Kate Headley, Director, The Clear Company

Kate Headley: Challenging the Conventional

Recognized as one of the leading experts of inclusive recruitment and talent management best practice, Kate Headley is changing the face of employment. Kate co-founded The Clear Company in 2003 and as a company Director remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. Positive, disruptive, and unafraid to ask the difficult questions, Kate is known for making change happen.

A qualified HR leader whose career began at Marks and Spencer, followed by senior roles at Manchester City Council and Capita, Kate has created impact and change through her ability to reach senior decision-makers and influencers in government and businesses. She has successfully created and bought several digital products to market.

Moreover, Kate is a published author, prolific speaker, and facilitator, regularly speaking at prominent conferences and events. She has led a proactive, practical response to the challenge of Covid-19, enabling employers to embed an inclusive approach to the pandemic through best practice and thought leadership. In addition to her role at the Clear Company, she is also a founder member of the UK Governments Disability Confident scheme and founded and chairs the UK’s ‘Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative’, a national program to remove barriers for disabled job seekers.

Kate has Lupus, an autoimmune condition that has caused significant sight loss during the last five years but has not brought a stop to her level of professional influence and activity.

In our endeavor to find “The 10 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch 2021”, we caught up with Kate to learn about her journey. It feels great to interview someone who is filled with passion and persistence and driven by values. There is a lot to know about her and Diversity and Inclusion at work.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please list your strategies and services that make you and your company standout from the competition.

Our teams are passionate about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), and our mission is to disrupt and innovate to create an inclusive world of work. Our clients make DE&I business as usual by understanding the barriers to inclusion in their workplace and achieve positive, sustainable change rooted in practical plans that treat the causes, not the symptoms.

Inclusion Maturity

Assessment of an organisation’s inclusion maturity status based on robust diversity monitoring data, document and process reviews, stakeholder interviews and focus groups. Regular reviews track change as organizations work towards agreed goals and outcomes, it is applicable to the complete employee lifecycle or specific processes.

Change Management and Continuous Improvement

Our global DE&I experts work alongside clients to implement focused action plans, training and access to ongoing expertise via our scalable digital solutions all designed to improve internal skills and enable teams to successfully move from policy to best practice.

Inclusive Leadership Programmes

When leaders embody inclusive leadership behaviors and act as champions for diversity across their organizations, there is a noticeable culture shift to the diversity of thought, customers, markets, and talent. Our high-impact and transformational coaching programs focus on the personal DE&I journey of leaders, enabling them to shape their learning and move forwards.

What were the challenges and experiences overseeing human resources across different industries and at The Clear Company?

The central challenge has always been to attract and retain top talent and improve productivity against changing economic and social influences. Currently, we are seeing a much more holistic approach to investing in people and systems, and HR teams have the opportunity to measure the impact of their activity with meaningful data analytics.

Being an experienced HR leader, what is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Human Resources industry? And how has The Clear Company managed to overcome this significant challenge?

Covid-19 has created many unforeseen challenges for HR leaders and teams in managing the early impact of redundancies, furlough, and home working, and now by navigating what a return to the office will look like in the new working world.

As businesses compete to attract and retain top talent, those that prioritize DE&I and can demonstrate their ability to do so will be the ones to grow

This also demands a change in approach by business leaders too. At the Clear Company, we have more than ever taken a holistic approach, as the leadership team balances the challenges of virtual leadership with empathetic skills that support the wellbeing and mental health of employees.

What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to Digital Transformation?

Digital interaction has become the primary contact with employees and customers during the last 18 months, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to change how time at work and working processes are managed. Internally, it’s important to balance the technology-driven opportunities for flexibility against the wellbeing and specific needs of each workforce. For the majority of people, it’s still hugely beneficial to have regular face-to-face contact in some form.

The Clear Company has long recognized the potential of Digital Transformation to enable our clients to achieve their goals. Our digital solutions range from inclusivity diagnostics, virtual audit and stakeholder engagement platforms, online learning and inclusion standards, and accreditation, all applicable globally.

What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?

Books, I was a Charles Handy fan in my early years and by far one of the most impactful reads for me recently – Why I no longer talk to white people about race by Reni EddoLodge – should be mandated for all CEO’s in my opinion. Life factors of influence include growing up in South Manchester, having amazing parents, my 30 year marriage, our daughter and more recently my sight loss

What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in the HR Industry?

Do it, be bold, hold true to your values, and have the confidence to create a team that will increasingly overtake you in their thinking. Do not let your own lack of self-esteem hold you back, my generation did enough of that, you don’t need to anymore!

What is your vision for the company for the next five years?

The Clear Company’s vision is to expand our reach to businesses of all types and sizes, making our expertise available to organizations with global locations and SMEs alike. To enable this reach, we are bringing a series of innovative online solutions to market to make best practice available to everyone. Watch this space, The Clear Company is about to go truly global.