Survey results: Business response to Covid-19

David Harvey our consultant managing the role

‘The only constant is change’ has never rang more true and there is no facet of business that has not been changed dramatically by this year’s global events. It is not about adjusting to any ‘new normal’, it’s about making sure you can adapt adequately to this new, more rapid pace of change'.

During May 2020, we produced a survey for our contacts to understand how their business was reacting to the pandemic and to gauge overall market sentiment. We received over 130 responses to key questions relating to their thoughts, reactions and predictions regarding the unprecedented level of change we are experiencing. Although market conditions are changing daily, the ease of lock down has brought a wave of positivity as we look to rebuild on the disruption of the past few months.

With this in mind, the below report outlines some of the findings from our research, and our predictions for the future.

31/08/20
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The business case for a robust diversity and inclusion strategy in your organisation
The business case for a robust diversity and inclusion strategy in your organisation

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HR

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General

05/08/20

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The past few months – and indeed, years – have demonstrated just how important diversity and inclusion are in modern society. Through the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, a light has been shone on the inequality and injustice that persists, not just in our day to day lives, but also in the workplace. We can no longer ignore how important diversity and inclusion are to businesses, nor can we expect things to get better without actively working to improve conditions and outcomes for everyone. And while promoting diversity and inclusion is absolutely the right thing to do for employees, there are also business benefits to doing so.  What is diversity and inclusion? Diversity and inclusion aren’t just a priority for HR departments – it should be a key business strategy for all organisations. Workplace diversity can be defined as the understanding, acceptance and promotion of differences between people. This includes those of different genders, races, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities and religions, as well as people who have different educational, socioeconomic and experiential backgrounds. Meanwhile, inclusion is about creating a supportive and respectful work environment that values collaboration and participation of all employees, helping everyone to feel included. Together, diversity and inclusion make companies more welcoming, accessible and harmonious for everyone, not to mention more profitable and competitive. Why is diversity and inclusion important? First and foremost, diversity and inclusion are essential to make workplaces better for everyone. Purely from a compassionate perspective, it’s the right thing for employers to create environments where people feel comfortable to be themselves and can succeed without limitation. Commercially, diversity and inclusion have a significant number of benefits. Firstly, a strong focus on D&I can significantly widen the candidate talent pool , giving you access to more candidates who may be excluded by non-diverse hiring strategies. With 70% of job seekers looking for a company’s commitment to diversity when applying for new roles, it’s clear that you may be missing out on top talent if you neglect to address D&I in your organisation.  On top of that, diverse organisations have better business results, higher employee satisfaction and are more innovative, according to Business in the Community . McKinsey research shows that executive teams in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those companies who perform poorly in terms of executive-level gender diversity. This figure jumps to 36% when analysing teams with ethnic diversity. Diverse teams have also been proven to be more innovative, solve problems faster and have more engaged employees.  Small steps to move the dial on D&I in your organisation The current emphasis on working from home presents a key opportunity for employers to rethink their D&I hiring strategies, with current conditions potentially opening up more flexible, part-time opportunities for those who may not have otherwise been able to commit to a 9-5 office job. To welcome more working parents and caregivers, disabled people and those with neurodiversity requirements, consider whether vacancies could be flexible, remote working or on part-time hours. Now is the perfect time to rethink your workspace and how it can be made more accessible to more people.  A dedicated diversity and inclusion policy, taskforce or officer can help to highlight its importance within your business. You could perform a D&I audit, examining the levels of diversity that exist within the company and specifically at the executive level, and set goals to achieve a more balanced, inclusive environment within a certain time period. Have open conversations with your team members about D&I and ask them what would make them – and new team members – feel more welcomed. It’s also important to acknowledge the diversity that already exists in your company, such as by celebrating different cultural and religious events, greeting bilingual employees in their mother tongue or inviting families into work.  Finally, while diversity and inclusion should be championed at the very highest levels of your business, it’s crucial that every single team member feels safe to contribute to these discussions and voice their opinions and stories. Prepare to tackle some difficult topics and be questioned. While subjects like the gender pay gap, lack of executive-level diversity and opportunities for progression can feel difficult to address, they are important conversations that need to be had in the process of making real change.  Marks Sattin can help to diversify your talent pool. By partnering with a specialist recruitment agency which has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion , you’ll benefit from having access to more candidates and guidance on how to actively recruit from diverse talent pools. At Marks Sattin, we can help you identify, attract and retain exceptional people across financial services, technology, change management and more.  Contact us here to have a chat about how we can work together. 

