Hello, and welcome to another one of our SHMA Talks. I'm really excited today. The first one where I'm broadcasting it would appear to be in Santa's Grotto site, where we're getting festival here. We're trying to make December Month that we all enjoy in the business. So so please go with me with the Ferry Lights and everything. But welcome to a really important from our talk, actually, where we've got some industry experts from the utility sector here to talk about the importance of gender pay gap reporting and diversity within the utility sector. And I've also bought a friends along from Shakespeare Martina as well, because it's it's an issue that we have in the professional services sector. So we're interested today to see if there are learnings and views that we can share across both of those sectors. How did this come about? Well, actually, I saw a post on LinkedIn, I think it was from Rebecca, who's one of my guests here today. And I reached out to her to talk about it, because I really resonated with me what Rebecca was saying, which is: please, please don't stop gender pay gap reporting, just because it's not a government requirement this year.
So that led to Rebecca and I having a chat. And here we are today now with some further experts to kind of talk about the broader issues. So here I've got with me brilliant panel, so first I've got ..., who is the interim CEO at Lucid Energy? I'll let me introduce herself a bit more fully. In the second, we have Rebecca Suddenly here. Here, like I say, kicked all of this off, she's Director of Policy and Regulation at EDF as well. So and she's, she's already stinson who we work with because she's ID is one of our clients who's the Head of Legal at seven Trend Water, ..., all over diversity and other issues to really, really help drive their business forward as well, so festival. Oh, and of course, then, I cannot forget Ben ..., who is the chief People and Marketing Officer working alongside me, at shakes them all tonight.
So I'm gonna continue each in turn, just to talk about why it's important to you, and to give us a bit more background. So do you want to kick us off on that, OMB?
Sure, thanks Sarah, So firstly, thanks for having me here. And, and, yes, I'm the interim CEO at Lucent Energy, and also a non Executive Director for Technology Startup.
Now, tried to moving into the utility sector this year, I've mostly worked in media technology and companies like Sky that have Ryan got symbol one on the inclusive top 50 employees in 20 19, 2020.
So, so, moved from technology media sector to utility sector this year was, was a big move for me. And India, being an immigrant, single mother, with diverse multicultural background, I do understand firsthand the importance of embracing diversity in the workplace. So, yes, definitely, definitely, really excited to be here.
Brilliant things be. And she's our day job to just give us a bit of a bit extra info about you.
Yeah, I've been at seven Trump for 12 years. So I've been in the utility sector for most of my career. And it's a great sector. And like many sectors out there, though. We are a bit of a reflection of society, and the society still has some ways to go in terms of inclusivity, and in terms of diversity generally, in terms of representation of different types of people.
I'm really passionate about it because I've seen firsthand through the apprentice gets apprenticeship schemes that we do and how impactful it can be on people's lives to get people who wouldn't necessarily have those opportunities into the organization. And so, yeah, I've got personal caution about a subject.
Yeah, thank you. And Ben, do you want to just come in on at this point?
Yes, so from, from Shakespeare Monetary point of view, absolutely.
At the heart of everything, we do our values and our cultures, and organization, But for me personally, as someone who has lived and worked overseas works in Asia and in North America and seeing firsthand the, a difference it can make by having a changing culture. A, an inclusive culture and open culture. And having a truly diverse team, seeing the difference, it can make to individuals. But equally, the difference it can make to that team, that team dynamic, the performance of that team, by bringing together different perspectives, different learnings, different experiences, and helping grow that team and really drive a high performance environment. You know, for me just make sentencing business to bring together a variety of thinking. And a variety of experiences in people, and I'm truly, from my perspective, as a, from the LGBT community as an as an adoptive parent or somebody that benefited from free school meals. as a child. You know, I've seen, I've had a lot of advantages for my life, At the same time, recognize the privilege of the color, of my skin, and my gender identity. And by being an ally and by supporting others, I can see that I can create pathways and ways for people to develop their careers and fulfill their ambitions as well.
Yeah, thanks, Ben, That Ally ship, I think it's a hugely important at the moment As well, it isn't it? So it's a finding, Rebecca, and obviously this is a subject that's massively important TLC. You wouldn't have started The Campaign did, but you want it gives us a bit more background.
