Marek Tribedi, a senior manager at Lloyds Banking Group1 describes his motivation and subsequent action for raising the profile of older workers within the organisation.
You never forget your first time......…when someone on a packed tube train at London Bridge offers you a seat!”. I wasn’t pregnant, disabled or carrying heavy bags – so when this happened to me in 2014 (at age 54), it made me stop and think…”Is that how I appear to other people?”. And my next thought was – “I’m not ready for that yet!”
Working at Lloyds Banking Group for 25 years, I had been an active supporter of diversity as a steering committee member of the Group Ethnic Minority Network. Along with Group-wide networks for women, disabled and LGBT colleagues, there was no doubting Lloyds wholehearted commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. But was the age profile where it needed to be? Was there a need to raise the profile of the capability in experienced (i.e. older!) colleagues not being fully leveraged, for themselves, the Group and even the wider UK Economy?
“When I heard about what Marek was trying to do when he launched Maximise, I was immediately convinced by the potential immense value that such a network could bring to individuals, Lloyds Banking Group and very importantly the communities around us. The hundreds of years of experience in business and life that we could tap into to generate this value was obvious. I think that Marek has proved to us the power of engaging people in a common aim maximising the potential of older colleagues. Getting 1 colleague (Marek) to raise the interest and involvement of 3000 followers in a very short time with self support and self determination is simply impressive. Imagine what could be done if each of us could get just 100 people to follow us …” Emile Sanchez, Director, Consumer Finance & Divestment CIO,Lloyds Banking Group
I approached Group D&I and was advised that I should research the appetite for such a colleague network. What was the best way to do that? Simple - just start one! I named “my” network MAXIMISE, and began to reach out to colleagues I thought might be interested. There’s sensitivity around age so this has to be approached delicately! However, I discovered that literally everyone I spoke to thought it was a great idea and word started to spread, thanks to a number of key people who really “got it” and selflessly contributed their time and energy. I’m forever grateful to all of them.
As I reached out to increasingly senior levels, a key figure emerged – IT Director Emile Sanchez who volunteered to be my executive sponsor. This led to doors being opened at very senior executive levels, and the formation of a steering committee. The first major MAXIMISE exercise was held in 2015 and involved listening sessions in 20 locations across the UK, which were attended by over 400 colleagues. The collated feedback pointed at 3 main areas of focus – future financial planning, agile working, and “leaving a legacy” (including charity work, mentoring and SME knowledge transfer).
Meanwhile, I had got in touch with Ros Altmann, who was then Business Champion for Older Workers (later Minister for Pensions). I was asked to join a Business Taskforce to address the need to recruit, retrain and retain older workers. This was a great honour and dovetailed with Lloyds “Helping Britain Prosper Plan”. Within Ros’s Business Taskforce, I chaired a sub-group in early 2016 which produced draft proposals for Financial Wellness.
Now in June 2016, the distribution list for the MAXIMISE Newsletter is now over 3000, and MAXIMISE is represented at the Group Operations I&D Action Group. Pension Clubs have sprung up around the UK to informally share experience and signposting. There are frequent collaborative events with the other networks including one initiated by MAXIMISE on the Menopause. The Group Operations Director, Karin Cook, recently explicitly acknowledged MAXIMISE in her Blog and encouraged me to continue publicising this very important topic.
I’ll never forget that offer of a seat – and it has led to one heck of a journey!
1Marek is Senior Manager, Workspace Management | Group IT Business Management,Lloyds Banking Group | Group IT