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The past few months – and indeed, years – have demonstrated just how important diversity and inclusion are in modern society.

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Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes

Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes

Wellbeing in the workplace | A Q&A with David Beeney, founder of Breaking the Silence
Wellbeing in the workplace | A Q&A with David Beeney, founder of Breaking the Silence

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HR

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General

16/09/19

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Why should we bring wellbeing into the workplace? Wellbeing is in the workplace whether we like it or not, and the healthier your workforce the better your business will perform. Businesses in the FTSE 100 who have a robust wellbeing strategy are outperforming all of the others and evidence suggests that for every £1 invested in employee wellbeing your business will generate another £3. It’s hard to understand in 2019 how some boardrooms are still seeing employee wellbeing and mental health as a ‘fluffy subject’ and not seeing the direct links between employee energy and their business results. How do you open a conversation about mental health in the workplace? The stigma of mental health is the huge ‘wall of silence’ that exists around this subject. We choose not to speak about this subject because we fear saying something wrong and making someone feel embarrassed or awkward so we choose to say nothing. We don’t know how to open up the wellbeing conversation which makes us even less likely to start what could be a lifesaving conversation. The answer is in training your people on the right language to use in such circumstances. We should never say to somebody ‘I am very worried about your mental health’. They would go into a ‘shut down’ mode and find it far too invasive. If you say you have noticed a change in their energy levels (as part of a much wider conversation) they are far more likely to tell you what is going on in their life and the impact it is having on their wellbeing. As a counsellor I am trained to ‘notice, not interpret’ as it is far less judgemental and I share this with my clients. What can we do to encourage employees to proactively enhance their own wellbeing? Employees take on average six to eight years after the initial symptoms of poor mental health to seek professional advice. This is largely because they are not aware of the early indicators combined with the powerful stigma that prevents them from being honest and open about their mental wellbeing. To encourage employees to be proactive we need to invest time and resource into the workplace to help them understand their mental wellbeing better. We need to provide them with simple tools to measure their energy levels and create cultures where people want to flourish and live a healthier way of life. What are the business risks if we fail to address these issues? Teams that operate with high energy are successful, but teams that are not healthy and energised will never get anywhere near optimising performance. It feels like I am stating the obvious but the risks are high levels of absenteeism, poor employee engagement, high staff churn, inefficiency and reduced productivity. If your culture is not focussed on employee wellbeing, you will lose more staff to long term work related stress. It is evidence based that employees who have suffered stress related illness are very difficult to get back to work and businesses are exceptionally poor at dealing with these type of wellbeing issues. How do we create the right culture of trust to create a stigma free workplace? The tone has to be set from the very top of your organisation. My clients who realise the importance of senior executives sharing how mental health has touched their own lives are seeing a tangible cultural shift. When top executives talk openly about mental health it makes it much easier for all employees to feel safe to do so. All people managers should be trained on how to create a kinder culture that drives employee energy. It is evidence based that managers will not speak to employees about wellbeing because they do not feel qualified. The great news is they don’t need to be qualified but educated on the importance of becoming more personable and how to direct employees to get appropriate professional help. David Beeney is a mental health advocate and a business advisor. David brings his personal experience of struggling with mental health problems, commercial background and business knowledge to help organisations implement mental health & wellbeing strategies within the workplace. David is committed to reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace. The 10th edition of our highly regarded Market Insight Report represents the views of over 1,100 professionals, and contains insights from our specialist consultants and key business partners on market and employment trends.  If you’re looking to find out more on salary benchmarking and the motivations driving the modern workforce today, download our full report which contains key contributions from Western Union Business Solutions, Women in Fund Finance, Intoo UK & Ireland and  Seddons Solicitors.

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Wellbeing is in the workplace whether we like it or not, and the healthier your workforce the better your business will perform.

