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Interviewing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Champion, Annabel Honour | Gattaca Solutions
We recently shared an article about Inclusive Recruitment and the direct correlation between more diverse workforces and business success.
We also shared in that article a sneak peek of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) journey here at Gattaca Solutions.
Today we sat down with one of the team behind our client workshops to talk to her about all things ED&I, her journey, and motivators, and what’s next!
Annabel Honour (AH) is a Client Account Manager here at Gattaca Solutions and a true advocate, ally, and champion of ED&I. Interviewing her here is Gattaca Solutions Brand Manager, Rae Dixon (RD).
RD: Hey Bells (Annabel Honour), thanks so much for joining us today! Can you tell us a bit about you and your role at Gattaca Solutions?
AH: Yes, so I'm Bells and I have been with Gattaca for 15 years next year actually! My role now with Gattaca Solutions is a Client Account Manager. Put simply, I look after two accounts within our division just managing everything to do with contracts, KPIs and SLAs, business development, continuous improvement and just basically just doing a fantastic job for our customers.
And I think over the time that I've been at Gattaca I’ve done quite a lot of different roles. I have spent six years of my recruitment career recruiting directly into engineering and STEM markets, which I did really enjoy. So, it's nice to have that sort of background or come from that background to really understand what we're trying to achieve as a business. What we're trying to achieve for our clients. And yeah, to feel like we're all pulling in the right direction.
RD: And in addition to all of that you’re also an ED&I champion/consultant for our teams and our clients, is that right?
AH: Yes! I think that with everything that we do, we are here to support with recruitment and a big part of recruiting and solving talent challenges is making sure that we open talent pools. And one of the particular challenges that we find in STEM is that there are a huge number of underrepresented groups that clients are just not able to access for one reason or another. So being able to be a champion for equity diversity and inclusion within my role and within everything that I do helps to align with what we're trying to achieve as a business - it helps our customers to find more talent and to fill more vacancies.
And in turn, as we know, businesses that are more diverse are more successful. I feel quite privileged and lucky to be able to do this as part of my day job.
It's really important and it's fantastic that I am able to do that as part of my role at Gattaca.
RD: Can you tell us a bit about what drives you to be a champion?
AH: There's a few different things, I think. I think with anything, a lot of it will come from your own sort of lived experiences and your own sort of situation and your life. So, I am a part time working mum of two and I've been working part time at Gattaca for about 8 years. I think just sort of almost being an underrepresented group, if you like, particularly within STEM and recruitment tends to be fairly sort of male dominated. Forgive the generalisation, but at the moment, it is true.
I think that it, you know, that lived experience of facing adversity and you know, wanting to make sure that.
We breakdown those barriers not just for people like me, but for for all of our candidates. You know our potential talent that we want to get into the organisations that we recruit for. I think being able to tap into your lived experience helps you to be a champion and to be passionate about that.
But it is a passion as well. And I think that generally when we speak to clients, when we speak to other people, I also feel quite strongly about the fact that we are all - we should all - be socially responsible and we are all responsible for driving equity, diversity and inclusion within the companies that we work for, and we have that extra responsibility to drive that within the companies that we support with recruitment and partnership services.
RD: I always think when I listen to you speak Bells that it's so easy to get caught up in your passion. It's very much infectious and that can be seen any time I've heard you speak to clients or colleagues about this! It's it really does matter, and you can tell that you really you truly believe in it as well, which is brilliant. And so, this year has really been a kick off for Solutions ED&I work, hasn’t it? Can you walk us through that journey?
AH: Yeah again, I think it's one of those things where you know, because we are so close to a lot of our customers within solutions that you know we have the privilege of being very close to our customers and really understanding their strategies, their goals and actually ED&I is not just a ‘hot topic’ - I hate that cliche that it's a ‘hot topic’ - it's something that all of our customers and clients are talking about.
Everybody's realising that again to achieve business success, you need to have that diverse group of people around your table for every decision that you're making for your business and the customers and communities that you serve.
