Annual Report 2021 / 2

Evolution and Growth

Oxford HR is a Global Leadership Consultancy, purely focused on the for-purpose sector. Driven by a passion for positive change, we search for and support the exceptional leaders that can make that happen. An organisation’s potential for impact depends on the effectiveness of its leaders, its culture and the way people work together.

Oxford HR helps organisations get these right.

Our consultants all come from the for-purpose sector, leading to an impressive breadth and depth of experience and a true understanding of the leadership qualities our clients, and the sector, need for advancement.

Intro from Group CEO, David Lale

The past twelve months have seen a dramatic change at Oxford HR as we have witnessed organisations move rapidly from ‘survival’ to ‘growth’ phases, partly responding to the pressing social needs around us and partly as a consequence of the easing of Covid restrictions.  

The growth in the business has been spread across the globe – we have started working in Canada and Latin America for the first time with new Associates there. We have recruited a new Client Director to head up our AsiaPac region and laid down the foundations for our office in Singapore, and we have seen significant growth in our established offices in Europe and Africa. However, more pertinently for our evolution into a leadership consultancy, we have also seen significant growth in our organisational effectiveness work too, with clients asking us to help strengthen their leadership teams.  

This evolution into leadership consultancy is happening apace and for many of us in the business feels long overdue. Many recruitment mandates arise because of systemic failure in the organisation: A poorly performing and / or unhappy leader can have a significantly negative effect across the wider team and finding ways to strengthen and support leadership teams feels like a natural next step for us as well as a rewarding outcome for our clients too.

Many of our clients are seen as highly progressive in the areas of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Nevertheless, this remains a fertile area for support and over the year we have created our own in-house team to both work with our clients through developing appropriate services as well as help us internally ensure that we are practicing what we preach. We expect this to be a significant area of focus for us in the year ahead with opportunities to learn from organisations demonstrating best practice in some parts of the world which can translate well to other regions.  

We spent time last year cultivating our new sector specialisms. We already have a really strong and growing client portfolio globally in the areas of climate and sustainability, trade and development and health and these remain at the forefront of our work globally. We are developing expert teams in these areas able to work globally and support our clients in a more holistic way. We are also introducing five more sector specialisms so that our clients will have dedicated Account Directors who understand their industry sector and are able to connect together our services on their behalf.  

David Lale

CEO

Global Highlights

ISA

Our team have been working hard on a project of 15 executive searches with the International Solar Alliance, based in India but with an international focus. ISA is an action-oriented, member-driven, collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies, and the roles included Chief of Resource Mobilisation; Chief of Operations, Programme Specialists and Regulatory Specialists. This has been a hugely rewarding experience for Oxford HR, expanding our networks in the Asia region, in addition to helping a client at the forefront of sustainable energy.

UNAIDS

Once again, the Oxford HR team have been working with UNAIDS, this time on their Independent External Oversight Advisory Committee. This seven-month project was a truly global search for outstanding individuals to form a seven-person committee (four men and three women). The committee needed to be geographically distributed representing countries at different stages of economic development and bringing a balance of gender and private, public, and not for profit experience. The UNAIDS team also took additional candidates to be added to their roster for future roles, and we are delighted to have worked with them on this vitally important project.

Associate Directors in Canada

Our presence in North America was solidified with two new Associate Directors joining our team at the end of 2021. Evelyne Guidon and Alanna Rondi, located in Toronto and Ottawa, joined with extensive expertise in the international development and humanitarian sector working with leading organizations in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. They have already started working with clients in the region, bringing the Oxford HR offering to a vast new market.

Latin America Team

Excitingly, we have also had three new team members based in Central and Southern America. Jennifer Chumacero joins us from La Paz, Bolivia, as our Associate Director for the region, whilst Estefania Gastelu and Paola Martinez make up our research and coordination team, out of Bolivia and Venezuela respectively. With this team in place, we look forward to partnering with more clients in the region and completing assignments in Spanish.