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Aine Connellan

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Aine Connellan

Aine Connellan

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Aine Connellan

The cost of the status quo | A contribution from Women in Fund Finance
The cost of the status quo | A contribution from Women in Fund Finance

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HR

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General

16/09/19

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How failing to recruit and retain a diverse workforce may lose you the next big mandate, a contribution from Chelsea Bruno and Meera Savjani on behalf of Women in Fund Finance. Although hard to believe, there are still some who do not understand the value of diversity. Despite countless studies providing strong evidence that the most successful companies are those that employ a diverse group of individuals, many maintain homogenous workforces with no intention of diversifying. Although this approach has long gone unchallenged, there is now a growing consciousness within many corporate cultures which is driving companies to hold their external counter parts and service providers accountable for failing to address the issue. It comes as no surprise that some of the more “traditional” industries such as law and finance have been slower to progress in building diverse talent pools, and the clients of these firms have started to notice. In January 2019, more than 170 general counsels and corporate legal officers in the United States signed an open letter to big law firms which criticised these firms for the lack of diversity at the partner level. The letter, which was signed by companies such as Heineken, Vox Media, and S&P Global Ratings, stated that going forward these companies (many of which operate globally) would prioritise their legal spend on those firms that commit to diversity and inclusion. The letter went on to state “we applaud those firms that have worked hard to hire, retain and promote to partnership outstanding and highly accomplished lawyers who are diverse in race, colour, age, gender orientation, sexual orientation, national origin, and religion and without regard to disabilities”1. Although the letter does not set out how these firms plan to measure such level of commitment, it’s clear that these firms are serious about holding their legal counterparts accountable, and when taking a closer look, it’s clear that emphasis on diversity does not stop at these 170 corporations. Across the Atlantic, industry groups in the UK are also pushing to hold big corporates accountable for failing to make meaningful progress when it comes to diversity. As reported by the Guardian in May 2019, the Investment Association (IA), a trade body which represents UK investment managers who in aggregate manage over £7.7tn in AUM, has confronted 94 publicly listed companies for failing to make sufficient progress on gender diversity. The IA has written to each of these companies and raised concerns about the lack of gender diversity in leadership positions. A list of companies which received the highest level of warning from the IA was recently published in the Guardian and confirmed by IA2 , and although some of these companies have responded with statements emphasising efforts to address such issues, it’s clear that shareholders and potential investors will be looking for measurable progress going forward. In line with such expectations, some investors are taking accountability into their own hands, as evidenced by a change implemented by ILPA (the Institutional Limited Partner Association), the global industry body that represents the interest of private equity limited partners. ILPA recently expanded its standard due diligence questionnaire (DDQ) to include a section related to diversity and inclusion, and requires firms fill in a template which aims to measure and report the gender and ethnic diversity of teams by seniority and role. It also includes a section of questions designed to help investors understand a firm’s policies and procedures in areas such as hiring, promotions, family leave, mentoring, and harassment and discrimination. When asked about the updated DDQ, CEO of ILPA Steve Nelson stated “ILPA believes that diversity and inclusion is a strength that all stakeholders within the private equity ecosystem should embrace and promote in meaningful ways,” said Nelson. “The due diligence questionnaire expansion and Code of Conduct guidance represent an opportunity for general partners (GPs) and limited partners (LPs) to have conversations about these important issues, in the spirit of a stronger and ever improving workplace for everyone. We look forward to advancing these ideals which serve as the foundation for a healthy, prosperous industry.”3 As with the other industry groups discussed herein, ILPA is sending a clear message that diversity is no longer an optional. Changes such as the updated DDQ make it increasingly difficult for firms to completely ignore the topic, and although the potential consequences are meaningful in all industries, the cyclicality of fundraising in private equity means the risk associated with failing to adapt could be both severe and expensive. While few would doubt that the conversation around diversity and inclusion has evolved significantly over the past two decades, many are now suggesting that the time has come for the conversation to expand into action. Although just a few examples are discussed herein, it's almost for certain that there will be more letters and questionnaires to come. With the rise of such accountability, the cost of failing to adapt may soon weigh heavy on firms and maintaining the status quo of a homogenous workforce may come to feel like a burden in itself. Thus, firms must ask themselves whether the status quo is worth the missed opportunity that will result. The 10th edition of our highly regarded Market Insight Report represents the views of over 1,100 professionals, and contains insights from our specialist consultants and key business partners on market and employment trends.  If you’re looking to find out more on salary benchmarking and the motivations driving the modern workforce today, download our full report which contains key contributions from Western Union Business Solutions,Seddons Solicitors, Intoo UK & Ireland  and Breaking the Silence. Cited https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2019/01/27/170-gcs-pen-open-letter-to-law-firms-improve-on-diversity-or-lose-our-business/ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/13/investor-group-warns-almost-100-firms-over-lack-of-gender-diversity https://www.pr-inside.com/ilpa-publishes-diversity-and-inclusion-resources-f-r4704476.htm

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Although hard to believe, there are still some who do not understand the value of diversity.

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Mellani Georgiou

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Mellani Georgiou

Mellani Georgiou

by

Mellani Georgiou

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