I’ve took some time to wander around the Exhibition for a few hours and also chat to as many people as I can. I’ve been into a couple of the free sessions for a short while and also a final conference session on employee engagement, but my final blog from the conference is covering Andy Burnham’s short slot and Lenny Henry’s closing keynote.
Andy Burnham took to the stage to question whether we are making enough progress around fairness in the workplace. He sees progress, but not enough.
Is work good enough for people?
A good question. There are still examples of poor practice, such as CEOs getting millions of pounds of bonuses whilst we still have a homeless problem.
Andy also highlighted how much may have stayed the same, citing what the trades union movement were asking for 150 years ago which seem to have resonance in 2018 too.
Unsurprisingly, he talked about how devolution can help shape the future of work and referenced the Good Employment Charter that he is leading on within Greater Manchester. This has to be a good thing, and of course you have to start somewhere but will it be enough to focus on Greater Manchester?
There are elements that are being pushed in Greater Manchester, such as basic rights, security, flexible working and more. And it is good to see this potentially being linked to public procurement to help drive compliance with it.
And aswell as this, we need to further the skills agenda and he outlined the initiatives he is setting in motion around this. There are big things afoot in Greater Manchester which, if seen through, will create a fairer society and working life, but I’d question whether it is going far enough by limiting it to GM.
And then we had Lenny Henry.
Lenny is here to talk about the challenges we all face around diversity, and began with a powerful video that shows it is still a very live issue.
He talked about his upbringing and facing issues around discrimination via his family, at school and because of the way society functioned.
Lenny’s talk was hard to blog because it was stand up comedy but actually telling some very serious messages, but I was too busy being entertained to write most of it down.
It was interesting to hear the barriers, tangible and intangible, that Lenny faced in building his career, through both covert and overt racism, and shared how his experiences had led to him beginning to campaign for greater representation from BAME communities in the media, something which has met with success after a lot of hard work.
Although he realises there is still a long way to go.
And in HR, we are uniquely placed to influence this in organisations.
Lenny gave examples of how individuals can kick start movements, and how one individual can influence the wider world, citing famous abolitionists and Suffragettes as examples.
If they can do it, imagine what we in HR can do…
Lenny then walked about Comic Relief but at this point I needed to run for my train.
It has been a GREAT two day conference, and I’ll reflect on this and do a summary blog next week.
Till next time…