Leadership Impact Assessment

Our Organisational Effectiveness team have had a busy year, completing a total of 97 Leadership Impact Assessments, for 38 roles across 25 clients. Going forwards, we will continue to provide these assessments, and our Behavioural Insights Profiling, and grow our pool of OE associates to include more consultants based in Africa and Asia.

OXygen

Oxford HR’s fledgling design agency, OXygen, has gone from strength to strength this year, completing an entire rebrand (including website, brand guidelines and social toolkit), two websites and ongoing work on a third, numerous brand videos and two impact reports. We have found there are strong links to brand and organisational identity and have worked closely with our Organisational Effectiveness team on certain projects.

Challenges Faced

1. Post-covid status quo

As with all organisations, the biggest challenged we faced this year was navigating the uncertainty surrounding the post-covid world. With some countries allowing travel, and others keeping strict controls in place, it has often been a difficult environment to recruit in, and so we have continued with our hybrid model, incorporating elements of virtual hiring. We have also, for the most part, remained largely remote as an organisation, allowing the team to work flexibly with our ever-increasing timezones. Our four offices remain in operation for those in our team who wish to work from it when it is safe to do so.

2. Global crises

The world continues to be a volatile place, especially with recent events in Ukraine and the rising cost of living in multiple places. Amongst this uncertainty, Oxford HR remains committed to keeping aware of current affairs and understanding how this can impact both our clients and our internal team, and offering support when needed.

3. Growing team – Internal Comms

The past year has been one of massive growth for the Oxford HR team, both in terms of projects and team members. Whilst this is all good news, there have been adjustments to make in onboarding new team members remotely and incorporating more time zones into our operations. The building of our company Intranet has vastly improved our internal communications, and we’ve been continuing our employee engagement through surveys, company-wide coffee meetings, and Coffee Pals, which matches two team members at random to have an informal chat.

Diversity, Sustainability and Inclusion

EDI

To highlight our commitment to diversity in the workplace, this year we signed the Change the Race Ratio and the Race at Work Charter. Both of these initiatives are intended to accelerate change for ethnically diverse employees. We also now have our own in-house EDI Lead, Gloria Kamau, who is working on our internal strategy in this area, along with our Organisational Effectiveness team, and Associate Consultant, Sohbi Khatib. 

Tree Update

We are delighted to have planted 1040 trees in the past financial year. This includes our monthly donation in addition to the trees we plant for our placed candidates and for our Knowledge Festival contributors. Our trees are planted with our partners JUST ONE Tree, in the Ankilahila plot in Northern Madagascar. It’s a mangrove plot, so incredibly important to preventing soil erosion and also Terrestrial and marine life. The plot is a fringe forest on the edge of a dry deciduous forest running up to the estuary. It helps to expand habitat for species such as lemurs, crocodiles, crabs and a variety of birds who all call it their home.

B-Corporation Update

As we continue to scale, Oxford HR is committed to embracing environmental sustainability and social change so we are working towards becoming a B Corp that allows our company to be more credible and responsible and our employees to take more control. With a working group in place and the help of more team members as and when needed, we are hoping to get the accreditation before the end of this financial year.

COP

Given our internal commitment to recognizing, and taking action against, the climate crisis, we invited our networks to voice their thoughts of COP26, in addition to our own researcher, Dawn Wells, attending the conference in Glasgow. We are also compiling a thought piece with different views from our connections on their thoughts on COP27, in addition to planning a podcast with an environment/sustainability focus.

Employee well-being

Oxford HR has signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment to recognize the importance of our employee wellbeing. As part of this, we are working with our partner, The Wellbeing Generation (link), on delivering tailored sessions to our staff regarding stress, boundaries and personal values. These weekly, small group exercises have so far been received well, with the team noting that they have been able to reflect on their work-life balance, and also connect more with their colleagues.

Ambitions for the future

AsiaPac Office

Undoubtedly, one of our biggest aims this year is to open our AsiaPac office, to be based in Singapore and with a local team working to bring the Oxford HR offering to more clients in the Asia region. With an ever-growing client base on the continent, and a strong pool of candidates based there, an office presence will further our ability to represent strong and diverse leadership for mission-driven organisations working across Asia. Our Client Director for the region is starting with us very soon, and we are excited with what this appointment will bring.