Thanks, Erin, again thanks very much for putting this together and providing a platform to discuss this really, really important topic. So, my role at EDF is overseeing policy strategy regulation for all of the UK businesses said: that's across renewables, nuclear, return, all kinds of all areas, let's save the energy spectrum, and my my career has always been an energy, so when she has an energy now, and I guess during the early years of my career, I just kind of took it for granted that I wouldn't have met all the time. I joined via commodities trading, energy trading, and trading, obviously, pretty typically dominated by certain type of file. As I progressed into more senior roles, worked internationally, again, I found myself, exact seems quite often where I was the only only female and, you know, in, in leadership roles, in EDF.
You now I can remember one row where I was the only not just the only female on the leadership team, but the only one who didn't have a non working partner at home sourcing everything out for me and my children. So I managed my children, I'm a mother of three and my husband's from an Indian family. So, my, my children are all mixed race and multi cultural heritage.
And, I guess, You know, whilst, as as many of us are probably on this panel, pioneering in supporting the values of diversity, inclusion and equality, that we'll hold dear. I think it was really when I have my daughter, that I decided to be, let's say, a bit more active. And try and mobilize. Either organization support to reach out to a broader community within the sector. And I guess, why do my dog spur on, because I had so many interactions with people who demonstrated the, yeah, OK.
When you're a female, it can be difficult, but then being from a bank community, if you have a look at the odds of succeeding in leadership roles or from a, as having some kind of disability, it's just, it just showed me the, you know, that there are, there are so many ways that we need to still advance inclusion within particular sector. And so I, along with a group of other female colleagues, from various organizations, funded, one found at one, which is the Women Utilities Network, and we now have about 2.5 thousand members from all lots of all companies, energy companies, startups to, big firms, like EDF.
And so many of the stories, and the, let's say the struggles are similar in a very, very similar, and, but, so, yeah, it feels like the way we're trying to form a movement to support the progression within the sector.
Yeah, thanks, Rebecca. It is scary, isn't it that point for many years in my career, I tried to ignore this. I didn't want to have to talk about being different. Or Nike was very often the only woman sitting around a room full of men. I just wanted to ignore and pretend it didn't happen, and then I realized 3 or 4 years ago, probably slightly longer, perhaps, that actually, it was my job to keep a spotlight on it and to talk about it rather than sweep it under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen. We all need to keep talking about it and put it in the spotlight. So, that's, I think, one of the reasons, when I saw your piece about gender pay gap reporting, it really resonated with me because my personal view is, the gender pay gap stuff is a bit clunky, I'm sure, will come into what's great about it, what's not great about it, but just the fact we're reporting, It, puts it into the spotlight. And you obviously, felt very strongly so. Can you kind of talk us through that thought process about why you, while you were speaking out? So openly at the moment about resurrecting the gender pay gap reporting, particularly in the utility sector?
Well, I mean, festival out sick uncover, as soon as you. As soon as you start reporting and measuring on something. You're able to assess progress. You actually has enabled able to assess a measure, A situation needs the facts. And I also agree. The, you know, the gender pay gap doesn't tell the full story, of course, but it is a points of data that's open to public. And I guess what. It was almost we, we, we happened in one, almost by accident, finding out the, that there had been their suspension, if you like, of the mandatory reporting of the gender pay gap. It didn't seem to me to be highly publicized and EDF, Like your own organization is continuing to do it. So we were pretty shocked when we found out the, you know, that, that wasn't, it wasn't mandatory for 2020, we then had a look and just saw. I think it was over 75% of you.
Firms are classed as utilities weren't actually doing. Because again, we assumed, OK, so it's not mandatory. It doesn't mean that organizations won't do it. And we believe that this is a really, actually, a bit of a step backwards, you know. I think it's not just in terms of not having the regulatory enforcement as something. It's also displays the lack of, let's say, willingness of people to be open with their data. Because, you know, it's surely would be something the most organizations would want to publicize it because it supports their own progress. So yes, we went public with, with various members and in it also supports a some media partners that we work with in raising this issue and publicizing it and trying to ... pressure on it. ****, the rules being over said for this year.
But certainly, organizations to do the right thing, and continue to make this public.
Yeah, thanks, Rebecca. Brand if I can bring you in on this, we had the same debate, didn't weigh about should we shouldn't be completion. And obviously we, as Rebecca has already alluded to, we decided to do it. We've, we've also published diversity, pay gap reporting as well, which is even care if I'm honest with you at the moment. But, but it's just keeping the dialog going. Do what you want to talk to, Ben, Why that was important? I think, for me, is around, you know, we made that commitment to, to ourselves, to the industry, to our people to be open and transparent, and not just around on it.
