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Creating a Learning Culture, Where Individuals Can Perform Their Best
April 14, 2020
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Why is it important we keep learning?  Whether we like it or not, we are learning every day:  it might be a new way of buying a product or using a phone that has updated technology. All this change and innovation means we need to embrace learning. BY Kirstin Furber

The world we are living in is complex, competitive, fast and busy. In such an environment, it’s critical organisations focus on learning and constantly develop their capability. Many organisations have adapted their learning model from one of traditional classroom teaching to a blended learning approach including face to face presentations, coaching and learning whilst doing. 

These methods embed learning quickly and fit better in busy workdays. There are also some skills we can’t go on a course to learn, especially in digital space, as the work has not been done before and therefore the learning is very much on the job, through trial and error.

With the ability to learn its critical for organisations to remain competitive, adapt and stay ahead of the competition, how do we create a learning environment that supports individuals being their best? With the five characters of human culture as a foundation, I believe companies need to focus on the following five areas:

1. Purpose: Purpose provides organisations with a direction, a mission to get behind, and the opportunity to communicate how each employee’s role contributes to that purpose.  A clear purpose also provides ‘guard rails’ and focus.  When everyone is learning, creating new ideas, and developing as individuals and as a group, it’s easy to get off track. Having a clear purpose that everyone understands and buys into means that ideas can flourish ‘on strategy’ and be translated into action

2. Authentic Leaders: We know leaders are important role models, in everything they do and I have blogged before about the importance of authentic leadership.  Leaders have an opportunity to create an environment of learning through ‘bringing the external in’ and by ensuring the organisation does not get too internalised. Reading and sharing, participating at conferences, bringing speakers in to contribute new ideas and perspective, and by creating an environment of curiosity where it is safe to ask questions, is the perfect environment for learning to take place.  Remembering that they should always be open to learning also enables leaders to learn from their teams. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to have your thinking challenged. It’s important to be open to doing things differently and to update your perspective as the world changes. Authentic and vulnerable leaders who admit they don’t know everything, keep learning. 

3. Telling your story: Learning is about sharing and translating lessons learned into every day operational best practice.  Organisations that provide ways for individuals to share their learning with others both informally, e.g. at team meetings, and formally (through films, podcasts, or via company intranets) allow this translation of learning into the organisation to happen in the most organic way possible. This helps learning embed in the organisation.

4. Diversity: We all learn differently, and its critical organisations taken this into account. Some of us like to read about a subject in-depth, form views and then debate, others like a planned learning approach with many different forms of content: video, discussions, face to face sessions. The reflectors among us can get annoyed with a discussion group full of extroverts’ whist the extroverts are feeling very much in their comfort zone. Companies should enable time for reflection and processing as part of learning as well.  Cultures, physical and mental health, and learnings styles all need to be considered alongside how best to use technology to customise learning so it lands well-enabling people to engage with it for maximum impact.

5. Workplace: Finally, where do you learn best?  Traditional learning used to always be offsite, but with budget cuts and because of people’s productivity suffering if they’re out of the office for long periods of time, this has changed. Training has moved to ‘bite-sized’ learning with different views on timing, ideally no more than 90-minute learning sessions, for individuals to learn best, as outlined in this article.  Some of us like to learn at home, in the cafe, with others, in the office.  With learning being produced, delivered and customised through a variety of learning platforms, opportunities for where and when employees can learn are expanding. Some of us are better at learning in the morning, others in the evening, we should factor that into our learning approach. What is the best period of time to learn? To brainstorm? To make a decision?  To create an environment where employees can learn, all of these factors need to be considered when developing a curriculum.

A learning environment does a number of things: it builds capability to drive performance and helps attract the best because of an attractive development offering. It also helps retain the best because they grow and develop by utilising new found skills in a number of ways, especially when promotions or pay rises aren’t an option.

Creating an environment where it is easy to learn goes a long way to creating an environment where people can be their best selves at work because an environment where everyone can learn is one where everyone can flourish.

Kirstin Furber – Chief People Director of ClearScore

International Women’s Day: How Rolls-Royce is Helping to Build a More Balanced World
March 13, 2020
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This three-minute read was published by the Rolls-Royce media team.

International Women’s Day is an event to mark the achievements of women across the world and it’s also a reminder to us all that we are not at our best when there is a gender imbalance. 

Rolls-Royce is committed to being fair and inclusive and we already have many incredible women across our business, but we are actively working towards greater business diversity, with a keen focus on gender balance.

There is a global requirement for more women in STEM, to meet the world’s demands for talent. To help build this talent pipeline, our community investment and education outreach teams engage children as young as three and actively target under-represented groups around the world to encourage and support them to study and develop careers in STEM. Since 2014, we’ve reached 6.8 million people. You’ll find stories about this here.