We do have these conversations with our clients and sort of over the last year we've realised that this is a really important part of what they're looking to achieve and an important part of us aligning what we're doing and our objectives for them within these different areas and topics.
I mean we could talk on and on about ED&I and sustainability and EVP and other areas. I feel like this is almost just one pillar that we know we need to focus on, so it really was initially sort of borne from essentially knowing that this is on our customer's radar.
And knowing we've got to meet that challenge and we've got to go on that journey with them and just make sure that we're supporting them.
Within our division, we have almost a mini-steering group if you like. We do have a sort of a dotted line into our wider Gattaca ED&I group, which is great. I always know what's going on within Gattaca and can feed that back through to clients and everybody within our division.
But what that steering group has allowed us to do is really elevate our service offerings and specifically within ED&I. It’s also really helped us elevate this topic and elevate this as something we want to be really driving for our clients.
Again, it really comes back to we have even higher challenges within STEM. You know we're here to fulfil our clients’ positions and grow their businesses. With that in mind it's even more important to make sure that we are able to attract the right talent and open up those talent pools for them.
You know, it really is a passion of mine. To be able to build that into part of my role and bring these actions to life and bring the steering group to life. Yeah, it has really been an amazing journey and it hasn't stopped.
We're going to keep moving forward with our journey and building things, making things bigger and better all the time and having the support and backing of Gattaca for that has been second to none. And that's really amazing.
RD: And you've done some incredible sessions this year with our clients and that I know colleagues have really kind of taken value from as well. How was session one, you know this is the first-time Gattaca Solutions have kind of ever done anything like this. I don't know whether this is the first time you personally have done anything like that - I'd love to know what was going through your head during that session.
AH: I'll be very honest and because I like to be honest and authentic. I think it's important. It was really nerve-wracking, and you know you’re right we've run sort of roundtable events, you know before COVID, and we have tried to sort of group clients together and create similar communities - COVID unfortunately did pretty much put a stop to that us doing something like this.
It’s incredible now where we're specifically focusing on ED&I we're working with our you know our solutions clients. We've been really lucky to attract some great guest speakers to our events as well.
You’re right, it for me it was really new, really nerve-wracking. You just want it to be successful as an event in itself, you know you want people to enjoy the event.
But I think the most important thing really was to create a safe space for people to have open discussions, share their journeys, realise that we're all different with our journeys and it's okay to have not started or to have started and be not sure where to go next and these sessions really enabled that space.
And now there’s a fantastic community that we've managed to bring together, and those communities have come with us on a journey through the further sessions that we've run throughout the year.
I'm really proud, actually really proud, of what we've sort of achieved and it is hard work getting things off the ground like this and organising events. But I think ultimately achieving that safe space and having those really detailed discussions is amazing.
RD: I think that's really interesting and, you know, I've attended a couple of the sessions and that's definitely the kind of the energy that I get from the client's involved, that they are just really pleased to be in the room and you inevitably have, you know, the first kind of half hour of the day where everyone settles into it being a safe space. But by the end of the day, it's so energising and everyone's so ingratiated in conversation and it's just brilliant. Brilliant to witness.
I'm wondering whether there were any sort of surprise responses to it, or what was the reception like for you, whether were clients heard that you were doing this and they were immediately on board or was it more of a case of this is going to be great, trust us.
AH: Yeah, I think again, there's a lot of vulnerability with ED&I particularly for everybody, with any business, you know want to be seen as the ones that are leading the way. But it's tricky to get things off the ground and sometimes you have just got to start somewhere.
It’s tricky even with businesses being vulnerable and open about some of their challenges. It's almost like maybe they don't want to sort of expose themselves. But again, I think that what we've tried to do with that was to break that barrier down to say that the only way that we can.
You sort of help each other – you get to go on this journey together and to be open and discuss and move things forward. I think that we the reception from people and how people have sort of viewed this has been really good and just really, really, really positive.
We've almost got sort of two separate cohorts that we've running at the moment. You know we invited people to the first event - they couldn't make it, but they came to the second event. Naturally it's tough, isn't it? We're all busy and you have to work around diaries and things like that. But again, we've tried to make sure that there are lots of opportunities for people throughout the year to be part of this.