Gender pay gap, as Sarah mentioned, that, with, for the last couple of years, we've also reported on our ethnicity pay gap as well. That, that kind of that principle for us and how we run the business is very much about transparency. Very open with our numbers, very open about where we are. Because actually, by being open with metrics and numbers, that's how you start to change them by shining a light on things by hiding them away. Inbox is a kind of, you know, it starts to say, that's not an issue. And that's not a problem. Just because the regulator says, you don't have to do it this year. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't. I think he's getting that balance right between, you know, what is the right thing to do. And I'm focusing on that. I'm doing it, because you want to do it, because it aligns with your values, and who you are, as an organization, that you want to be open and transparent about it. And it's not a year to sweep it under the carpet, and especially not a year to sweep it under the carpet when we know.
You know, women, ethnic groups are going to be more more impacted over this year than any other because of covalent implications there by pink, by, you know, setting that framework that people don't have to report this year.
You don't have that continuity of data. But equally, you were not able to then see what the bigger impact is going to be next year. As we start to see the impact on two women and ethnic groups of the, of what it's done to them from a paid perspective. But also from a, from an employment point of view as well where we know they're going to be more highly.
Thanks, Ben. So if it for my fax or item, I've been given these facts, but I'm sure that they're probably about right. So the national average for women in the top quartile of pay across all businesses, It's about 40% of women in the top quarter. And I'm told in utilities, it's 18%. So, we've got this gap between 18 and 40%. I know, in professional services, be fair, it's not much better. So, we can't, we can't sit here and say that, we've got this thing sorted And she's, RDD, do you have a feel for, for why there is such a big gap in the Utilities sector when it comes to gender pay? Yeah, I mean, I think it is very interesting. It's quite different for me and my organization. and because we, we are actually, we've done quite a lot in terms of gender representation. So we have a female CEO. We have a female cha. We have a number of females on the board and you know, my boss as General Counsel and Corporate secretary is a female as well.
So, actually, I think, we've done really well, in terms of that kind of tone from the top and top-down approach. And we're also trying to make better representation across the company.
But I think the reality is, in terms of utilities, is that they started off as organizations, that the, you know, we're very, very heavily male dominated, because a lot of the companies are made up of engineers, and historically, engineers have come from, you know, for many, have been men.
So I think what we're really trying to focus on is trying to encourage, not only different applicants to apply to walk them today, but also for so people to, to go out into the communities and into schools. And actually that's that's where we're going to see The difference is when you encourage girls, like which was saying earlier, I've I've got three girls and one boy, and you know there is a very staunch gender stereotyping that still happens today.
And that's why it's really important to keep talking about it.
Because our society, we still see that. And so, we do struggle to get different people in women, and in certain areas, because we don't actually have that, that pool, But not because women can't do it. Just because they aren't necessarily taught when they're younger. That they should be. Engineers, will go down that route. I think, in the last 10, 15 years, that has massively changed. But unfortunately, it takes generations, these types of things to change. Yeah, and it sounds like you've got some amazing role models within seven trim, which I'm sure that having role models is part of this whole equation as well. That people, people can look up and see people like them who are, who are doing this and say, Hey, I know you're relatively new intersect having come into media. But what's your view of, of why the utility sector certainly on paper appears to be lagging so far behind?
Think, I may be fairly new.
I think what Rebecca highlighted was actually quite resonates with what I think around first A is the acknowledgement that, yes, there is, there is an 80% light that we see in, in the charity sector.
And also, ensuring that, as an organization, or as a sector, We are exposing those data around and sharing this data. And I don't see that much happening. To be honest. There's Technology Sector Media broadcast, it's very, very open. And I haven't seen that in India to the Team. Mind, you, maybe there is, but I'm fairly three months in, so.
So, yeah, I think it's about exposing the data's around the gender pay gap and integrity.
And also, we need great male champions to ... this cause. Because at the moment, we see I've got a panel here, and most of the most impressive female, we need more male voice to suppose much more male champions just supposed to disclose. So say yes, yes, for now, I'm going to stick to this, that we do need, we do need more.
