I was first approached to join the branch by the Vice Chair, Fiona McBride. (If you don’t know Fiona you are missing out – through her consultancy Fiona McBride Consulting she works with organisations, teams and individuals to develop their training capability. But in honesty she is much more than that. She’s one of the two founders of LndCowork (along with Michelle Parry Slater), Community Director at Facilitation Shindig and an active member of the Lnd Connect community hosting Unconferences along with colleagues across the UK.) She’s a someone I have worked with and greatly respect. I knew she had got involved with the CIPD Branch the year before and that she was keen to bring new people to the committee and provide a great offering to CIPD members living and working in Central London.
She’s pretty convincing when she wants to be so after some thought about why I wanted to be a volunteer I stepped up.
Now in all honesty I have had a little love/hate relationship with the CIPD over the years. As an interim and independent consultant I don’t believe that they offer much for my professional development or particular circumstances and my reasoning for upgrading to Fellow in 2012 was to boost my CV in a market where employers want the badge. For many years I couldn’t justify the membership fee for what felt like a magazine subscription and little more. That has changed over the years and is continuing to improve, the introduction of the Work magazine for Fellows providing richer strategic content has been one particular positive. I realised that if I wanted change and improvement sitting on the sideline bitching about it wasn’t helpful.
So I decided that I would make a difference by working with them, being inside the tent and it’s been excellent. Do you go to Branch events where you live? If not you should find out about them. There’s a group of volunteers giving up their time and sharing their expertise to put on events throughout the year to help and support local members. Across London there are up to 8 events each month ranging from Employment Law Updates to Student Conferences to session on Coaching for Change. There is a small fee for the events to cover the costs of the room hire.
This year I have hosted and co-hosted a few events. I ran an event with a lawyer and PR expert on Gender Pay Reporting, hosted a Diversity and Inclusion question time and cohosted an introduction to Social Media. I have learned and developed and met some brilliant CIPD members, students and others living and working in London.
However, I am having to step down as I moved out of London during the last year and am now living and working in the Cotswolds. As such I am not able to commit to the branch as I would like so I am putting out a call for folk to step up and put themselves forward to join the committee.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my year, and will continue to support the Branch when I am in London and now supporting my local branch here is Gloucestershire. So if you would like to give a little back, support your fellow professionals, develop your skills by hosting and organising events all whilst working with a great team and building your network this is perfect for you.
If you are interested please contact Fiona either on twitter @fionamcbride or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org . The AGM is on the 15th May where elections will take place.
On the day I started writing this post they were talking about Menopause in the Workplace – a mix of horror stories of women being made redundant, performance managed and even told to improve their attitude or get sacked along with organisations talking about tools and ways to improve support in the workplace.
I have to admit it’s not an area I knew much about, and in all honesty not something I had thought about in the past or even realised was an issue. That was until I became peri-menopausal. I didn’t know that’s what it was until a good friend of mine suggested it when I asked her about a health issue I was having. I won’t go into details (seriously no one wants to talk about periods – no one, we do because they are a reality and should not be treated with shame or embarrassment but right here right now on a HR/Work blog lets go gently) but it is something that has both surprised me and led me to want to find out more.
I am 45 years old, and have probably been perimenopausal for about 2 years. Now I know I need to go and see my GP about this as right now I am self diagnosed, but we Arrowsmith’s don’t like to bother the Dr unless we really have to – it would also mean that I would have to register with one, I mean I’ve only lived her 7 months and I’m not due a smear test for another few years so do I really need to?* Anyway I’ve had a dig around the various online resources and ticked off symptoms and stages, and whoop there it is: the inevitable for Women has started for me.
Now so far I am feeling ok, the night sweats and lack of sleep are a pain but on the whole I don’t feel too bad. Hearing some of the symptoms that women can suffer I really understand how we, as employers, need to know more about the Menopause and it’s potential impact to a major portion of our working population. There are campaigns for reasonable adjustments to be made for the period that women go through the Menopause (4- 12 years so they say….yay) but I wonder if a greater understanding, a raising of awareness and some simple reasonable steps could be a major step forward.
