As an HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
Creating a mental health strategy in 2019 has proved vital to our employees’ wellbeing. We aligned with Mind, the mental health charity, and introduced an Employee Assistance Programme. In my role I look after UK/ EU , APAC, IMENA, & Australia, which means taking account of many perspectives and cultures; in some countries considering mental health at work is not the norm. We started in the UK, with employee and manager training, and the assistance programme is available to all employees, their partners and dependents. Our reporting shows significant take up and excellent feedback, I feel very proud and know it’s been worthwhile. We’re now looking at offering the programme internationally.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
In the pressures created by the pandemic, we can’t forget about mentoring and coaching, that to retain talent we need to invest in career paths. Learning & Development budgets are always the first to be cut, and they don’t bounce back quickly. We must innovate new ways to provide effective development opportunities, for example peer to peer training programmes and supporting our managers to ensure they have time. Inclusive learning and development programmes have positive impacts across society and in many ways.
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 feel strongly about the cultural awareness required to create effective diversity and inclusion strategy. For example, in India, we conducted a lot of training on equality and sexual harassment, we know that one approach doesn’t work across all areas of the world. My role creates the opportunity for me to ask colleagues their views and tailor appropriately, which I think is critical to successful inclusion programmes, HR Leaders have to listen.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
We need our employees to feel happy and that they’re being treated fairly; this is what drives performance, and so too business goals. What this looks like must relate to the country and local culture. One recent example, in dealing with the pandemic, is that we went the extra mile to ensure our employees were adjusting well and in regular contact with their manager. Importantly, we worked to emphasise our culture that it’s okay, to talk about not being okay. That all our colleagues have permission to raise both positive and negative feelings and mental health challenges. I believe this underpins wellbeing and performance that is inclusive for all our colleagues.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
Check with people whether they’re okay. Build in practices and promote a culture that ensures there is time, not for a quick text, but a conversation. This basis for interaction with our colleagues and teams underpins success.