People have been really receptive to ‘what's next?’ for this. It’s been ‘What sessions are you running next?’ and ‘What's coming up?’ because again they enjoy talking about these really important things, but also being with each other and getting to know some people that face very similar challenges and are really trying to drive this forward themselves.
RD: You’re now planning the finale session for 2023 - what’s on the agenda?
AH: Absolutely yes. Plans are afoot. We're going to be running an event in October, Thursday the 12th of October. I think that timing wise, it follows on quite nicely from National Inclusion Week, which is the last week of September. It’s quite deliberate that went for that time of the year because again, everybody will have some great talking points about some of the activities that they've achieved during that week or they can hear some of the stories about what others have achieved to make their plans for the next year.
The events that we have run so far have been quite focused on specific sessions, workshops and learnings as well as working together in groups and collaborating - this finale session is going to be much more of a conference style event.
The topic that we're going to be focusing on is lived experience. Again, we've got some really great speakers lined up and we're working with some of our clients who will be coming to speak at the event as well about their lived experience, their journeys with ED&I - what they're planning for the next year's themselves and also within their strategies.
And so, it's going be more of a sort of a fireside chat and panel setup with lots of opportunities for networking - because actually some of the feedback that we've had from the events is that people do love to be able to actually just have a coffee, meet some new people and have some time to talk as well.
It’s really important that we create some space for just people to get to know each other a little bit within those within that cohort and community that we're building.
RD: That's amazing. And yeah, I can testify to that, that the networking portions of the day have been, glowingly reviewed. And I've had some really incredible conversations in those as well, which have surprised me, you attend as a Gattacan and you think ‘I'm mostly going to know the kind of content that comes up here’. But no, not at all. They're networking sessions, the conversations, that dialogue, and again, we won't repeat it word for word because it is a safe space, but it's so so insightful.
It's worth saying that this is only the beginning. I know we refer to the finale session, but obviously that's 2023 and we've had such an incredible year with it - you've had such an incredible with year with it Bell - but we're excited for 2024 as well.
AH: Absolutely. I've got lots of ideas. I'm very much an ideas person. I've got lots of things written down, but again, we'll be led by our clients and we want to know – and we do always ask for feedback - what it is that they're hoping to achieve.
And we're really flexible. You know, we can run workshops, webinars, and host conferences. We’ve got some great capacity and capability to really service the needs of the clients and make sure that everything we do is really fulfilling and worthwhile.
RD: If you could give one piece of advice to anybody looking to champion ED&I what would it be?
AH: Oh gosh this is quite a quite a hard one! I think using your lived experience is really important because again, it's it all comes down to authenticity - it's okay to be vulnerable and it's okay for you to talk about your own lived experience.
I mean, we've all been through recruitment processes, be them terrible or be them amazing. So don't underestimate the power of your own knowledge. Sort of stemming from that - ask questions! Be curious! Go down those rabbit warrens when you're doing your research and you're looking for information.
It is important to nurture your passion, like any passion. You've got to take care of it and treat it well and make sure that you're really sort of building everything that that you know and that you want to know. And what books you want to read and what guest speakers you want to come along next session because you've seen some fantastic content on LinkedIn. You know, it's all about kind of making sure that you're living and breathing it all in an authentic way.
But yeah, very much speaking from your own perspective, a lot of the time about any adversities that you may have faced and really thinking about that lived experience, and in the world of recruitment about the candidate experience. And how it can really lead to success for, for everybody and from that social, economic perspective.
RD: Incredible thanks ever so much for joining us Bells. This topic is so inspiring and so important, for every. Single. Person. on this planet.
It really comes back to that, be the change that you want to see.
And so, we would encourage people that if they would like to come along to the event, they can get in touch with you via email: Annabel.Honour@Gattacaplc.com and also to connect with you on LinkedIn @Annabel Honour. For more information on on Inclusive Recruitment click here.