Nash Squared releases a bi-annual Digital Leadership Report (DLR) that covers everything from security to workplace flexibility.
On the panel was Philip Belamant (CEO & Co-Founder at Zilch), Molly Johnson-Jones (CEO & Co-Founder of Flexa Careers), Dax Grant (Forbes Technology Council member and CEO of Global Transform), and Danny Attias (Chief Digital & Information Officer at the London Business School).
Here are the top three takeaways from the discussion that touched on a great deal of pressing topics for HR leaders.
1. ESG is an imperative
Attias kicked off the conversation with an effective comment on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG): “It’s not sustainable not to focus on sustainability.”
Grant added: “It’s [ESG] one of the top board discussion points. It’s something that our business school is passionate about, but this is about sustainability as part of the DNA rather than as a side initiative, or a culture initiative.”
She noted that as a result, even vendors have to be held to a high standard by a company if it wants to reach its ESG goals.
As a founder of a company that enables workplace flexibility, Johnson-Jones commented that ESG goes beyond simply traveling to work, “people can move towards sustainability and ethical consumption without necessarily having to spend more to make this choice”.
On top of that, Johnson-Jones drew attention to Gen Z and Millennials wanting to work with companies that share their ideals.
Of course, tackling ESG is not the same for everyone and Attias said: “Any kind of legacy company has just got a mountain to climb beyond sustainability because of technology, history, culture, organization.”
Evidently, businesses need to look at themselves, suppliers, and even their history as they begin to address ESG. Fortunately, taking these steps can lead to a more attractive workplace for candidates.
2. Attract talent with transparency
Attracting talent is essential for every successful company. The right people drive a company forward and create innovations. However, getting talent in the door can be more difficult than anticipated.
Reflecting on how Zilch has attracted the right people, Belamant commented: “What we think is a great way to attract talent is having a message that people can understand and you might not like how we do things, but at least you know how we do things.
“For instance, if it’s important to you to be able to move and have flexible time, then you know how we do it – in a hybrid working model – we are in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, it’s clear.”
If a candidate doesn’t like that setup, it’s clear that it won’t work out and that’s okay because those who do work for the company are part of a mission.
Before diving into how flexibility can attract talent, Johnson-Jones outlined what it really means. She noted: “Flexibility is a spectrum, you can go from one or two days a week from home through to completely boundary-less geographically agnostic working hours, and you can vary from search all the way through to completely asynchronous, there are loads of benefits that can go into that.”
A key part of attracting talent in a flexibility spectrum is being clear about what the role expects. Additionally, at Flexa, Johnson-Jones has noticed that many people already working at an organization are unaware of the benefits available to them. With this in mind, companies need to be clear about what they are offering talent if they want to create an attractive position.
Flexibility and transparency are essential but Grant offered a slightly different perspective.
She claimed: “I’m going to say culture eats everything else for breakfast, literally.”
While culture is usually associated with smaller ventures, Grant commented: “My view is if you if you’re on the board of a large organization, you can still have the same characteristics as if you’re in the venture space.
“Clearly, your decision-making is held to a framework. But you can still be charismatic, you can still share the vision, you can still make sure that your processes and people around you, and you can still create that engagement.
“This is not a size thing, this is an engagement piece.”
3. Inclusion in the workplace is up to you
The conversation shifted to the DLR’s report on diversity, equity, and inclusion (D,E&I). Johnson-Jones explained the challenges companies face: “Society is set up for inequality in every single way, particularly gender inequality.”
Prejudices towards the roles of gender are evident in the upbringing of many people, and Johnson-Jones reflects on questions about when she would be a parent.
To overcome this she encouraged companies to focus on promoting minorities while avoiding tokenism or performative inclusion in the business.
Attias noted that when it comes to attracting diverse talent if someone complains about the pool of talent: “They’re not trying. Anyone that is in technology and leadership has got to take responsibility.”
He added that it is essential to make a conscious effort to hire diverse candidates and when they are working within your company, “you spend a little bit more time with the people who wouldn’t naturally accelerate up the path, and coach and support them and give them more opportunity.”
Grant commented that: “Part of the societal leadership piece is about filling that pipeline up by encouraging new youth and coaching more into the pipeline – so we will have more people to choose from with their skills.
“That’s deeper accountability of ourselves as leaders around different technology and industry organizations.”
Grant concluded: “I would start with inclusion first, if you’ve got a really inclusive team they bring other people in, and because they are inclusive, that diversity just grows and grows.”
There you have it, UNLEASH’s three key takeaways from an event filled with helpful information that can be applied to any business. Be sure to look at your own processes and see how this advice can take your organization to the next level.
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