As a leading business within the aviation industry, we have also just signed up to IATA 25 by 2025, which is a commitment to improve female representation in the industry by 25%, or up to a minimum of 25% by 2025. We are proud to be part of this campaign and we are committed to increasing the number of women in leadership positions to a minimum representation of 25 % by 2025.

But gender balance is more than just numbers; it’s about creating a culture and environment that’s inclusive and that brings out the best in everyone. We’ve made this a priority in our business and it’s reflected in our values and behaviours and in our policies, from flexible working through to shared parental leave.

“It’s well known, and there are lots of studies that back this up, that more diverse teams get better business results.” says Chris Walker, Co-chair of our UK Gender Diversity Network. “Not only should we all want a good gender balance because the world is balanced and we want to represent the people we serve (both customers and employees), but because it will make Rolls-Royce better, as a great place to work, as a top performer in our industry, and as a company that makes us proud to tell our families about.”

Often the task of getting a better gender balance falls to women, but becoming gender balanced should involve us all. We can each play a part in creating more inclusive and diverse teams, whatever role we have in our companies, and in our communities.

In the weeks flanking International Women’s Day, at Rolls-Royce, we are marking the occasion by celebrating women’s contribution to the workplace and the world, and by exploring how becoming gender balanced can, and should, involve all of us, whatever our gender.

“There are some great activities taking place across the business globally and there will be many more,” adds Chris. “We’re encouraging all our people to get involved and find out what they can do, whatever their gender, to make a difference. We’re determined not to leave this to the minority to fix.”

Here is a flavour of our activity taking place across many sites:

  • “Wall of Women” celebrations: teams at many of our sites in different countries are recognising role-models at Rolls-Royce by building image walls.
  • Appreciation boards, panel discussions, lunch & learns, insight hours and working sessions about relevant topics, for example: confidence in the workplace.
  • Daily video challenges of how we can make our workplace more inclusive.
  • Speed debating about why gender balance helps us all and what we can each do. 
  • Supporting events, such as The Association of Project Management discussion on how project management and improving gender balance go together.
  • Gatherings of some of our amazing women, as illustrated by the photo which shows our services team with global guests in Derby. 

We wish everyone an uplifting International Women’s Day!

Case Study: Superdrug’s Everyone Matters D&I Strategy
March 6, 2020
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Superdrug has worked hard over the past 18 months to become a more diverse and inclusive workplace, with plenty of positive resultsIn this five minute read, they share the work they have done to embed diversity and inclusion into their business.

The Organisation

Superdrug is the second-largest health and beauty retailer in the UK. It was founded in 1964 by brothers Peter and Ronald Goldstein. As well as selling a variety of branded products it has its own lines and offers various other services such as prescription filling, opticians, nurse clinics, and eyebrow threading. Superdrug has 830 UK stores, as well as distribution centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and Pontefract, West Yorkshire. It is a subsidiary of the AS Watson Group, which is in turn part of Hong Kong business CK Hutchison Holdings. It maintains strong links with sister companies Savers and The Perfume Shop, which are also owned by the AS Watson Group.

The retailer has focused heavily on vegan and cruelty-free products in recent years, particularly in its own-brand offerings. Superdrug’s own lines have been approved by Cruelty Free International since 2010.

The Problem

As the brand has gone from strength to strength and both store and employee numbers have increased, the retailer needed a solid people strategy. As part of the work done around this it came to the business’ attention that more could be done around diversity and inclusion.

Although the organisation had already set up some employee networks it was felt more people could be represented.

“We already had our gender equality and wellbeing networks up and running, and we had such great interest in them and a huge level of engagement from people in both those networks,” explains Jo Mackie, Superdrug’s customer and people director.

It was clear that efforts could be pushed further though, and so the brand’s desire to be more inclusive and engaging for both staff and customers was shaped into its D&I strategy Everyone Matters around 18 months ago.

The Method

Everyone Matters is made up of six pillars – gender equality, LGBTIQ+, BAME, wellbeing, social mobility (known as Access All Areas), and flexibility at work (called Make Work Work). These were formed from a combination of employee feedback, external research on what other organisations were doing with D&I, and discussions among the leadership team.

“So we could understand what people wanted and what future employees wanted we did surveys, some listening groups, and looked at what best practice there was around. And we ended up with six networks at Superdrug and Savers based on our employee base,” Mackie says. “These really seemed to resonate with the business, and they’re all areas we’re passionate about, that colleagues are passionate about, but also that we knew we could do more to push forward.”

