Duncan Short is Director of Resources for social housing company VIVID, he recently spoke with Rosie Jenkins about his career and how the company is approaching ED&I.
What challenges are you and the team currently facing?
I think there are both challenges and opportunities. COVID and its impact have been a huge part of work for most of this year. Firstly the whole piece of enabling people to work from home, putting in place the right support, then adapting our process – recruitment, onboarding, disciplinary and grievances etc.
VIVID didn’t stop so we to move quickly to adapt. Now the challenge it’s all about taking the “best” of what we have done and looking to apply this permanently going forwards.
We have to learn from this year and move forwards rather than moving back to what we did before.
How has Covid-19 changed your role as HRD? What lies ahead (trends, topics) for you in the next 6-12 months?
I am not sure the role has changed as a result of COVID but I do think our response to COVID supported a lot of what HR has been saying for a number of years – flexible working does work, you can trust and empower people, change can happen quickly etc.
The trick and challenge will be to build on this. I think in particular how do you keep the “culture” of an organisation alive and relevant as people are increasingly dispersed and remote.
ED&I is hot on the HR agenda at present, what actions have you taken around this topic?
We have recently published our first “ethnicity pay report” which is calculated in exactly the same way as the gender pay report.
We were pleased with the overall results which showed a median difference of 1.8% but it also identified areas we need to focus on.
We are all pleased with the progress on gender pay which has shown an improvement from a median difference of 13.5% in 2017 to 1.2% in 2020.
The highlight of our year was winning the CIPD award for best Mental Health Initiative which was a great reward for the hard work that many people had put in.
What impact has the use of technology had (the fourth industrial revolution) on how you deliver HR to the business?
I think to be honest we are at the start of the journey but I think there is much more that we can do to harness technology to enable people to enjoy and contribute at work.
What would you change within the benefit of hindsight?
It would be to have been willing to take a few more risks and challenge myself a bit more. The fear of failure is often far greater than the failure itself and more often than not you won’t fail anyway!
What advice/hints/tips would you give an aspiring HRD?
I think my advice to anyone, be they in HR or not, would be to want to continually learn, want to continually improve, keep evolving and keep looking for the challenge and change.
The very best people always want to get better and if they make a mistake they learn from it and move on.