Personnel Today Awards 2015: HMRC shines in Diversity and Inclusion

HMRC scooped the award for diversity and inclusion in 2015.
HMRC scooped the award for diversity and inclusion in 2015.

HMRC impressed the judges and received the Award for Diversity and Inclusion at the Personnel Today Awards 2015. Here we look at the winning entry and the other organisations that made the shortlist. 

Diversity and Inclusion – the judges

Denise Keating, Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion
Diane Brown, Letwell Brown
Sandra Kerr and Jenni Martin, Business in the Community (BITC)

WINNER

HMRC

About the organisation

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government. It is the UK’s tax and customs authority, responsible for making sure that money is available to fund UK public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

The challenge

HMRC’s diversity data showed marked under-representation of black, asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) employees at first line manager grades. Starting in one business area, the challenge was to re-engage and re-energise BAME staff, tackling a perception among BAME staff that they were unfairly treated when it came to career development and equality of opportunity.

What the organisation did

  • Developed the embrace Career Management Programme, which uses mentors and tailored career sessions to provide BAME role models, shadowing and secondment opportunities.
  • Helped participants to work on business improvement projects, give presentations to senior managers and develop tailored career plans.
  • Encouraged participants to set out on a revitalised journey with their line managers and a senior leader mentor as partners and sponsors in their development.
  • Set up a working group of key stakeholders of BAME staff, managers, BAME diversity networks, HMRC’s HR diversity and inclusion team and trade union representatives.
  • Took a blended learning approach in recognising differing ways that people learn and develop, with specifically tailored events such as launch and mentoring days, workshops, formal career conversations with managers, Action Learning Set business sponsored projects and an individual career development plan for every participant.
  • Undertook a series of roadshows where managers and potential applicants in key locations could find out how the programme worked.
  • Made sure successfully sifted applicants were invited to an informal discussion rather than an interview, discussed career histories and why they were passionate about the embrace programme opportunity.

Benefits and achievements

  • Participant numbers have grown to 96 across four regions.
  • Embrace has been mainstreamed as part of HMRC’s central talent offering.
  • To date, a total of 64 of 92 participants (70%) have been promoted or moved sideways to improve their career, with 52 of these being promotions.
  • Programme has seen the extension of its influence beyond the department, with participants even more involved in mentoring in prisons and universities, as well as mentoring colleagues where they work.
  • Participant and manager testimonies continue to be extremely powerful, eg one participant described embrace as “a challenging, motivating, empowering and inspiring programme which is giving me skills for life”.

Judges’ comments

“Excellent approach using knowledge of unconscious balance across all strands, and a blended learning approach crossing cultural boundaries.”


RUNNERS UP

Barclays Bank

About the organisation

Barclays is a 300-year-old British multinational banking and financial services company based in London. It has operations in more than 50 countries and territories and has around 48 million customers.

The challenge

Barclays’ ambition is to be the most accessible and inclusive bank for its clients, customers and colleagues. Through specific focused interventions, it is aiming to build an inclusive workplace, and to deliver accessible services and products for customers. It is increasingly important to Barclays that colleagues can be themselves at work.

What the organisation did 

  • Launched “This Is Me” initiative, created and led by the Reach Disability Network – an engagement and organisational change campaign.
  • Featured colleagues talking about their mental health in order to increase awareness and support for all aspects of mental health.
  • Increased colleague engagement through internal social media/events/communications; “This Is Me” featured colleagues talking about their own mental health, but as part of the whole person. Impactful photography, video, online content and resources engaged colleagues and drove cultural change.
  • Led the identification and remediation of issues relating to mental health, eg HR policy/training and support mechanisms.
  • Removed the stigma relating to mental health issues by signing a “Time to Change” pledge and delivered a “Time to Change” action plan.
  • Shared colleague experiences at “Living in our Colleagues’ World” sessions.
  • Hosted partnership sessions with charities such as Mind/Rethink Mental Illness/MHFA. Storytelling has increased line manager confidence in managing team members with mental health issues.

Benefits and achievements

  • Increased guidance available to colleagues, as well as promoting existing support, such as employee assistance programmes/occupational health/reasonable adjustments.
  • Addressed the cultural silence relating to mental health and wellbeing, as well as overturning the belief that colleague wellbeing is not a priority.
  • Encouraged colleagues to be more open at work; there has been a visible shift in the language around mental health.
  • At the start of the campaign, the colleagues who shared their experience were frequently called “brave”, but as the year progressed, more colleagues have come forward to share their story as the campaign has helped “normalise” mental health issues.
  • Increased declaration rates: most recent engagement survey saw 6% UK staff declaring a disability.
  • Helped to bring more dedicated focus to the issue of visible/non-visible disabilities.
  • Reduced absence: Barclays saw a return on investment of £7 for every £1 spent on improving workplace practices in relation to wellbeing and mental health.