They mentioned on the programme that some employers are leading the way in making a difference – Severn Trent and West Midlands Police are both highlighted as good examples; and there are resources out there for employers to assist them in their understanding of the potential symptoms and impact, and some suggestions for what you can do in the workplace to offer support. This from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine Guidance on Menopause in the Workplace is highly recommended and this from the Royal College of Nursing provides guidance to RCN Reps when working with colleagues.
I think most importantly is the fact that half the population will go through the menopause at some point, and many of these women will be in work. So to support them, help ourselves to continue to be good employers for all our employees we can’t ignore the Menopause any more.
If you or your organisation is interested in developing internal resources for supporting colleagues when they go through the menopause and educating managers and colleagues please get in touch as my brilliant colleagues at The Work Consultancy have been working to develop some resources for clients and would be happy to talk about how we could assist you.
*yes, yes I do, I know I do and I will – in fact I stopped writing this Blog post and found a few locally via the NHS website. Now just to download and complete the patient registration form, forget about it, print it again, complete it again, let it gather dust and eventually make an appointment to register. Cancel appointment due to client meeting and rearrange and then finally register. Ok, alright I’ll do it.
Well we’re at it again in 2018 and but this time we’re going BIG.
To find our more about #irontweeps 2018 and to get involved see Simon Heath’s post here https://workmusing.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/irontweeps/
Come join the team.
We also covered the potential positives and negatives in terms of PR and reporting, with a great presentation from Valentina Kristensen, Head of PR & Marketing at Oaknorth Bank. If I told you that the BBC Gender Pay Gap was only 9% would you believe it? They had over 3000 pieces of media when they reported, and that was overwhelmingly negative. Whereas Virgin Money reported a pay gap of over 34% and only had 60 pieces of media, which were mostly positive. The power in reporting at the right time, with the right message and then importance of sharing this message internally (along with action plans) can’t be underplayed.
I then talked about what some organisations could do to address Gender Pay Gap issue, I talked about a number of things but at the heart of my message was data, data, data. Collect the evidence, use that evidence to build the business case for change, challenge the behaviours and culture that have got you where you are and then measure again to check that your interventions are working.
If Georgina and Valentina agree I’ll post the deck on Slideshare for others to see – hopefully it will be useful.
So that was London on Wednesday – then on Thursday I headed back West to be the first speaker at the new Practicus community of practice HR WOW event (where WOW is Women of the West). Annabel Hooton from Practicus had brought together a group of HRD’s from the West to talk about Next Generation HR and asked me to kick the event off by speaking about what I see as the challenges that are coming our way. Whilst I didn’t cover everything I did talk about a wide range of issues that I think HR need to be thinking about, these included:
It was quite the eclectic mix and generated lively debate amongst those there – I look forward to the next HR WOW event and hearing from others.
The finally I was in London again on Saturday morning for the CIPD London Student Induction, where I had been asked to speak about Personal Learning Networks and the benefits of social media. It was a real pleasure to speak with a wide range of students from Level 3 – 7 and to share my passion for social media. In preparing I contacted my own PLN to ask for their thoughts and advice and many of them were kind enough to contribute to a video which I shared with the students on the day.
You can watch the video here and see my full slidedeck here
I was so impressed by their levels of engagement, and despite a planned finish at 12.30 we had so many questions that we went on to just after 1pm.
It was a crazy but brilliant week, and something I want to do more of.
This week I am finishing a project for a client, ramping up on another project and hoping to spend some time at home getting a bit of order! However there I have major FOMO as this week is also CIPD ACE and I can’t be there, the annual conference and exhibition in Manchester where there will be lots of sharing and learning – you can follow the #CIPDACE17 on Twitter and there will be great content shared by this years Blog Squad I am sure.
I’m particularly sad to be missing the CIPD Manchester fringe event around the Big Conversation about Families, Parents and the Workplace on Thursday morning. If you can’t be there then make sure you follow online as I have no doubt there will be lots to learn.
