Rewarding Futures

From words to results: Reports highlight tangible impact of diversity culture

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Having a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) policy has become commonplace in the corporate world. But two recent reports present a strong business case for D&I beyond just worthy language, and offer insight on how best to implement an effective approach. Additionally, for us, they prompt a question over our definition of ‘diversity’ and whether we need to broaden our thinking.

In late 2016, Price Waterhouse Coopers published the results of their global Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Survey. They surveyed a cross-section of industry leaders to understand their D&I programmes and identify how they turn perceived benefits into tangible results.

Despite 91% of survey respondents saying that D&I is 'a stated value or priority for their organisation’, over half still suggest that despite the recent focus, diversity was seen as a barrier to progression at their organisations (interestingly more so by younger employees). PwC see four criteria to overcoming such barriers and core to effective D&I programmes:

  1. Understanding the facts of today - gather and analyse demographic, performance and reward data that can be shared back and used to create fairer policy.
  2. Building an inspirational strategy - make the link between diversity and business results, and then communicate progress against D&I goals thereafter.
  3. Developing leadership engagement - make (C-Suite) leaders own the strategy (PwC also see this as the one area where organisations consistently fall outside best practice).
  4. Creating sustainable movement - embed a D&I mindset across all aspects of business - including talent management and the ‘inclusion of all differences’, using networks to inform business strategy.

This key role played by networks was also picked up by People Management earlier this month. They report on another large-scale (UK) survey by Women Ahead which concludes that this sort of inclusive behaviour can be directly linked to positive business outcomes such as better retention, and employee and employer feeling more connected.

Employee networks (in particular those which are linked to diversity and inclusion) are now a common aspect of corporate life. The survey involved 180 networks across 30+ companies covering areas such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. From this, Women Ahead believe they can now prove that ‘businesses with the most active and diverse networks were seeing benefits in both recruitment and retention’ and are making diversity issues ‘mainstream’ – even though most are still run on a voluntary basis. One example was Women@Google. Their chair, Nishma Robb, said that the 25,000-strong group had “become very central to the business agenda… to demonstrate our ambition to create an inclusive culture at Google. We need diverse teams to do better as a business.” The network is believed to help Google’s recruitment efforts (in fact echoing a similar trend at PwC).

With many businesses having a D&I approach of some description, and diversity now such a frequently-used term, we risk losing sight of its full meaning. In conversations Vana has had with HRDs, many point to the fact that diversity has to be considered in the broader sense; it’s not just about gender and ethnicity - it’s about diversity in approach, style, age, and thinking. Diversity and inclusion are evolving from simply being ‘box-ticking’ words to something more tangible, and PwC’s insight – and the potential power of networks – should offer encouragement to HR colleagues tasked with owning and implementing D&I.

However we believe this is a good moment for reappraisal, and that ‘diversity’ in its fullest sense is what generates results and makes an organisation truly unique.

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Helen Norris, Head of HR - Nationwide Building Society

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Ian Marchant, Retail HRD, Greene King plc

Candidate experience is really important to me in recruitment, because that is someone's first experience of an organisation - your organisation. As I see it, the recruiter is part of YOUR brand and their actions impact on YOUR reputation when they act for you. The candidate remembers the experience of applying for a job and not always the recruiter involved.

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Geraldine Buckland, Director of People, Bristol Water

Debbie and Jo are great recruiters of HR talent; they have successfully worked on a number of key senior hires for us both in the UK and internationally.

Jonathan Wright, Group HRD, Murphy Group

Debbie has recently supported me in securing my first HRD role. Her observations and feedback were very insightful and assisted me greatly in navigating the recruitment process and learning about the company and environment I'll be stepping into. Totally dependable, unbiased and a good judge of character, I would highly recommend her to act on your behalf with prospective employers. I haven't worked with Debbie yet as the employer but wouldn't hesitate to do this if the need arises.

Anita Calverley, HR Director, Yeo Valley Farms

The thing about Vana Resourcing is that Debbie and Jo actually care – about you as a person, your career and your business. Yes they deliver great candidates and opportunities but they make sure that the fit / opportunity is right, challenging both sides in a positive way when needed. They’ve supported my career for the last 10 years, including introducing me to my current HRD role, and I have no hesitation that they will be my first point of call for future candidates and opportunities.

Suzie Noble, Chief People Officer, Brightside

“I have worked with Debbie and Jo several times, they stand out from the crowd as a sourcer of talent and when managing you as a candidate, I simply haven't worked with anyone better. Commercial, thorough, expert and with a sense of integrity that means you are only ever recommended to organisations that suit you - and as a hirer you only get talent that works for your organisation. As a hiring organisation, working with a partner like Vana is simply irreplaceable.”

Head of OD, Vodafone

Debbie brings accurate and current insight on HR Talent. Her ability to recognise top people in their field and actively nurture relationships over a long period of time sets her apart from her peers. Debbie is refreshingly honest , she keeps confidences and is not afraid to challenge both candidates and hiring Executives to ensure the right outcome for all parties. I would have no hesitation in recommending Debbie or Vana Resourcing for a critical HR hire.

Barbara Duffy, International HR Director leading on Talent, L&D, Resourcing,OD

“Debbie introduced me to OVO Energy, and she not only found me the right role, but an organisation whose ethos matched my values.  I have since worked with Vana to recruit almost my entire senior HR team! From HRBP's to a Reward Lead and most recently a HR Director. Vana really understand the importance of culture fit."

Kim Atherton, Chief People Officer, OVO Energy

I have worked with Vana Resourcing for a number of years representing me in my own search and as a client. Debbie and Jo are professional and efficient but unusually for this sector, genuinely caring about both client and candidate experience in equal measure.

Jonathan Edge, HR Director UK & Ireland at Ideal Standard International BVBA

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Simon Amesbury, SuperGroup plc

What a refreshing delight to work with a commercial partner who understood my business, had national and regional awareness, a handle on the market, an effortless connection with candidates and could tolerate my Everest-like expectations.

I will continue to work with Debbie and Jo again on my incessant drive to solve the talent conundrum of the coming years.

Keep up the great work, you are a credit to the industry.


Stephen Robson, HR Director, Global O&Supply Chain at Kingfisher plc

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Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society, Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society

I've known Jo for a number of years and worked with her as a client and candidate. What's great about working with Jo is that you're guaranteed an honest perspective and terrific insight to the market. She nurtures her relationships in a natural and engaging way: put simply - she knows her stuff!

Marie Aitken, Chief People Officer

I initially engaged Debbie to undertake a search for a Head of OD. She is consultative in style, and took time to gain a comprehensive insight into our organisational culture and HR journey, delivering an excellent shortlist of candidates and a super hire. The feedback from our candidates on their engagement with VANA has been equally positive. Jo and Debbie has since supported me with several other senior hires within the People organisation at RLG, and we enjoy an effective working partnership.

People & Corporate Affairs Director, Royal London Group

“I have worked with Debbie as both candidate and client. In both contexts I have found her to be super-efficient, thorough and a pleasure to do business with. She listens really well, responds quickly and is flexible to evolving demands. Debbie is up there in my top 3 recruiters.”

Sue Round, Head of Talent and Organisational Effectiveness, BP

I have worked with Debbie and Jo for many years as a candidate looking for opportunities and a manager looking for talent.  I have always been impressed by how Vana strive to ensure that there is the best fit in terms of candidate values and company culture.

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