One of the key ways of ensuring employee buy-in to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives is building a culture of honesty and transparency. This means that team members feel able to raise issues, which in turn allows for meaningful change to happen.
Carly Hubbard, People and Culture Director of Harbottle & Lewis, encourages this. She sat down with GoodCourse Co-founder Chris Mansfield to discuss people leadership, her career so far, and the initiatives she is most excited to roll out.
My name is Carly Hubbard. I am the People and Culture Director at Harbottle & Lewis. I have been here for just under three months. I wanted a role that would allow me to draw on the experience I have had up till now, as well as a change. Harbottle & Lewis is a firm that focuses on tech, media, and entertainment, a different sector from the firms I worked at before. The firm’s clientele are focused on entrepreneurialism, which rings true with how the partners train their teams and work themselves. This creates a great collaborative culture.
Way back when I stumbled into HR. I signed up at a recruitment agency and spent a lot of time looking at the HR contacts I had and thinking about how I would enjoy those roles. What kept me here for so long is how my work is people. I love the links to the commercial aspects of business. In law firms, for me, the unit that we sell is time, and the time that we sell is the delivery of the excellence and intelligence of our people.
I arrived here expecting to do a lot of listening. It’s important when you enter a senior role, particularly where the basis of your work is understanding people and culture and what success looks like. All of this underpins any initiatives I begin. My number one plan has been building strong relationships.
The firm's leadership has a relatively new managing partner, so getting to grips with his learnings is important. Understanding then how I can bring my expertise to support his vision. I need to also get to grips with the talent at this firm compared to other firms. There seems to be such a focus on creativity and freedom and empowerment of work. I’m also building our agenda for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, creating a new strategy and re-evaluating it.
As an out gay woman, it was really important for me to find a place where I could truly be myself, so I analysed that from a personal perspective throughout the interviewing process before I joined this role. The honest answer is that people must feel comfortable and able to raise issues. If they ever feel any issues of exclusion or unfairness, then we need channels for them to bring these to light.
Reaching out and understanding people’s experiences is a great starting position, even if you know it won’t all be positive. There are always improvements to be made.
At different firms, top leaders found it hard to hear the negativity. But this just meant that they weren’t understanding the problem, and therefore couldn’t solve those issues. Reaching out and understanding people’s experiences is a great starting position, even if you know it won’t all be positive. There are always improvements to be made.
It’s that link between people and commerciality. Drawing out the fact that EDI is not an extra-curricular activity. It is strategic and at the core of every single aspect of managing people, delivering work and resourcing matters. I can’t think of anything that we deliver as a people business that doesn’t interlink with diversity, which should always involve inclusion.
It’s about ensuring that the leadership see and understand the commercial benefits to this, but also that it is the right thing to do.
We are a data driven organisation so it’s imperative to prioritise EDI, leverage data for discussion, especially when planning new initiatives. This will make us a truly successful organisation in terms of productivity, innovation and employee retention.
The answer to that has to be that you should accept that transparency is the key to growth. Businesses should be open to challenging each other in a healthy and constructive way. This will instil trust.