Q&A with Harriet Padina – Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Siemens UK
Simon Tucker-Brown talks to Harriet Padina, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Siemens UK&I, about the changes she’s seen in organisations’ Diversity & Inclusion agendas in recent years, the impact the Diversity and Inclusion strategy has had at Siemens, plus her advice for businesses on their own D&I journey.
Having worked for Siemens UK in recruitment and HR for nearly 16 years now how did your transition into your current role come about?
16 years sounds like a very long time, but I haven’t sat still for very long in Siemens. I like to think that each role gave me the chance to develop a new skill; the collective of which has led me to my current role. I developed project management skills when we integrated our ATS with our HR system, I learned about talent planning and development when I managed the graduate programme and I gained coaching skills when succession planning for senior roles. I improved my facilitation and collaboration skills through developing culture change programmes in an Organisational Effectiveness role.
As D&I Community Manager, I combine of all these skills but one thing that has been consistent throughout my career are my values of equality and inclusion so that everyone can contribute to the best of their ability.
As we know, this is a journey for everyone. What steps did you take to develop your own knowledge around D&I and what support have you utilised, both internally and externally?
I learn about D&I every day. This learning will never stop. This is because inclusion is about people, so every day that I meet someone who is different from me, I need to stop and listen to understand their perspective.
Inclusion is about people, so every day that I meet someone who is different from me, I need to stop and listen to understand their perspective.
Practically speaking, I started with the Siemens D&I policy and then the Equality Act 2010. I also read material that is widely quoted such as McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report; there are others. I attended several events on a variety of topics. I continue to grow my LinkedIn network and I participate in best practice discussions with individuals from partner or competitor organisations who experience similar challenges, to learn from them.
In Siemens we’ve had unconscious bias training for many years which I repeat regularly. This year, we’re developing a bespoke programme with STEPS Drama called Conscious Inclusion which takes this beyond awareness to focus on action. We’ve also developed allyship workshops and privilege walks which all help to develop knowledge around diversity and inclusion.
How would you describe the changes you have witnessed regarding the D&I agenda in recent years?
Most companies in similar industries to ours, which are traditionally very male, focus on gender first. We followed a similar course when Siemens started its D&I journey about 12 years ago, starting with gender targets for women in senior positions and more recently gender pay gap reporting. Since then, we have broadened to focus on inclusion more generally. Mental health, wellbeing and LGBT inclusion started to become much more widely spoken about.
If you’re on LinkedIn, you will know that D&I jobs multiplied after the George Floyd murder in summer of 2020. A horrendous and shocking event has at last opened many people’s eyes to systemic racism and has given people the courage to start difficult conversations and learn.
Disability inclusion is often the last topic on the agenda… if you’re not working on disability inclusion, then you’re “diversish”
Finally, disability inclusion is often the last topic on the agenda. Caroline Casey, Founder of the Valuable 500, says that if you’re not working on disability inclusion, then you’re “diversish” but through this campaign and the Disability Confident programme, organisations are shifting this. The main change has been the broadening of the topic and a shift to focus less on diverse groups but on belonging. With belonging comes inclusion and with an inclusive culture, diversity and diverse thinking follows.
What impact have you seen in the workplace at Siemens UK as a result of the work that you do?
I am lucky that the leadership decision to recruit my role meant that the Siemens leadership team was already fully committed to Diversity and Inclusion as a strategic priority, and I continue to have extraordinary support and trust to deliver the work that I do. Impact we have seen includes
- We have increased the number of women in the company and in leadership positions
- With a clear definition of our D&I purpose we have increased engagement on D&I; including focussed activity at a business unit level, the formation of diverse employee networks and sponsorship of individual’s careers.
- Broadened our commitment on EDI as signatories to the BitC Race@work charter and Disability Confident Committed status.
- We have shifted our culture of flexibility through an extensive cultural programme. Our employees are trusted to deliver their roles how, when and where they want. With a clear focus on job outcomes, rather than inputs (hours worked, time in the office) we have created an inclusive culture where we all can thrive.
- Developed an externally endorsed Standard for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion which is now escalating progress internally and gives us a clear framework on how to deliver impact.
A key part of your role is to be an internal evangelist for D&I, what are some of the challenges you have encountered and what one success are you most proud of?
Funnily enough, I don’t consider myself to be an evangelist at all. My job title is “Community Manager” which means that I don’t “do” diversity and inclusion for Siemens. My role is to engage the community. And this means that I need to amplify the messages of other evangelists. People are drawn to work on D&I for different reasons in their personal experience so I need to capitalise on this and give them a platform to share their message.
People are drawn to work on D&I for different reasons in their personal experience so I need to capitalise on this and give them a platform to share their message.
My role is to continue to educate and involve others; the more people we can engage in this topic, the sooner we will see success. My most proud moments are when I see communities grow such as our employee networks or champion groups and they deliver great work without me driving it.
If you were advising an external business on their D&I journey, what do you see as the 2-3 key considerations to they would need to take?
Firstly, understand your Why. Why are you doing this? How will a diverse and inclusive organisation make you better at what you do? And once you’ve found something that you believe in, communicate this again and again to your teams and your partners.
How will a diverse and inclusive organisation make you better at what you do? And once you’ve found something that you believe in, communicate this again and again to your teams and your partners.
Secondly, treat this like a business imperative. For any other priority, you would devise a strategy, set objectives, and deliver against a roadmap, and this is no different. D&I is very difficult to measure because it’s about your organisational culture, but you need to find a way of making it tangible so that you can see evidence of your progress.
Finally, build diversity and inclusion into every day. In every interaction, are you surrounding yourself with people like yourself or are you actively seeking different perspectives? Do you always give projects to the same “trusted person” or are you using it to give opportunities to someone new? Do you always expect to recruit someone with years of experience in your industry or do you look for transferable skills and someone who will give you a different perspective? Diversity and Inclusion needn’t be an additional job for when you have the time, small changes today can lead to big results tomorrow.
Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Siemens UK & Ireland
Harriet Padina is Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Siemens UK & Ireland and has worked for Siemens for 14 years. Harriet has a Masters degree in Engineering from Durham University and started her career on a graduate programme with GKN plc. Gradually her career path led to HR roles and with Siemens she has worked in Talent Management and Talent Acquisition as well as Organisational Effectiveness and culture change. Harriet leads the Siemens UK approach to Diversity and Inclusion, working through a network of champions and in collaboration with business leaders, HR experts and employee networks to drive and escalate progress.