How to be a progressive employer as a financial services company with Praetura

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The importance of anonymous reporting and the benefits our reporting platform provides are what we hope all our partners agree with and value when we help them onboard. Whether it’s an organisation that is aware of a problem that it wants to try and rectify, wants to form a truer and bigger picture of potential problems, or prove its commitment to diversity, inclusion and reforming its employee engagement experience, Report + Support can help you do all those things.

For our partner, Praetura Group, it was the latter. Our co-founder and CEO Gemma McCall spoke with their Group People and Talent Director Kate Norton about why they champion the idea of an anonymous reporting platform being available to their employees, how they have utilised it alongside their company-wide campaigns and initiatives, and how they have found the onboarding process working with our team.

Praetura Group are a growing Manchester-based investment firm with around 140 employees. They began using Report + Support in December 2021.

You can either listen to the audio on its own, watch the video or read the transcript from the conversation below.

Gemma: Thank you, Kate, for taking time out of your day to speak to me. It’d be really interesting for you talk about why as Group HR director of an ever growing financial organisation you like the concept of Report + Support and why you welcome that option for employees to be able to speak up and report things.

Kate: I think for me, we’ve done a lot of work within our business to try and be progressive and support that positive culture. And being a financial services business, historically, they have been quite old fashioned, quite formal, and we very much tried to shift away from that and to become a progressive, flexible employer. And with that to really show our employees our commitment to that so having the use of that platform really shows that from an early stage for our employees.

Gemma: So you think as a small and growing organisation it’s important to start as you mean to go on?

Kate: Yeah, so we’ve grown rapidly over the past couple of years and our business itself has changed and adapted to become a new business in a way. The history of how we set up was that all of them were sort of small silo businesses so we brought them together as a group over the past of two years. We’ve now got just short of 140 people across the group, which would still be considered a relatively small business, but it definitely allows us to embed it at the beginning and to have it as part of everyday and have people understand it, use it and just let it become part of our business so it’s there as a tool for people to use.

Gemma: And given that you’ve recently onboarded how did you find that process with us?

Kate: It was a great process and we felt really supported and guided. We got lots of training throughout that. We obviously had our reservations and had some questions around how we would implement a tool, especially from a confidentiality perspective of being a small business – could people work out who said what and on all those sorts of things, but we definitely got huge support from the team. And we just kept working through and having practices and trials going through the questions. So it was a really smooth process from that perspective.

Gemma: Fantastic. And you have launched it as part of some wider projects. So what were those wider projects and how have you managed the launch of the system amongst all of that?

Kate: So in terms of that wider piece, we were doing a lot of work on vision and values. We relaunched our employee handbooks, we had a new HR software system in place, and it was really about bringing that whole group together and trying to break down some barriers within the groups to bring everyone together as one group and one team. And it really formed part of that – we wanted to share our commitment and show people that we we were trying to progress and move forward.

We were doing a full piece on culture, so what our values were and about how their behaviours really matter. So historically, I think within our industry it’s very much been about numbers, and those things matter, but actually you might be excellent at your job, but the behaviours are really important as well and they sit foremost on our review processes now. So we really wanted to embed our commitment to that across all of those things. One of our top values is “do the right thing”. And this very much forms part of that process and part of that mission to say “we want everybody to treat each other with respect and to do the right thing”. And some of the education pieces on the Report + Support system really help us to demonstrate that.

Gemma: So how have employees responded to the fact that you’ve got it in place and that it is that there as an option for them to use to speak up about things?

Kate: Extremely positively. We did a launch campaign for existing employees as part of our wider campaign and sharing of our new People processes. So we did a full overhaul of the whole People process and very much moved from HR to people, which I think was really good time to shift that and then going forward all employees receive information about Report + Support at their induction so they know what it is, why it’s here and what it’s used for. We haven’t had any reports through as of yet and we wouldn’t expect – and wouldn’t hope – there’d be an influx of reports yet but we have had lots of information from your team, about the support articles and who’s actually visited them, which allows us to use our newsletters and use our spotlights to share information and education around those particular topics which I think is invaluable for people to know that we we care and that we can help educate around those topics. It’s been really positively received from a lot of people that would not have heard of you before.

