Discussing the impact of hybrid working on diversity
Last week Diversity Mark partnered with Bidvest Noonan, one of Northern Ireland’s largest private employers, to host a series of round table talks about how modern work practices are impacting diversity in the workplace.
The first event in this series, hosted at Invest Northern Ireland’s headquarters, brought together senior leaders from some of the most important employers, agencies, and authorities. The group discussed hybrid working and its effect on workplace diversity, sharing their expertise and perspectives to help chart a way forward.
The sudden rise of hybrid working has been welcomed by some; however, others question its longer-term impact on our workplaces and industries. This change in working practice may create both winners and losers.
Paul Murnaghan, Head of BT in Northern Ireland and President of Northern Ireland’s Chamber of Commerce shared his perspective that hybrid working practices can be a powerful way to attract, support, and retain great talent from all backgrounds. A recent report by the CIPD bears out this view. The report found that 54% of employees expect to spend all or most of their work week in the workplace once the pandemic has passed; However, when asked about their preferences, 39% said they would like to work from home all or most of the time.
Hybrid working can exacerbate inequities, and some commentators fear that it could lead to the unpicking of hard-won gains for traditionally underrepresented groups. Research by Mckinsey found that underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ community members, favour hybrid working most.
There are concerns that hybrid workers, being distant from the office, will be less visible than in-workplace employees, making them less likely to be considered for promotion and reducing their impact in the business world.
These round table discussions aim to unearth issues and challenges posed by current working practices and seek to use the experiences of participating organisations to develop solutions and best practices. A number of significant themes emerged during the discussions at this first event.
Consult with your people
For Director of Employment Relations Services at the Labour Relations Agency, Mark McAllister consultation with employees is key to the success of any new working practices. “When the civil services 24,000 employees were asked about how they wanted to work going forward, 98% of staff said they didn’t want to come back to the same way of working as before,” says Head of NI Civil Service, Jayne Brady. “Working with staff and the unions was key to create a ground up formula that made sense for the departments implementing them.”
Be decisive and accountable
As Chief People Officer for Bidvest Noonan, a market leader for facilities services, Janice Brannigan takes responsibility for delivering a positive work experience for the company’s 27,000 employees. Janice said “The decisions we take in this post-pandemic environment, must provide for the needs of our people and the needs of our business whilst also ensuring that we are encouraging and supporting diversity.”
Danske Bank Employment Lawyer Jenny Moore shared a best practice example from IBM. At the start of the pandemic CEO, Arvind Krishna shared the company’s Work from Home Pledge on LinkedIn, outlining a set of remote working practices to follow.
As its colleagues return to the workplace, it has now created a playbook that sets out its timeframes and principles clearly to employees. “As leaders we don’t just need to talk, we need to advocate, and hold ourselves to account too. A working charter is a good way to do that,” she adds.
Communicate your reasoning, recognise the benefits
“Communication can enable or derail any transformation,” says Invest NI’s Executive Director of People and Culture, Denise Black. “We wanted to be clear in answering the key employee question ‘Why do I need to return to the office?’ And for us, that comes down to four Cs. Connection – because we’re social animals. Collaboration – including those collision collaborations that can be so productive and are lost at home. Creation – the energy and body language of a team working in person is hard to match on screen. And Care, which is a big one for me.
There is a mental health aspect that we need to recognise,’ Denise says. “I’ve worked in this role for two years and I’ve just met two of my team face to face in the past three weeks. A scheduled 30-minute check in is a great tool, but getting to know quieter staff or just grabbing a coffee is something you can’t get on screen,” she adds.
Trust your people
While recognising the need to provide a framework for hybrid working, Denise also urges leaders to be brave and to recognise their relationship with employers as an adult-to-adult one based on personal accountability and trust.
For Bidvest Noonan’s CEO, Declan Doyle ensuring his colleagues had access to the resources they needed and felt well supported has been a top priority; “We have colleagues living and working all across the UK and Ireland. Many found working from home to be a challenge. Some wanted access to our offices because their homes were too busy or didn’t have good broadband connections. We have made sure that our network of offices are available to those people and we have seen these offices get busier and busier in recent weeks,’ he says.
