Industry Leaders
Longhurst Group
Head of Talent OD & L&D

Dee Roberts-Molloy

Bringing your whole authentic self to work is not easy and requires trust, inclusion, and the knowledge that you will be accepted for who you are. One major thing industry leaders can do to foster that sense of community and belonging is to lead by example — showing up as themselves so that others feel free to do the same.

Dee Roberts-Molloy, Head of Talent, Learning, and Organisational Development at Longhurst Group, has made this a pillar of what she does for a living. The work she has done in the short time she has been at Longhurst has moved beyond initiatives and into creating an embedded culture of inclusion and care. She sat down with Kitty Hadaway, Co-Host at The Interview, to speak about how she does it.

Dee's Journey

Kitty: Can you please begin with an introduction to your current role and institution?

We are a housing association with care and support based in the UK, predominantly in the West and East Midlands, and we have around 28,000 homes for people to afford with Social Rent. We also build our own homes, and we offer care and support services. I’m responsible for around 1,300 colleagues in relation to learning, inclusion, performance, recruitment, and retention. 

Kitty: What brought you to this role?

I’ve had a very squiggly career! I didn’t intend to go into HR but to use my academic experience in fine art and psychology to do art therapy. I’ve always been very passionate about mental health and well-being. I was lucky to be brought up in Birmingham, a very multicultural area, and I always saw mental health being spoken about alongside physical health. I’m mixed race myself, half English-Irish and half Indian-Malay, so very different ways of looking at mental health and well-being on either side of my family. After graduating, I came back to Birmingham and came across an organisation that supported homeless men to get back into employment, education, training or volunteering. I was the only woman working there besides the manager, and I was responsible for supporting 76 men. That is where my journey started. Supporting people to be their best, understanding people’s stories, seeing potential and what motivates people. I built my early career in management within support and complex needs services.

Then one of my managers suggested that I went into training because it was a strength of mine, and my team was highly competent as I worked my way up. I didn’t want to do it at first, I didn’t think you could be creative or innovative with it. However, I fell into it by helping out with the company’s training, and I never went back. I went into a Learning and Development role from there I grew into the role I have today, by going through each level of the L&D/Talent specialism. Everyone wants to feel valued and like they belong, and that’s where the inclusion aspect of my role comes in.

For that reason, I bring my authentic self to work every day. So I actively tell my story at work that I am a lesbian, that I am mixed race/mixed culture, and that I have a disability. I bring to work the fact that I can relate to those struggling with the cost of living because that’s what it was like in the house I grew up in. I celebrate my story and my lived experience, and I share my mistakes too. That is how I have ensured that inclusivity is at the heart of everything I do.

Kitty: I’d love to hear more about the things you’ve been doing recently in terms of inclusion.

I’ve been working here for ten months, and a lot of that time has been trying to understand what has and hasn’t been working so far. What I’ve learned is that we’re always going to pick up lots of interventions and solutions, but they aren’t always going to land in different organisations. So it isn't for me to come in and say, “I’ve done this before” — your postcode matters, and your people matter, and every organisation needs something different. So the first couple of months were spent exploring what people were feeling here, specifically. I didn't do that through a survey, I went and spoke to people face to face.

One of the key things we did was restructure my team to make it more purposeful. Our people are the heartbeat of the organisation, and we need to remember that. Part of that was revamping something they already had when I arrived, which was the Colleague Voice; a great idea but was essentially a feelings survey. We have progressed it so that it’s now all about actively listening to colleagues, whatever they have to say, and however long they are here for. We've done it through several means, from podcasts to webinars to marketing and comms. We have a big demographic with a lot of variety, but the common thread is that we want to hear from everyone, no matter what.

We have made our commitment to this clear by introducing an inclusion and engagement partner, which is a specialist role. They work alongside me, and we work out where we can see, hear and feel people. If that means going to them and working alongside them, then that is what we will do. 

We have also introduced inclusion passports — you shouldn’t have to tell your story more than once unless you want to. We have begun this for our neurodiverse colleagues so they would not have to repeat themselves regarding their needs. They can incorporate any element of themselves into it, which means we have a much better understanding of how to support them too.

Kitty: Can you touch on some of the active training that is going on?

There was already a lot of key regulatory and mandatory training in place when I arrived. I have made some changes, particularly on diversity. Diversity is great and celebrates difference, but I have spoken extensively about the term ‘diffability’. What I mean by that is that we all have different abilities, and rather than saying ‘disability’, we are creating something more positive. For me, my lived experience is my superpower, and I want to celebrate that in other people. This also makes people more engaged in the training — we are celebrating their real experiences.

Kitty: What is your top piece of advice for anyone going into your position?

It's better to give opinions and feelings than feedback. Feedback makes us feel like we’re in trouble or school — share your feeling and opinions from your heart or head. Our world of housing, care and support might sound easy, but really there is so much nuance to it. Supporting another human being is the most complex thing you can do. So always ask for opinions and feelings.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Kitty Hadaway
Universities Lead
Kitty is passionate about using technology to create safer and more inclusive campuses, and is an expert on student engagement and delivering training at scale. Get in touch at to learn more.

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