Tag: Green Park

The search for the CEO of unity: an interview with Shruti Bhargava

We are pleased to be working with Unity Homes and Enterprise on the search for their new CEO. Last week I was pleased to interview the organisation’s Chair, Shruti Bhargava, to understand more about the role of the CEO and the part it will play in helping Unity Homes and Enterprise achieve its strategic vision.

#ShrutiBhargava, CEO, Executive Search, Green Park, InterSearch, InterSearch UK, InterSearch Worldwide, interview

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Paolo Piselli joins Green Park as director, change and transformation for private sector

“Organisational Change Management (OCM) is all about helping change stick. Transformations fail when businesses fail to look at the people side of things.”

Paolo Piselli joins Green Park as Director, Change and Transformation for Private Sector.

In autumn 2020, Green Park welcomed a new face to the team: OCM expert Paolo Piselli. Joining the business as a Director in our Private Sector Practice, Paolo is focusing on finding the best Interim Change Management and Transformation professionals for a growing list of clients.

While corporations in the US have long embraced Organisational Change Management (OCM), Europe and the UK and have been slow to reap the benefits. However, times are changing and OCM is gradually being adopted and becoming less of a niche concept. Having worked at the cutting edge of the industry for over a decade, Paolo is ideally placed to deliver the OCM talent that clients need to make their transformations successful.

Paolo began building his expertise 11 years ago with a niche recruitment company that focused on supplying interim Organisational Change and Transformation executives. Quickly rising to Director level and growing his division, he helped find talent for programmes and projects throughout EMEA, APAC, LATAM and the US. In fact, Paolo has been based in the United States for much of his career and has worked with household names including some of the world’s biggest corporations.

Paolo’s now looking forward to bringing this expertise to a market where there’s tremendous potential. “Businesses here are starting to look at OCM and ask themselves if it could bring benefits,” he says. For Paolo, there’s no question that OCM is a game-changer. And statistics confirm that OCM can be pivotal.

“OCM is all about helping change stick. It’s looking at how employees are impacted by transformation and managing it intelligently. Research shows that 70% of transformations fail1, with companies wasting billions. And all because they don’t consider the people side of change.”

So how can OCM help businesses? And what impact can it have? “It’s all about getting ROI and bringing employees on board,” says Paolo.

“Spending millions of pounds on a new IT system doesn’t guarantee it will be a success. Has the business told its employees? Have they explained why it’s needed? Have they explained the impact? And has the busines implemented a training plan, so its people have the skills to use the system? And have they re-organised their business processes? Because this is critical.”

Although Paolo admits that he entered the field of OCM by chance, it’s where he feels he belongs. With all the psychological implications of change implementation, Paolo finds the world of OCM endlessly fascinating.

“I’d like having conversations about OCM whether I was in Recruitment or not. It’s genuinely interesting stuff and makes my job stimulating and enjoyable.”

With the pandemic forcing many organisations to radically re-think the way they work, OCM is more necessary and more multi-faceted than ever.

Paolo looks forward to bringing his specialist knowledge and expertise to clients across an international market.

#private, director, Executive Search, Green Park, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, sector

Reflections on the commission on race and ethnic disparities report

Working to continue tackling racial inequalities and remaining focused on increasing racial dialogue within the workplace

As Head of the Diversity, Inclusion, Culture and Ethics (DICE) Practice and a Partner at Green Park, like many of us I have waited for the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report to be published. Having spoken to many people in my network, it goes without saying that there is both anger and disappointment at some of its conclusions, and its use of language. Senior leaders at Green Park were interviewed for this report, but we feel that our testimonies were lost, particularly concerning the institutionally racist systems in the UK’s largest organisations, which continue to thrive unchecked in a culture linked to personal risk rather than future organisational rewards. Whilst I have now had a chance to read the report comprehensively and gain some more context, I cannot help but feel personally disappointed and saddened for the many people within my family, friendship and professional circles.

Whilst the report did not deny that racism exists in Britain, it concludes that “claims of institutional racism are not borne out” and that there was no evidence “of actual institutional racism”.

It also suggests that the UK should be seen as an international exemplar of racial equality and has played down the impact of structural factors in ethnic disparities.

I personally struggle to accept that the UK should be cited as the model of racial equality. Whilst some organisations have indeed started to focus their efforts on addressing racial inequalities, we also know through our work how much is still to be done. The report goes on to propose that a framework should be put in place that distinguishes between different forms of racial disparity, detailing what is an “Explained” or “Unexplained” disparity. Of the organisations that the DICE team support, many are unaware of the true reasons behind such difference in outcomes; they lack the data and insight to understand the root causes and, I would suggest, that they would also struggle to assess what would constitute explained or unexplained.

