: gender equity, honouring and respecting cultural difference, mental and physical well-being and supporting out LGBQT+ community. For instance, for gender equity we are implementing a new training programme called ‘license to recruit’. The programme includes how we help those involved within the recruitment process be aware of and reduce unconscious bias, not just in the interview room, but before that, when you’re writing the recruitment text and selecting your candidates. We know that 51% of line managers will be influenced by the gender of the applicant and 84% by ethnicity, so it’s important that the people involved in the process are aware of their own biases. One way of doing this is by providing training on how to formulate job vacancy texts and work through the application process.”

Adapting for today’s market

“People’s work needs and working hours shifted during the Covid-19 pandemic and we’ve all had to become much more flexible. Sometimes employees may prefer to work into the evening, whilst others start early. As a way of showing solidarity and to advocate understanding, my email signature includes the text ‘My working hours might be different to yours. Feel free to respond only when you are working.’ Today’s Gen Z especially places more importance on their quality of work-life balance and will often choose to work 4 days so that they can dedicate more time to other activities that are important to them. And they are often like butterflies, flitting from place to place. Many multinationals, such as FrieslandCampina, have now adapted accordingly to provide a more agile approach to working. Multinationals can provide great stability for employees and the opportunity for them to have a far-reaching positive and large-scale impact – on people and the environment. I too really appreciate the flexible ways of working, and within FrieslandCampina, I’ve had the chance to build many new experiences and work on a variety of different projects. Often you need to be proactive and seize these opportunities as they arise, stepping out of the comfort zone so as to grow, develop and have the conversations we need to have in order to make change happen.”


Eager to learn more about this during your study? Take a look at the International Human Resource Management programme.