 Judges’ comments

“Articulated well. Good example of middle-management level engagement and senior-level sponsorship.”


Barts Health NHS Trust

About the organisation

Barts Health NHS Trust was formed on 1 April 2012 by the merger of Barts and the London NHS Trust, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust and Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust. It operates in the City of London and East London, and is the largest NHS trust in the UK.

The challenge

The organisation became aware that people with learning disabilities have much to offer a business, but also that the business may need to think and behave differently to attract, recruit and employ people with these disabilities. Disabled people are under-represented in the nation’s workforce, with current figures indicating that only around 7% are likely to experience employment during their lifetime and that the numbers employed within the NHS are low.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a relationship with Project SEARCH, a year-long supported internship programme for young people with autism and/or learning disabilities.
  • Provided a cohort of five young people between the ages of 16 and 19 in 2013 with the skills, knowledge and exposure of a busy working environment that would enable them to apply for competitive employment positions, many within the NHS, but also with employers outside of it.
  • Enabled each young person, during the course of the academic year, to experience typical work routines in three different hospital departments.
  • Embedded a pool of interns every year into hospital life, allowing the project to become an integral part of the planning and development process.
  • Provided better services to patients or customers with autism or learning disabilities, as well as people from other disadvantaged groups, as a result of working alongside people with autism or learning disabilities.

Benefits and achievements

  • Created a new, diverse, talent stream with skills that matched the needs of the business environment.
  • Built an underrepresented workforce demographic enthusiastic about developing an NHS career, through hiring new employees with disabilities that serve as a role models.
  • Increased local, regional, national and international recognition through high-profile marketing of programme and its outcomes.
  • Improved performance and retention in some high-turnover and hard-to-fill posts.

Judges’ comments

“A really commendable project in a challenging area where there is very low representation in the workforce and little understanding and knowledge of potential needs and abilities. The dedication, commitment and outcomes are evident.”


Civil Service Fast Stream

About the organisation

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a talent management programme for the country’s brightest graduates, who demonstrate the potential to become future leaders in the civil service. The scheme enables graduates to make a real impact on people’s lives in the UK and the wider world, working in uniquely varied areas such as education, the economy, foreign affairs, defence policy, health and environment.

The challenge

Recent data highlights that 77% of the richest 20% of the population are likely to apply and get in to university, compared with just 49% of the poorest 20%. As a result, the civil service’s 2014 Talent Action Plan stated: “We need to ensure that every talented, committed and hard-working person has the opportunity to rise to the top, whatever their background and whoever they are.”

What the organisation did

  • Created a new integrated social mobility approach that seeks to shift the horizons of those from less privileged circumstances.
  • Introduced a new, comprehensive approach to measuring applicants’ socio-economic status and success-rate metrics.
  • Led the Summer Diversity Internship Programme for final-year undergraduates from lower socio-economic and other diverse backgrounds.
  • Complemented in 2015 by a new spring Early Diversity Internship Programme, for first-year students from socially diverse backgrounds, offering a rich mix of shadowing, workshops, skills development and high-profile speakers.
  • Made a major government apprenticeship scheme available to individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who choose not to pursue a university education, but who may still aspire to working in the Fast Stream.
  • Offered a bespoke positive action coaching programme, supporting selection skills and leveraging better self-confidence, incorporating group and intensive one-to-one sessions.
  • Promoted the issue of social mobility at campus events.
  • Refreshed rigorous assessor/candidate training (including e-learning) to ensure fairness and diversity within all selection systems, overcoming biases, implicit or otherwise, that may have undermined the success of lower socio-economic groups.

Benefits and achievements

  • Proportion of Fast Stream applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds is now at just under 40%.
  • Positive feedback from Summer Diversity Internship Programme participants; last year, 95% said they would recommend the programme to other students and 94% said they would consider applying to the Fast Stream having completed their internship.
  • Spring Early Diversity Internship Programme also offered strong metrics, with 100% saying they would recommend the scheme and 88% indicating they would ultimately apply for Fast Stream.
  • College internship has delivered a superb socio-economic representation, with 100% on free school meals or the first person in family to go to university.
  • Some 750 apprentices were introduced into the organisation in 2015 – an important pipeline to the Fast Stream – and this figure is likely to double in 2016. Metrics for the apprenticeship group show strong socio-economic representation with 89% from a state school.