The framework also provides proposed definitions for institutional racism, systemic racism, and structural racism. Whilst these definitions may be helpful, I cannot help but feel that this is somewhat missing the point. The crucial point is surely that disparities and differences in outcomes exist – in work, in society, and across many many systems and services.

Whilst the report details some areas in which more positive trends exist, such as within the educational system, it fails to explore in detail the disproportionate rates of school exclusion, or the ongoing attainment gap in higher education. It also provides examples of analysis which many of us will find extremely disturbing. The report states that it is 4 times more likely for a Black woman to die whilst giving birth than a white woman, yet provides no real insight as to why this is the case, but simply recommends that more research is required.

By not recognising the racial inequalities that still exist in our workplaces, healthcare and educational systems, and in wider society, we will be doing a disservice to the many ethnocultural colleagues, employees, and clients that we try so very hard to support.

When we layer in some of the more known statistics and events – such as the fact that Black people in England and Wales are 9 times more likely to be imprisoned than their white peers, the killing of George Floyd, the Grenfell tragedy, the Windrush scandal, and the disproportionate death rate during Covid 19, I can only imagine how let down some ethnic minority communities must feel at this time. Whilst the opening recommendations of the report focus heavily on the need to build trust within our UK communities, I feel that some of the contents of this report will only serve to damage this very goal.

Through our culture and inclusion audit work we work with private, public and third sector organisations, including government departments, to analyse data, insight and processes, and conduct qualitative and confidential interviews with Black and Asian colleagues. We see first-hand the disproportionate experiences that they face, whether this be in terms of their overall employee experience, within talent management processes, or the levels to which they are faced with microaggressive and racist behaviours. Many of those we interview articulate a lack of a sense of belonging in the workplace and describe how they have had to “dial down” aspects of their race, cultural identity, heritage, or religion, in order to assimilate into the dominant culture. These experiences are not just the perceptions of a few, but they are substantiated by a clear evidence base and data that supports that disproportionate outcomes exist in our workplaces and in our society. These outcomes go on to affect the promotion and progression of some groups. In our Green Park Business Leaders Index, the senior leader representation is both stark and clear, with many industries showing a distinct lack of ethnocultural representation at the most senior leadership levels across UK businesses, and an obvious lack of visibly diverse senior role models.

However, there are a number of recommendations which I do support. For instance, the request for more transparency around ethnicity pay gap reporting, the recommendation to publish a diagnosis and action plan to lay out the strategy for mitigating any disparities, and the need to disaggregate the acronym ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) to better focus on understanding disparities and outcomes for individual ethnic groups. This latter recommendation is an issue that we have been championing for many years now, as we know that this categorisation not only fails to acknowledge and appreciate the individual challenges that each of the B, the A, and the ME group may face, but also shields the true representation of each group within the workplace. The BAME acronym also disguises huge differences in outcomes between ethnic groups.

Within our learning and development programmes, we made a conscious effort many years ago to move away from delivering sessions on unconscious bias and instead focus on the need for inclusive leadership, cultural intelligence (CQ), and racial fluency. Delivering leadership sessions daily, I see first-hand the positive impact that this can have in building broader leadership accountability for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). This has enabled leaders to build improvement plans and apply a DEI lens to the decisions they make. Such realisations amongst the dominant culture of their own personal and organisational biases and the impact they can have in the workplace have enabled ongoing dialogue around race and impactful interventions to be put in place.

So…. Despite some of the report’s conclusions, we must continue to tackle the issue of racial inequalities and remain focused on increasing racial dialogue within the workplace.

What is reassuring is that many of the organisations that we are working with are now taking this issue very seriously and are acknowledging where they are on this journey. They are authentically working to affect change and address racial inequalities. I can only hope that the organisations and their leaders that see only snippets of this report do not just read the headline, but that they delve into the full findings and recommendations and start to educate themselves on the challenge that still lies ahead. I am confident that many of the business leaders that our DICE team supports will stay focused on the plans they have put in place and will measure their progress against the backdrop of their own organisation, by looking closely at employee experiences, promotion rates, attrition rates, local demographics, and acting on the listening feedback that they receive.

As a citizen of the UK and as a professional working at Global level, I do not dispute that compared to other countries we may be further ahead, but we are by no means an exemplar. By not recognising the racial inequalities that still exist in our workplaces, healthcare and educational systems, and in wider society, we will be doing a disservice to the many ethnocultural colleagues, employees, and clients that we try so very hard to support.

