We feel that we have a responsibility to create positive interventions within the community where we think there’s the highest need and where we can make the greatest impact. We recognize that in a post pandemic world, there are areas where we can help close that gap, whether it’s creating employment opportunities, whether it’s closing the gap in digital poverty, whether it’s creating educational opportunities and re-examining what our role now looks like within the Greater London community?”Jane Hollinshead, Managing Director of People, Culture & Customer Experience
The Canary Wharf Group (CWG) have developed a range of affinity groups, including one on social mobility which as they acknowledge is unusual for a private sector provider in real estate. The Group recognise that they already have, and can, continue to make a positive impact within Tower Hamlets and neighbouring boroughs. They do this through key interventions mechanisms such as social mobility, which has the capacity to create change on a number of levels.
The CWG focused their attention on capturing more meaningful staff data. They have reconfigured the ethnicity breakdown categories for employees so that it is actually representative of the GLA breakdown definitions and benchmarked it by reference to the last Census.
CWG is focussed on capturing data on the socioeconomic backgrounds of their employees as a priority in the short-term to see how they can close the gaps on attraction and retention and promotion between different ethnic groups.
They are also using the data they are gathering on employees’ levels of ability or disability because, as a company that develops public spaces and the built environment, they feel strongly that they must meet their obligations to make reasonable adjustments and create opportunities for people within the business, but also make sure that’s reflected in the spaces that people who are residents of London will spend in their estate.
main photo: CWG Junior board, ©Canary Wharf Group
New Interventions or Initiatives
In 2021, the Group appointed a new Managing Director of People, Culture & Customer Experience (Jane Hollinshead) with an extensive track record in ED&I. The new MD is leading on implementing a holistic strategy designed to enable the Group to function effectively as an inclusive employer and service provider with its people internally as staff and externally as customers. There are three pillars to this work:
- How they create an inclusive place of work internally for their people.
- How they engage with the people in their communities and,
- How they engage with their people as customers on the Canary Wharf Estate.
CWG have launched a campaign called ‘Prefer to Say’ to try to create an environment of trust so that staff recognise the value that sharing this data has.
The Group is rolling out ED&I training to all 1,200 employees, including its works contractors. It has launched a diverse Junior Board in terms of the lived experience, ethnicity, gender and the social mobility of members. Each one of whom ‘reverse mentors’ a member of the main Management Board.
Opportunities and Challenges
The Group recognises that they need to make more positive interventions around the recruitment process in order to create more equality and equity.
There is more work to be done on closing pay gaps and bonuses and salaries and assignments within the employee lifecycle.
In terms of opportunities, CWG recognises the importance of changes that are going on in society and shifts in terms of the next generation’s expectations of what working life will be like.
The biggest challenge for CWG is doing too much too quickly because people get fatigued, and it doesn’t stick. They are therefore choosing to do fewer things better.
Another big challenge around ED&I for CWG is effective communication. With an organisation that is as big as the Canary Wharf Group, they feel they need to be thoughtful around their communication channels and how to have the highest impact and the broadest reach that’s inclusive, but they also think it is a massive opportunity.
The new MD, Jane Hollinshead, has worked in the industry for 30 years, the change that she saw from external driving forces such as the death of George Floyd was the fact that people could no longer be bystanders, silence wasn’t an option.
Jane feels companies have a responsibility to introduce positive ED&I interventions and she sees her role as creating a holistic thread around ED&I, which looks at issues such as social mobility and deprivation with an intersectional lens.
She believes that a lot of the divisions and crises in society such as Brexit, the death of George Floyd and Covid have become more pronounced and so it’s the responsibility of companies to step up even more and play a part in closing that gap.
Successful Outcomes or Metrics
CWG sees the Junior Board as a great opportunity for development for the next generation to share their insights with the main Management board, but also for the Group to maintain an awareness of issues and measure impact.