Interview of Vanessa Hill, Director of Talent and Diversity for Neopost Group
Vanessa Hill has been Neopost Group Director of Talent and Diversity since January 1st 2019. Previously she was Head of People and Organizational Development in the UK, having joined Neopost in 2013. Vanessa is a chartered fellow of the CIPD — Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute and of the Institute of Leadership and Management.
Neopost: You have been recently named Director of Talent and Diversity. Can you tell us a little bit about your mission and the key priorities for the role?
Vanessa: Appointment into my new role demonstrates Neopost’s commitment to and ambition in achieving a higher representation of women in top management positions. To support that objective, I am working on a range of interventions that will help us to deliver a better gender balance.
We are developing a program to accelerate the progression of our more senior women; developing a global network where women can connect with each other and also exploring changes to some of our HR practices to help us facilitate a stronger pipeline of diverse candidates and enhance leadership bench strength. We intend to set some ambitious targets (not quotas) and ensure we are able to continuously track and monitor our progress towards delivery while moving forward.
"I’m very keen that we develop a dynamic long-term strategy. It isn’t going to be easy in the short term, there are no quick silver bullets, but I am confident we can make progress."
What is fantastic is that two talented women have recently been appointed to our Management Team and that there’s real support and commitment from the very top level in the organization to bring about change. In summary there really is never a better time for me to move into this role and to be able to focus on something that is just so important for us right now.
Neopost: Many organizations across different industries seek to improve women’s representation in their teams, including in leadership positions. How hard is it to move away from that situation when it is so widely established?
Vanessa: The vision to increase the number of women in higher management positions has the endorsement and full support of our CEO and senior management team. This commitment is critical to ensuring an appropriate strategic and operational environment; injecting urgency and establishing the importance of delivering real change in this area.
In addition to establishing programs for our existing women, we will also need to assess and review our current recruitment and HR policies and practices. It is important that there is no bias within our recruitment practices or underrepresentation within any staff demographic. We need to recruit from the broadest range of talent available, looking internally and externally, ensuring diversity within candidates being considered.
"As we increase the number of women in senior leadership positions, we will also be creating role models to inspire the future generation of women to pursue leadership roles."
Neopost: You’re obviously very passionate about diversity and inclusion, what about your other priorities in this role?
Vanessa: One of my early priorities will be to rethink and improve our approach to Talent Management. This will mean better integrating our talent systems (onboarding, learning, performance, talent reviews and succession planning) and implementing new well-executed, adaptable plans and processes, aligned to our business strategy and transformation needs. We need to be consistent in how we define potential and how we develop, nurture and retain our top talent.
Neopost: What systemic processes did you see work in Neopost UK that could apply for an international group like ours?
Vanessa: Here are some examples of initiatives that have added significant value in the UK and could be exported and piloted globally where appropriate, taking into account culture, local laws and regulations:
- 18 months ago, we developed and adopted a fresh and radical approach towards continuous performance management, moving away from the traditional annual performance review process. The new approach has been extremely positively received and recognized as adding value by managers and employees across the UK operation. It really has proved to be a winning change to our practice in this area and an approach that I am keen to deploy across the rest of the organization.
- We have implemented a learning management system which has provided access to an upgraded range of relevant learning resources which in turn has facilitated significant improvement to the quality of employee career and development plans. My vision is that wins in this area can be exported more broadly within the Group.
- We have developed a more rigorous and robust talent review and succession plan process. We’ve launched several leadership development programs that have been instrumental in the UK in developing leadership capability.
In summary, I am keen to look at programs and initiatives across the Neopost Group to establish ‘best in class’ practices and ensure we are able to maximize the opportunities they provide for the organization.
"Reaching a balanced gender diversity will take time, effort and persistence, and I look forward very much to being able to help accelerate progress in this area."