Yeah. Laura, solid support from other chief execs. The men who are in a high position, to actually have an impact and make an inference says He. and I need to see more enrollments from them, which are not seeing at the moment. But I'm sure I'm sure we'll have steps to to address those. Thank you. Can I bring their backend on that specific point then? So you've obviously got over 2000 members. I think you were saying of the women utilities network, which is phenomenal. Do you have men in there as well? Do you feel you're getting that ally, ship that champion, championing coming from the male community? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's really interesting when you bring men named, particularly when you've got like the room when you're holding events. You know, ...
and you have dreams full of hundreds of women, it was really interesting to see how man navigated around every in that environment and, again, completely taken for granted the amount of times that we've been in that situation. You know, but, Yeah, and, and also, I'm lucky, particularly with EDF, is a really supportive organization, genuinely committed to inclusion. It has very powerful and impactful employee networks for different across different kinds of communities.
Let's say within within ADF within its EDX got 15,000 employees in the UK, so that's pretty great, big. But also, I'll see this as as made a pledge as part actually of the powerful Women's Network, which is another energy sector wide group, supported gender diversity, to increase senior leaders. I think up to 30% within the next few years, so you know that there are more and more public pledges. That's all measurable, being made, but I think what's important is not just men coming in and kind of educate themselves. I think there's something about, right from the start, if you like. The being aware of, the may be, unconscious bias that we all have, of the, the, you know, the difficulty, sometimes with people who don't see where all models, as you say, within the organization.
And I think, for, I used to be, really, really, say, having formal targets. I used to see anything to, you know, positive discrimination, I'd say, as being really negative.
I think the, I'm not sure, now what my view is, on things, like that's what my view is on, whether you should have quotas for, you, know, whether it's gender balance, or anything else, what. What's struck me is the lack of progress. You know, if you really take a step back and you look at it and you look at the FTSE, Look at any big big organization you take away into the data. And seeing when, we're quite often where you could have female Exact Grows as very commonly held in HR, for example, or other support roles. And, you know, I don't know whether we should be looking to, to, to more strict quotas or things like that in the future. I've certainly shifted my views from, from being extremely anti a few years ago.
Rebecca, I'm, I'm in a very similar position to you. I was absent an EMT yet. I felt I didn't want these things measured. I just want to treat people as individuals and as all as unique people, rather than putting us in boxes, you know, based on the color of our skin, or gender preference, or any of those things. But then I started to realize how bad the problem was, and the thing that really got me, I'm gonna get the statistics slightly wrong, but I think it's true, that there are more men called Stephen Davis Chief Execs FTSE 250 OK. Then there are women.
Know, how can this be, right? So so we do need sometimes don't we don't you say those statistics to to actually just draw out the absurdity of the situation?
If I can bring this onto thinking about 2020, which obviously not the year any of us anticipated, I think that's the understatement of the year as well.
If I kids can, do you should study. And do you think the pandemic gives us better opportunities to help fix some of this or actually is it done the opposite as it almost taken as backwards step? To be honest, I think the big thing that happened in 20 22 was more, in terms of ethnicity, was the black lives movement. And actually, I think in the black lives movement, both in terms of ethnicity and gender, and in terms of your sexual orientation, I think it has massively shifted the conversation that we're having our organizations having that governments are having that. And countries in society are having. I think it's really broaden that focus and, and genuinely I feel like, you know, I've been Asia normalize the female, and the Muslim.
So I can say, excuse me, over my 40 years What I've seen is people talking about this and people measuring things in terms of, you know, the data says something but what has actually changed. Yeah, it doesn't actually seem to change that much.
I think so I don't think the pandemic specifically, is the thing that will make the shift. I think seeing all these young people out on the street, all those activists, and I think it changed, I think, maybe for some of us on the panel. For me, in particular, you know, I call myself a reluctant role model, because I've never seen myself, as well, And it's only one other people say to you, that, you realize, the impact of, you know, the fact that your senior person. And then, you're a female, and you're Asian, people don't see, themselves, represented that often. So, personally, I think, it's, it's that, that has really caused a shift, and I really feel like we're on the cusp of genuinely be able to make great progress.
Yeah, I think, this is such an opportunity. I feel so strongly that as businesses, we've got to take it be If I come to you, how do you, how do we make sure that the effect of the pandemic, or indeed, the BLM movement, this year as well, stakes, how do we get the benefits and the good things into the future that will help us with this? I think it's important that, firstly, we don't stop talking about it. And we actually seeing the difference.
