“Working part-time doesn’t stop me from being part of the team”
EY’s Belong initiative is about making everyone feel included and valued. Part-time Finance Professional Nilesh B. Dosa explains how he stays part of the team, while helping underprivileged youngsters feel like they can belong too.
Nilesh is a brilliant example of someone who uses his personal experiences to support others. As well as having an in-house role in EY’s Core Business Services division, he set up a grassroots mentoring and coaching initiative, called icanyoucantoo™.
Its purpose is to encourage underprivileged young people to see a place for themselves in professional work environments, helping them take the right steps to get there – initially by inspiring them to break their ‘limiting beliefs’ and then equipping them with, through coaching, the practical skills they’ll need for the working world.
To create space to focus on this project, as well as to manage a long-term neuro-degenerative health condition, Nilesh works three days a week for EY. So, as someone who is focused on helping young people feel like they can belong, how does he make sure that, as a part-time employee, he feels a sense of belonging too?
EY’s culture makes it easy for flexible workers to belong
Nilesh is very open about the support that he has had from his colleagues and managers since deciding to move to part-time.
“When my condition began to deteriorate, I knew I needed to free up time to focus on my health and well-being. And at the same time, I had just started mentoring my first group of young people, who told me they felt “they weren’t allowed into Canary Wharf,” never mind working for a company within it – which I found completely unacceptable. When one of them, Joshua, secured a 5-year apprenticeship at EY’s Canary Wharf office, I knew I needed to give this part of my life more of my time too. How could I now walk away?”
“So, I spoke to my line manager, who set the process in motion, and it was all done and dusted within 24 hours. At the time I was in the Advisory division and my line manager and partner helped set the tone with colleagues and clients. Their view was that if it wasn’t an issue for me or them, then it shouldn’t be an issue for anyone else. And they never made me feel less than part of the team.”
Having a “side-hustle” can benefit your day job
Nilesh also believes that EY benefit from the work he is doing with icanyoucantoo™, and feels his openness about it has helped him make links across the EY community, and beyond.
“I’ve had an incredibly positive reaction at EY about what I’m doing. Many of my colleagues have given up their free time to support the project locally – for example, mock interviewing some of the young people I’m working with here in London. And on a wider level, EY employees from around the world have got in touch about my story, celebrating the impact my initiative is having, especially when icanyoucantoo™ was featured by Forbes.com in February. That genuine buzz is a real testimony to the culture we have here at EY – across the globe.”
“It works for EY too at many levels. The fact that they afford me such a degree of flexibility means I haven’t had to leave to pursue my passion. They’re keeping my experience and expertise in-house – as well as benefitting from the entrepreneurial skills that I’m developing. EY’s Belong initiative is all about helping their employees bring their whole selves to work, and this is showing the world that they mean it; I am an example of their strategy, and purpose, brought to life.“
So what advice would Nilesh give to help other part-time workers feel like they belong? Here are his three top tips.
- Take people on your journey, with you
“If you’re open about your reasons for working part-time, people will support you – that’s absolutely been my experience! I think the more open we are, the more it creates a conducive environment in which others feel they can be equally open. I suppose it is what Marianne Williamson said: “…when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” So, whether you’re working part-time to care for an elderly relative or create a social enterprise, it’s absolutely worth telling your story – and telling it openly.”
- Make extra effort to bed in a new arrangement
“Whatever your reason for working flexibly you may need to put in the extra effort to make your new arrangement work – perhaps a little more so right at the outset. For example, if you’ve agreed to do a three-day week, with one day based at home, you might want to start off in the office for all three days, while everyone adjusts to your new pattern. Or, you might need to switch your days from time to time, to attend a team away day for example.”
- Be open and honest – and do not feel the need to apologise
“I’ve never once hidden that I work 3-days a week. Being clear on my email signature and blocking out those times on our team calendar are examples of openly communicating my working pattern. If you can’t make a meeting on a specific day, be comfortable about saying so. And don’t use the phrase “I ‘only’ work part-time.”
And what would Nilesh’s advice be for anyone who is thinking about getting involved in a side project while working?
“I’d say it’s definitely worth pursuing. I am seeing more and more, across the whole of the eco-system, individuals wanting to balance doing ‘good’ with doing ‘well’ – and not someday in the distant future, but wanting to do it now. So by pursuing your passion, you are being totally authentic about who you are and what drives you. And I think that’s a great way to make sure you really belong.”
This article has been written in association with EY, one of our Timewise partners.