Simon Holden, chief operating officer at CityFibre, talks to Comms Business about the company’s approach to diversity and inclusion.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Why did CityFibre form a diversity and inclusion network?
Simon Holden (SH): The benefits of creating a fully diverse and inclusive business culture are well documented. By expanding the diversity of your employees, you expand the breadth of opinions, ideas and creativity within your organisation, enabling you to be more innovative, more informed and more in tune with your customers and society at large.
But for diversity to truly work, you must ensure everyone has a voice and everyone’s voice is heard and valued. Staff need to feel empowered to speak up and share their thoughts and opinions and those thoughts and opinions need to be properly considered.
CBM: When was it set up, and what have you achieved?
SH: We created our Diversity & Inclusion network last year and it includes separate gender, disability, cultural and LGBT+ networks, all with a director as network lead and multiple volunteers from across the business.
We already have over 50 active volunteers across the four networks and almost half of our total workforce attended the different network launch events. It’s still early days but we are delighted with the interest and engagement so far.
In 2020, we achieved our first D&I goal to increase our hires of women by 25 per cent. We also increased our recruitment and inclusion of ex-military personnel through a specific recruitment programme.
CBM: What are your core aims going forward?
SH: Our core aim is to drive an inclusive culture throughout the entire business where every member of staff feels confident to be themselves in the workplace. If people are happy at work, we believe they are likely to be able to perform at their best. We are building on this through our ‘The CityFibre Way’ culture and behaviours which promote teamwork, solving challenges, working with energy and passion and developing a long-term legacy that we can all be proud of.
Our D&I networks are accessible to all staff and clearly promoted through our internal comms, regular ‘all staff’ calls and via our useful intranet, encouraging staff from all over the business to get involved and have their say.
CBM: Why did you decide to create different networks?
SH: Each network has a different area of focus and differing priorities and aspirations. By creating focused groups, we are able to ensure each network has adequate resource and support and we can target goals which make a real difference to the relevant employees.
This way it’s easier to hear everyone’s voice, to ensure everyone has a say and to do our best to create an environment where everyone can be successful. We’ve found this approach is working well so far.
CBM: What do employees think of the networks?
SH: The interest in the new D&I programme and the networks from staff has been amazing, we’ve received really positive feedback from across the business and this is backed up by the engagement and involvement we are already seeing.
At the end of 2020 we also executed an employee voice survey to ensure we were supporting our staff effectively and the results demonstrated a positive culture across the business with an employee satisfaction score which benchmarks us towards the very top of all companies around the world.
CBM: How do you bring ideas that start in the network out into the business?
SH: There are several routes to ensure we make it as easy as possible for all staff to contribute and have their voices heard. Feedback comes through the networks and into the senior sponsors who feedback to the Executive Team directly but, sometimes staff prefer to go through the HR team or through a specific manager or department and that’s fine too.
We are fortunate to be building a new business segment with fibre networks and, that means we can create a company where the foundations of diversity and inclusion are embedded in our DNA from the start of our journey as we scale the business.
CBM: How do you ensure your D&I strategies start at the top and stretch into every area of your business?
SH: Our D&I strategy is led from the very top, with our shareholders and board seeing this as key to a successful business. Our CEO Greg Mesch drives its importance throughout the business. D&I is one of the responsible business pillars and has involvement from myself, all of our Executive Team, our HR team supporting the initiatives as well as the network sponsors all being at Director level.
It’s talked about regularly and is weaved through the work we do from the engagement survey, to recruitment, to our strategic partnerships as well our direct employee engagement such as D&I specific events.
As a business we fully appreciate the overwhelming benefits of a fully inclusive culture to an organisation and it’s something we plan to develop and drive, especially as we continue to grow at pace.