As a HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
It is quite simple and something I aim to do every day – that is to help the person I am working with to be the best that they can be. I want to help them find the source of positive energy, clarify their values and purpose, instigate inspiration and discover what their legacy should be. My role has been to bring together their personal purpose with the organisation’s purpose. How can you explain that one day I worked from 6am to 4pm and then hit the road to Mallow (Co. Cork) for almost 3 hrs to deliver a presentation on Peak Performance Leadership to a group of 50+ women business owners in our local branch, then drove back to Dublin and finally got home at approximately 12 pm and yet I was still full of energy and could have potentially done another day’s work? The reason is that when we do work that aligns to our purpose i.e. D&I rather than drain energy, it actually gives us energy. We cannot change time (time is fixed) but we can create energy by doing meaningful things and work and, as a consequence, be more impactful and happy.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
Now is a huge opportunity for people leaders to redefine leadership, and for those of us in HR to support them in that process. Strong people leaders will come out of this situation with better results. Our employee groups are asking for their leaders to be humble, vulnerable and authentic; to shake off any old expectations to behave as though they are super humans. In this way, we should recognise our people, regardless of level or experience, as human beings and allow them to be open about having good days and bad days. HR can be proud to go back to their core purpose of looking after the heart of their people.
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 have two passions which are related to one another. One is to protect our ecosystems and I’m heavily involved with a charity set up to safeguard wild acres (Green Sod Ireland), where land is allowed to evolve as it should naturally, with little intervention. The second is educating people, particularly kids, about nature and the importance of living creatures. I aim to adopt an earth-centric rather than a people centric perspective.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
Our business is mainly based in Ireland, which has seen a great deal of change in its approach to inclusivity to reflect the diversity of the country. According to the Irish Central Statistics Office (April 2020), there were an estimated 644,400 non-Irish nationals resident in Ireland accounting for 12.9% of the total population (4.98 million). On top of that we have also a large number of first and second generation immigrants who have been born in Ireland and are Irish citizens or have dual nationality. Companies are now focusing on getting as close as possible to a 50/50 male/female representation at senior leadership levels within their organisations – which is fantastic! My question is should / are our senior leaders also representative of this 12.9%? Do we have, for example, enough Polish Indian, Brazilian leaders in key positions? It is well documented that diverse organisations are more innovative and deliver stronger financial results.
I would like HR to challenge their organisations to be more purpose-led, to question how we can best serve the customers and communities we serve.