22 Jun Our CIT interview with Sarah Simcoe
Networks that underpin business change by:
Head of Business Enablement EMEIA, Business & Applications Services EMEIA, Fujitsu (day job)
Chair – SEED, Fujitsu UK and Ireland
PurpleSpace Ambassador (Voluntary)
This is Sarah Simcoe, Head of Business Enablement EMEIA, Business & Applications Services EMEIA at Fujitsu, Chair at SEED, Fujitsu UK and Ireland and voluntary ambassador at PurpleSpace. Working within the IT industry has allowed her to focus and improve Fujitsu as a business and increase its effectiveness.
Contracts IT spoke with Sarah about the positives around Fujitsu’s inclusive workforce initiatives, whilst finding more about Fujitsu’s SEED network and Fujitsu as a whole. It was inspiring to hear about the value of building a network in order to create a collaborative environment and how accessibility and inclusion can help to improve the business.
- What defines you as a network and why does it work?
In supporting an inclusive and respectful environment where our people feel confident in being themselves we established SEED Disability Employee Network in 2013 working with Kate Nash Associates. In May 2015 we experienced a major Network overhaul and shift in approach with the appointment of a new Chair, Sarah Simcoe, and co-Chair, Julia Merritt. Both were new to Diversity and Inclusion activity but had strong business outcome driven backgrounds as well as a passion for affecting positive change due to personal experiences. At the heart of their plan was a drive to ensure that the business took an appropriate approach to supporting and enabling colleagues with a disability, to enable them to thrive in their roles, feel good about being who they are and to enable them to contribute fully. This approach saw the creation and introduction of #BeCompletelyYou, the SEED born campaign that has now been adopted across Fujitsu UK and Ireland for encouraging and enabling our people to feel that they can indeed bring them complete authentic selves to work. Winning the Right Way requires us all to come together and support one another.
You can read more about the change of approach for SEED Network by reading the first SEED Blog.
- What are your achievements?
We understood the need to build a strategy that focuses on business outcomes delivering value back to our business, customers and our people. A consultative approach was taken by listening to Fujitsu employees, to existing Network members, to peers from other networks, to the Executive Sponsor and to the experts in the field. On the basis of this a comprehensive strategy for the network was developed and a plan that would enable us to deliver real positive business change. Aligned across the 5 R’s, Recruitment, Retention, Representation, Realisation and Reputation the strategy prioritises actions across Disability Confident, Communication & Awareness, Building an Effective Network and Accessibility & Enablement. Twelve months on from this change of approach, and with an increase of in excess of 250% in Community Members, an increase of 40% of employees sharing that they have a disability health condition or long term injury and an increase of 55% of employees signing up to the Fujitsu Disability & Adjustment Passport, the approach and plan is working and bringing about the change in environment required for all.
- What is your ultimate goal?
Our vision is to “Promote and bring about inclusion and equality for individuals with disabilities, health conditions or long term injuries” and the real end goal is to be recognised as an inclusive and disability confident employer of choice, one that supports and enables all employees to achieve their full potential, an organisation that truly demonstrates, at all levels of the organisation, #BeCompletelyYou. I think we have made great progress, now we must continue to improve and evolve.
- Is there a model for success?
Part of the success associated with the SEED Strategy & Plan is to build a Network that is interactive, proactive and active and that the connection and engagement is visible and palpable for all. The creation of a collaborative community site, focused on driving the interaction between Network and our people, has been part of the change and instrumental to seeing the increase in members. The telling of stories is also one of the primary tools that SEED Network has used in creating momentum in delivering against their plan, of building connection, of increasing awareness and disability confidence and raising the profile of SEED. The power of a personal story and social media is acknowledged and has been proven to enable real change over the last twelve months. We have leveraged tools such as ‘Telling Stories’ created by PurpleSpace and on our Network collaboration site we have a number of such stories where employees have openly shared the detail of their disability, injury or condition and how Fujitsu and SEED have made a difference to their working lives. It creates a ripple effect, the more people are prepared to be brave and share their story, the more we encourage everyone to feel comfortable and confident in doing the same. Our #BeCompletelyYou campaign lends itself to encouraging that behaviour, to feel proud and accepting of who we really are. When we make the powerful experiences available via social media, then we are also able to reach out to those that may otherwise feel isolated.
- What can others take away from what you’re doing and implement it in their organisations?
I don’t believe there is a magic formula, but experience tells us that understanding where you are heading and organising people, network and community around a common goal will help people to visualise what you are trying to achieve. If we can see the end goal, and see our part to play in getting there then there is a far greater desire from people to get involved and take action. A successful network doesn’t come easily, it does require hard work and tenacity. Part of the SEED approach is to assign Champions to key areas, e.g. Social Media, Workplace Adjustments, Digital Accessibility, Community Site, Recruitment and in providing areas of responsibility for individuals to focus on I have seen an increase in activity, its easier to measure and not so overwhelming to roll your sleeves up and get involved when it is in a distinct area. We are now look to recruiting volunteers as Champions for Autism, Cancer and Carers.
- What would you wish to be known for?
For the Network, I’d like it to be known as a Network that underpins positive business change, that has impacted an inclusive environment within Fujitsu and is seen as a value add to all employees. For me personally, when my time as Chair ends I hope I leave a legacy of passion and commitment to continually strive to improve and to have helped to influence disability confidence within our organisation.
If we get it right for ourselves, as employers, as employees, for our suppliers and for our customers, then we will continue to increase retention and attract talent to our organization.
Follow her on Twitter: @SarahSimcoe
At Contracts IT, we nurture a strong diversity ethic, championing difference and inclusive best practice in the world of IT recruitment. By embracing the power of smart and inclusive recruitment we drive innovation, aid economic growth and provide our clients with a business advantage.