For Head of International & SME Development at NI Chamber of Commerce, Tanya Anderson, creating that culture of acceptance and trust is key. ‘Our system knows who is in the office and who is out, but we trust our departments to run their own diaries, they know their workloads and they manage it,’ she adds.
Consider your business needs
However, Tanya also recognised that organisations need ‘to keep their business hats on. For many, especially small businesses or those looking to grow internationally, having people in the office is important,” she says.
“The model we work to needs to fit the work that needs to be done and to ensure that there isn’t a dilution of service for customers and the people we serve,” Jayne Brady adds.
Challenge your technologies
Before the pandemic, few around the table would have considered that a project could go from idea to completion via work on Microsoft Teams, and it was clear that technology had a key part to play in enabling successful hybrid working.
For Jayne the civil service establishing the 11 Connect2 hubs throughout NI can be a game changer for those who due to caring roles could not commit to daily commutes to departmental HQs. “Having spoken to individuals they have indicated that this was a factor in self selecting themselves out of promotion opportunities. The Connect2 hubs can be a catalyst for innovative and inclusive new ways of working and ultimately delivering a more diverse and regionally balanced workforce.”
Consider wider options
Jenny Moore and Ian Campbell, Translink Director of Service Operations, were also keen to recognise key workers who didn’t have hybrid working as an option. Some 70% of Translink staff worked throughout the pandemic.
Jenny says “NI plc needs to work hard to ensure that it looks at flexibility in its broadest sense. Businesses choose how to define ‘flexibility’ and therefore should be flexible about what flexibility looks like for all with reduced hours, asynchronous schedules, job sharing and compressed work weeks on the table too.”
This roundtable is the first of our quarterly series facilitated by Lisa Strutt, Leadership Coach & Guide and Harvard affiliated, attended by Jenny Moore, Ian Campbell, Mark McAllister, Janice Brannigan, Jayne Brady, Denise Black, Paul Murnaghan, Declan Doyle.
The Diversity Mark accreditation is awarded to companies following an assessment process which ensures they have reached the required standard of commitment to advancing Diversity and Inclusion. For Companies from all sectors the Diversity Mark is a ‘Mark of Progress’ that publicly declares commitment to building more diverse and inclusive workplaces to benefit all employees.
Find out more here.
The Executive Team for our business in Ireland has stepped up for the people of Ukraine and collectively completed a cross-country walk, and raised €40,000 for the Irish Red Cross.
Cormac Sheils, Mary Kealy, Kathy McDermott, Philip Murphy, Scott Brannigan, Anthony Harman, Brendan Keogh, and Peter Smyth, have successfully completed a cross-country charity walk to support the people of Ukraine.
The team set out from Galway on Wednesday, May 11th, collectively trekked over 220km, and arrived back in our Swords Office on May 13th. Their efforts helped to raise €40,000 to support the efforts of the Irish Red Cross, a society that does great work for the Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine.
Nearly 5 million people have already fled their homes to escape the conflict in Ukraine. Countless lives in Ukraine are being torn apart by violence and insecurity. They have displaced been and forced to leave loved ones and almost everything they own. Many others have remained in Ukraine and live without sufficient access to water, electricity, and heat.
Red Cross teams are on the ground in Ukraine. They are working to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities, and help families with life-saving food and hygiene items. The funds raised by our executive team and colleagues will help the Irish Red Cross provide people with food, first aid, medicines, warm clothes, and shelter they need.
Bidvest Noonan colleagues from across the country supported the executive team as they travelled through some of Ireland’s busiest and most well-known towns. A huge thanks to our teams at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Maynooth University, Portuincula Hospital, and many more who came out to cheer the team on.
Part of our vision is to be so important to our clients. Our teams in the healthcare sector play a crucial role in maintaining a clean, safe environment for patients and visitors. Our people understand their role in lowering HCAI rates and keeping everyone safe.
To mark World Hand Hygiene Day 2022, IPC Nurse Specialist, Emma Power, discusses the importance of hand hygiene etiquette and how teams across our healthcare sites are doing their part to ‘Unite for Safety: Wash your Hands’
“Part of my role as IPC Nurse Specialist for Bidvest Noonan is to ensure our cleaning and security teams across our acute and non-acute healthcare sites receive up-to-date, evidence-based, training to equip them with the skills needed to comply with Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) standards. These skills are important and a requirement to work in a healthcare facility as laid out by The Health Protection and Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Healthcare Acquired Infections (HCAIs) are infections acquired by patients during their stay in hospital. One easy, effective way of preventing HCAIs is by implementing and maintaining Hand Hygiene measures to keep those around us, particularly vulnerable patients, safe.
