Workplace Leaders
Sparta Global
Chief People and Compliance Officer

Purnima Sen

For-profit businesses are often structured in a way that prioritises commercial goals while seeing objectives around company culture or social governance as a separate add-on. However, there is a lot to be said for sculpting a business around these social values, and huge success can be found through this method.

Luke James, Co-Host of The Interview, met with Purnima Sen, the Chief People and Compliance Officer at Sparta Global, to speak about the significance of DEI in the modern workplace, and uncover the secrets to fostering a culture of kindness and inclusivity.

Luke: Can we begin with an introduction to your current role and institution?

I have been with the company for six years and I sit on the board as a part owner as well. I think the way I like to start describing it is that we are in essence, a social impact company. Really, the model is very simple. It's hire, train, deploy. We sit somewhere in between universities and the workplace because we feel that universities don't prepare people for education. What we're doing is bringing in graduates, training them in tech and then placing them on our client sites as consultants, at the end of which they actually join our clients, because that is where they convert to the client.

Luke: You've had an impressive career in compliance and leadership. Could you tell us about your journey and how you came to your current role at Sparta Global?

I didn't arrive at Sparta Global until I was 24. I came to do my master's degree and started working in the fashion industry. However, I gradually transitioned into the tech world, recognising its immense potential. Before Sparta, I worked for various tech companies, gaining valuable experience in resourcing, HR, and operations. The opportunity to join Sparta Global, a social impact company, was a turning point for me. We hire, train, and deploy graduates into the tech industry, transforming their careers and making a positive impact on society.

Luke: You've also achieved B Corp certification, which is unusual for a tech-focused organisation. Could you explain what being a B Corp means in practice and why it's important to Sparta Global?

Sparta Global is more than just a tech company; we're a social impact organisation. Being a B Corp reflects our commitment to environmental and social responsibility. While we may not have a direct impact on the environment like manufacturing companies, we focus on the social aspect of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria. B Corp certification provides external validation that we are genuinely making a positive impact.

B Corp emphasises the "three Ps" – People, Planet, and Profit. We recognise that business success should not only be about profit but also about creating a positive impact on people's lives and the environment. Our B Corp journey involved a thorough audit of our practices, including governance, environmental initiatives, and social impact. We scored well, with 109 points against a pass point of 80, which we're incredibly proud of.

In today's world, businesses need to align with values that prioritise social and environmental responsibility. B Corp certification not only attracts clients who share these values but also helps us attract top talent who want to work for a purpose-driven company.

Luke: Embedding these principles across a large organisation can be a complex endeavour. What are the key elements that organisations must get right to foster a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and belonging?

Creating a culture of DEI and belonging involves several crucial elements. First, align your organisation's values with the principles of collaboration, drive, and diversity. These values should be at the core of your company's identity.

Second, focus on access and inclusion. Ensure your job descriptions, advertisements, and language are inclusive and avoid any potential barriers to entry for underrepresented groups.

Third, prioritise equality, equity, and inclusion. Equality means treating everyone the same, while equity involves levelling the playing field by providing additional support or resources to those who need it. Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels like they belong.

The best practices for DEI can be summed up in four key components: commitment, good governance, data analysis, and engagement. Commitment starts at the top, with leaders acting as mentors, allies, and role models. Good governance ensures that policies and procedures align with DEI goals. Data analysis helps identify areas for improvement, and engagement includes involving all stakeholders, both within and outside the organisation.

Luke: How do you overcome these challenges and ensure that everyone in the organisation actively participates in DEI efforts?

Engaging employees in DEI initiatives is vital, but it can be challenging in a world filled with distractions and busy schedules. We've found success by approaching engagement from three angles: top-down, bottom-up, and sideways.

From a top-down perspective, it's crucial to have leadership buy-in. Leaders should act as mentors, allies, and role models, actively supporting DEI efforts.

For bottom-up engagement, we create safe spaces for employees to voice their opinions and concerns. Regular surveys allow us to gather data, and we ensure that employees see tangible results from these surveys. Employee resource groups (ERGs) play a significant role, and we encourage intersectionality within ERGs to promote inclusivity.

Sideways engagement involves collaborating with clients, partners, universities, charities, and outreach programs. By extending our DEI efforts beyond our organisation, we amplify their impact and create a more inclusive ecosystem.

Luke: One recurring challenge organisations face is the difficulty of connecting the work of DEI with their broader commercial objectives. How do you articulate this link effectively, and why is it essential to bridge the gap between DEI and commercial success?

Bridging the gap between DEI and commercial success is crucial in today's business landscape. At Sparta Global, we've reframed our approach to highlight how DEI directly contributes to our commercial objectives. So, instead of simply stating that we hire graduates, provide training, and place them with clients. We bring in a diverse group of individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, remove entry barriers, provide training, and place them in early career positions. This approach aligns with our clients' needs for a diverse workforce.

We also offer DEI services to our clients, such as workshops on neurodiversity and policy development. By helping our clients create inclusive environments, we position ourselves as partners in their success.

In summary, we've shifted the narrative from providing graduates with training to providing a diverse and future-ready workforce that aligns with our clients' business imperatives. DEI is not a separate pillar but an integral part of our commercial strategy, attracting clients who share our values and top talent who seek purpose-driven work.

Luke: Finally, what is the most important piece of advice you have received in your career?

The most important piece of advice I've received, and one that continues to resonate with me, is the power of kindness. In a world filled with complexity and challenges, kindness can be the driving force behind positive change. It encompasses treating others with respect and creating safe environments.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Luke James
Luke works hand-in-hand with leaders and changemakers in our professional services markets. If you want to join the next series of The Interview, or just learn more about GoodCourse, then get in touch at

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