#ethnic, #race, Executive Search, Green Park, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, reflections, report, UK

The impact of marginalisation on the imposter phenomenon in the workplace

 There needs to be a shift in onus – we must move the spotlight away from what the individual can do to mitigate their symptoms of imposterism and place it firmly on the systemic cause.

By Corine Sheratte

PART 1: THE IMPOSTER PHENOMENON

I have frequent feelings of imposterism in the workplace; I often find myself doubting others’ positive perceptions of me and questioning the rationale behind any degree of recognition I receive. This disquieting voice only seems to intensify as I progress in my career, as my colleagues start to assume that I can do everything I have always told myself I cannot do:

“Why have they given me a Senior job title? I clearly just got lucky with the hiring manager that interviewed me. They’ll soon find out how incompetent I am and fire me”.

It wasn’t until a close colleague highlighted my tendency to be excessively self-deprecating that I discovered that not only do I often experience imposterism, but it is also a widely shared phenomenon. Habitually misnamed ‘Imposter Syndrome’, psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes first described the Imposter Phenomenon in 1978. It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience symptoms of the Imposter Phenomenon at least once in their lifetime. Clance and Imes found that, despite external evidence of intelligence and ability, many of their female subjects attributed their success to external factors beyond their control such as timing, professional contacts, and luck.

In the pursuit to meet self-determined (and often unrealistic) performance objectives, those experiencing the Imposter Phenomenon typically find themselves overwhelmed with fear that they will never be good enough. A tendency towards perfectionism and sense of inadequacy often lead to burn out and mental ill health, ironically leading to adverse effects on productivity. More specifically, the Imposter Phenomenon can manifest in several ways in the workplace:

  1. The belief that you are less capable than your peers
  2. Feeling undeserving of positive feedback
  3. Turning down opportunities for promotion
  4. Avoidance of feedback
  5. A reluctance to seek help
  6. Excessively risk averse
  7. Indecisiveness
  8. The perception that your success is coincidence
  9. A fear that you will be discovered as incompetent
  10. Overworking to the point of burnout to prove you are ‘good enough’

Marginalisation and Imposterism in the Workplace

Insecurities created by being underrepresented and perceiving a lack of inclusive senior role models in the workplace can facilitate a powerful sense of self-doubt. For example, a recent report has found that 41% of Black women are reporting to be working more than before the pandemic compared to 29.2% of White women. Evidence supports that this is largely due to the increased prevalence of imposterism experienced by Black women and the resulting added pressures of digital presenteeism. Further research shows that for every 100 men brought onto teams and elevated to management, only 72 women experience the same thing. This degree of underrepresentation, particularly at senior tiers, has led to a higher prevalence of experienced imposterism amongst women and BAME (particularly Black) women, and often culminates in increased rates of attrition in the workplace.

Another group affected by imposterism is the LGBT+ community, particularly underrepresented subcultures such as Bisexual and Lesbian women. In fact, data insights show that, despite the safe space created by LGBT+ communities and networks, Lesbian and Bisexual women frequently report feeling socially isolated and excluded from the LGBT+ narrative as it is often perceived to be too white male dominated.

We also know that women have been adversely impacted by Covid-19 in terms of their careers. Whilst many partners now take a more balanced share of child caring responsibilities, it is the case that women are still considered primary care givers and, with schools shutting and the need for relentless home-schooling, many senior women have been open as to how this has impacted their ability to manage their workload, with some stating that the pandemic could have a significant set-back on gender equality for some time. Ultimately, women’s lives implicitly involve a great deal of marginalisation in many contexts, often shaped by patriarchal societal structures.

We can see from the data that an individual’s sense of belonging both inside and outside the workplace is often negatively impacted by persistent instances of micro aggressive behaviours. As a result, internalised feelings of self-doubt and insecurity can ensue, leading to the perception that accomplishments should be harder for them than they are for others. Therefore, it is not surprising that those who experience systemic bias often perceive barriers to progression in the workplace, brought about through experienced levels of imposterism.

PART 2: DRIVING POSITIVE CHANGE

Underrepresented diverse groups often experience imposterism more than their counterparts – evidently, there are systemic reasons for this. Workplace hostility and systemic levels of discrimination heavily work to diminish a sense of belonging for underrepresented groups, so expecting them to swim in the face of a tsunami is hardly realistic. In contrast to what appears to be the status quo across current self-help literature, I therefore believe that we should not be focusing on how such individuals should work to overcome the Imposter Phenomenon; instead, we should be looking at how responsible employers can mitigate its occurrence.

