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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.  Content composed with the free online HTML editor toolkit. Please subscribe for a membership to stop adding links to the edited documents.

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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

Is flexible working a win win? | A contribution from Helen Crossland, Seddons Solicitors
Is flexible working a win win? | A contribution from Helen Crossland, Seddons Solicitors

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Commerce & Industry

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General

16/09/19

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A contribution from Helen Crossland, Seddons Solicitors If we are to believe the statistics, flexible working is the winning ticket. For employees, it is often now a key consideration in any job move that agile working will be part of the package. It may also be a factor in why they are seeking a new role in the first place. Most businesses too are keen to fly the flag of flexible working, recognising the allure it has for potential new recruits and the positive, forward-thinking message it can send out about their business. While it may be secondary to the impact it can have to a businesses’ bottom line, if office space can be forfeited or used more resourcefully, flexible working at face value seems a wholly positive initiative. Flexible working brings other advantages - it is a widely acknowledged tool in promoting employee wellbeing. Employees who have more latitude and control over when and where they work are proven to have less sickness absence. Mental health issues in the workplace are also reduced. Operated properly, it can increase productivity levels and garner such satisfaction in employees so that they won’t leave. Put simply, businesses risk losing good people if they shun modern working practices. Particularly if the competition is busy investing in technology and smarter, leaner working methods which enable staff to work remotely and as efficiently as they do when they are at the office. The benefits that come from enabling employees to perform their duties from home, a hot desk or co-working space, some or all of the time, are undisputable. The reality however, is that agile working raises a number of practical challenges. Its work ability is governed largely by having the right infrastructure and IT support in place. Confidentiality and GDPR are also high-risk factors and have the potential to become a PR (and other) nightmare if laptops and paperwork are left unattended or on public display. Some businesses, because of what they do, simply cannot be as versatile as others. Moreover, certain roles do not lend themselves to being performed remotely owing to their managerial or supervisory nature, or the fact that the incumbent needs to be visible and on site. Problems can also arise where organisations offer flexible working too widely or without due consideration of business needs. It is not uncommon for organisations to have to row back on agreed working patterns when realising they are faced with a personnel or management vacuum on certain days. As for hot desking, there is strong evidence this is the least popular style of working and can be a significant source of stress and disaffection where individuals regularly have to engage in mid-week battles over computers and seating. Practicalities aside, trust and cultural issues still remain the foremost barriers to effective remote working. To help overcome these, a holistic approach needs to be taken on flexible working. This can be assisted by having effective policies in place which set out agreed parameters and which make it known that there must be equal flexibility on the part of the employee. Agile working may be something that an organisation offers to all employees as standard. In most cases it will be considered on a case by case basis however, as part of a formal flexible working request. Any employee with 26 weeks’ continuous service or more is eligible to apply to work flexibly. Applications can range from a desire to work fewer hours or days, compressed hours, varying start or leave times, or to work from home some or all of the time. Employers are obliged to give all requests ‘meaningful consideration’ and process applications, including any appeal, within 3 months of receipt. Unless a request can be readily granted, a formal meeting is recommended to discuss the application; the options then being to accept or refuse the request, or to agree a compromise including potentially granting a trial period. Any rejections must be based on one or more of the eight prescribed business reasons. Employers may understandably believe that when an application is granted, it will equal contentment in the recipient; appreciative of the ability to continue performing their role of choice while being better able to manage their other responsibilities and commitments. Not so according to the research which shows that 65% of employees who work flexibly or part-time report feeling less connected to their team, with 45% feeling their input is deemed less valuable because of their reduced working time/visibility. This is attributed to a host of factors including missing out on training and development initiatives, key/group meetings being scheduled at times they are not present, and marketing and social events taking place at prohibitive times. A conclusion to be drawn from the research is that employers should think twice about accepting requests if they are doing so reluctantly, or if they cannot ensure the employee’s working arrangements could be properly accounted for. If the business is unable or unwilling to be adaptable to those who work flexibly, it may be better to decline an application than risk opening up a whole new range of issues caused by an employee feeling devalued or side-lined. For a flexible working arrangement to succeed, it must be carefully managed with consideration given to the timetabling of meetings and events, the use of IT/ communications and ensuring that learning and development opportunities still include the employee as far as possible. Such measures can guard against employees being unwittingly or as the case may be, deliberately marginalised. For flexible working to be successful, there must be a two-way street and compromise on the part of the employee. Businesses are not expected to work around any one employee and if they do, run the risk of inciting resentment in others. There also needs to be recognition that an employee’s chosen work arrangements will inevitably cause them to miss certain opportunities and information, and that the employee needs to be equally responsible in minimising such gaps. 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 Breaking the Silence.

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If we are to believe the statistics, flexible working is the winning ticket. For employees, it is often now a key consideration in any job move that agile working will be part of the package. It may also be a factor in why they are seeking a new role in the first place.

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Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes

Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes

Navigating Brexit – an accountant’s journey at ABF plc (Associated British Foods)
Navigating Brexit – an accountant’s journey at ABF plc (Associated British Foods)

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Financial Services

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General

18/10/18

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This is a guest blog from Ian Mace, who is part of The Brexit Team at ABF plc. Who are ABF? Associated British Foods plc (ABF) is a FTSE 100 diversified international food, ingredients and retail group with sales of £13.3bn and over 113,000 employees in 47 countries. The company aims to achieve strong, sustainable leadership positions in markets that offer potential for profitable growth, and to deliver quality products and services that are central to people’s lives. The group is split into five segments: Sugar, Agriculture, Retail, Grocery and Ingredients. Where it all began In September 2016 - not long after the referendum - I accepted a six month secondment to ABF’s head office to work on the possible impacts of Brexit. Fast forward two years later and I’m still here! Initially the role was a relatively analytical one - playing to my strengths as someone with a finance background - myself and the team created several “what if?” scenarios to work out the impact of Brexit on ABF’s businesses. This task required a great understanding of the group’s export sales and international supply chains, its reliance on EU nationals working in the UK and the impact of EU regulations.   The journey so far Once we understood the potential impact of the different options for Brexit, it was time to make sure government understood all the implications of their potential actions. This required the development of a common narrative across all of ABF’s businesses, approved by the ABF Board, and a plan for who to talk to and when, including various industry and trade bodies. This was initially way outside my comfort zone, but I rapidly learnt that it isn’t that different to being a finance business partner.My role is really about helping people understand the financial and commercial consequences of the choices they make and continually updating the various businesses functions about issues and developments.  This has involved presenting to the boards of the individual businesses, and to procurement, HR and IT teams. My journey has helped me to grow my network across ABF and has been a great way to learn more about all the different ABF businesses. More recently the role has expanded again, and I am now effectively an internal ABF consultant advising the individual businesses on their contingency planning for a “no deal” scenario. I have facilitated various workshops and discussions to help the businesses identify the steps that they can take to minimise the risk of disruption to their ability to supply to their customers, both in the UK and overseas. Famous last words It has been two years since I took on this role at ABF and it has been an incredibly interesting journey so far. I have learnt a great deal about a wide range of subjects - from the obvious (international trade and immigration) - to the obscure (EU regulation of food products and the Common Agricultural Policy). I have also met a range of government ministers and MPs as well as civil servants, economists and political analysts. To conclude, we can’t yet be sure where the Brexit journey will take us, either as ABF or indeed as a country, but if nothing else it has been a fantastic professional development opportunity for me.

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Once we understood the potential impact of the different options for Brexit, it was time to make sure government understood all the implications of their potential actions.

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Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes

Becky Hughes

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Becky Hughes