On April 28th we held our 10th HR Forum with Searchlight, at the historic and recently-reopened Regent Street Cinema in Oxford Circus.
In 1896 the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe was first presented to a paying audience here, making it the first place in Britain to show moving pictures, and the birthplace of the British film industry. This site rich with scientific and technological innovation was an inspiring setting for our theme of how invaluable strategies for diversity and the wider community are to our industries, and our speakers demonstrated how their companies are continuing to make waves in the industry today.
Patrick Younge of Sugar Films introduced us to Darren Childs, the CEO of UKTV, which is the first broadcaster ever to be named as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies. Darren discussed how they achieved this; through pioneering recruitment strategies, rethinking the traditional ‘appraisal’, and mantras such as “better to have a hole than an a**hole”! Darren believes UKTV’s achievements stem from their aspiration to create an environment where employees feel safe, comfortable, and supported, at the same time as taking important creative risks in an at times brutal industry. Their recent successes and awards reinforce their claims that opening up the talent pool and looking after their employees creates business results as well as successful employees.
Keith Warburton, the founder of Global Business Culture, spoke about the nuances between cultures and languages in the era of globalisation. He highlighted that thanks to Victorian phrases such as “children should be seen and not heard” and “silence is golden”, the British tend to hold negative stereotypes about people who talk ‘too much’, which can contrast with cultures where boisterous, loud discussion is a key management tool. The individual cultural programming we have each grown up with leads us to hold stereotypes and connotations about different cultures, so it is vital to be aware of these distinctions when conducting business with other communities.
We were then treated to an excellent panel session chaired by Toby Mildon, the Diversity and Inclusion Lead for BBC Digital. Chris Watkins from the Business Disability Forum, Petar Vujosevic from Gapjumpers, and Simon Minty from Sminty and Abnormally Funny People joined him on the panel to discuss diversity and inclusion, and how raising awareness can translate into targeted initiatives and measurable results. Toby said “diversity is a given, but inclusion is a choice” which emphasized that while there are many diversity strategies and quotas in place, that is only the first stage of the long process of inclusion for those with a disability. Simon explained that there is plenty more to do in terms of practical interventions and good practice in hiring and casting. Another important aspect of diversity is mental health awareness strategy, which Chris stated is currently at a limited breadth. Petar discussed Gapjumper’s software solutions which disrupt unconscious bias in recruiting, while Toby gave us an insight into strategies that have worked at the BBC, and how Diversity and Inclusion should be woven into the fabric of business, so that the very best talent from all corners of society can be found.
Next up was Russell Brimelow, a Partner at Lewis Silkin LLP who offered expert advice on the latest news in employment law for media companies. He mentioned what we can expect from a possible Brexit in terms of data protection laws, and the regulations surrounding issues such as holiday pay and freedom of movement. Also, in the summer of 2015 the government consulted on the introduction of regulations to require employees to publish information on the “gender pay gap” in their organisations, a significant change which will allow greater transparency and encourage employers to act to close their pay discrepancies. Another interesting new development is the proposal for Grandparental Leave which is set to be implemented by 2018!
In January of this year, Netflix completed the global launch to every country except China, so Head of Talent Kristen Trubey kindly gave us an insight into Netflix’s global hiring strategy. She highlighted that Netflix strives for High Performance and Stunning Colleagues, in which the aim is to hire colleagues who everyone respects and learns from. Giving employees direct and transparent feedback on a regular and consistent basis is also highly valued, whereby employees are even encouraged to ask their leader about their value to the company.
Nick Hart, Head of CSR at Turner, stressed the duty that broadcasters have to their audience, and the need to be a trustworthy company. He gave us a case study of Turner’s strategies and campaigns which give back to the community and global causes. Turner campaigns in front of and behind the screen, namely operating an anti-bullying campaign on the Cartoon Network in association with Childline, as well as using staff talents to build gardens, paint murals, and help to build schools in the UK and in developing companies such as Mozambique. Turner For All is Turner’s diversity campaign, which stressed “we depend on our services being popular with all sections of society and the best way to do this is to have staff as diverse as our audiences”.
Over the course of the day, we gained a unique insight into a variety of different organisations with differing approaches to diversity in the workforce. The statement most echoed throughout the day was that proactive access and support allows companies to flourish creatively and commercially. Also, a diverse and engaged workforce not only has positive effects for the company, but on a global scale too. We’d like to express our gratitude again to all the speakers who kindly joined us for the event and gave us some extraordinary insights into a very prescient topic.