As a HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
The impact of Covid is inescapable and must be front of mind for every HR leader; other crises have been financially driven, but since this has been a health crisis, supporting our people has been paramount. For us, the greatest challenge – and opportunity – has been to transform our ways of working into something virtual, flexible and home-based. Some thought it impossible for a law firm like ours to effect such a change but we’ve done it and it took place overnight. We invested in technology and created new communications, for example, every Friday we have an end of week video, with our senior leaders sharing their successes, challenges and vulnerabilities. An extraordinary shift and one from which we won’t step back; I'm proud to have been leading the team through these unprecedented times. The impact of agile working on our people’s lives has been – in most cases – extremely positive. Less travel and more time with the family and loved ones are bringing huge benefits to wellbeing for many of our people, as well as cementing a sense of community for many who, to be honest, have never spent so much time in their home neighbourhoods. This must be a positive thing for society.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
As HR Leaders, we have a responsibility not to lose the impacts of agile working, the huge boost to community, personal and, indeed, environmental health. In the years ahead whilst we overcome the pandemic, we will continue to promote agile working, whilst also highlighting the benefits of working together in person in our offices. We’ll keep focusing on ways to keep up the cultural shift. We’re working on ways to keep up the cultural shift. For example, we're communicating our results, our clients’ successes and the quality of our work - all achieved whilst agile working - we are proving its possibilities and benefits. Our next steps are to build on how we equip hybrid teams, with some colleagues in the office and some in other places. The focus on hybrid teams is a wonderful opportunity for HR that will have positive benefits for our individual and community wellbeing.
Which particular areas of social and environmental injustice are you most passionate about, and see that your role gives you the chance to create change?
I'm delighted that Linklaters has not only been a Living Wage employer for more than a decade but also that we've been a leading firm in the movement for even longer. We see the difference that additional income makes to those who need it most, whether that is thriving with one job rather than two or simply having a little spare money to enjoy what many of us take for granted. And we see a group of people who are more motivated, more flexible and so, so loyal. Our commitment to this group over recent months is something of which I am particularly proud.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
The shift to working remotely for all has highlighted the importance of making personal connections with our teams, to create a real sense of belonging and to encourage everyone to use their voices. Leaders have looked to HR to come up with innovative ways to engage with our people and to ensure a continued focus on development whilst working remotely, in order to deliver the highest quality service to our clients and to drive business performance.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
Simply to be brave. This is a unique moment to take a leap before what is likely to be a very receptive audience, especially when we know that many of the changes – such as agile working – are already delivering positive results. I also see an opportunity for the HR profession to showcase what a powerful force for good it is at both organisational and individual levels. After all, leading, motivating and caring for people has never been more important.