The story goes that a young boy is involved in a car accident and as a result is rushed into hospital where he is immediately whipped into Theatre; just as the surgeon is about to start their procedure they freeze and say I can’t operate that’s my son. Whats the surgeons relationship to the boy?
Now be honest what was your first thought? His Father?
That’s what the majority of people think – it’s where our brains go when we think of a surgeon. Often when someone is told Nope – not their father they move into Step Father, Foster Father, Grandfather even Uncle.
All this before they get to the actual answer. It’s his Mother, the surgeon is his Mam.
This happens all the time, we make assumptions based on roles that we consider to be gender normative:
team administrator = woman
operations director = man
electrician = man
receptionist = woman.
Its the way its always been, and the truth is what we see. So what can we do to change this? What can we do to help people be more open to thinking that roles are not gender specific.
Well we have to start with ourselves right? Be honest about our own unconscious bias, and then challenge it and address it. I do it at work all the time. Colleagues talking about future Directors in this role or that more often then not talk about Him or He (other than HR which is a whole other discussion as recent research shows the majority of HRD’s are in fact men) I’m that voice that pipes up ‘or her’ (and the same when today and Office Administrator was referred to as she). Perhaps if I do it enough times it will stick. I’m not giving up that’s for sure.
So what else, I read that people believe what they see. So taking this to be true we need to see more women in traditionally male roles. More role models, more examples celebrated and recognised. And the same for men. Lets think about a primary school teacher – again if we are completely honest I imagine most people think of a woman before thinking of a man. But we know that young boys need positive male (and female) role models and that there is a shortage of teachers. What can we do to encourage more men into the primary education sector?
What else? What are your organisations doing to remove unconscious bias and improve diversity? I’ve focused on gender bias here but what’s the additional impact if someone is BAME or disabled?
I don’t want to repeat the books I am reading at the moment but if this is a topic that interests you I highly recommend What Works – Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bonnet and Inclusive Leadership by Charlotte Sweeney and Fleur Bothwick. I don’t have the answers that’s for sure but am going to educate myself, and in turn share that knowledge with others to improve representation in the workplace.
(this post was written on a train – apologies for any typo’s or ramblings…..)
She spoke without notes, without a prompter and was warm (and funny) and spoke from the heart. Here are the lessons she wants us to hear:
1 Everyone gets knocked down – what matters is whether you get yourself back up.
She talked about how she had got back up and how as part of this she had set up Onward Together an organisation that is dedicated to advancing the vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election. By encouraging people to organize, get involved, and run for office, Onward Together will advance progressive values and work to build a brighter future for generations to come.
2 The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get many more women into politics.
She talked about how research in the US has shown that for men professional success and likability go hand in hand, whereas for women its the exact opposite; women are seen favourably when they advocate for others but less favourably when they advocate for themselves. She said how this struck a chord with her as people liked her better when she was in a supporting role (first lady, senator, secretary of state).
She went on to say that Women politics do bring a perspective that’s different – HC’s fave meme is the table of white men deciding what health services women are entitled receive. She continued that being in the room counts and quoted Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamilton – by being in the room where it happens you’re making government not only more representative but also more effective.
She noted that this book is the result of years of frustration with some of the challenges that women face in politics, that happens in a lot of other fields too. She gave an example of how the US mens national soccer team didn’t qualify for the world cup and the headlines all said US out of World Cup, forgetting that women won the world cup. These champion women in the US national team are fighting for equal pay. She stressed the need to work together and how continuing to fight to close the gender pay gap is essential in both US and UK.
3 – The interference in the election is a showing of clear and present danger of Russia’s assault on democracy.
She talked about a study where Columbia University found content posted by Russian trolls and bots were shared over 300 million times. She noted that the Russians are still playing on anything and everything they can to damage US unity and that it’s a global struggle between tolerant democracy and intolerant society. She called this a new kind of Cold War and that it was just getting started – wars in 21st century increasingly fought in cyber space.
4 There is no such thing as an alternative fact.
When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes (crowds) or refuse to accept settled science (climate change) not just frustrating for those of use that liked to lead a fact based life, but is insidious and subversive to democracy. We have to insist on truth and accuracy, implore the press to help us, must refuse to be silent in the face of sexism, racism or bigotry no matter where it is coming from.
