We recently caught up with Heather to discuss diversity and inclusion (D&I) at abrdn. As the Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at abrdn, Heather had some great insights into what working at the firm is like, their inclusive culture and how they’re creating a more diverse workforce. Read on to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at abrdn
I work in abrdn’s Global D&I team as a Senior D&I Consultant. As a team we are both strategic and operational, working on the D&I strategy with the business and also doing operational activities. We work with colleagues and leaders from across the business to make sure D&I is embedded into everything we do. For example, I work with procurement to make sure that we consider diversity and inclusion when we’re choosing suppliers.
My role varies widely from designing and implementing the D&I strategy with the business, to supporting our employee networks, to working with the regulators and government, to facilitating events and conversations about aspects of D&I - all with the goal of creating a safe and inclusive culture for all our colleagues.
What does D&I look like at abrdn?
Strategy is a big word, but for us, it’s much simpler than that. Our overall aim is inclusion – to have a culture and workplace where people can reach their potential and be valued for who they are. For us, D&I is about 3 things: the talent we bring in and up (diversity), the culture and environment we create to harness that diversity (inclusion) and the need to be courageous and purpose led. We approach D&I in different ways:
The first direction is PLC wide including procurement, branding, sponsorship and environmental social governance (ESG) – it’s how D&I is embedded in everything we do. We not only have a commitment as an employer but as an investor. So, we think about what we do for our own colleagues as well as making sure that we are investing in companies who think about D&I in the same way that we do.
The second looks at how our leaders are demonstrating their commitments. Each leader sets their own local inclusion commitments, these are published for everyone to see and so that they can understand what it means for them and how they can get involved. These could be about how we bring diverse talent into and through the organisation, or D&I learning and development that local areas are doing, or commitments around flexible and inclusive ways of working.
Finally, the third direction is the employee-led aspects such as our employee networks. Because, at abrdn, we believe that, although our leaders should drive change, everybody should be a part of creating a more inclusive workplace.
What are the four key pillars of abrdn’s approach to D&I?
We want to make sure everyone feels like they can be their authentic self and do their best work. This is where our four key pillars come in:
- Embedding D&I into our purpose – this looks at how we can embed D&I into not just the company strategy, but each of our business areas
- Creating an inclusive and agile place to work – we identify how our employees can work in a way that suits their needs and makes them feel included, valued and be able to perform their best
- Bringing diverse talent into the organisation – we focus on how we can reach out to and connect with different groups of candidates. Once we have attracted colleagues, we want to ensure that they all develop, progress and stay with us
- Making abrdn a great place to work – we look at ways to make sure our employees feel included and valued every day
And, to make sure that we are on track with our overall aim we use data insights to track our progress, making sure that we are achieving the positive change we strive for.
What employee networks do you have at abrdn?
We have six employee networks, each with a different focus, and we also have three regional inclusion groups. About a third of all colleagues are part of at least one of these meaning they have a great reach across the company. In the UK we have the following groups:
- Ethnicity and multicultural network (Unity)
- Gender network (Balance)
- Mental health network (Mind Matters)
- LGBT+ network (Lighthouse)
- Armed forces network (AFN)
- Early career stage network (NextGen)
How are the networks led?
It’s our employees who are the driving forces of these networks, they are entirely employee-led so my role is to connect them to the company priorities and actions, and to make sure they can access the resources and sponsorship they need. Our networks work well together and often combine forces to host events and initiatives that empower and connect our employees.
Do you have any plans, goals and objectives for D&I at abrdn?
We have targets and objectives in the business, which are evolving all the time. We track how included and valued colleagues feel at abrdn, and have targets focused on representation, looking at how we can make sure there is a balanced representation of genders and ethnicities in our board, at senior leadership level and across the entire organisation. As well as being the right thing to do, we know diverse teams make better decisions, are more innovative and good for business! Targets are great to make sure we’re on track, and although currently our focus is on gender and ethnicity, we strive to make sure that we are thinking about all aspects of diversity – everything that makes us who we are..
You can find out a whole host of information about our priorities, what we are doing to achieve our goals, and what our plans are going forward by taking a look at our latest Diversity and Inclusion Report.
If abrdn sounds like the place for you – check out the latest opportunities on the profile here.