One me, One Sigma – a Q&A with Scott Evans
Our business has been built around ensuring the entire Sigma Connected Group is a diverse and inclusive organisation, with opportunities open to all, across the UK, South Africa and Australia.
This year we wanted to take our commitment to diversity & inclusion further and have launched our new diversity & inclusion programme titled ‘One Me, One Sigma’, which is a new strategy designed in collaboration with colleagues from across the business.
With that in mind, here in our latest Q&A, we caught up with our HR Director Scott Evans to chat more about the strategy, what it means for us as a business, and how he believes it will make a difference.
Q. Hi Scott, and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to come and chat to us about the new
strategy. Perhaps we start by asking where the idea for ‘One me, One Sigma’ came from?
To take things back to the start. We actually started thinking about putting something in place last year in order to have one overarching diversity, inclusion & equity strategy.
By chance, I was visiting our offices in South Africa when a small group from the operational team and advisors came to see me. It happened to be ‘Pride Month’ and they told me about an idea they had to launch a similar initiative which they wanted to call DNA (Definitions Not Applicable).
I thought this was a tremendous idea but also had the scope to be much bigger. So, after holding a number of sessions with them, the start of ‘One me, One Sigma’ was born and really did help move things on at a much faster pace. I loved the fact that it was a diversity programme that was to be built by our people. What I also love about this initiative is that it is very much community driven by our employees and there is absolute buy-in from Exec level, so our people know they can get support for initiatives they want to put forward as part of this.
It was also decided each region would set up their own DNA committee – made up of a group of employees that will form and drive the activity that they will work on as part of the strategy. The committee will also help us identify new external partnerships to work with and are the ears and boots on the ground.
Q. What building blocks did you have to put in place to get the strategy off the ground?
At the end of February, we launched a new Diversity, Inclusion & Equity survey. This meant we could get a real-time view of how diverse we are currently, what we do well, and what we could be better at.
Within the survey there was an option for people to put their names forward to form part of the DNA committees in their regions. The survey was concluded mid-March and committees formed early April and now the real work starts.
At the core of it, and I talk from my own personal experience, Sigma is naturally a very welcoming, inclusive and family-orientated business. That culture is driven from the top and how they expect us to treat one another, along with the importance of protecting our unique culture. We wanted to put some formality around this and make sure as we grow that this continues to be at the forefront of our thought processes, as it is our hearts.
Some businesses do DI&E really well, others not so much, and some are just getting started. They generally tend to focus on one or two groups of society. We wanted to come up with something that was really broad so we can recognise everyone’s uniqueness, whilst supporting and raising awareness around those groups who may not have previously had the same opportunities as others.
Ensuring that every single person, regardless of their background, age, race, culture, ability, gender or sexual orientation feels a genuine sense of belonging at Sigma and has the opportunity to contribute was and always will be massive for us, this is how our strategy name was born, ‘One Me, One Sigma’.
For Sigma Connected this was one of the main reasons behind ‘One me, One Sigma’, to ensure it was broad enough to reach, represent and positively impact as many people as possible rather than only focusing on specific groups.
I genuinely believe Sigma is already the most inclusive employer I know. We are already in a good place so now we should focus on showcasing to our people a forum for their unique voice and that they are part of a family and fully part of what we are doing.
Q. And what were the main learnings from the survey?
We looked at the data and the information collated to give us a benchmark on where we currently are from a diversity perspective, as well as to give us a deeper understanding of where we want to get to.
Interesting and positive results from the survey were that we have colleagues from 12 different ethnic backgrounds, the majority are female, and we have representation from people who identify as gender nonconforming that exceeds the percentage of the UK population who identify with this demographic, based on data from the Office for National Statistics.
We asked a series of questions around how people felt about Diversity, Inclusion & Equity at Sigma. I am so happy that none of these questions had a negative NPS result, all were positive! Our highest scoring questions were ‘Leadership understands that diversity is critical to our future success’, ‘people feel respective by their colleagues, ‘People of all identities with a different range of backgrounds have equitable opportunity to advance their careers with Sigma’, ‘Sigma Connected spends time and energy into building diverse teams’ and ‘Sigma Connected values diversity’.
Vitally, we also had 272 colleagues expressing their interest in joining one of the regional DNA committees. As I said, these people will help drive the programme going forward and the data is also key as it will highlight where the programme is working and what needs to change further.
All of this has solidified what we already knew, Sigma Connected is at his core an incredibly kind, nurturing, inclusive & diverse business. We are so excited to now take this to the next level.
Q. Can I ask why the strategy is important to us as a business?
We want people to be the authentic version of themselves when they come to work and feel included – whether that relates to culture, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disabilities, age, or abilities.
We don’t want any of our policies or processes to become barriers and put people off working or staying with us. We want all of our people to know that ‘we see them’ and have a really genuine sense of belonging at Sigma. So, for example, that could be making reasonable adjustments at point of interview for people with disabilities, or additional support for people who may not be used to using IT systems, or making sure the policies we have in place are supportive for all and don’t inadvertently create barriers or obstacles.
The intent that underpins ‘One Me, One Sigma’ is laced through so much of what we do, our focus on Impact Sourcing for example. I am proud to say that across the UK and South Africa we have four partners who we work with through Impact Sourcing who are all about giving opportunities to either previously disadvantage individuals or people who have found themselves in difficult situation socially, mentally or financially. Those partners within the UK and South Africa include PeoplePlus, BMet and Shadow Careers.
Q. The Sigma values are also something we’ve all worked hard to embed into the business and that’s been a huge success. How does the strategy tie in with that?
Our values of #Alwaystogether and #Alwaysadapting link very closely to the strategy.
Diversity, inclusion & equity has really come to the forefront of conversation and has changed dramatically over the last few years. We want to make sure our framework is adaptable as the world changes. I read a phrase the other day “diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”. We want to ask everyone to dance.
Q. And finally, Scott, what are our next steps?
Now that we have our wider working group in place, and DNA committees being finalised, they will hold their first meetings over the coming few weeks. The output from the meetings will really begin to drive things forward.
We are looking to produce an annual calendar of events, including key points raised from the DNA committees and through awareness campaigns, including Pride Month, Black History Month, Stress Awareness and disability awareness, to name a few.
Meanwhile, introducing new policies’ such as menopause and LGBTQIA+ is also at the forefront of our minds.
Perhaps more than anything, it’s about embedding the programme, hitting home again and again why it’s so important, bringing our people even closer together and continuing to deliver meaningful change for our people and the communities we operate in.
We’re certainly on the right track even though it’s so early on. All the signs are positive.
Readers can contact Scott on LinkedIn.