She then had about 45 minutes of conversation and questions with Mariella, cleverly brining everything back to her book. You can watch the whole video here, but skip past the first 45 mins or so as that’s just a holding page.
At the end Mariella put a few questions that had been submitted by some of the students there, including one on her position on the NFL players kneeling. Anyone who knows me IRL or from the Twits will know my love of american football so this is a topic that has been of much debate within my household and friendship group. She perfectly captured my view on this – I’ve tried to capture it verbatim below but you can also hear it from Clinton herself on the Facebook live video (around the 1hour 52 mark), this is what she said:
I support the right of athletes or anyone to protest peacefully and what was lost in the twitter storm by President Trump and meant to be lost is that these athletes were not protesting our anthem or flag – they made that very clear, in fact kneeling is often seen as a sign of reverence they weren’t turing their backs or walking away but kneeling to draw greater attention to continuing challenges we have with racism and injustice in our criminal system. It was perfectly legitimate and no one should be offended by it unless the are choosing to be or their president is telling them to be as it is within the full ambit of peaceful right to protest.
I am so pleased I had the opportunity to hear Secretary Clinton speak, and whilst I didn’t agree wth everything she said her message about empowering young women, fighting for equal pay, educating young men and women on how to treat each other and standing up against those that are a threat to democracy rang true and sure. I’m going to start the book now (every ticket holder was given one) and hope to continue to do my part in the ongoing fight for equality.
Image via www.geteverwise.com
I’ve been asked to speak at an event next month about next generation HR and one of the areas I’ve been thinking about is how we have multiple generations in the workplace right now and in many ways we’re still treating employees the same way they were treated in the 70’s.
With the removal of the compulsory retirement age we’ve seen the rise of the Silver Worker, the Baby Boomers who are still going strong bringing wisdom and experience as they travel in to work from their low mortgaged (possibly even paid off) homes, kids left home and possibly even grandkids. Memories of the distant 3 day week and power cuts along with queuing for water in the 76 drought. The generation that owned houses and cars outright, saw the rise of the package holiday and still had final salary pensions.
We’ve got generation X – the Thatcher generation who faced the recession in the late 80s but were still able to go to University with some of them getting grants at a level that you could actually live off. The comprehensive kids making good and the increase in global working, the mobile phones and laptops, big hair, big shoulder pads, All Bar Ones and Bridget Jones. The buy buy buy sell sell sell loadsamoney architects of the 2008 crash through their greed, yuppie flu and cocaine habits. For these folks 50 is the new 30 and botox a twice yearly treat.
And here we have Gen Y, the much maligned Millennials, the ones who can’t afford to buy houses because they are too busy having smashed avocados for brunch*. What we’re told about this generation is that they want to work differently, want more flexibility with their hours, want to be able to work from home or co-work in a coffice or dedicated co-working space**. They want to work for organization with a conscience that understand sustainability for the planet, economy and employees. They want 1 month off to head to Burning Man and short office hours in the summer to enjoy They want fuzebal and slides and they want it all now, but only for a few years as they will then change careers. They want fast internet and no queues, they want it at the touch of a button and will share it on Instagram (because if it’s not on insta did you even eat it?).
And what’s next – we’re now seeing those born in this new millennium, the Gen Z, come of age and join the workforce. What is it that they expect from the workplace and employment? They can probably never afford to buy their own homes so where will they live, how long will they travel for work, what will meaningful work look like to them?
Still here? So you know that a lot of the above is rubbish and most folk still just want better work, better pay and benefits and a good balance. They want to do a good job and go home at the end of their shift knowing that they are valued.
Do we need to change our workplaces to adapt to the various generations? Well yes, probably in my opinion but I’m less sure it’s about generations than it is about individuals likes and dislikes, individual’s ways of working.
