Ambitious plans for change

Lisa Kiew, Director of Finance and Operations at Maudsley Charity, talks in depth about the organisation's journey to more inclusive recruitment. This blog is in association with Harris Hill.

Lisa Kiew

Lisa Kiew

Director of Finance and Operations, Maudsley Charity

Lisa is responsible for the strategic and financial planning underpinning the delivery of the charity’s strategic aims.

Maudsley Charity is undergoing a significant period of growth and change — and exciting times are ahead. The charity has been building a solid foundation since becoming an independent entity in 2018 and has now entered a period of expansion. We have bold ambitions about maximising impact; addressing issues of discrimination and exclusion in the projects we fund to improve mental health and in how we operate as an organisation; and generating funds to extend our work.

We continue to grow our team, from 8 staff at the start of 2020 to approximately 18-20 staff by March 2023. In the past 12 months, we have been joined by a new Director of Fundraising & Communications, Communications Officer and Grantmaking Systems Lead, a new Programme Manager, Senior Impact and Learning Manager and NHS Trust Engagement and Fundraising Manager.

However, it’s not simply about increasing headcount.

Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, there has been global attention on racism in society. As an organisation, we are committed to changing and tackling racial inequality. We believe it’s the duty of all responsible organisations to do this, but for us, this goes beyond our responsibilities to be a good corporate citizen.

Maudsley Charity is committed to changing and tackling racial inequality

Maudsley Charity is committed to changing and tackling racial inequality. As an organisation, we are working to achieve positive change together with those who share our values and commitment. The charity funds many projects that are helping to address the health inequalities that minoritised communities face within the mental health system (particularly Black people with African and Caribbean heritage and South Asian communities).

We recognised that like many Charities and the third sector as a whole, we didn’t reflect the communities that we work with and on behalf of. For that to change, we needed to commit, invest resources and prioritise taking action.

We looked for and found in Harris Hill, a recruitment agency with a high focus on equality, diversity and inclusion in their processes and who shared our values. They facilitate inclusive recruitment practices and challenge us to try harder, as well as provide candidates with a satisfying recruitment journey.

Recruitment practices – Doing things differently

In 2021, we committed to trialling different methods to address any unintentional blockers and biases in our hiring practices. We reviewed our processes and, working in partnership with Harris Hill, ensured that the channels we are using to recruit new talent are clearly aligned with our objectives.

This has included:

  • Writing helpful, friendly and engaging adverts; avoiding gender-driven language and using a tone of voice that speaks to candidates the charity may not necessarily have spoken to before.For example, stating that, ‘as a team we value and acknowledge diverse experiences, voices and perspectives, particularly those who come from minoritised communities and/or have direct experience of living with mental illness or being a carer for someone living with mental illness’ and ‘we welcome your application if you are from a Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic background, have a disability, are LGBTQ+, have any other protected characteristic, or have lived experience of mental illness’.
  • Using images in recruitment packs that are more reflective of the communities that we serve.
  • Engaging candidates on social media platforms such as Twitter by telling them that we are interested in their potential as much as their existing skills and experience.
  • Using ‘blind’ recruitment processes (removing a candidate’s name and other identifying factors, such as age, location, and school or university names from their application) to make it easier for hiring managers to make objective decisions about the candidate’s skills, experience and suitability for a role — and lessen the risk of conscious or unconscious bias.
  • Offering candidates the opportunity to see interview questions in advance to aid preparation.
  • Ensuring interview panels are diverse and comprised of people from different teams, and asking values-based interview questions, not just competency-based, to attract people who are motivated by the charity’s values but may not have the relevant qualifications at this stage.
  • Reviewing the recruitment process at each stage to ensure it is as inclusive as possible; removing any potential barriers, identifying new ways to remove any unconscious bias and ensuring that candidates are not being set up to fail.

Since 2020/21, we have publicly set and reported on key diversity indicators. We regularly review equalities data at each stage of the recruitment process and into employment, in order to hold ourselves accountable. At 31 March 2022, we were 100% female with 26% of staff were from black and minority ethnic communities; 18% of staff identified themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and 55% of staff identified themselves as having lived experience of mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness. As we are a small organisation, we aggregate our data. We recognise that such data groupings are imperfect but important as a place to start our reflection on our organisation. Our key diversity indicators are available in our Annual Report and Accounts.

We are still learning and we know we don’t always achieve the changes we want. While we become more representative of the demographics of London over the last two years, we know this is an ongoing journey. We are committed to continuing to change. With a diverse team with different life experiences, skills and perspectives, the Charity is stronger and better able to serve our beneficiaries than we were two years ago.

Why work for Maudsley Charity

Lisa Williams joined Maudsley Charity in 2018 as Business Support Manager. Her main responsibilities include HR, contract management and governance. She is also the Secretariat to the Board of Trustees.

After the pandemic, the Charity knew it needed to get to grips with its people policies and procedures and establish its HR function — and this is where Lisa’s role comes in! She is working towards an HR qualification and somehow finds the time to volunteer too — so she can truly feel the impact of how other charities make a difference to their service users.

Lisa believes the charity offers its people the chance to grow and develop in their roles and focus on their continuous professional development. She has particularly enjoyed working with Lisa Kiew, Director of Finance and Operations, whose “drive and vision to make changes has been the making of us and our improvements, and how far we have come.”

She recognises that the charity is in a fast-paced place of change — and that change has been challenging but is being embraced.

I have never been an employee of a charity before where people really want to get it right and make a difference in this way.

Lisa Williams

Business Support Manager.

Lisa Williams

Lisa believes the charity, its senior leaders and people demonstrate an openness to try different things and to reflect on its learnings; what went well and what could be improved, but also to celebrate what has been achieved.

On this journey, the Charity learnt that, not only do they need to be clearer in how roles are described but also, how important it is that candidates get a feel for the charity’s developing journey. This has given the Charity a great opportunity to reflect on other HR processes and practices. She believes that the charity is very good at collaborating and coming together as a high-performing team; they share and respect ideas, work towards achieving common objectives and really live the charity’s values.

Lisa and the team are looking forward to the changes ahead and are keen to see improvements, motivating and supporting each other along the way.

You can find out more about our journey from Harris Hill’s perspective here

Visit Maudsley Charity’s recruitment microsite at Harris Hill