So, or is it responsibility for Natale, the leaders that. But, I think it's everyone's responsibility to ensure that we keep on engaging with it within the baby community, as well as outside and ensuring that our voices are heard, ensuring that.
And a more broader scale we have Now, I do want to talk with Mark, as I could about this.
But, ensure that we've got the business models that embrace these core values of diversity and inclusion. And yes, of course, I think pandemic has given us a chance to reflect, to, acknowledge and reflect where we are, what can be done. It, just keep on try and keep on ensuring that we are having the right conversation and that we have the right support network in place. And just don't give up. That, don't give up. Keep on ensuring that. You know, you have the right channels in place and you're keeping the conversation going.
Thank you Rebecca. How do you see it? Whether it's the pandemic or other things that have happened this year. Do you think it's taken us forwards or backwards?
I definitely think the BLM movement has taken us forwards and being aware of the challenges of being a member of the pagan community in this country, and many others, official. And I think it's also spurred us on, say, educates the younger generation potentially, in a way. We haven't. I mean, I certainly was very open with my children. And watching the news coverage from America during that whole time explaining what I've got on in fat letting you know that. Looking at the pictures of George Floyd, for example, I really wanted my, My kids going on in the world to be conscious of themselves is mixed race.
You know, boys, You know, my daughter's too young, too easy for, you know, the world around them and the struggles that there probably going to be exposed to at some point with regards to covariates. Unfortunately, I do think that we're going to see a step back for Female Equality. In the workplace, as a result. Why do I say that? Because quite frankly, the economic situation, as we all know from the recent spending review is, is dire ahead of us, and women who are quite often the second owners in the house, have had to take the step back to look after the children who may have been off school. the domestic chores, Whatever, doing anything they can to support the primary ion. And the house, which of course, is quite common economic choice. Many women, many women way, make that often the cited reason for why many professional women's to parts of the workplace after having kids because you know, to support the primary Anna.
And I think that's not just the Yeah. The, the, the, the, the, the challenge, the economic situation.
The volatility with regards to kids being in school, out of school, in School, out of school because of, know, covert outbreaks and all kinds of other things will. And I thought my prediction is unfortunately, will say that women bear the brunt of bots and that. However, I think if we look to the longer term, I think it's going to be positive because I think that we have all been forced to embrace mode of flexible working in a fast or speedy more agile way than we could have ever envisage. My belief is that's going to radicalize our views of how jobs can be performed, where they can be performed, and who Wendy can perform them going forward, Which I strongly believe. Well, in the longer term, will progress inclusion on all levels. That's, that's certainly my perspective.
So, Penny, you ending the optimistic about this, or do you still think we're going to see the negative effects for some time to come? So, I absolutely agree with Rebecca, and there will be some negative impacts.
But, I think there is. No, there's been talks about, this idea of the great level of Service Rebecca was saying at the end there, around kind of the Agile working ability. The people, the people being able to work from home, there, is, the opportunity them for people to work around kind of childcare, workaround school runs, etcetera. So, so, the reason aspects of that, but then equally on the other side of that, is not a grade level or in the sense that there are people that don't have places to work, or they don't have spaces to work at home. They don't have equipment to work at home. They don't have no connectivity, et cetera, that enabled them to do their jobs in a safe and secure way in the home environment. So I think with, with all things that help to kind of solve some problems that cause other problems as Rebecca's kind of talked about this. So I do think there's, there's a lot more that needs to be done, any kind of presents new challenges and issues that organizations need to come together on Detroit. So if you go back to kind of BLM and that big turning point, there is no going back, the changes happened, is it big turning point? And I hope it continues to keep the same momentum moving forward.
You know, I think it ultimately takes collaborate ..., it takes collaboration within businesses, he takes collaborations across businesses, across industries. Governments working with, with business, got local governments, universities, everyone working together, to try and drive the change forward and ensure that we do see that systemic change that has to happen at every level of society.
Yeah. Thanks, Ben, absolutely agree with that. I mean, this is more than just gender as well, isn't it?
We're talking about everybody having an opportunity to have a seat at the table if they want it. Everybody having the same opportunities. Everybody being Welcome. I suppose, really, and this level playing field now, of course we've got the government talking about the leveling up agenda.