Having an annual leave policy that only allows people to take a maximum of two weeks from June to September is probably too restrictive. It comes from the days when the factories in different towns had different close down weeks so as not to flood the seaside towns with everyone at once. In Lancashire they were known as Wakes Weeks and until the mid 2000 the school holidays in the towns across East Lancashire were staggered so that the guest houses of Blackpool didn’t get overwhelmed……
Requiring knowledge workers to be at their desks from 9-5.30 Monday to Friday even when the technology means that they could work anywhere in the world and, if we were output driven, at any time to suit them. Maybe it’s time to look at the structure of the working week. With globalization and the 24/7 economy does the old way give businesses the best resources and give people the best ways of working?
Requiring a suit and tie or office appropriate shoes, or no visible tattoos or piercings in an age when a third of young adults are likely to have them. How does how they are dressed affect their ability to write a proposal? How does a decision to have permanent ink impact their ability to read a balance sheet?
I wonder what else we have in place that is there because it always has been and whether our policies and practices need to move with the times and reflect the reality we are living and working in now.
*Seriously someone said that…….friends of mine that are teachers in London and enjoy a spot of brunch did the maths. They live in Islington, where the average cost of a property is £786,000 (via Zoopla). Let’s say they need a 10% deposit so they need to save £78,600. Even if they get their smashed avo at the Wolesley we’re maybe looking at £40 a week that they could be saving. That’s £2,080 year (assuming they Brunch every week) so only 38 years for them to save for a deposit.
**I love a co-working space, I am a Lounge Member at The Office Group and it’s brilliant.
Now those of you that know me either IRL of have engaged with me on twitter (@pontecarloblue) can probably imaging the eye rolling that took place at my desk when I read about these poor men who had to ‘talk about their wife’ to break the ice.
REALLY??? I MEAN REALLY – the question asked on the front page is Does HR have a problem with men? Well the short answer is Yes. In the UK they get paid 10% more than their female colleagues and despite the profession being 79% female. Also ask any HR professional and they will confirm that when you look at HR/People Directors men don’t seem to be under-represented there – the article even notes that at lower levels the balance is 70% female to 30% male where in more senior ranks it flips to 30% female and 70% male.
So Yes, HR does have a problem with men but the burning platform isn’t gender balance its gender pay. The Chartered Institute of Management undertook a survey recently with Xpert HR that’s been widely reported in the trade press where they have found that the gender pay gap for managers in business is 26.8% in favour of men and in HR 10% in favour of men. So yes well done HR let’s pat ourselves on the back we’re better than average – woo hoo way to go! Shouldn’t we be the exemplar, shouldn’t we be setting the standard? The article compares the gender gap in HR with that in Marketing (they have 59% women to 41% man) but research by the CIPR shows that they have a pay gap of over 26% so gender balance doesn’t mean greater equality.
Talking about the CIPR they are doing some great work around fixing that gender pay gap and highlighting the importance to their members – be great to see the CIPD doing something similar. You can read more about the CIPR work here
So rather than worrying about whether there are enough men in HR, or whether the poor snowflakes* are concerned with the tag ‘girly’ or ‘fluffy’ lets deal with the real issue and sort out the gender pay gap. Oh and get our businesses sorted with Gender Pay Reporting (only 80 of the estimated 7000+ have reported since April 2017!).
Oh and don’t get me started on the male and female perspective baloney…what does that even mean? Oh no wait I know all us women are going to be thinking about kittens and unicorns and stuff not those commercial, business realities. Hold me back……
Ok rant over, yes all professions need to be inclusive and yes we should promote diversity and inclusion in HR (at ALL levels) but what is it that is really stopping men working in HR or chasing a career in HR? Is it that they can’t join HR club because that don’t have a handbag full of tampax and kleenex? Of course it isn’t – that’s a much wider debate about what makes HR attractive as a career.