Gemma: That’s fantastic. And it’s really interesting that you raise the fact there’s a concern about being overwhelmed with reports, especially in larger organisations, and also a concern about how they’re actually going to deal with those reports. You’ve already said that you haven’t had any so far, but how have you prepared to deal with any reports that could come in?

Kate: That was definitely a question mark for us around how we would deal with those reports and whether would people would feel comfortable in reporting in the first place. So obviously, we educate people on how that works and the confidentiality of it all. But the way we’ve chosen to deal with is that all reports will come through to the People team. I think it’s quite traditional really in our industry and many other industries that I’ve worked in for HR to be that point of call. So if you have got a problem, that’s the place that you’d go to raise it, and we’ve just tried to continue with that.

I think in larger organisations you might have a bigger People team so you might be able to support that but also you might want to get the wider executive teams involved or the senior leadership teams. We’ve chosen to keep that really close just because we are a small business and we think people will be more comfortable with that and have the understanding that we would potentially be the people that would have that training and understanding anyway because of the roles that we play. We have had a lot of support from your team, we’ve been through training, we’ve looked at example reports and how we might deal with those and work those out as a team. I think we have chosen to keep that quite small as a small business and I think others might feel more comfortable with that as well. And I know our leadership team have been more comfortable with that tighter process.

Gemma: The system itself is flexible for there to be that choice for the organisation. And sometimes like you say it fits nicely within the People team. If the organisation is big enough to have an EDI team then sometimes it could live there. It just kind of depends on what is right for your organisation size and understanding the trust levels that currently exist within the organisation. A lot of people that we speak to have a concern around like the data. So how do you make sure that that is safe?

Kate: These were questions that we had at the beginning initially as well. I think from the actual system itself we’ve had a lot of guidance from from your team to show us how the data is kept safe and we were really supported and reassured from that sense. But again, for us, it’s about keeping that information tight, and keeping it to the people that would necessarily have that information anyway. So that’s how we dealt with that from a team perspective.

Gemma: Something else that I wanted to ask you about is that reporting is obviously the piece that most people focus on when they’re talking about Culture Shift and Report + Support but that’s not the only aspect of it. It’s also supposed to be a home for any campaigning or any internal communications that you do in this area. And you were talking before about how it’s been a useful tool for you to help educate people about the changing face of culture globally. So just wanted you to talk a little bit more about that.

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. You know, as I said earlier, the industry is renowned for maybe being slightly old fashioned, and I know I, myself and my team have wanted to broach certain topics and maybe talk about certain things that that we possibly would have been a bit overwhelming for people if we just launched into it and suddenly started sharing information on on certain things, but Report + Support really allows us to do that in in a nice, gentle way in terms of signposting people to support articles, using information from those articles within our communication and our letters, allowing it to be within our voice. So in the way that we would normally talk and adapting things to really speak to our team and to our people. And that’s the beauty of it. Everything can be adapted and and honed towards your particular audience in your business.

And it’s really opened up the doors for us to start educating people and allowing people to speak up and feel that we’re talking about lots of different matters, saying that we are inclusive, we are opening the door to different areas, and to allowing other members of the teams to talk about things just by raising the awareness of a particular area. So, I think the support articles have been really invaluable for us.

Gemma: That’s great. And you were talking before about how you’ve used our allyship campaign as an internal communications piece during pride month. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Kate: Yeah, so we write newsletters every month and they are getting bigger and bigger as the months go on, which is fantastic. There’s lots of good news to share amongst the teams, professional and personal information, but every month we try and have a spotlight on a specific topic and quite often we’ll link that to the HR calendar of events that happen throughout the year. What we’ve done this month [June] is we obviously wanted to recognise Pride Month but we want to give people a little bit more information, so not just a generic “we support everything” to tick a box. We really want to show people that we care and that it’s a part of our business that we really want to talk about.

So we’ve used the allyship information from those Report + Support articles to really talk about. Quite often people might not want to step up if it’s about themselves or to raise awareness of something that might be happening to them, but quite often we witness things that we’re uncomfortable with as well. So we really wanted to put a spotlight on that and share more information. And again, we just highlight it, we talk a little bit about what we think is the way forward and then we direct them to the Report + Support articles where they can find more information.

Gemma: I think that’s really, really positive. Okay, thank you so much and good luck with things as we get to understand more and more about your ever evolving culture.

To find out more about how we can help you shift culture at your organisation with Report + Support, contact one of our dedicated team members for more information.

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