When Raj Basson, a Prospect equalities rep at Cavendish Nuclear, organised a “lunch and learn” on the basics of Sikhism in April he expected maybe a dozen or so colleagues to attend.
Instead, 65 people turned up and the positive feedback has inspired Raj to hold similar events in the future.
“April signifies an important milestone in the Sikh calendar in terms of Vaisakhi and it gave me a chance for me to put into practice my Prospect equalities role,” says Raj on the inspiration behind the event.
“The lunch and learn gave people a better awareness about the Sikh faith. I brought some props with me, the ‘Five Ks’, which are the five physical symbols of faith worn by Sikhs. I changed into a traditional Indian outfit and brought in some samosas which went down very well.”
The session at Cavendish Nuclear’s Radar Road site in Leicester was well attended by senior managers, who have been fully supportive. It’s hoped that similar events can be held at other Cavendish sites.
Next will be a session on Islam, the Hindu/Sikh festival of Diwali in November and the traditional Christian origins of Easter and Christmas.
The idea, says Raj, is to “focus on different faiths represented in the company and for all to have a better understanding of each other for improved work relationships”.
Raj has worked as a senior planning engineer at Cavendish Nuclear since May 1999. His job involves planning a job from the basic design concept stage through to manufacture, commissioning and installation.
He became interested in Prospect when the union got recognition at Cavendish in 2013 and has been heavily involved as a rep in various roles since.
“There is a big agenda in the company to promote diversity and inclusion and we have good dialogue with HR on issues like a prayer room for Muslim employees.”
“Unfortunately, discrimination still goes on generally and it's a question of making people more aware of it.
“Things should be more transparent and we have to make sure there are no hidden agendas when it comes to recruitment, and also in a general behaviour within the company.”