As a People leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
Something I am most proud of was my impact towards a progressive and innovative approach to flexible working in Barclays. The work I conducted was pre-Covid, around 3 or 4 years ago. Flexible working is something we’ve all got far more comfortable with this year, but back then it was seen as something which was typically for women with young families. I was keen to break this stereotype and ran a campaign to show-case people within the Bank globally who worked flexibly in less familiar ways– men and women who were taking career breaks, caring for their elderly relatives or looking to commute at a different time of day. To complement this increased awareness, we ran manager clinics hosted by leaders who had successfully supported employees with flexible working within their teams, coaching managers who were less familiar. Whilst many factors contributed to the progress, 4-5 years after launching the initiative, Barclays reports 88% of its workforce work flexibly and they were also the most engaged of the employee group in the annual engagement survey.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
I’ve worked in both financial services and technology and I believe there is an opportunity to create greater social mobility - and it touches all aspects of Diversity and Inclusion. It is questioning each of our HR processes: Are we reaching out to all? Is the process fair, transparent and communicated to everyone? We have the chance to evaluate our employment and people management processes through this lens. We all know that a more diverse employee set makes for a better decision-making organisation.
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?
One aspect of diversity that still needs a lot of change is disability. There are many barriers to enabling people with disabilities to contribute fully to the workplace. We need to consider disability beyond reasonable adjustments, and as HR Leaders, equip employers to be more comfortable recruiting those with a disability.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
I worked hard to encourage men to advocate for gender equality. Having a global view, I realised in our Singapore office it was common to have men acting as allies of gender initiatives. We needed a rebranding across all countries to encourage the same approach. I was quick to realise we needed to rebrand all Women’s Networks as Gender Networks and involve men in the conversation. In this way, the goal of a gender network was inclusivity of all, not just women. We had the aim to break down stereotypes and to promote the well-being and progression across all gender types. Challenging the current way we were doing things meant that at Barclays we reported year on year increase in gender equality at the senior level.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all People Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
Often HR’s role is seen as protecting the business from employees. However, I would like that thinking to be considered in the reverse. HR should be about looking after the people and treating them as individuals. Looking after their mental health, their safety and welfare, celebrating key milestones in their career. If we have a people first mentality, our customers and our shareholders will benefit.