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Inclusion Interviews - with Sarah Elizabeth Coates, HR Manager at iSoftBet

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Inclusion Interviews, joanna-jewitt


Our Inclusion Interview series by Joanna Jewitt features different speakers from various industries about new D&I initiatives. This campaign is running alongside our own internal educational piece and inclusion strategy. For this series, we've been catching up with our network to see what inclusion initiatives they've been involved with and effectively implemented across their space. 

Could you give us a short introduction of yourself, your role, and how you got into HR?

I am a HR Manager working for an international gaming software development provider. We provide online gaming software to operators, as well as offering a third-party aggregation platform.

I joined the company 2 years ago when there was no in-house HR presence in the UK and since then, we have set up an office Malta. Previously to this I have worked in law firms, oil & gas recruitment, and online lottery.

I have definitely found my niche within tech and the cultures the industry embodies suits my natural personality, allowing me to bring my true and best self to work.

Why do you believe it is important for every business to have a focus on D&I?

Inequality comes in all shapes and sizes and a lot of the time people are not even aware of it in the workplace, let alone the world.

I believe it is part of my role in society but also my job as HR to educate people on diversity and inclusion.

How it is far beyond the number of nationalities and ratio of men and women you employ, but how you position your opportunities, how they are made available and accessible for all.

How have you seen D&I policies and initiatives change over the last year?

We have seen many businesses and public figures speak out about the need for further change recently, in particular the black lives matter movement, which has been so powerful to watch and be apart of.

For me, this highlighted the need for us all to step up our game when it comes to diversity and inclusion across the board, in the workplace and in our personal lives.

Having a policy in place in a business is not enough, we need to actively show we care and promote behaviours of diversity and inclusion, keep it relevant and keep talking about it for it to have an impact and make a difference.

Seeing more and more people within the business talking about inclusion and wanting to know what we are doing as a business over the last year has been really positive. If we are to continue moving forward, our D&I strategy needs to be embedded in every part of the business, every single day. This is only possible when leaders outside of the HR function are involved and support the strategy.

What D&I initiatives have you implemented that you have been successful?

When I joined my company there were no policies in place, my first job was to put in place the basics. I implemented a maternity and paternity policy providing enhanced benefits than the government standards to firstly attract women into technology but also to encourage fathers (people who take paternity leave) to take more than the standard 2 weeks of paternity leave to spend time with their new family.

Paid leave for childcare should not be exclusive to women, childcare is the responsibility of both parents. Paid paternity leave gives families the chance to bond and fathers the chance to provide critical support at such an important time.

I also implemented some training programs around culture and how we behave on subjects such as: conflict resolution, feedback, well being and mindfulness and diversity and inclusion. I have to say for me, the equal opportunities training was the most impactful, educating about unconscious bias and how we make judgements in our everyday lives that we should consciously challenge ourselves, and others on.

For anyone at the beginning of implementing a D&I strategy my advice would be to start with education. Offering training and workshops and a safe environment for people to learn and ask questions is key. This should be something that the entire business is involved with, especially those in leadership roles.

As a HR manager that looks after multiple regions do you have to tailor policies and initiatives for each area?

Yes, whilst we try to align our policies and benefits culture and of course legislation is always going to be different location by location, but we aim to keep the same level of culture, behaviour, tone throughout.

What are the next steps for iSoftBet D&I agenda?

I am focusing on engaging our workforce further with training to create a learning culture. I will be delivering further equality and diversity training and tapping into some of the recent events to provide knowledge and education on how to improve our diversity and inclusion behaviours and policies.

Are there any resources (podcast, blogs, events or online communities) you would recommend for anyone that is responsible for D&I to use?

When creating our training program we used Mark Latteman from Sachma, Performance Development to help us to create the content for each session.

He was really great at not making the content too corporate, encompassing our culture to make them interactive and engaging but most importantly ensuring the message was impactful so people actually took take aways and learnings from the sessions. I would highly recommend him for equality and diversity as well as many other training supports.