by Conor Clear
This week, in the midst of a dull grey rainy day in Dublin, came a burst of colour in the form of the Aviva Pride Brunch. To celebrate Aviva’s partnership with Dublin Pride 2019, Aviva has gone big, bold, and bright by lighting up the Aviva Stadium in the pride colours. In a wonderful fusion of colour and inclusivity the iconic home of Irish soccer and rugby was lit in the Pride colours for the first time in Irish history.
Dublin drag diva, Victoria Secret donned her finest frock and brought plenty of glitz and glam to proceedings. She was joined by Irish rugby legend and Aviva ambassador Tommy Bowe, along with soccer stars Katie McCabe and Ruesha Littlejohn; all there to celebrate the occasion.
Aviva Pride is a wonderful initiative by the insurance giant, but what makes this such an interesting drive is that it comes from the staff, and was born at grass roots level with the support of the HR team. Indeed, at the event one couldn’t help but feel the energy and pride bursting from Aviva staff who were there to mark the occasion.
With this initiative, Aviva are undoubtedly an attractive employer for LGBTQ+ people and we went along to talk to the Head of HR at Aviva Ireland, Shaun McDonald about the company’s commitment to fostering openness and inclusion, from the HR department right across the corridors and offices of Aviva throughout the country.
Mr McDonald is keen to attract and retain talent amongst the Aviva staff. He does so by creating the right environment where people can be themselves, instead of spending time trying to be something that they’re not. “They feel safe, they feel productive and they feel valued”, McDonald says. Of course, this makes a big statement to the external market that Aviva is a safe place and that you can have a career which is completely independent of your sexuality. With openness and inclusion at the heart of the company’s values, the emphasis is on creating an environment where difference is valued; really respecting difference.
At Aviva, openness gives people the ability to feel themselves. The message on the corridors of the Aviva offices is that employees should ‘Spend energy being yourself, not hiding it’. And this initiative’s hashtag #SafeToDream is sending out a message of inclusion and openness to Aviva employees.
What makes this drive stand out however, is that its not just for the Pride month of June. Aviva’s desire to be inclusive and open continues right across the year. McDonald noted how they have an active Pride committee working all year round, across Dublin, Cork and Galway. In fact Aviva bosses and HR personnel strive to ensure this programme is properly supported, sponsored and funded. The Aviva Pride Network hosts a whole series of initiatives all year long.
And what’s clear is that it’s not just lip service, or a token initiative. Attending the brunch was Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BelongTo who spoke so passionately and sincerely of the relationship between BelongTo and The Aviva Pride Network.
But how can its success be measured? Well it’s difficult to quantify and Shaun McDonald has a very realistic attitude towards the ability to measure the initiative’s effects on productivity. Mr McDonald and the HR team look at things such as engagement and turnover, and how happy and content employees feel. And the added value to productivity from people who feel valued and respected is expectedly high.
While talking to Mr McDonald, we took the opportunity to ask about the future of human resource management and what the HR boss thinks is going to be the next big thing. All eyes are on the ever-changing face of technology and the role that evolving technologies are playing in how HR management is being implemented. According to Mr Mc Donald, the hope is that data analytics will benefit from improved technology. “HR is an area that has tonnes and tonnes of data… compensation, sick leave and stress data”. No doubt the same can be said of many workplaces across the country where data can be harvested but perhaps it’s not being used to make things better. “Lots of other aspects of the workplace are doing that [harvesting]; customer areas are doing that; commercial areas”. The challenge now, it seems to the use technology to finally bridge the gap between collecting and harvesting data, and using it to make companies work better.
But whether its technology, or human drive, something is being done right in the HR offices of Aviva. There is no doubt that the Aviva Pride Brunch was a celebration of everything Pride stands for; and this initiative shared Aviva’s message that it’s safe to dream. Everyone should be themselves and not hide it.
And of course, if you’re in the Dublin area until the 8th June, you should check out the iconic Aviva Stadium lit up in the Pride colours.