Creating a workplace culture that prioritises diversity and inclusion is crucial for effective people management. Throughout her career, Natasha Frangos, Managing Partner at haysmacintyre, has played a pivotal role in championing these values within the organisation and making them a progressive leader in the accounting field.
Luke James, Co-Host of The Interview, sat down with Natasha to discuss her insights on fostering inclusivity, the firm's unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, and their strategic initiatives aimed at cultivating a culture of continuous learning and growth.
I’m Managing Partner at haysmacintyre. We’re an accountancy and tax advisory firm based in London, providing professional services to an entrepreneurial and international clientele. We have about 460 employees offering services ranging from auditing, outsourced bookkeeping to a range of specialist tax advice. We are experts in supporting growing, dynamic organisations that will require a range of services across their life cycle.
I started out here as a graduate, twenty-two years ago. I actually worked for MacIntyre and Co, which went on to merge with Hays Allen to form haysmacintyre. I studied for my ACA and qualified as a chartered accountant before becoming a partner at age thirty. That gave me the remit to pursue my own client base in creative, media and technology (“CMT”) and develop my own portfolio. For ten years, I ran CMT and it’s still the firm’s largest sector. I was then appointed to the Management Board as Head of Corporate before I was elected into the Managing Partner role last year. It’s been phenomenal, and I’ve had the opportunity to develop new skills and create innovative strategies. We’ve made some changes to the structure of the business and put a lot of investment in our people initiatives to develop a more well-rounded team who can succeed in their careers and beyond.
Through working in the CMT space, I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs, so I’ve had the opportunity to learn from many different approaches. The traits I most admire in a leader are being passionate about what you do and communicating your goals effectively to bring people with you. It’s important to be transparent and share information so your team knows the path you are taking and understand how they can make a difference. As a leader, you can’t know it all, so it’s pivotal to listen to those around you and keep an open mind.
I always tell people it’s important to work in a place where you can be yourself. We spend so much of our lives at work, so if you’re pretending to be someone else, you won’t bring your best. We’re always thinking about how to create an environment where people can thrive and be their authentic selves. I’m very proud of our progress: in our last staff survey, 84% felt they were able to be themselves at work and 88% agree that haysmacintyre was an inclusive place to work. But our work is never complete, and there are always ways we can improve. We’ve just launched an initiative called Connect which consists of a series of events to encourage partner sponsorship and cross-departmental interaction. It’s really helping to promote inclusivity and connection across the firm. We also have a Diversity and Inclusion committee which launches a new campaign every month. Last month was Pride Month, and this month we’re celebrating South Asian Heritage. Finally, we’re prioritising training, including unconscious bias and microaggressions.
You need to lead from the top. If employees can see partners and directors attending and speaking at events, then it sets the tone. It can have a ripple effect across the business. That’s had some impact: we’ve just released our next round of events for Connect, and they’re already fully subscribed.
We have an evolving strategy, and we’re always trying new approaches. Some things land really well and receive great feedback, but other initiatives can sometimes fall flat. We’ve recently set up a new training committee which incorporates both technical training and soft skills. It’s not just about helping people build up technical skills or pass exams: it’s about developing the broader life skills they will need throughout their careers. Recently, I set up something called the Culture Club made up of team members at various levels from departments across the firm. It allows a forum for two-way dialogue to sound out ideas before we implement them across the business. For example, we’ve been talking about benefits and how they are central to inclusion, especially things like maternity and parental leave.
Be yourself. Never feel like you need to fit the mould. It’s important to do something you have genuine passion and interest in. In my career, I’ve noticed that the sectors which have grown the most have leaders who have genuine passion for the sector. Finally, you should always speak up, meet new people, and stay curious. Today, organisations have so much to offer outside of your day job. Find something that sparks your interest and get involved. That will help you maximise your enjoyment of the working day, build relationships and develop your skillset.