Judges’ comments

“Plenty of data and real measurement of impact. Interesting findings regarding capability and talent of people from low socio-economic backgrounds.”


Lancashire County Council

About the organisation

Lancashire County Council is the local authority for the county of Lancashire.

The challenge

There are around half a million military veterans living the North West and many are facing unemployment. This has necessitated further development of an existing initiative aimed at encouraging veterans into employment and building greater links between local veterans and the civilian community.

What the organisation did

  • Launched a groundbreaking Ex-Service Personnel Mentoring Programme in 2012, which has brought the veteran community into the workforce through the recruitment, training and placement of former member of the armed forces as mentors in secondary schools.
  • Mentors worked with students from years 9 to 11 to address issues affecting inclusion, attendance, and academic progression. The diverse range of skills and experiences of former service personnel also mean they have provided a positive role model for young people who face tough challenges in their daily lives.
  • Allowed mentors to work full-time alongside mainstream school staff and support their students in regular one-to-one sessions, inspiring, motivating and supporting them to make the most of their education and maximise their potential, while adapting and utilising the skills of veterans to support the community in a new direction.
  • Partnered with a specialist training provider, the Royal British Legion’s SkillForce, a longstanding education charity working specifically with ex-forces personnel.
  • Dedicated £3 million to deliver the Ex-Service Mentoring Programme over five years.

Benefits and achievements

  • Feedback from schools and mentors was so positive that the Employment and Support Team extended the offer to all secondary schools in Lancashire from September 2013.
  • First countywide cohort completed their placements at the end of the academic year 2013/14. Fourteen mentors successfully completed their placements and delivered mentoring support to students in every part of the county.
  • Pilot and cohort 1 group combined have received 1,055 referrals of students and delivered 6,480 mentoring sessions (with an average of around six sessions per student). With a target of 1,500 students to have received mentoring support by the end of the programme in September 2017, the work done by these two groups of mentors has been a significant contribution.
  • Many schools have chosen to extend their mentor’s placement and the team were able to retain some mentors who now serve as “peripatetic” mentors available to additional schools across Lancashire.

Judges’ comments

“Good link with community engagement and crossing generational boundaries.”


Royal Bank of Scotland

About the organisation

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is one of the retail banking subsidiaries of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, and provides banking facilities throughout the UK and Ireland. The Royal Bank of Scotland has around 700 branches. Many are in Scotland, although there are branches in many larger towns and cities throughout England and Wales.

The challenge

RBS’ aim is to become the number one bank for service, trust and advocacy by 2020. Achieving this requires diversity of thought, contribution and performance; making gender balance a business priority. Change on this scale is challenging; for RBS it means improving the gender balance while implementing a new customer strategy, embedding new values and behaviours, despite significant restructuring.

What the organisation did 

  • Confirmed its gender aspiration in 2013 to achieve 30% females within the top 5,000 roles by 2020. Within 18 months, it had achieved this aspiration at 32%. Therefore in 2014, RBS agreed a formal target to achieve at least 30% senior women in the top three layers (around 700 roles) of the organisation in each business/function by 2020.
  • Developed a cross-bank gender plan focused on supporting the development of female workers.
  • Ensured during selection processes that there is one woman per shortlist for senior roles and that there is female representation in the process for senior appointments.
  • Recruitment advertisements and the graduate recruitment process have been assessed for gender bias.
  • Worked with businesses to ensure they are accountable for their inclusion plans, including the proportion of women in roles.
  • Rolled out unconscious bias training to all employees.
  • CEOs are accountable for reporting their gender progress and have cascaded accountability for changing gender balance throughout their organisations.

Benefits and achievements

  • One in three board members is female.
  • Gender balance in top 5,000 roles has increased by 5% (from 27% to 32%) over the last 18 months, despite business restructuring.
  • On track to exceed 30% in each of the business franchises by 2020 and full gender balance by 2030.
  • Female graduate intake has increased to almost 50% from 23% in three years.
  • Maternity return rate has improved to 95% on average over the last five years.
  • RBS has one of the largest employee-led female networks (membership has increased 20% to over 12,000 women (and men) across 32 countries since 2013).
  • Looking at how to support maternity returners to progress their careers and on promoting agile working has been helpful in removing some of the barriers women face when balancing their careers with personal priorities.

Judges’ comments

“Impressive programme, but concentrates mainly on gender, and does not look wider at other strands of diversity.”


