#13: Zeenath Khan, Senior Director People - Europe at Ebay
As a HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
I’m very proud of the Diversity & Inclusion Strategy we have been working on in the UK team. We covered three areas; our workforce, our workplace and our marketplace – what D&I means for our future and current employees and for our customers. Developing and implementing our strategy was and is a leader-led process, rather than being led by HR, which has been key to its success. Our communities of inclusion are integral to our D&I strategy and to creating an inclusive environment in our UK team. One specific action that has been transformative, was investing in inclusion training for all our leaders. There is always work to be done but one of the great impacts we are seeing is increased female representation across the teams as well as leaders who are inclusive and demonstrate courage, connection and curiosity.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
The pandemic and forced remote working has accelerated discussions about the future of work. How we adapt, in the long term, to working in increasingly flexible ways, is exciting for us in the HR field to provide thought leadership on. The pandemic has also brought mental health in to focus, I think in some ways the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed what was probably a hidden mental health pandemic. In HR at Ebay we’re working to support our teams changing needs, with for example, training on how to have good sleep practices, good nutrition, and thinking about how we can meet our employees where they are to support their mental and physical health on an ongoing basis.
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’m a British-Pakistani woman; at the beginning of my career, there were no senior leaders like me that I could look up to. It’s difficult to see yourself doing a job, when you can’t see anyone else doing it. There's been a global cultural shift this year, I have had conversations with leaders on race and ethnicity topics I never before thought would be possible. It has encouraged me to be bolder, to encourage leaders to seek to understand people who may appear different to them. I also never want to stop learning myself, and make sure that I am engaging with different groups in the organisation to understand their needs more deeply. We often hold Listening lounges where we encourage employees to show up and share what’s on their mind. In my experience this has helped to inform our leaders but also to create connections across different teams.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
We invested in a series of inclusive leadership journeys. There are many business impacts, including that we have a strong group of leaders, that speak a common language, creating a smooth path for decision making. Our employees have fed back that they can see our leaders behaving differently. All of this impacts engagement and recruitment. The ground work of the last few years has certainly helped achieve this.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
HR leaders are currently responding to a crisis for employees, whilst being in the crisis themselves. To lead our work, which drives social change, we must remember to look after ourselves too. Our work in HR in many ways is to be brave, and speak truth to power, that is harder to do without also looking after our own mental and physical wellbeing.