Leading in-house legal and HR teams and members of the independent bar are to be celebrated as the shortlist for the IEL Awards 2023 is officially revealed.
The shortlist for the inaugural awards showcases some of the most innovative employer programmes that aim to improve the diversity and inclusion of multinational organisations and enhance the wellbeing of thousands of workers worldwide.
The finalists for this year’s in-house and HR awards are as follows:
Diversity & Inclusion Programme of the Year
ABB – ABB’s global gender-neutral parental leave programme grants 12 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers and four weeks for secondary caregivers, as part of its efforts to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture for working parents. The initiative aims to ensure every employee who has a child, whose partner has a child, who adopts a child, or becomes a parent through surrogacy is entitled to paid leave. A combination of various work-life balance initiatives have also led to an increase in the number of women in senior positions at ABB in the last 18 months. ABB has set a target of 25% female representation among ABB leaders, and 50% female university hires by 2030.
Currys – The UK’s largest technology retailer, has introduced five new D&I-focused policies in 2023 – IVF support, premature birth and pregnancy loss leave, menopause support, and paid gender-reassignment leave – to improve its employee wellbeing and inclusion goals. Employees undergoing IVF or fertility treatment will be offered paid leave to attend up to six appointments per transfer cycle. Updating its parental leave policy, Currys is also introducing a new premature birth support policy which is open to both new mothers and their partners. The policy extends maternity leave by the number of days a baby was born prior to their due date. Two weeks of compassionate leave will also be given to their partners. The UK retailer is also offering its trans staff an additional six weeks of paid leave for gender-affirming care.
Nokia – Nokia has devised several D&I initiatives, including a reverse mentoring programme for junior employees to mentor senior staff on topics inspired by the company’s values of being “Open, Fearless, and Empowered” – such as work-life balance, communication, giving feedback, and leadership skills. Additionally, Nokia’s “Come Back With Confidence” programme supports employees who take an extended period of leave, making them feel valued and included on their return. The programme offers coaching and a wealth of tailored resources for parents.
Standard Chartered Bank – Standard Chartered’s “Pride Communications Guidelines” aim to protect employees from any legal, regulatory, or socio-economic consequences that could arise from LGBTQ+ communications or activities in jurisdictions where advocating for LGBTQ+ rights is outlawed. The guidelines provide staff in progressive markets with an easy reference point to quickly and efficiently determine what they can communicate, taking into account local laws, social standards, cultural norms, and governmental attitudes towards foreign interference. Just as importantly, the guidelines educate workers on the real and significant challenges faced by LGBTQ+ colleagues elsewhere in the world. The guidelines do not aim to stifle LGBTQ+ communications, or exclude colleagues in markets with stringent rules on advocacy, but aims to empower workers and drive change where possible.
TDCX – TDCX’s #BeHappier social programme aims to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, support employee wellbeing, and drive career development. The company has local diversity champions in each location to support its D&I roadmap, organises roadshows on DEI learning modules, launched a career coaching scheme to close the gender gap and accelerate employees’ career growth regardless of gender, age, and race, and partnered with several NGOs to participate in conversations surrounding women’s empowerment.
Virgin Atlantic – Virgin Atlantic has updated its gender identity policy, giving crew, pilots, and ground teams the option to choose which of the airline’s uniforms best represents them – no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression. The policy is part of Virgin’s ongoing drive to champion individuality, which includes the rollout of optional pronoun badges for its 6,500 employees worldwide. The airline’s initiatives also include an update of its existing trans inclusion policies, which already allow time off for medical treatments related to gender transition, personal choice of changing and shower facilities that align with gender identity, and co-creation of a personalised transitioning plan.
Walgreens Boots Alliance – Walgreens provides people with disabilities a three- to six-week in-store training programme. As part of the training, participants learn valuable retail and customer service skills, qualifying hundreds of potential employees for roles at its stores. By the end of 2022, close to 1,900 trainees enrolled in the programme in more than 413 Walgreens stores across 38 states. Walgreens also provides a 13-week scheme where job coaches use a combination of classroom work and on-the-job training to prepare participants to become temporary hires and permanent team members at up to 11 distribution centres or regional warehouses across the US.
Western Union – In 2022, 92% of Western Union’s candidate slates and 84% of interview panels globally were diverse. The financial services firm continued to market job opportunities through partnerships with historically black colleges and universities in the US and via online platforms such as DiversityInc and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Western Union also piloted a sponsorship programme aiming to identify high-performing female employees and connect them with mentors who can help maximise their career progression. The company maintained gender pay equity globally and ethnicity pay equity in the US for the third consecutive year.
