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Socio-Economic Diversity, Gender Balance, Bridging The Age Gap and Mental Health | LeadersHub Recap 2019

On Wednesday 23rd October, we launched our inaugural LeadersHub event.

We decided, some months back, to build a community of amazing leaders, with a purpose of connecting brilliant people, creating a safe space for those leaders to share their leadership stories, best practices and ideas, and overall to facilitate a community where leaders can connect and leverage each other’s networks and knowledge.

We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback from our first event – the buzz in the room was electric and it was so fantastic to see and hear how to engage the participants were! A summary of the discussion points is below, and we really look forward to our next LeadersHub event in January of next year.

Topic 1: Social-economic diversity – for Hiring, Retaining and Developing a more diverse talent pool

Location, Location, Location – does it really matter?

Some people in the room really could relate to this, as they’d also come from a less desirable (in the eyes of the typical employers in the corporate world!) socio-economic background and had experienced discrimination throughout their career. All leaders agreed that the fact should be, even though you might move to a different address and it changes people’s perception of you, it doesn’t change the person you are, and it definitely does not change your work ethic.

It was given as an example that HubSpot has brought in a hiring policy to prevent such discrimination by allowing people who don’t have a 3rd level degree to apply for roles within their company. Another great example was from someone who held a board-level position who told us about the anonymisation of CV’s aka the “Blind CV Reading” method, that helps remove the unconscious bias in the hiring process. This allows you to focus in on what the candidate brings in terms of skills set rather than college and location.

One question that was brought up around this topic was how we get 2nd and 3rd level students from diverse backgrounds to aspire for a career earlier on in their life, as it often can be too late to encourage this in their teens as they lose that sense of self-belief.

A solution to this came from Microsoft, who historically had invited primary schools to visit their EMEA HQ, but realised that only schools from affluent areas had the resources to facilitate these visits, so recently reorganized this programme in such a way that Microsoft go out to visit schools on their own premises, so that schools from a diverse range of communities could see and hear what a career at Microsoft offers and to encourage kids from a young age (and from all backgrounds) to believe that the doors were open to them.

Parametric testing is a great solution, as it recognises good candidates based on the skill sets needed. It weeds out the gender/education stereotypes selection method and goes purely based on skills.

Our MC of the day, Tim McCarthy, also added a great point that it is

“our job as leaders is to give everyone the same chance – and this takes courage. We don’t get a choice in our families, gender or the neighbourhood we were born into. Take people in face value for what they are”.

Topic 2: Mental & Emotional Wellness, and non-visible Health Conditions – a Leaders Responsibility?

It’s about walking the walk, not just talking the talk. How, as Leaders, do we identify people with mental or emotional health issues and not let them feel isolated?

Leaders need to encourage employees to be open and vulnerable. Employees need to feel comfortable when sharing their problems, so it’s important to be a leader that is approachable and to talk about your own stories and your own experiences. By sharing your own vulnerabilities, it shows trust in your team.

The room also agreed that a lot of this must also come from the top down, and be embedded in your culture. As leaders, it is important to educate the c-suite team as It is that educational piece at the top that could make a real difference.

Another good tip is to not encourage late nights in the office by setting an example. This could be done by not sending emails if you’re working late and to leave at a reasonable hour.

A great comment by one of the leaders in the room “do we want people to work harder? The answer is no. We want our talent to work smarter, more efficiently and be able to sleep at night and not be overwhelmed or stressed”.

It was also mentioned that is important for people to take responsibility for their own mental health as it can’t all fall onto the leader – they need to want to help themselves.

Final note that was brought up on this topic was that mental health issues must be a year-round priority, not just for mental health days. How can we make it part of our culture?

“People want to know what you care, before they care what you know” – Tim McCarthy

Topic 3: Bridging the Generational Gap – Leading, Managing and Fulfilling Millennial and Gen Z teams

Having respect for each other bridges the age gap. We need to understand the younger generation more and have more empathy towards them – our answers aren’t always the right answers.

We need to listen to them more and let them show what projects their working on. A good way of doing this is to introduce sharing sessions into your company.

A great point that was added was how the younger generation can feel pressured to climb the career ladder and as leaders we need to manage their expectations. We can do this by helping them understand what skills they need to work on to get to the next level and make them aware of the skills gap. It can also be helpful to share your career journey as a leader and make it more realistic for them.

Social events are a great solution to bridge the gap between the older and younger generation and gets everyone involved and interacted with one another. For social events HubSpot allows them to finish work at 2 pm, which suits the younger gen but also suits parents who want to be home earlier for their families.

Tim ended this on the note of respect…

“We need to respect for everyone’s role. We need to listen to all ages, because everyone brings everything to the table. Open communication means everyone’s point of view will matter.”

Topic 4: Breaking through the Barrier – The biggest challenges female leaders face today?

“Will I ever get respect for what I am based on my gender?” People in the room found that the higher you go the harder it is to break through the ceiling.

There are often experiences where when a dispute happens in the workplace between a man and a woman, the woman is often regarded as too emotional, when they show any sort of passion about a topic. Woman need to have a bit more confidence to call out men in the workplace.

Politics are an internal part of senior leadership. Women are taught from a young age to do a good job, but realistically, success is about building alliances and playing the political game, which men are taught from a young age and might not come as naturally to women.

Homelife requires a huge amount of mental investment. Dual responsibility is so important for both parties, however it seems like the primary caregiver will always be the women until we, as a culture rebalance that. One of the great quotes of the day – paraphrasing Sheryl Sandberg – is ‘Lean In’ (to family life) – until men lean in on the domestic duties, women will never really be relieved of the primary carer duty, and trying to this on top of building a career, presents a huge demand on time and energy. We have a role, as women, to be allies to men when it comes to parenting. Women need to support dads to allow them to take out more time to spend time with their kids.

Overall quote of the day, from our MC, Tim:

“Don’t be the hero. Be the resource. The hero does the easy thing every time, and the resource does the right thing.”

Details of the January event to follow, but in the meantime thank you to everyone who participated so openly and for sharing your personal experiences.

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