As a HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
Policy change that has been created for the good of women and, in turn, has created positives for everyone. For example, when we first listened to women about the challenge of returning to work after having children, we implemented a “Phase Back” policy. In the first month of returning to work, our returning mothers would get full pay but have a phased work rate; 20% of their hours in the first week, 40% in the second and so on. This facilitated a period of supported adjustment and was a huge success in terms of engagement and retention. More recently, the policy incorporates men returning from shared parental leave, men and women returning from carers leave and returners after both mental and physical illness. The change which was initially focused on gender has ultimately benefited a diverse range of groups.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
The focus Covid has demanded on flexible working is a huge opportunity to manage outcomes not hours. HR as an industry can look at ways to make blended hours work for the employee and the organisation by increasing employee engagement. Of course, amid this we must be mindful of social mobility and ensure a lack of space or technology at home does not impact the possibility of success. Solutions must be as diverse as our workforce. Build back better may be a cliché now but it’s true – this is a huge chance for flexibility of working to bring more diversity and balance into the workplace.
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?
Race. Enterprise serves a hugely diverse community worldwide and we strive to mirror that diversity in the community by creating a platform for ethnic inclusion in our employee group. We recruit proactively by targeting over one hundred universities. Years ago we stopped making that just about red bricks and high-profile universities and went to universities that could show a truly diverse student base – we have seen this evolve as more students choose to study locally due to living expenses. We adapt accordingly. What I love now is that universities and students tell us; “Are you diverse enough an employer to warrant a place at our recruitment fair. I want those asking the question to hear the answer and want to work for us.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
Diversity is not just a HR issue – it’s a business issue. By making Enterprise a better balance of diverse talent, with the inclusion of women, ethnic minorities, LGBT and disabled colleagues, we create more creative and innovative ideas. That is a proven fact. Also, if the human make up of a business doesn’t match the community it serves, there will be no connection. That in turn will impact demand. I strive to make Enterprise a balanced workforce to mirror our communities and create connection.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
To incorporate a passion for diversity into our everyday remit and for inclusion to be at the core of decisions. It amazes me how diversity and inclusion is put in its own box in some organisations – it should be integral to the HR Director role. If leaders put diversity front and centre, the rest of the work force will follow. What results is wider social change – for the world.