How UST Fosters Positive Change Through DEI & Social Impact Initiatives

5 minutes read

Many of us are deeply invested in social causes that we support in various ways, whether it’s volunteering, donating money, or a combination of efforts. Purpose-driven people bring high levels of determination and heart to the causes they care about. Awareness of social issues is extending to organisations more than ever before. Increasingly, companies drive social impact through internal and external diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in their communities and markets.  

During the 2023 Top Employers Inspire event, Seena Mohan, Senior HR Business Partner at UST, and I discussed some of UST’s DEI programmes that support social causes related to the organisation’s mission. She shared how research informs their efforts and what they do to impact both short-term and long-term change. With over a decade of experience creating DEI and social change initiatives, UST has a wealth of information to offer other organisations.  

Benefits of Combining DEI & Social Impact Initiatives  

Traditionally, organisations view DEI initiatives as internal programmes and social responsibility initiatives as external community outreach. That corporate norm is shifting as more and more organisations adopt an integrated approach. Combining DEI and social impact programmes enables companies to put their values into action using one unified strategy.  

This intentional pairing can be immensely valuable for an organisation and its employees. Finding an employer with similar values is a critical component of professional fulfilment. Both candidates and employees pay attention to these initiatives and expect organisations to deliver on their claims that DEI and social impact programmes are important. When employee and employer values are aligned, the results are better retention and higher engagement.  

Furthermore, social impact programmes are most effective with diverse and inclusive leadership and participation. Involving a variety of perspectives enhances the breadth and reach of these initiatives. Logically, the benefits DEI programmes create internally, such as improved productivity, better problem-solving, and creating a larger talent pool are also present when the programmes are incorporated into external initiatives. = 

UST DEI and Social Impact Initiatives  

Seena highlighted the three UST DEI and social impact programmes that are closest to her heart during our discussion. She shared the details, impact, and impetus for each and her motivations for supporting them.  

Impact India 

“This is a courageous programme where UST has committed to train and employ 10,000 differently abled associates in India in tech jobs. The programme was designed with the vision of educating and empowering people so that they can realise their dreams,” she explained.  

A comprehensive framework to source candidates was developed through various partnerships with charities and non-profit organisations. Individuals are trained both in soft employability skills and technical skills. Participating offices are given resources to continuously work towards building and enhancing an inclusive culture. “We want these associates to be able to bring their best to work and enjoy the whole process of corporate life,” Seena said while explaining the programme goals.  

Step It Up 

This unique and extremely effective programme was designed to train and employ women of colour, minorities, and army veterans in STEM fields. Established in 2013, this initiative provides talent from local communities and inner cities to help address talent shortages.  

The sourcing process offers a new way for UST to partner with their customers. Seena elaborated on how this works, “Many of our customers help drive a successful, inclusive sourcing programme by recommending candidates.” The curriculum is tailored to specific skill sets and takes four to seven months. The results are impressive, with a 90% graduation rate and 87% of graduates hired by UST customers.  

“It’s a win-win-win programme. Corporations get an opportunity to hire a diverse workforce, at an industry level the talent shortage is addressed, and candidates are able not only to get trained but find employment,” Seena said while praising the programme and describing why it’s one of the three she chose to highlight.  

Tech She Can 

The current job market requires technological skills and the demand for those skills will only increase. Seena referenced some staggering statistics, “80% of all jobs in the UK require digital skills. An estimated 65% of children today will do jobs that don’t yet exist.” She also mentioned that only 3% of women rank a career in tech as their first choice versus 61% of men.  

To help address this disparity, UST partners with Tech She Can, a charity committed to changing the ratio of women in technology and providing free educational career resources to children. The charity’s three focal areas include:  

  • Enriching Education - Inspirational and inclusive cross-curricular free school resources for boys and girls.  
  • Making Pathways Visible - Opportunities to participate in insight days for students ages 11 - 18 and apprenticeships.  
  • Influencing Change - Taking action to influence change in the workplace, schools and universities, and government policies.  

The ultimate goal of this organisation, and why UST chose to collaborate with them, is to introduce children to careers in tech and start changing some long-held perceptions about the industry. Seena shared a powerful example from one of the school sessions, “The children were asked to draw a picture of a tech worker at the start and end of the session. One girl’s first drawing was a man in formal clothes. After the lesson, she drew herself.”  

Key Considerations Before Designing a Programme 

After hearing all of Seena’s insights and experience, I asked what advice she had for organisations that would like to follow UST’s example and combine their DEI and social impact programmes. She suggested three key considerations.  

First, assess DEI targets and social impact objectives to identify areas where they intersect. Recognising shared goals will make it much easier to combine efforts while maintaining the integrity of each programme.  

Second, consider what your organisation is good at and what resources are available. Playing to your strengths will create better, more impactful programmes. This approach protects against straining your resources or incurring high, unnecessary costs.  

Third, learn what programmes will trigger joy and participation from employees. “It can’t just be management driving these programmes. Employee participation in the design phase really gives a wider perspective and also attracts a lot of engagement,” Seena said to emphasise this point.  

Combining DEI and social impact efforts is a great strategy for amplifying your organisation’s overall impact. Watch our full conversation to hear more details about each of UST’s programmes and what it’s meant to Seena to support them throughout her career.  


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How UST Fosters Positive Change Through DEI & Social Impact Initiatives

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