Each pillar is made up of a director sponsor, a steering group comprised of employees from across the business, and a senior member of the HR team.

Getting executive buy-in was very straightforward as there was a lot of energy from the C-suite around the pillars and the strategy as a whole. HR ran engagement sessions, unconscious bias testing and one-to-one meetings with the executives to ensure they were truly on board and establish who might be a good fit for each pillar. Mackie herself leads Access All Areas.

“Each pillar is now headed up by a director sponsor and they are actively involved in the steering groups and support the networks. Not just as a figurehead, but also working with the teams to help them and direct them,” she explains.

Superdrug CEO Peter Macnab is particularly passionate about Everyone Matters, and even creates podcasts to help inform and engage the workforce around D&I.

Steering group members have a range of roles within Superdrug and come from retail, back office and the distribution centres. While most members volunteered to be part of a pillar’s steering group, Mackie says they “tapped a few people on the shoulder” if it was felt they could particularly add to a group’s effectiveness. To get the word out to all business premises and gather volunteers Superdrug used its internal communications platform The Hub. Mackie admits that although all areas of the organisation are represented in the steering groups they are (understandably) retail dominated and more needs to be done to even things out.

Steering groups “manage the overall direction and what that particular pillar wants to go after,” Mackie says.

“Last year we put in a senior inclusion manager as part of my team who now pulls all of that together. It was getting a little bit unwieldy; there was so much going on we knew we needed to pull it together so that the groups not only go and do their own thing but it then forms part of the overarching strategy.”

The groups put on various events and campaigns and celebrate key dates to raise awareness of their pillar.

Some of these include a panel for International Men’s Day with a mixture of colleagues and external influencers; a session for National Coming Out Day, where LGBT employees talked to a group of 40 senior leaders about their experiences and what inclusion means to them; Summer work experience for care leavers as part of Access All Areas; and a store manager social mobility pledge.

“We’ve had 100 managers sign up to our social mobility actions, which are things like giving additional interview feedback to candidates to help them when they next apply for roles, or providing quality work experience and making sure that there’s good feedback on the back of that,” says Mackie. “We’ve done quite a lot with different activities in the pillars. And then we’ve also got some partnerships with external organisations.”

Some of the external partnerships are with organisations such as the LGBT Foundation, Carers UK, Drive Forward Foundation, and Retail Week’s ‘Be Inspired’ campaign.

“They’ve been incredibly useful in two areas. One they’ve given us credibility in what we’re trying to do, but they’ve also been able to offer us advice and support in how we move things forward,” Mackie says.

Superdrug has been making good use of internal resources as well, for example its nurses attending employee events to give health checks such as blood pressure tests as part of the wellbeing pillar. Mackie says many employees have made changes to their lifestyles as a result.

The Result

Everyone Matters has been received extremely well by staff. Feedback from managers and assistant store managers has all been positive, and in the latest employee survey engagement was at an excellent 82%. Other impressive figures include getting 500 apprentices into the business and having 70% internal succession.

The strategy has been recognised externally too. In a Europe-wide ranking of 700 companies by the Financial Times Superdrug came fifth in retail and 52nd overall, beating businesses like P&G, L’Oréal and Sainsbury’s.

Going forward, Superdrug has a full calendar of D&I events for 2020, with more than 100 days of celebration and recognition planned.

“We’ll do more inclusion leadership training for our store managers and more employee panels. We are also doing more around getting people from disadvantaged backgrounds into work as we go through 2020. And then we want to explore around what we do with race and ethnicity and disability. We’re looking at and considering the Race at Work Charter and basically looking at other schemes to see what else we could buy into,” shares Mackie.

The business also wants to analyse how it can measure the reach and efficacy of Everyone Matters and is considering introducing pulse surveys. It has an eye on potential future legislation such as ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting too.

Mackie says: “We want to be prepared for either of those coming through. We’ll carry on listening to our colleagues and making sure what we’re offering is what they want. Just to keep building on Superdrug and Savers being an inclusive place to work and open to everyone with opportunities for everyone.”

This piece appeared in the February 2020 HRMagazine.

UK Workers Most Likely to Feel Discriminated Against in Europe
June 18, 2019
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New research from ADP ‘The Workforce View in Europe 2019’, reveals that reports of discrimination are highest in the UK where more than a third (38%) of respondents say they have been targeted, compared to a European average of 30%.

It seems young people are also particularly affected, with 49% of UK workers aged 25-34 reporting feeling discriminated against.

The ADP Workforce View in Europe 2019 surveyed over 10,000 employees in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, delving into how employees feel about issues in the workplace.

