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Anne Binnie, People Support Director at Chess, shares how, as an organisation, we ensure we're creating an inclusive culture for our people. In this article she covers:

Covid made us reimagine the workplace in 2020, and now as we return to a focus on growth we are keen to ensure that all our people are treated equally and have equal opportunity to benefit from that growth.

Technology has been a key part of adapting and surviving during the Pandemic, not just for businesses but also for our people. Whilst there is no escaping from the tragedy of the last 12 months there have been many upsides that we will continue to benefit from when this is, hopefully over.

Using technology to create a better work-life balance

During lockdown, many of our people had to support their children with home-schooling and online classes. We worked with our people to find suitable arrangements, while our leaders focused on prioritising workloads and projects to avoid burnout during these stressful times. We're lucky to be an organisation that already embraces flexible working, but technology allows us to be more mindful of other's work patterns. For example, the 'delay delivery' option in Outlook and encouraging booking 'focus time' in the calendar help drive productivity and reduce stress.


"Over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams..."

- The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready?, Microsoft, 2021


Using technology to counter bias in the workplace

Using Microsoft's Analytics, Teams and Power Apps, and our own Engage platform, we promote an open and honest culture. Every person can share their daily morale score, has a dedicated monthly 121 with their leader, and can communicate effectively from anywhere with their team. We've trained our leaders to look out for unconscious biases and using their collaboration analytics in Microsoft to spend equal time supporting everyone in their teams and working better together.


"Nearly 40% say they feel more comfortable bringing their full selves to work than before the pandemic..."

- Microsoft releases findings and considerations from one year of remote work in Work Trend Index, 2021


Nurturing an inclusive culture

From forming our benefits package to how we write job descriptions for available vacancies, at Chess, we make an active effort to create an inclusive culture that praises our people's success and nurtures their professional development. We invest heavily in training courses, apprenticeships, and knowledge sharing. We celebrate the achievements and encourage "working out loud", including creating meaningful relationships within Chess and our partner network. We are also delighted to say that our recent 3* rating in the annual best companies’ survey demonstrates for the 12th year in succession the high levels of engagement and buy in from our people.

Microsoft Partner Pledge

As a Microsoft Gold Partner we are proud to say that we stand with Microsoft as a signatory of the Microsoft Partner Pledge. We are committed to the UK Economy, to the adoption of technology ethically, to ensuring everyone benefits equally especially young women and girls and better reflect the people who we serve, our customers.


What we can do better

While this issue is much broader than gender alone, only a third of our people are women and we can do better than this, so we need to continue to recruit more women and enable the progression of more women to the higher paid quartiles.


Growing a diverse workforce

Our People have told us that they wish to continue to work flexibly and so the ability to work from different locations utilising all of the new technology we have embraced during the pandemic will become our new normal in terms of our working practices. This opens up an exciting opportunity to widen our recruitment activities to include groups of people who previously were not open to us because of the geographic and physical barriers that working in a fixed location bring. Removing these barriers and proactively searching out new ways to attract and recruit people from all areas of society will enable us to grow a much more diverse workforce with all of the cultural, social and financial benefits that this brings.

In Chess, we have always considered that we drive a culture that promotes inclusion and diversity. We have always celebrated all our people's successes, but complacency is dangerous and there is always more we can do. We pay close attention to what other organisations are doing, we listen to our people, and our goal is to drive hard in this area, providing the opportunity for all who wish to take it.

Watch some of the inspirational stories shared by our people for International Women's Day and how they choose to challenge.

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Anne Binnie

Anne Binnie

Anne has been with Chess for over 26 years in various roles before moving into HR as the company grew.
In her role as People Support Director, she is responsible for recruitment and selection, performance management, payroll and benefits.
Together with her team, she helps to create and maintain the culture that has kept Chess in ‘The Sunday Times Top 100 companies To Work For’ list for over 10 years.

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