Catherine Harrison is the HR Director of FD Technologies, a leading provider to some of the world’s largest finance, technology and energy institutions.
Note: This piece was originally published in Business & Finance magazine, vol. 59, no. 2, available to read, with compliments, here.
The world of work has changed, and we must continue to look at how we present ourselves as an employer.
Most people know FD Technologies through one of our business units, either First Derivative, one of the leading consulting firms in financial services, KX, an industry-leading real-time analytics software business or MRP, an enterprise-class Account Based Marketing technology platform.
Our success is built on our people and culture. Right across the group, teams of dedicated, talented employees work alongside many of the world’s leading companies – from investment banks to Formula 1 race teams – to solve their toughest data challenges and deliver game-changing results.
With more than 3,000 employees, across 15 offices and four continents, our commitment to employee welfare, support, learning and development is considerable.
Like many businesses, Covid-19 proved a significant challenge in terms of ensuring staff welfare. From the start of the pandemic, we recognised the potential impact of the massive shift in working habits on our employees’ physical and mental well-being. Across each business unit, support networks were quickly created to provide help to anyone struggling with what we came to recognise as the new normal of lockdowns and home working. Wellbeing seminars and virtual fitness classes helped keep people both engaged and active. Clear communication from our Covid-19 response team was also important in ensuring everyone was kept up to date on both company policy and the many different regional rules that needed to be considered as a global employer.
With the end of the pandemic hopefully in sight, I’m proud to think that our actions and approach over the past two years have positioned us strongly to accelerate growth across each of our businesses. We have learned many lessons over this period; the importance of responding quickly to a crisis, the need for clear, consistent communication and above all the value of building a strong culture that can withstand the thousands of Zoom calls that replaced human interaction!
And the value of a strong culture has never been more apparent. In these uncertain times, it’s critical that large employers like ourselves continue to focus on building a strong, supportive and inclusive culture that recognises the need to reflect the diversity of our clients and their customers.
The positive steps taken on this journey include the creation of internal support networks for our female, LGBTQ+ employees as well as employees from minority backgrounds. These networks create channels for communication and support with regional heads to ensure each employee has the support and guidance they need to be successful no matter what their role within the group or one of our businesses. From a senior management perspective, our networks are also a great outlet for us to learn from, allowing us to implement the necessary changes to improve the working environment for our staff. We are also very encouraged to see the popularity of our IMPACT (Inspiring Motivated People About Careers in Stem) program which was built with the vision of empowering young women from STEM and business backgrounds, offering key insights into the professional workplace and essential skill-building through a range of activities. The six-month program offers mentees support, guidance and insight into life as a woman in business, particularly within the technology sector. Additionally, as we continue to grow as a Group, each business unit is working on its own set of programs tailored specifically to its employees and the markets and customers they serve. Most recently, we introduced STRIVE, our development programme designed to make colleagues feel Successful, Talented, Resilient, Informed, Valued and Empowered to strive for success in their career with us and our business units. Following the success of IMPACT, we were encouraged to launch a similar programme of support for our female colleagues internally and I am delighted that we are demonstrating our commitment to our female workforce, not just when they join, but as they advance in their career with us.
While we’re still very much on a journey, I’m delighted to say that our efforts to date have been recognised by leading business organisations including FD Technologies winning “Best Company for Diversity and Inclusion” in the 2021 Water’s Women in Tech & Data Awards as well as being shortlisted in the AIM stock markets Awards, Women in Business and HR Leadership and Management Awards.
I am extremely proud of our team and the external recognition we have received for our efforts to date and look forward to what’s to come as we enter a new era of growth and possibility. As one of Ireland’s largest graduate employers, we have built a reputation for offering world class training that can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career. As each of our business units continues to grow and expand its offer to customers across the world, we believe we will continue to be an attractive proposition both for graduates and experienced hires, but we cannot be complacent! The world of work has changed, and we must continue to look at how we present ourselves as an employer – on issues such as flexible and hybrid working for example – to ensure we hire and maintain top talent both in Ireland and around the world.