Our differences are our strengths: Bev in conversation with our new CPO Andrew Neal
Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy new year in the parts of the world that celebrate a new year starting 1st January. As we enter a new calendar year, we take the opportunity to reflect on what we want to start doing, keep doing and stop doing. A key priority has to be that we nurture an inclusive culture. This is a ‘keep doing’ focus for us, but what can we do to make this ever better?
We are blessed to have Employee Resource Groups across Nash Squared who are made up of dedicated colleagues committed to making a difference to our business. The ERGs drive us towards the place we want to be, a place where all of us are heard and participate in the day-to-day operation of what we do. We challenge ourselves every day to take action to hire, promote, appoint work groups representative of all of us.
Our Chief People Officer Andrew Neal and myself have been speaking about how we can accelerate what we do to ensure we are inclusive in our work. We thought we would take the opportunity in this first blog of the year to share our thinking.
Bev: We have just appointed you as our CPO Andrew and that means that there is less female representation on the ExCo. We ran a robust hiring process, meeting a diverse population of candidates and I am confident we hired the best candidate in you, Andrew, you will be glad to know!
I am very aware that diversity goes much deeper than gender and that with you we have different diversity richness because of what you bring. But we should not ignore the fact that we have less female diversity at a senior level. I have been thinking about this a lot.
Andrew: Thanks Bev, I am delighted to be on board. We are right to address this head on. Yes, on the surface we have changed the diversity of the board to be less rich. But I also agree with you that for a business to be truly diverse, we need a breadth of individuals. Gender representation remains a critical focus, but we are living in a world where we understand increasingly about people's differences and how things which could have been perceived as weaknesses, are their strengths – when given the space to flourish. My daughter is neurodiverse, and I feel the accountability and opportunity to create a workplace that is fit for her, and others like her – wherever they are in their careers.
We also need to be conscious of being inclusive through considering breadth and challenging our traditional thinking and ways of working. I am a big supporter of social mobility and providing opportunity for all. I did not follow a particularly traditional higher education background, so, for example, I am a big fan of people whose varied experiences have helped shaped their potential.
I love the sentiment around the theory that ‘DE&I is about widening the gate, not lowering the bar’ – we need to provide opportunity for all colleagues – current and future. We should support those who have been traditionally underrepresented, who feel marginalised, or who have not had the same starting point in life – to really fulfil their potential, have successful careers, and help this business continue to grow.
We are going to be working hard with the ERGs this year to understand how we widen the gate in Nash Squared, and what real concrete steps and actions we can take.
Bev: I appreciate the ‘widening the gate’ concept a lot. Diversity of thinking and voice can be woven in more ways than through ExCo representation. I am committed to hearing more voices and taking more diverse thinking into consideration when deciding new paths to take and ensuring we have more diverse voices representing us as spokespeople for our business through contributing to thought pieces and speaking at events.
The more we do this the better quality our decisions will become, the more inclusive of our clients’ thinking in our decision making. We will also develop the future leaders of the business through exposing colleagues to development opportunities.
Practically what does that mean? I would like to seek out through the ERGs and by asking colleagues to volunteer, to speak with the ExCo and I on a variety of topics including engagement and communication across the business and to be added to the list of external contributors for PR opportunities to write thought pieces and participating in speaking engagements. We will provide advice, support and training for those who are new to these ways of working.
Andrew: Let us just consider that we employ over 3000 people in this group, over 16 countries – that represents an incredible breadth of background, thinking style, approach, and creativity. This focus on hearing voices from all over the business and all levels, and giving them a platform to be heard, will be powerful.
I am intrigued to see the opinions and knowledge that we can expose, which in turn we will be able to showcase both internally and externally. This is a great chance to provide a platform, whilst helping people grow and develop at the same time. I am also interested in this being a real opportunity for us to hear different voices and perspectives.
Bev: I would love to hear from colleagues who would be interested in joining a pool of people we will call on in these ways.
It doesn’t matter how long you have been with us, what experience you have, or what your opinions are. Maybe you have views on the market you think journalists would like to hear. Maybe you feel there are ways our company can be more inclusive or more effective, or would like to know more about being involved in one of the ESGs.
If you have views that you would like to be heard, we want to hear from you.Please do email Andrew or myself.