In this Q&A with Patrick Glennon, the Adecco Group Global SVP for the IOC and IPC Athlete Career Programmes, we find out why the organisation has been involved with the IPC since 2007 and discover his views on inclusivity in the sports world and within the general workplace.
How long has the Adecco Group been involved with the IPC/the Paralympics and in what capacity?
“The Adecco Group has been working with the IPC since 2007 through our co-operation on the IPC Athlete Career Programme (IPC ACP) which helps Paralympic athletes achieve life-long success both on and off the field of play. The main goals of the Programme are to support para-athletes during and post their sport careers with careers advice and training, as well as job placement support. In addition, the Programme aims to make the labour market and companies more inclusive for para-athletes and all people with different abilities. The focus on everyone’s abilities will allow companies to access the best employees. The IPC ACP prepares and exposes talented individuals to the world of work, making them thrive on another field of play.”
Why did the Adecco Group want to become a Partner of the IPC Academy Campus’ Inclusion Summit?
“The Adecco Group chose to be a partner to support the success of the IPC Inclusion Summit and increase awareness on the benefits of an inclusive workforce as an extension of our contribution to the IPC ACP. The event will provide a unique platform for the Adecco Group, business leaders, governments, sports and other organisations including members of the Paralympic Movement to discuss inclusion and accessibility during the Paralympic Games – the world’s largest and most inspiring sporting event. The Paralympic Games have great power to drive societal change as we saw with the London Paralympic Games. The special time and setting of the Summit - allowing main stakeholders to meet in Rio - will provide a learning and sharing experience like no other, looking at government policies, workplace standards, social awareness, inclusive best practices and testimonials from Paralympic athletes about their challenges and ability to contribute to an inclusive society.”
Who is speaking on Adecco Group’s behalf during the Inclusion Summit at the Campus and what will they be speaking about?
“Shanthi Flynn, the Adecco Group’s Chief HR Officer, will attend and speak at the IPC Academy Campus’ Inclusion Summit on the topic ‘Testimony of Change’. She will talk about the importance of workplace inclusion for everyone and how a programme such as the IPC ACP can drive and promote needed societal and mind-set change. She will also touch upon the long-standing experience the Adecco Group has in markets such as France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the US – when it comes to providing everyone who has the will and passion to work with an opportunity to contribute. Inclusiveness is not about charity but about supporting companies be more innovative, creative, productive and attractive for employees. It is about changing perceptions, understanding unconscious bias and stereotypes that are the main barriers currently with regards to labour market inclusion.”
How important is the subject of inclusivity to the Adecco Group from your internal perspective (i.e. within the context of how you recruit and engage with your own employees?)
“Being an inclusive workplace for all has been an important topic for the Adecco Group for many years. Not only has legislation driven progress in many countries, it often can be a critical parameter for change. Personal experience on what it means to have people from all different backgrounds and abilities has been a very enriching experience for us. Moreover, knowing that 1 billion or 15% of the world’s population have some kind of a physical impairment means that someone in your family, a friend, or a friend of a friend could be looking for a career and would want an equal chance to contribute and to get a job. For companies considering all possible candidates, without prejudice but a focus on skills and abilities is the way to go in finding the best candidate for a position. So for every organisation, it is important to be involved and contribute to an inclusive environment.”
What trends are you seeing globally from a HR perspective regarding inclusivity in the workplace? Do you think employers are getting better at embracing inclusivity generally? Is the sports industry better at being inclusive than other industry sectors in your opinion?
“With generations Y and Z entering the workforce, we know that their experiences have made them more socially tolerant, environmentally aware with a focus on businesses’ commitment to sustainability - core criteria in deciding what to buy, who to buy from and of course whom to work for. Therefore, these generations will definitely help to build a more inclusive labour market for everyone. I don’t think we can say that any sector is doing better in terms of inclusiveness. It rather boils down to companies’ leadership, their focus on reputation and their vision about a long-term versus a short-term business strategy, which adds value to society. It is about the creation of shared value for employees, clients, shareholders and any other stakeholders.”
What would be your advice to organisations in any industry looking to improve their inclusivity policies and procedures?
“First and foremost, workplace inclusion has to be endorsed by senior leadership. They must be role models for the company with regular communication to all employees on the importance of an inclusive workforce. In addition, educational measures on the value of an inclusive workforce are key to drive cultural change. Finally, change does not happen overnight, it takes time and needs a plan with a strategic objective and contributions by all. To achieve this objective, measurements and reward systems should be implemented and tracked in the same way as other corporate metrics are.”