Despite numerous high-profile scandals, such as the #MeToo movement, bringing discrimination and workplace harassment into the public eye, the findings indicate it is still an issue in the UK. Read more

AI Careers Unappealing to UK Workers
June 11, 2019
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Government data finds that many are uninterested in a career in AI as BEIS announces plans to boost technology skill.

Only 39% of people are interested in a career in AI with 59% of those aged under 45, according to research by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Kantar Public.

The report, which was released for London Tech Week this week, also found a gender divide over interest in AI jobs. Just 31% of women said they’d be interested compared to 47% of men.

More than 60% of people were excited to see what AI can do, however, and awareness levels of AI in everyday life were found to be more than 60%. Read more

Career Breaks Are the New Norm – So Why Are They Still Stigmatised?
June 7, 2019
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When we think of career breaks, motherhood tends to spring to mind. But there are many other reasons why people take time
off work, and getting back in isn’t always easy.

Geoff was 44 when he found himself faced with a difficult decision: to leave his 30-year coal mining career behind him and retrain, or to continue doing what he knew best. He was at this crossroads because his 11-year-old daughter was concerned that he was putting himself in danger each day; she was scared of losing her dad. She didn’t know it, but her fear was very much grounded in reality. Mining has the third highest fatality rate of any industry. It now claims the lives of nine workers on average each year, and that number was even higher when Geoff was working in the industry.

With his daughter’s concerns front of mind, he decided to take a leap of faith and retrain as a teacher. Following two years of accelerated study, he found himself in a position where he was entering a new industry for the first time in over three decades. Read more

100 Years Strong
February 19, 2019
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It’s been 100 years since Superintendent Sofia Stanley led the first all-female Met Women Patrols on the streets of London

Read more

The World’s Most Successful Women Share Their Best Career Advice
December 4, 2017
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In the following article, published by the World Economic Forum in partnership with Fortune the world’s most successful women share their best career advice.

Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women know a thing or two about career success. The 50 businesswomen on the 2017 list have climbed up the ranks of corporates in a wide range of industries—including tech, energy, defence, and consumer goods—to C-level roles. Here’s the advice they have for women who want to follow in their footsteps:

1. Be your authentic self
“When I was being considered for a senior role, I was told on an evaluation to avoid wearing pink because it made me look too ‘girlish’… Indirectly, I was told my femininity was a barrier. Because of my outward appearance, they couldn’t see my internal strength. Regardless, I fought back and got the job. Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to wear pink.”
“No matter where you go, don’t lose who you are.”
“Be clear on who are and what you’re serving with your life. Then, get ready for the world to relentlessly test you on how much you really mean it.”
2. Confidence is key
“Just go for it. Too often, women have a confidence gap that makes them pause and slow down while men dive in and learn as they go. Just go for it!”
Disabled People Face Barriers When Job Hunting
October 11, 2017
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The survey of 4,000 people found that three-quarters (75%) of disabled people have found that their condition has an impact when job hunting, according to research from the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI).

The survey of 4,000 people found that barriers started early; with 53% of respondents stating they had first encountered problems during the application stage. A similar number (54%) reported encountering barriers at multiple stages of the recruitment process.

When asked for examples, a candidate with a hearing impairment specified telephone interviews as being a particular challenge. “I just can’t do them,” they said. “Recruiters constantly wanting to talk to me on the phone is annoying.” A respondent with a visual impairment said that being unable to drive meant that they could not even get an interview in a number of cases.

However, the statistics show an improvement since the RIDI survey in 2015, when 85% of jobseekers polled said that their disability had a negative impact when looking for work. In 2017 14% of those surveyed said their disability did not affect their job hunt at all, but in 2015 this figure stood at just 3%.

Read more

Washington Post Celebrates UK’s Winning Baking Blind
June 30, 2017
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The Washington Post interviewed Penny Melville-Brown, who lost her sight when she was a British Navy commander.

Penny is one of three winners of the first Holman Prize, given by the San Francisco nonprofit Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. There were 202 applicants from 27 countries. The prize is named for James Holman, a 19th-century British navy lieutenant who lost his sight at age 25.

Her project, Baking Blind, will take her around the world to cook with blind and sighted chefs — including stops in China, Australia, Malawi and Virginia Beach, where she hopes to “link up with some navy veterans, especially blind ones, to share stories.” Along the way, she will videotape her encounters and blog about her journey. Her goal, she said, is “to show that blind people and other disabled people have got lots of get-up-and-go and ability, and they are a great resource for the rest of the community, the rest of society, and particularly employers, to use better.”

To Read the Washington Post Article Click Here

Click Here to Keep in Touch with Penny’s Journey

View Penny’s Video Here