In order to engage time-poor employees, it is important to have a multitude of different channels. Being flexible about work and learning enables as many coworkers as possible to engage in initiatives designed to increase belonging.
Louise Rogerson, Chief People Officer at DWF, has worked in people leadership in a variety of sectors. She sat down with Chris Mansfield, Co-founder of GoodCourse, to discuss her journey so far, how the industry is changing and the issue of engaging busy workers.
I have been with DWF, the global law firm, for eight months now. I am relatively new at this firm and relatively new to the law too; my background is in banking and financial services. This is a new adventure for me in terms of industry.
DWF is a global organisation operating in about 30 locations around the world. Our largest footprint is in the UK and headquartered in Manchester, so I am at the heart of the DWF empire.
First and foremost: nosiness. HR is a great place for finding out about everything that’s going on in an organisation. These days, it’s branded as curiosity, so you could say I’m a naturally curious person who wants to know everything about everything. The people space is front and centre of all businesses I have worked in. Also, I think HR is a place where you can have great impact and work on positive change.
What has really changed in the last few years is that businesses are drawing much stronger parallels between how employees are treated and the experiences that they have in a way that mirrors the experience businesses want their customers to have. I think there is greater continuity between those experiences and greater discussion about the colleague experience. Putting colleagues at the heart of initiatives. The most effective work that I’ve been doing has centred around this.
There are different expectations across different generational groups in the workplace about what being at work means and what a career looks like. It is less about conforming to a rigid structure or path — even though the law is a relatively structured profession, there is an increasing recognition that people want to operate differently. It’s less about work-life balance and more about work-life integration and the process of making work function for you.
It’s less about work-life balance and more about work-life integration and the process of making work function for you.
Something I’m really enjoying about DWF is the strong focus on community, colleagues, and clients as part of our shared purpose. There is a great deal of investment in time, money, and effort in how we can contribute more broadly — rather than just being another law firm. We collaborate with clients looking to work with us in slightly different ways. We run mentoring programmes alongside them and peer-to-peer mentoring programmes. It is an interesting way of engaging with clients whilst forging that connection beyond the provision of legal services as per contract; it’s about enhancing that relationship and really bringing value to it.
We have a lot of employee-driven network groups and new communities springing up and supporting co-workers, such as building support for family situations. The firm is focused on being a flexible, welcoming, and supportive organisation that allows everyone to find their voice.
It’s about having a multitude of different channels to reach people, much of which was expedited through Covid. Making use of technology means that people don’t have to turn up in person in order to participate in something. With the advent of the technology that we’re all used to using, lives are not fragmented as rigidly as they used to be because people can access information much more flexibly. This gives everyone the opportunity to participate and engage.
Fortunately, EDI is becoming increasingly important to clients, so I don’t have to argue for the commercial benefits too strongly because clients ask for it when we bid for work. They want to know what we’re doing as an organisation around diversity and inclusion. Our business doesn’t question the commercial benefit of having diverse teams.
It goes back to what I was saying about having a variety of ways for people to engage in learning and a broad definition of what growth looks like. People no longer need to sit in a classroom to learn something. We can encourage people to look up and out of our organisation. Giving people avenues to explore different ideas is key.