OXygen

We will be working hard to continue the growth of our design portfolio with OXygen, to bring creative impact and powerful brand storytelling to even more organisations. We also aim to grow our team of freelance designers and copywriters and attend more industry events, with the hope of diversifying our client base and working with more international organisations.

Greater integration of our work

A big focus for the coming year is how we can bring our services together more cohesively and offer our clients a more integrated and holistic approach to leadership, incorporating our search, organisational effectiveness and design services. As part of this, we will be developing our ‘sector specialisms’ whilst maintaining our regional expertise, allowing our teams to tailor their work to our clients even further, and provide the opportunity for us to delve deeper into leadership trends happening in different areas of the for-purpose space.

Podcast

To further our ambitions regarding thought leadership and connecting our networks with the minds at the forefront of the most pressing topics, Oxford HR are creating two series of podcasts this year. One will focus on our work on the African continent, and the other will look at Climate and specifically, COP27. Both will be available to download from the Oxford HR Content Centre, so please keep your eyes peeled for announcements on our LinkedIn channel!

Young Trustee Initiative

Later in the year, we are hoping to launch an initiative that will provide information to 16-30 year olds on the work of boards, how to land your first trustee role, and why it’s important to have diversity of age, race, thought and lived experience within them. We believe this will bring forward the bright minds of Gen Z and allow them to reach their full potential within the mission-driven space.

Awards/Events

Knowledge Festival, Version 2

We held the second iteration of our Knowledge Festival in October, featuring panels on Organisational Culture in Context: Experiences Across Asia; Women in Leadership (in partnership with WILD network), Education and Training: Transforming the Humanitarian System (in partnership with the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership), African Philanthropy, and a Leadership Exchange taster session ran by our Organisational Effectiveness team. The festival was a huge success and we are already planning our next sessions for April 2022. 

AidEx Brussels

In November, we attended AidEx, our first in-person event in the post-covid era. We exhibited at the conference and connected with many likeminded organisations and individuals, whilst enjoying the array of panel discussions on crucial topics such as ‘How can the world fund sustainable development’ and ‘the financial legacy of Covid19’. We look forward to also exhibiting at AidEx Nairobi later in the year.

DIHAD

Our team attended the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition for the first time in March. This was a fascinating event focused on how partnerships are vital and should be utilized to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to creating many new connections, the team were fortunate to hear from speakers such as Aisha Buhari, First Lady of Nigeria, Dr. Shereen El Feki and Dr. Manal Mohammed Taryam.

International Women’s Day

In March we marked International Women’s Day by asking members of the team to make a pledge to #breakthebias. You can see the pledges here.

Book Project

We have been working with one of our partners on a very exciting book project; with the Oxford HR team contributing to a chapter on succession planning. The book aims to help build sustainable organisations, so watch this space for more details on the book launch and publication.

Global Recruiter Awards

Our work with the RSPB was shortlisted at the Global Recruiter Awards for Best Marketing Campaign. Our recruitment campaign featured a video that we seeded out on our social media channels to encourage young people to apply to be a member of the advisory council. You can watch the video here.

WILD Forum 2022

Once again, we have partnered with the WILD Network, and this year we will be collaborating with them on a panel in their 2022 forum on the decolonisation of aid, and how we can collectively support female leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. We look forward to this event, moderated by our Associate Consultant Peter Irungu and including our wonderful clients at Malala Fund.

2021 in numbers

14,146

Candidates registered

67

Candidates placed

66

Clients Worked With

of our placed candidates over the past 3 years were women

Our placed candidates were truly global, representing 30 nationalities collectively

Online

Increase in Twitter followers

Increase in LinkedIn Followers

114

Increase in LinkedIn Impressions

Increase in Web Users

Our Global Team

33

Staff Members

35

Associates

4

International Offices

of our team are women

24

Nationalities in the team

25

Languages spoken in the team

20

Countries spread across