If you want to know more about Gender Pay Reporting CIPD Central London are holding an event on 1st November – “Gender Pay Reporting – A Practical Guide” – you can get more information and buy tickets here
*snowflake – this is a term that has come to prominence since the 2016 USA elections on social media as it was used to describe liberals; it’s described in the Urban Dictionary as A term used to describe extremist liberals that get offended by every statement and/or belief that doesn’t exactly match their own. These individuals think they are just as “unique” as snowflakes, when really their feelings are just as fragile. However, is now been adopted by both sides of the debate to mean an oversensitive person that doesn’t take criticism well. I haven’t used it well and in all honesty don’t like it as a term, or name calling in general but my eye rolling will only go so far this Monday morning.
So many organisation I know have Trust as one of their core values – a quick Google search brings up Avon, Alstom, Jebson, IBM and Beiersdorf (they make Nivea) all as having it as one of their stated values – but what does that actually mean? If we are making employees wait to prove themselves a mandatory time period before requesting flexible working, or are not allowing them to work from home or are not paying them the same as others during a probationary period where is the Trust?
Now it’s important that I am not questioning any of the orgs listed above – the just have good SEO when you search core values and Trust – but I wonder how many of them and others like them actually see Trust as going both ways.
Look at any relationship advice, including this from the experts at Relate, and they’ll talk about trust being at the heart – and the need for both parties to trust each other is key to a relationship being a success. If this is true in romantic or platonic relationships isn’t it the same for work ones?
Also today HR Magazine published this article sharing research that employees would be tempted to leave if they could have a shorter commute. I’m with them for sure! In fact now that we have moved out to the Cotswolds I have actively sought work that means I can work from my home office for the majority of the time I am working. Now this is taking discipline on my part – as this is my office view and the dogs won’t walk themselves;
But the 15 second commute from my office to the garden has improved my worklife balance no end. It’s meant I have limited the work available to me, and have had to be completely upfront with clients and potential assignments about my availability/desire to be in the office and I know this has put some folk off. But with the technology available and the fibre broadband in our village (as well as a 4G mast – thank you thank you to the Estate for their foresight) I haven’t missed a meeting (hello Skype) or an email and have all my docs at the touch of a button (hello iCloud, dropbox et al) and I’m using Slack more and more so even in my rural bliss I feel like I’m part of the team.
For many it will be a leap of faith to really Trust their employees (both new and old) but to have a competitive advantage and to attract the best and brightest to your knowledge workforce then that’s a leap you’re going to have to take.
Gem has asked for anyone who is doing things differently to shout up – I’m echo’ing that call. What do you think?
Yep that’s right Happy – not just what’s the most lucrative, what does my history and experience say I have to do but what do I enjoy, what feels worthwhile and what drives me. It’s been interesting as I haven’t really thought that way for a few years.
I was bouncing from gig to gig doing good work, with good people and actually pretty chuffed with my results but my last two contracts left me both physically and mentally drained. You see they weren’t really HR roles – one was an Head of Franchise Management for a rail Bid -this included all the HR activity but also included sustainability, stakeholder engagement and safety and security. Area’s I was happy working in and around but not….well not my core skill.
Then I moved to a Transformation project management role – needed my HR experience and skills for this but was managing the project rather than doing the activity and missed actually getting to use my HR skills and experience to move the project forward. instead I was Chief Herder of Cats and did a lot of work on comms and engagement. Now don’t get me wrong I love the comms activity but it’s not my core skill. I can write employee comms, can come up with ideas for campaigns, products and work with creatives to come up with concepts and proposals but it’s not where I can really add value.
So having taken April to myself to regenerate (I hadn’t had time off between contracts since October 2015 and had only had one real holiday in that time) I’ve taken some time to really think about what it is that I enjoy doing – and as a result am good at.
It’s quite simple in the end (funny hey!) I enjoy helping organisations to get the best from their people. Be that through supporting change, organisation development, day to day business partnering, setting strategic direction and goals then forming the people plans to get us there, seeing individuals and teams develop, bringing organisations together after contract wins or acquisition or winning and mobilising contracts. I’m good at working with people to develop their HR solution, be that the team, the basic policy, procedure, process etc or one off discreet pieces of work that align with overall approaches.
So that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to work with the fabulous folk at Grow the People to support organisational change, development and transformation whilst also looking for senior HR roles where I can really add value and make a difference. I’m going to get busy and get happy.