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Becky Norman

HRZone

Managing Editor

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Interview with WRAP: “The sustainability sector is not very diverse, but we’re ready to change that”

Not-for-profit WRAP spearheads inclusion efforts in the sustainability sector.
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The Inclusion category at last year’s Culture Pioneers was a hotly contested one, with many carefully considered entries vying for the judges’ approval.

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), an NGO working around the globe to tackle the climate crisis, impressed our judges by having a clear vision of what they want their future to look like for everyone – and especially their employees. 

Their winning entry showed solid inclusion objectives and a well structured strategy for how they wanted to innovate and diversify their company culture. A year on from their success, the organisation is still firmly focused on embedding – and spreading – the message of EDI across their sector. 

Are you passionate about creating a genuinely inclusive culture within your organisation? You could be the next winner of our Culture Pioneer Awards Inclusion winner. This year’s entries are now open.

Our Culture Pioneers judges were impressed with WRAP’s inclusion objectives and the strategy you put in place to achieve them. What does it mean to you to be a winner?  

Rochene: It genuinely means a lot to us because we are a small organisation with a small HR team and we’ve done a huge amount of work to develop our EDI strategy and bring that to the forefront of everything we do in the organisation. To be recognised for that is so gratifying. 

On a personal level, it’s significant because our L&D Manager Pauline Fincham, passed away after putting us forward for it. It’s been a difficult 12 months for the team since losing her. She was very involved in EDI and was the steering force behind a lot of what was achieved, and so this feels almost like a tribute to her. 

We have a lot of ambition and plans to move the dial even further. There’s a real passion across the organisation to keep this moving.

Fiona: I’ve only been with WRAP a few months but the team here have put in a lot of work over the last few years and it was immediately obvious to me that there’s been a real buy-in for this across the organisation. Winning meant so much to everyone, as there was a real sense that this was a team effort. 

It’s been almost a year since your nomination. What’s changed at WRAP in that time? Can you share some highlights with us?

Rochene: Our new Chief Executive Officer, Harriet Lamb, joined us and so with a new leader we have a lot of exciting times ahead of us. Fiona also joined the team and we’ve been looking at our 2030 vision and plans, so we’ve also appointed a Head of Transformation to help us do that.

From an EDI perspective, there’s been quite a bit of activity. We previously had a diversity network and wellbeing champions network and we’ve since regrouped.

We’ve now got what we call our FREDIE ((Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement) network, which was launched last September and is driving forward our EDI initiatives and strategy. 

The key thing for us is keeping EDI at the heart of everything we do and bringing it to life. 

What we noticed previously was that there were a lot of people who sat on the diversity and wellbeing networks and there was quite a lot of crossover in their work, so the new FREDIE network is chaired by one of our executive directors and brings together a diverse cross-section of people around issues like LGBTQIA+ representation, neurodiversity and wellbeing. It’s more structured and links to our overall strategy in a much more effective way. 

At the time of speaking with you, we’re about to launch a new family friendly policy with enhanced entitlements for things like fertility treatment and fostering – and it’s written in a much more inclusive way. 

In addition, we won Small to Medium Business of the Year at the Fredie Awards, organised by the National Centre for Diversity, which is another really big achievement – particularly given that we’ve only been on this journey for a few years.

What does the future look like for EDI at WRAP? Are you able to share any specific goals you’ve included around diversity and inclusion?

Fiona: We have a lot of ambition and plans to move the dial even further. There’s a real passion across the organisation to keep this moving; when we received news that we’d won the 2022 Culture Pioneer Awards, we celebrated but also acknowledged that we didn’t want to rest on our laurels.

The discussion was, “let’s not stop here – what’s next?” We are sticking to our existing commitments, renewing our Investors in Diversity accreditation, among other things. We’re also engaging with the workforce to identify the gaps; that connection is vitally important.   

We’ll celebrate the small successes and keep that momentum going, but it’s not a tick box exercise, it’s an ongoing thing. 

Rochene: We’ve achieved a lot but it’s a continual journey. We’re already Disability Confident employers, but we’re also going to be working towards our Confident Leaders accreditation, and we want to focus a bit more on socio-economic diversity too. That’s just a starting point, so we’ll be collecting data on that to see where we are and benchmark ourselves. 

Early careers is another area we’ll be looking at and HR is leading the way in that, as we have the organisation’s first apprentice, Lauren, who is now coming to the end of her apprenticeship and we have two more apprentices on board with plans to take on more.

We will be assessing our work experience frameworks and building relationships with local schools, colleges and universities. We’re mindful that we need to invest in growing our own talent. 

We’re also looking at how we can encourage others in our sector to embrace EDI more, because our sector is not currently very diverse and we’d like to try and change that.  

What do you see as the three priorities for EDI going forward?

Rochene: The key thing for us is keeping EDI at the heart of everything we do and bringing it to life. Every time a communication goes out, we need to consider how it links to our FREDIE principles and it needs to come from the top down. 

The second is about leaving no stone unturned. It’s not just an HR thing, it needs to spread across the whole organisation – including inclusive recruitment, unconscious bias training but also broader than that, looking at the start of every project, when we do quality impact assessments to ensure we’re looking at EDI from an operational perspective too. 

It’s so important to be transparent externally about how this aligns with what we stand for, our values  and the work we’re doing around sustainability. 

The third priority is to recognise that it’s a journey; we’ll celebrate the small successes and keep that momentum going. It’s not a tick box exercise, it’s an ongoing thing. 

Is your company cultivating a thriving workplace culture? Entries for Culture Pioneers 2023 are now open – don’t miss your chance to showcase your commitment to a better culture for everyone. 

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Becky Norman

Managing Editor

Read more from Becky Norman
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