HR Leader Spotlight

  1. Please tell us your name, job title and place of work?

Sheree Atcheson| Global Director of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion at Peakon | Advisory Board member at Women Who Code | Forbes Contributor | Published Author of “Demanding More”

2. How would you describe your career?

I have a technical background, having studied Computer Science and been a Software Engineer. Through the senior leadership roles I have held in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Deloitte, Monzo Bank and now Peakon, I’ve been able to make a change globally in creating and forming equitable environments, ensuring that technologies created have inclusion considered from the beginning. My desire is to do something bigger than myself and ensure equity and fairness amongst everyone.

3. What would you say are the 3 key strategies organisation should focus on in 2021 to support their workforce?

  • Supporting people of different backgrounds around healthcare and especially mental health support, noting that this is a different conversation for those with different caring responsibilities, from different ethnicities etc.
  • Reconsidering employees’ flexibility to work and offer the choice of balancing employees’ other personal responsibilities. Additionally, employers should communicate the uncertainty of returning back to the workplace.
  • Inclusion must be done deliberately. Exclusion and equity gaps are widening due to this pandemic. Inclusion strategies are ever-changing and organisations must pivot accordingly

4.  What would you say are the key skills required to be a true leader?

  • Vulnerability – the ability to be open, to be honest and transparent about their successes, failures & lessons learned. Do note that being a boss and being a leader are two different things. I believe leaders should not be afraid of being vulnerable and should focus on being an ‘actual person’.
  • Conciseness– the ability to communicate succinctly without extensive explanations, in a way that resonates with everyone.
  • Confidence– Confidence is key – both in your strengths and in your learning process. People regularly believe confidence means ego, It doesn’t. It should mean you are confident in your experience, strengths and expertise, whilst still being aware that no one knows everything and you are continually learning.

5. What are you most proud of in your career to date?

The senior leadership roles I’ve held as a young woman of colour coming from a poor background, writing for Forbes, signing a book deal at 29 with my book coming out after my 30th birthday and finally, my work with Women Who Code, the largest non-profit globally dedicated to women in tech.

I am proud that I have achieved all of this, whilst having people doubt me. I hope this inspires people like me and not like me to know they can do what they want to too.

6. What would you like to see organisations do more of to promote Diversity & Inclusion?

I would like organisations to be honest and accountable. That means sharing data that is not good, avoiding pretentious and vague Diversity & Inclusion data. Diversity & Inclusion are different strategies and should be implemented accordingly, and success measures should not be focused on demographic representation only. Inclusion should be measured by how different people from different backgrounds feel in their workplace, what inclusion means to them and what they are struggling with.

7. How do you relax in your free time?

Before the pandemic, I would spend a lot of time travelling, with my partner. Now, given we are restricted in that way, I spend more time having small luxuries at home like my favourite candles, or just unwinding with relaxing music. I also enjoy a nice walk with my partner and our dog, Alfie to disconnect from work.

8. What advice would you give to a young professional starting a career in HR?

  • Listen to those around you with expertise – learn from their successes and lessons learned.
  • Get involved in a community that exists like Black Woman in HR or Black Young Professionals Network.

9. What are your wise words in business?

Always be willing to be wrong”. You don’t know everything and pretending you do means you miss out on challenges and lessons to be learned.

10. How can our members connect with you?

Twitter: @Nirushika

LinkedIn: Sheree Atcheson

Her book: You can pre order Sheree’s book on Amazon, Kogan Page (Use DEMANDINGMOREA for 20% off) and Goodreads.