As an HR Leader who creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
In my role as CHRO, I made social mobility a priority. I changed our approach to talent acquisition, removing specific educational requirements or assessment of extra-circular activities because these elements of someone's experience correlate to social circumstances. We also implemented changes to ensure our candidate slate and interviewers involved in the process were diverse. At Grant Thornton we found that after we’d eliminated these factors from recruiting, the people we recruited stayed longer, and performed as well as, if not better than the pool of people that we’d recruited in the past under traditional assessment measures. So as well as enhancing business performance by finding critical talent and improving our diversity, we had a significant impact on social mobility, and Grant Thornton won the Queen’s Award for social mobility and was #1 on the Social Mobility Index.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
Black & Veatch is a global Engineering, Procurement and Construction company; in this industry, gender balance and diversity is an issue. This links to a broader opportunity - social mobility. An opportunity to not judge people on their past and an opportunity to embrace different segments of the workforce. I led work looking at the contingent workforce, which includes groups such as working parents and college students, who may want to do project based work in certain timeframes versus a full time contract. If we harness the expertise of these groups this would have a huge impact on inclusion, and social mobility, and it would provide variability for businesses, which would help them navigate times of crisis.
Is it wrong that a parent can hold down three jobs, and still be below the poverty line, still be unable to support their family; I feel passionate that wages must be fair. The UN Sustainable Development Goals resonate with me and I believe fair pay is foundational to achieving them. As a CHRO ensuring corporate culture and process create fair pay is something I've prioritised and achieved in all my roles.
Working quickly to make pay equitable. I don't accept that it takes five or ten years to address pay inequity. I think it can be done in two cycles, one even. In my roles I addressed pay inequity within one year. We looked at anybody falling outside of pay bands and asked why? Either we need to pay them the proper wage, or there is another issue, for example they might be under-performing and that needs to be addressed separately. We also looked at the pay structure for senior staff; moving from reward based purely on financial measures to including behavioural factors such as data on staff turnover, inclusion and engagement - changing the reward structure for leadership changes corporate culture and behaviour - and all change needs to start with leadership modelling the behaviours that create the experiences and culture where our people can thrive.
Correcting pay for anyone falling outside of their pay band. If this means they get a significant pay rise, then this is what is needed. Either they are doing their job well and should be paid for it, or there is a different problem to resolve. This change will positively impact gender balance and social mobility, impacting entire families and therefore our communities too.