As we put most of the North interlocked, you know there's some huge challenges that, in terms of the dialog and, and what's actually going on, But in terms of this leveling up across every aspect, whether it's somebody's ethnicity, or sexuality, or agenda, or the social mobility, which I think is a huge thing to do with all of this. Do you think utilities, the challenges are the same? If we will, we need to do something different. Or if we carry on like this in the way that you're, you're going after gender, equality, do, you think it will actually deliver the level playing field for everybody? Rebecca, do you want to come in on that one?
So, taking it back to leveling up and if we look at, you know, the the huge announcements that are being made by the government right now over the last weeks with regards to the Template Palauan, Building, cleaner, greener, and many of this, of course is intricately involved with the, with the energy and what each of the teens stray. I believe that there's going to be a whole creation of new new capability skills, industries, technologies. It's going to advance the UK, and of course the world towards decarbonization eventually net zero.
And I fully yeah. I mean, I strange, because I'm from Sheffield. I'm from the North. I live in London, right, as so, and It's this isn't just about Jobs and industry creation. This is about quality of education, quality of health care, housing, you know, as Public Services, all kinds of things. It starts really, really is, it's just so entrenched the UK has to address it. They are starting to address a is clearly Visible in most. you know policy developments that are coming out And I believe that it will Support Diversity.
And certainly social mobility, Which I agree is is is is a call roots issue But yeah, it's it's that there's a lot today. You know there is a lot today for sure.
She's RD Obviously, you refer to yourself as a reluctant role model. I think you're not being a small model, personally, but, but as an role model that also represents the aging community. Do you think that there is a challenge with ethnicity and utilities as much as there is a challenge with gender, or is that perhaps not quite as far behind?
No, I say, I think, actually, I think the female gender balance will get better, and I think we are actually a lot further down the road in terms of gender balance. If I'm being honest, I think ethnicities is well behind. And I think, You know, Conversations I'm having now with people I haven't had for 12 years, and, you know, you could have had conversations 12 years ago. I could have helped them 60 years ago. You know, nothing has really changed in, in, in that period of time. And I think so.
I think, I definitely that women are progressing more, and I think women are doing that because they're less and they're less willing to take that back seat and they're more willing to go out and be there. I think the unconscious bias or conscious by sometimes in terms of ethnicity is actually much harder. I'm a big barrier to, to cross, and what, when I was younger when people were tonight races to me.
It was in my face and I knew it and I knew where those people stood.
What's actually a little bit more insidious in society now is people having those unconscious bias and not realizing it.
And that is, what's causing, such as such A, disproportionate, no balance in terms of ethnicity in utilities. But I don't think it's unique to utilities that you can look at any sector across the country, and you could, you could say the same thing. And I think it's, it's, I think, we've got to be honest about the conversation.
So I'm going to honestly say that, I think it's even harder to be a black person than it is to be an Asian person in this country. And I think that's probably true in a number of countries across the world. And I think, if we're talking about gender, we should also be talking about ethnicity. And we should also be talking about sexual orientation, and that's what inclusivity is about.
But there are some and pockets of inclusivity that are further down the road, and I think ethnicity is something that has to really, really come a long way to kind of start seeing some real progress in it.
I'm glad you mentioned the stats, because for me, we're kind of lumping a huge amount of people with different backgrounds into a single stat, by, by talking about the, you know, the beam, as it's called, statistic. But actually, when you break that down, there are so many different stories. There are so many different backgrounds, and so many different stats. And you're absolutely right. I have seen some breakdown recently that shows that, that the black community is, is really disadvantage when you look at the numbers versus different. Other pockets. So I think we've got to stop lumping everybody into a big box. I just don't think that's, that's helpful, either. Be, if I can bring you into this. We've obviously seen the media sector as well. Are there any other lessons that you think the utility sector can learn from the other sectors that you've been a part of?
Well, I think that there are number of parallels between media technology and the utility sector.
We do know that, as an organization, be fully rely on a diverse team growth, and, but that growth is only possible under a more inclusive leadership, and the leadership that has a care business model, and has in diversity and inclusion as its core values. I've got a very interesting story, actually.
So, I remember when I was working, it's go to the last year, few years into the role of the CFO, eight is a few years into the role, etcetera, for years. I wanted to apply for an internal job in a senior leadership position.
It was quite an interesting day.
I realized that the hiring, croup director didn't have any female leaders as his direct reports.
And, and this is, this is a person who has about 400 team of 400 reporting directly to him.