There needs to be a shift in onus – we must move the spotlight away from what the individual can do to mitigate their symptoms of imposterism and place it firmly on the systemic cause. To drive positive change, employers must therefore work intentionally to counteract cultural ineffectiveness that serves to amplify feelings of employee isolation or ‘otherness’, particularly for disproportionately affected diverse talent. I suggest two interdependent ways that organisations can do so:

1) Increase diverse representation
2) Facilitate an inclusive culture

Increase Diverse Representation

Diversity data capture and reporting

Without a representative data baseline, employers will struggle to identify where intervention is needed, particularly where disproportionality exists for diverse talent. Therefore, when it comes to increasing representation of minority groups in the workplace, employers should systematically capture diverse data across the employee lifecycle, such as in recruitment, performance management, succession planning processes, grievance, and exit processes. Technological automation will help employers capture this data and track it consistently. This will enable them to carry out root-cause analysis of emerging trends to identify if any bias exists and implement relevant action plans to mitigate it.

Positive Action vs. Positive Discrimination

As a Senior Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Consultant, I have observed that many employers demonstrate a common misunderstanding between positive action and positive discrimination when they set out to increase diverse representation. This often leads to ineffective organisational decisions, particularly in recruitment and talent management processes. With the implementation of diversity targets, it is thus vital that employers widely communicate why such targets are important and the ways in which positive action can help to drive equity and ‘remove barriers’ rather than give direct access to progression at the disadvantage of others. Not widely communicating the importance of positive action often creates resentment by the majority, leading to a potential backlash from majority employees and increased instances of micro aggressive behaviours. This intensifies experiences of internalised self-doubt and inadequacy amongst underrepresented diverse groups. Therefore, ensuring all are aware of these key concepts will help employers be in a better position to obtain buy-in from staff, thus easing the burden of imposterism amongst underrepresented groups.

Intersectionality

I often observe a large focus on driving the representation of women in the workplace. However, it is not just about gender – it’s about reflecting the myriad ways in which diversity exists by exploring the plurality of identities that we as complex people comprise. For example, we’ve seen in this article that Black women often experience higher levels of imposterism than white women. Additionally, Black Bi-sexual women frequently report feeling like they need to work harder than their counterparts to prove their worth in the workplace due to a perceived triple-glass ceiling. Therefore, employers need to consider how they are driving the representation and inclusion of all diverse characteristics, beyond a sole focus on gender, to improve experiences on a wider scale.

Facilitate an Inclusive Culture

Psychological Safety

It is not enough to increase diverse representation to ease the burden of the Imposter Phenomenon for underrepresented diverse talent. It is also important that employers simultaneously create an environment where difference is accepted in an inclusive working culture. As Google’s Project Aristotle study shows, an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking risks in the workplace is often determined by how inclusive or ‘psychologically safe’ the working culture is. A working environment with high psychological safety encourages employees to feel confident in the decisions they make, as they will be less likely to anticipate embarrassment or punishment from potential mistakes. As diversity of thought and a degree of risk-taking in the workplace is important to sustain competitive advantage, it is therefore important that employers build employee confidence by upskilling leaders through Inclusive Leadership and Cultural Intelligence (CQ) training, alleviating any feelings of self-doubt in an inclusive working environment.

Setting Clear Expectations

Individuals who experience the Imposter Phenomenon often lack the confidence to accomplish future goals or challenges. Therefore, it is important that leaders and managers work with their teams to set specific, measurable, actionable, and timely (SMART) objectives and expectations. Supporting colleagues through sponsorship and mentoring and helping employees to set tangible goals, both short and long-term, will help to mitigate certain levels of uncertainty, enabling employees to have more confidence and believe they can achieve set goals more easily.

Final thoughts

Despite an overwhelming focus in the literature on what individuals can do to manage their own imposterism, it is clear that a systemic level of bias or discrimination helps to facilitate it. Therefore, the burden should not solely be on the individual to overcome imposterism themselves – employers should also be expected to remedy the systems that exacerbate it. As the research shows, marginalised diverse employees tend to experience the highest levels of imposterism in the workplace. Therefore, it is vital that organisations see the value in diverse role models, and in inclusive allies and start to re-evaluate their approach by working in collaboration to eradicate the Imposter Phenomenon all together!

#marginalization, Executive Search, Green Park, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, workplace

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