Employee Benefits Policy of the Year
Amazon – More than 30,000 Amazon employees in the US have now used family-building benefits that offer support with IVF, egg freezing, genetic testing, and more. Amazon’s fertility and family-building benefit, through Progyny, is available to all benefits-eligible employees regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status. Outside of the US, more than 1 million Amazon employees in 50 countries across Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa now have access to virtual support for IVF, adoption, egg freezing, and other family-building benefits offered through the Maven Clinic.
BP – BP’s “Your Benefits, Your Way” programme allows workers to use their base pay and allowances to design a flexible benefits package specific to them. Employees can boost their core benefits, such as life assurance and private medical insurance, or add flexible benefits, including critical illness cover and travel allowances, or both. Workers can change their benefits mix over time. Through the tailored scheme, employees can make valuable income tax and national insurance savings. The energy major also offers voluntary benefits all year round, including an employee assistance programme, car plan, and discounts on a variety of everyday purchases.
Tesco – Supermarket group Tesco is offering staff virtual, on-demand appointments with a private family doctor to alleviate pressure on the UK’s NHS. In partnership with YuLife, the benefit package from Britain’s largest private-sector employer will provide more than 300,000 workers and their families with access to unlimited appointments with a general practitioner, seven days a week, either by phone, video, or in person. Partnering with the Positive Parenting Alliance, the supermarket also provides leave or flexible working for staff going through a divorce, as well as counselling for families.
Employee Wellbeing Initiative of the Year
Danske Bank – Danske’s revamped career-break policy is open to staff in Northern Ireland and Great Britain who, upon one year of service, can apply for a break of up to 12 months. The time away can be extended, where required, at the discretion of the bank. Danske’s updated policy protects continuity of employment for staff looking to take time out for a host of reasons, be it to travel, go to school, retrain, or care for a family member. Upon their return, employees are provided with several support programmes, including training and mentoring. The bank has also continued its landmark domestic abuse policy entitling employees who are victims of abuse up to ten days special paid leave to use for medical or court appointments.
LinkedIn – In an effort to fight burn-out, LinkedIn was one of the first employers to announce a company-wide paid “Rest-up!” week off; no-meeting days; and half-day Fridays during the summer months. The company’s wellness programme also gives workers access to onsite gyms, fitness classes, counselling, and health insurance.
Nokia – The past year has seen Nokia launch various initiatives to improve employee wellbeing. However, its flagship success was the design of a meaningful company-wide psychologically safe campaign to tackle outdated workplace behaviours. The company provides online practical training on conflict management; rewards employees displaying positive and inclusive behaviours; and has launched an in-house mediation service to support the resolution of low-level conflicts before workplace relationships irretrievably break down.
Standard Chartered Bank – Standard Chartered’s “Future Workplace, Now” initiative offers flexible working arrangements to more than 80,000 employees in 59 markets worldwide. The key distinguishing feature of the initiative is that the bank did not set or mandate a working rhythm from the top down. Instead, a range of new flexi-working options are available with each employee able to apply for an arrangement which suits their business, team, and personal requirements. Additionally, each employee’s working arrangements are formalised via contract, allowing them the right to work remotely or flexibly.
In addition to the employer programme categories, IEL has also shortlisted the following in-house lawyers for their cutting-edge work this past year:
International Employment Lawyer of the Year - In-house
Carolina Rodrigues, GE Vernova
Fahim Rahman, 3M
Georgena Adesida Clarke, Sony PlayStation
Gráinne Gleeson, LinkedIn
Joanna Adams, Warner Bros Discovery
Joanna Patterson, Expedia
John Hamlin, Marsh McLennan
Mark Noblet, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Rosamund Browne, ABB
Suraya Mailvaganam, Google
In-house Leader of Tomorrow
Adriel Chia, Standard Chartered Bank
Carmel Owen, Skyscanner
Elisa Lintunen, Nokia
Jenny Moore, Danske Bank
Heather Barc, Deliveroo
Mary Azzi, Uber
And finally, the following specialist barristers, and their chambers, are recognised for their expertise in employment and labour disputes and sensitive investigations.
Chambers of the Year
Old Square Chambers
Senior Counsel of the Year
Adam Tolley KC, Fountain Court Chambers
Daniel Stilitz KC, 11KBW
Katharine Newton KC, Old Square Chambers
Mohinderpal Sethi KC, Littleton Chambers
Paul Goulding KC, Blackstone Chambers
Sheryn Omeri KC, Cloisters
Junior Counsel of the Year
Amy Rogers, 11KBW
Anna Beale, Cloisters
Edward Kemp, Matrix Chambers
Nabila Mallick, No5 Chambers
Sophia Berry, Littleton Chambers
Stuart Brittenden, Old Square Chambers
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