And very, very inspirational actually as, as an individual, helpless director, I would say, and, and that's actually this, should I apply for this? Here I am, I'm a female, diverse cultural backgrounds, worried about fatigue in HD and whether it was worth applying for the role itself.
So, I mustered the courage and I dropped him an e-mail and say, can we have a coffee? Can I just need to talk about this particular vacancy team? How do you use it? Was It was incredible. He just replied immediately, Let us say, ESB, That's fine. my calories tracer, and so let's have a coffee catch up.
So, yeah. So, we had our coffee catch up, and I was very open and honest retail.
Like, look, I'm aware that there are no female leaders in your team as your DR darker code, unlike your peers. So I had to put him on the spot that there were other peers who had female, in the entity out, and I came across this vacancy and your team, I know that I made four out of five criteria. Do you think I should apply for? Or shall I just work on that criteria, which I don't need, and told me that I, five I define, that I should apply? It was quite an open discussion open chat.
And his reply, his reply totally let me with an immense amount of respect for him. He was very transparent.
He was very authentic, I mean, which are the two key pillars or inclusive leadership that we know any organization should have So he is not firstly it was the acknowledgement, he was like B, arrived, astronaut, mmm, Maybe it's an unconscious bias. It's not common and so he acknowledged the position. He was an acknowledged that is the introduction needed bit of diversity.
And actually he encouraged me to apply for the row, and he went on to Higher Tree, female's senior director in his team and nominated more women from his department to into the company's leadership program. For me, for me, personally, this is, this is a true reflection of an inclusive leadership, that that makes a real difference in a work environment. Now, as somebody new into the utility sector, I know when I joined lucid in September, I made a point that my team has a 50, 50 representation of male and female. And that we've got diversity and inclusion as part of the key pillars are part of the core values of the organization. And I feel that, as a business leader, we are accountable accountable: for promoting inclusion in the organization to say yes. Yeah.
I think, I think that that that's been one of my biggest stake in thank you. For example, and it's very generous of you to talk about how he responded, but how great it was that you are so brave to point out to them in the first place. Well, so maybe that's what we all need a bit more of as well, is, is people being honest with us, I think in numbers have said it, we just need to have the honest conversations and point things out. So, Ben, one of the advice, would you offer leaders, get, give me some tips in terms of, you know, being an inclusive leader, not just in utilities, but in any sector. How, How do we do this? How do we improve our leadership skills so that we can create this level, inclusive playing fields? I definitely think that one is Check yourself and check your own, she's already talked about earlier, check your own biases, check your unconscious. Conscious bias. It's important for everybody to understand, to a simple for everyone, to understand and educate themselves about the issues that are being faced by others as well.
So people who sit in privileged positions, because they may be white heterosexual, middle aged men, need to understand and educate themselves on the struggles of women, the struggles of people from the black community, The struggles that people from the LGBT community. The struggles of people that have neuro diversity issues, is up to people to take accountability for themselves, and to to educate themselves.
It's not for people from different groupings to solve the issues themselves, for all of us to come together to do that. So, I think, from a leadership point of view, is very much around that. Self education, self learning and committing to that as well. So that story that you should there be with somebody who was someone held a mirror to them, but then they went away and they learn something. They did something with that. And that's exactly what and more leaders, we need to help them understand. This, Kind of, you know, we've touched on intersectionality people are more than boxes. They're more than takes you know, there's so much more complex Is a made up by different things, you know. Somebody maybe back.
But they may be, know, from a different socioeconomic background. They may also be a bisexual. They may all manner of different boxes you could take for them. But they just the person, they're an individual, and they won. An equitable chance, career development, inequitable, chance as anybody else to be able to progress in their careers And, and I guess the, the key thing that I don't know I've talked about this earlier is really also collaborations. I don't know if she has already been doing a huge amounts, kind of pave the way there in terms of trying to draw some collaboration across the legal industry and getting people to work together. But, it's only by businesses working together and not trying to hold things themselves. Share Learning, Share journeys work together to make the change, because the change benefits everybody, whether that's going back to basics, around, introducing people, and women, into stem. Education, at an early age, to get them to become the engineers.