Sodexo

About the organisation

Sodexo UK and Ireland (UK&I) employs 34,000 people and delivers services that improve the quality of life to clients at 2,000 locations in the corporate, healthcare, education, leisure, justice and defence sectors. With an annual turnover of more than £1 billion, Sodexo delivers a range of services from catering, cleaning and reception, to asset management, security, laboratory and grounds maintenance services, enabling clients to focus on their core business.

The challenge

Having employees working on around 2,000 client sites over a wide geographical area creates significant communications and engagement challenges. In 2013, Sodexo UK&I sought to develop and implement an updated diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy that had an impact both for the UK&I workforce and marketplace (for clients, customers and suppliers). The primary challenges were developing appropriate governance to enable business ownership and to identify measures to motivate and track progress and impact.

What the organisation did 

  • Launched a revised UK and Ireland D&I strategy following a period of review, planning, stakeholder engagement and internal consultation.
  • Focused on six workstreams: gender; generations; disability; sexual orientation; cultures and origins; and inclusion.
  • Created an innovative devolved delivery structure, bringing in employees at all levels of the business, from senior management to frontline staff.
  • Built employee networks for the gender and generations workstreams with networks for sexual orientation and cultures to be launched in the future.
  • Ensured that messaging was included in all communication channels. For example, the generation network was launched via the internally designed GenMatch board game, and sites were encouraged to play during team meetings.
  • Began promotions in weekly emails, a leaflet in payslips, information on the employee Facebook page, and communication via cascades from D&I Council.
  • Set several measures of success to measure business impact. These include demographics of the employee population, improved employee engagement, brand visibility and client retention.
  • Set workstream targets including: 40% women in Band C operational roles by 2018; 10% BAME people in managerial positions by 2018; and 5% “people who tell [Sodexo] they have a disability” by 2020.

Benefits and achievements

  • D&I strategy has supported better gender balance in the organisation. In 2012, 24% of senior management were women; the figure is now 29%, with 33% women at board level.
  • In 2014, engagement among the under 30s was up by 5%.
  • Almost eight in ten (78%) employees agreed with the statement, “I feel Sodexo values diversity in the workplace”, a 12-point increase from 2012 and 14 points above the UK benchmark.
  • Between 2012 and 2014, revenues have grown 15% and since 2012, Sodexo has won substantial contracts. Its reputation and ability to deliver a skilled, engaged and diverse workforce are critical factors behind these successes.
  • Client retention rate has been over 95% for three years. In the last year, the organisation hosted 12 client interactions on the theme of D&I.
  • Ran a work placement scheme in 2014 for five students with learning disabilities. These placements typically lasted 13 weeks at four locations in London and provided the students a vital insight into the world of work.

Judges’ comments

“D&I strategy, integrated actions with measurable targets and measurable outcomes across the workplace profile, employee engagement, marketplace, client relations and the brand.”


The Civil Service

About the organisation

The Civil ervice helps the Government develop and implement policies as effectively as possible, including paying benefits and pensions to running employment services. There are currently around 447,000 civil servants.

The challenge

The Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Statistics for 2014 showed that, while its diversity representation as a whole is representative of society, women, minority ethnic and disabled employees are under-represented at senior level. Furthermore, a review of existing civil service mainstream talent programmes highlighted that it was not achieving the required number of participants from under-represented backgrounds, despite activities encouraging applications from these groups.

What the organisation did 

  • Designed and implemented the Positive Action Pathway Programme, a year-long investment that specifically targets minority ethnic, women, disabled and LGBT employees in administrative to senior management grades across the civil service.
  • Developed and monitored a detailed project specification to ensure that key activities were completed within agreed timescales. The aim is to offer the programme across the whole of the Civil Service in the next year with repeated cohorts being run.
  • Expanded the programme in January 2015 to include LGBT employees in addition to women, disabled and BAME employees.
  • Created a structured programme of positive action learning modules (10%), complimented by assigning participants with a coach or mentor (20%) and a stretching work based project (70%) to consolidate the learning.
  • The Positive Action Pathway provides a structured one year learning programme, which includes: a formal one-day launch event ; a development event designed to identify individual development needs; three mandatory positive action learning modules; membership of a facilitated and structured Action Learning Set; coaching and mentoring; complementary “on the job” learning; and a one-day graduation event.

Benefits and achievements

  • Almost a quarter (24%) of participants have secured promotion to the next grade within three months of completing the programme, two of these participants have been promoted twice.
  • Participants reported that the event had given them increased confidence and self-belief, and that by meeting participants from other departments it had broadened their horizons. This is evidenced by many participants applying for posts in other departments on progression or as a lateral move.

Judges’ comments

“Positive Action –levelling the playing field for minority groups in response to a clear challenge. A varied programme of interventions.”

Comments are closed.