The World Health Organisations ‘5 Moments of Hand Hygiene’ were developed to guide practice and ensure hand hygiene is performed at the right moments to prevent harm. I help ensure this advice is adhered to across our sites to prevent and control infection.
We engage with our teams through continuous assessments, toolbox talks, and on-site education, so they are performing hand hygiene with the right technique, right product, and at the right time. Our managers, trainers, and supervisors on-site constantly emphasise the importance of hand hygiene and ensure the participation of all staff in creating and maintaining a safe environment in which to work or be treated.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of our education programmes and practices are reflected through audits conducted both internally by Bidvest Noonan and externally by hospital IPC teams. Audit results are fed back to our teams on-site showing compliance levels and highlighting areas for improvement.
Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of good care. As a nurse, I have seen the devastating consequences on patients in hospitals from just one missed moment of Hand Hygiene etiquette from when cross-contamination occurs, to when infection sets in. Hand Hygiene has never been easier. The availability of alcohol-based hand gels and foams has made hand cleaning easily accessible at the point of care. They are quicker to use, skin-friendly, and more efficient at killing the majority of microorganisms which can cause infection. Soap and water when needed are also more readily accessible throughout facilities, giving our staff choice and opportunity to perform Hand Hygiene effectively. The excuse of not having enough time, or not being able to find a sink for preventing staff from washing their hands, is no longer valid or acceptable.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of Hand Hygiene, and how it can prevent the spread of infection and save lives around the world. It emphasised the responsibility we all have, to keep each other safe. As we learn to live with Covid-19, we must use its teachings to embed a culture of effective hand hygiene in our practice every day. By understanding its importance and making it a part of our culture we will achieve long-lasting compliance across all our teams.
The safety of patients is paramount, and the effects of poor or ineffective hand hygiene must be at the forefront of our minds every time we walk into one of our healthcare facilities.
Now more than ever our actions matter. Our business is playing its part to help save the planet we know and cherish. At Bidvest Noonan we have a goal to become Net Zero. To achieve this, we have implemented a range of sustainable initiatives and practices. This includes our move to an electric fleet, implementation of water saving technologies, increased use of green chemicals and recyclable materials, and the introduction of ways to support biodiversity.
We are proud to share our Environmental Report, where we outline the steps we are taking to deliver a greener and more sustainable world.
As part of our Women in Security series, Sharon Kane shares how Bidvest Noonan has supported her progress in the security industry.
What do you think it takes to become a strong leader in security? What makes a strong security team?
Working together, seeing the value and skills each team member brings to the overall team. In the security industry, training, guidance, and communication are key. Being approachable, listening to people, and working alongside them is very important to make a strong team.
I also believe that leading people by example helps to make a good leader in the security industry. One of my favourite quotes is “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
How has Bidvest Noonan helped your career in the security industry?
I started my journey with the company as a part-time cleaning supervisor in 2014. From there I have had many opportunities within the business. One of them was to join the Security team in one of the busiest shopping centres in Ireland in 2018.
Bidvest Noonan encouraged me to get involved with projects and listened to my ideas. This has me invested in the organization. Feeling valued as an employee and working with my other colleagues enhance my experience in the security industry, ensured the opportunities to grow and excel.
The training, mentoring, guidance, and support I have received are invaluable in my progression within the business and have been instrumental in my current success. I have just been promoted to operations manager and cannot wait to work with other teams throughout the business.
What has been the proudest moment (or best day) in your career?
I was nominated for an award by my peers at the Bidvest Noonan Annual Awards for ‘Support person of the year’. To hear and see in print your colleagues’ comments and the feedback was very humbling. To go on to win the award was an unexpected delight.
What advice would you give to other women looking to begin a career in security?
Come join the Bidvest Noonan Security team. “The real energy and life of the business are people” and we are always happy to welcome more women in the industry. 10 years ago, I would have never thought I would be working in the security industry, and am delighted to have the chance to work alongside my great colleagues.