That the data scientists, that the IT, technicians, to whatever of the future, all the way through, to making sure that we're all working together To kind of, you know, ensure that we're training the industry, bringing people through into industry, as well. And I'll kinda go back to this house party analogy, you know, everyone should have an invite to the party, no matter where you've come from, what you've done before, that. You should all then be able to get through that door of the party. And when you're out, the party be able to have is just a good a time, as anybody else. can go to any room in the house party. And I truly believe that we've just got to make sure that everybody can get to the door through the door. And, as I say, have a great time while they're there, and choose to leave when they want to.
So, yeah. So there's a big piece, me around collaboration. I think he's the only way that we're going to make change, and I think, if you look at also, the completely different industry, But if you look at retail and what, The UK. Supermarkets, have them to stand together against backlash that happened on white, again, sainsbury's, with 70 UK supermarkets came together, and took a stand by standing together as an industry. Just so powerful.
And so monumental as a moment in time, that we need more examples of that in order to be able to move forward across all industries. Yeah, well, I'd just like to point out that you can't have multi at the moment KV rules must remediable, she's already. What would be any final words of advice to other leaders as well?
If you want to create, and you can see culture.
The thing is, some subjects seemed harder to talk about than others.
And, you know, I think 5, 10 years ago, the way we talked about the LGBTQ plus community, those are the non-existent, or was very, very awkward. And for that community has to, and I know it's about individually, educating yourselves, but actually what that community has done also, by driving conversations in the business, has made it actually a lot easier for people to talk about it. It's the same with mental health. You know, we've seen a massive shift in our organization and the openness to mental health. But we've had multiple sessions for women in our organization. And actually, you know, 5, 10 years ago, those things just wouldn't have happened.
And I think we're on the, you know, I think that's the difficulty for leaders, is, they feel awkward because with people, and that's where we are. Everyone's just a person or company, is ultimately just made for people. And leaders will feel more comfortable with some subjects than others. And in terms of race, the truth is that if you have a certain amount of melatonin in your skin, you probably feel more comfortable talking about it because you've got a lived experience.
So, I think from the, from the leaders point of view, and it will be the lead, is, that will help drive changes in organizations and that will be reflected back into society.
Is, uh, whatever the conversation is, face it head on.
Don't, we don't be worried that you're going to offend someone? I would rather, you offend me and just have a conversation than us, never have the conversation. So, I think that would be the same as, you know, speaking of three different communities. I think that would be the same of, all of, all of those. So, I definitely would encourage people to continue to talk and just to go back in terms of the target setting. I have always been uncomfortable with targets, because the only because of the people would say, Oh, well, You've got to be that'll merit, and you've got to be there because you've got the right skills.
And, well, actually, you're telling me that in a society that is supposed to be met in a completely level, that there are no black or Asian CEOs or chairs, or in the last 50, 60 years, we haven't found a single person of talent. You could fill those roles or different senior roles. So, I didn't actually think it is just about. You've got to be there in terms of talent. You got to be there because you've had the opportunity. And that's what targets do. And that's what conversation stage.
So those are the two things are definitely think that we should continue to strive for, brilliantly. Well, and that is that dialog, that, that just the education, I love that quote. You'd rather have somebody offend you said, that you can start to have an educational conversation than not have the conversation at all. I'll remember that as well. Thank you. Rebecca, final words from you, What's what's next on this? Having kind of kicked your campaign of where you go next, arguments agenda, in the utilities you think. Yeah, I think, as we've said, there's going to be a number of issues to address as a result of what we've all come through with covitz. Some, some negative, unfortunately, but some really positive.
Bringing in the discussions on the future of ways of working is a really important kind of threats. We've into this debate, I guess the, you know, the most important thing to recognize as leaders is that, whatever you do, do it with authenticity and, and also to be active. So, I think there's a real difference to, let's say, mentoring someone to, actively sponsoring. There's a difference to liking posts on LinkedIn to actually using your voice and saying something. And, you know, it takes a bit of courage to do that and put yourself out there. But if you are living by your values, and your principles, then you will use your position. Because life is about contribution. I believe, you know, is the greatest reward.
Perfect. Thank you. We better ones out there.
I suspect we could go on talking quite a long time about this subject because we actually also quite passionate about it. But, but there's been some real nuggets in there as well. And yeah, let's, let's keep talking about it. I'm not going to deliberately go out there and trying to offend people. I just want to point out. But but I am going to keep talking and keep a dating myself. Because the more I learned, the more I can help with this, I thank you for helping educate me a bit more today as well. And, yeah, just been a real pleasure to be take heart today, so thank you.