Amongst the many challenges the SARS Covid-19 Virus created this year, the dramatic changes in March provided an opportunity for nature to become a focal point both globally and locally. We saw a shift in values towards protecting and celebrating the large and small pockets of nature, from those who live in urban environments and those in the countryside.
RSPB England holds a critical role in saving and protecting nature in England for future generations. The Society recognised that it needed be bold and brave in creating the England Advisory Committee, building on the movement for better inclusion, and hopes for a greener future.
In setting out the priorities for 2020, RSPB England identified four key targets: Empowerment of teams to be their best; Embedding equality, diversity and inclusion; Development of operational plans and the new strategy; and Developing a clear England identity. These priorities came into focus around the need for England Advisory Committee Members, to provide advice and guidance to RSPB Council. One of 4 Country Committees, the England Advisory Committee required c.6 additional members.
“We needed to reach a wider demographic to ensure that our committee was representative of the country and included diverse voices.”
The function of the England Advisory Committee is to support the Society in speaking up for nature and to provide advice to Trustees and the England Leadership Team on policies and delivery affecting England. In line with their vision there was a desire that the committee members could help ensure that nature and green spaces are enjoyed by urban populations as well as those living in the countryside and to encourage everyone to understand they have a role to play in the environment and a right to enjoy and benefit from the natural beauty of England.
The Society recognised that diversity and inclusion begin at the top and cascade through and beyond the organisation. RSPB England sought the services of Oxford HR to ensure that the appointments to the Committee were truly representative of the diversity of the population across England.
“Oxford HR were fantastic in helping us navigate this for the first time. They listened, supported and took time to understand which was critical.”
Key aspects sought in candidates were identified as: Passion, values, an attitude of accountability, experience in stakeholder engagement, diversity, an understanding disposition, inquisitiveness and a learning mindset, and a capacity for external engagement.
To find candidates to meet the criteria, Oxford HR identified a range of different search cohorts. We focussed our broad search on sectors which included: the arts and creative, cultural, public, corporate, banking and finance, higher education and activist groups. Additionally, we took the views of a range of key stakeholders including Members of Council, the Leadership team and staff.
We place strong emphasis on this knowledge building stage, as it enables us to build a clear and credible understanding of the atmosphere within an organisation and the appetite and capacity for change.
“Sarah really got to understand us and our culture and values and really demonstrated that well.”
As an equal opportunity employer, the RSPB requested we present applications from all backgrounds, ages, communities and industries. Committed to having an England Advisory Committee made up of diverse skills, backgrounds, experiences and abilities, our search proactively focussed on candidates from under-represented backgrounds.
We felt that traditional advertising might not attract the younger and under-represented groups we sought. So, we created a short video, along with a highly tailored candidate information pack, to ensure that the materials presented were persuasive and inclusive to all. We posted this video on social media platforms utilising our own broad networks across all industries and sectors.
Feedback from candidates on our video and the pack was very positive, with many citing the video as what prompted them to consider the opportunity.
We successfully appointed all six committee members in the first round of search. Additionally, we identified a further 20 potential candidates to be potential RSPB Ambassadors or take on key voluntary roles. We were delighted to be able to contribute more widely to campaigns beyond the England Advisory Committee Members as part of our search.
“Oxford HR’s consultant was calm, considered, worked with us well to get the answers we needed and best from the candidates.”
We were pleased that our mission to bring younger and under-represented groups into leadership positions was championed in this project and proud to have introduced this cohort of diverse Committee Members to the Society.
“The highlights of working with Sarah at Oxford HR were that she listened at the start to what we needed and who we are, and how thorough the interviews/research she conducted between longlist and final interviews – she gave us so much confidence in the outcome.”