Two years ago, we launched our Next Generation Board (NGB) programme at the FT. The NGB is a group of 10 emerging leaders who represent different business areas and interests across the FT. Each NGB member is paired with a member of the FT Executive Board to provide reverse mentoring and exchange feedback and ideas. The programme gives the participants (who are usually in their early-mid careers) direct access to the FT Board to learn from them and build relationships and collaborate on key issues the FT is trying to address. It also allows our board members to hear directly from employees across the FT, to better understand their priorities and concerns, as well as create a space for open conversation, feedback and collaboration.
Below Elizabeth Pears, one of this year's NGB participants, details the journey they have been on and the initiatives they have spearheaded to make the FT an even better place to work.
“It was less than a year ago that 10 emerging leaders representing different business areas and interests came together to form the second cohort of the FT’s Next Generation Board (NGB). Each NGB member is paired up with a member of the FT Group management board to provide reverse mentoring and exchange ideas.
Our first official – and virtual – meeting in January started with a computer screen filled with a grid of unfamiliar faces across multiple time zones, but the common thread that held us together was a shared passion for the FT’s mission and values.
The NGB set itself this task: to use our influence and relationship with the board, and within our individual pairings, to make the FT an even more formidable force. We wanted to complement and strengthen existing work through different ideas, not do the same work twice.
We narrowed down our priorities into three pillars along these themes: hybrid working, D&I and employer brand strategy. We also advised and challenged the board in response to real-world events. The cost of living crisis was one such issue.
The year flew by. Here’s a bit more about how we spent our time:
The “I” in D&I
The D&I pillar created 11 D&I eLearning modules which launched during Inclusion Week. Approximately 300 FT employees accessed these in the first 24 hours.
We ran a series of listening sessions involving 103 staff members and 15 one-to-one conversations on the various crucial D&I areas: ethnicity, gender parity, LGBTQ+, and disability. In addition, we met with all our Employee Resource Groups (ESG) to discuss any D&I challenges from their perspective.
We also worked with our Talent Acquisition team to incorporate feedback on accessibility and LGBTQ+ related aspects into our job descriptions and application processes.
And we initiated and collaborated on branding ERG D&I initiatives on the company’s social media.
Employer brand strategy
This pillar spent the year interviewing 16 employer brand stakeholders and held listening sessions with around 50 people with different lengths of tenure at the FT.
They analysed over 1,600 employee survey comments, gathered feedback from 6 FT Group board members, and led discussion on this issue within the NGB. They recently presented a recommendation to the FT Board on how we can generate an early awareness of the FT Brand to potential future audiences and hires.
Making hybrid working a success
Coming out from home working, this pillar held more than 10 consultations with various groups and individuals about hybrid working. They also hosted a series of cost of living sessions to hear directly what colleagues were thinking and have advised the FT Board on staff sentiment on the topic. The input from the team was well received by the Board and had a direct impact on how CEO John Ridding addressed the crisis in the most recent Town Hall.
It’s good to talk
Three members of the NGB volunteered to lead communications, primarily between our group and the FT Board through bi-monthly updates, but also between the NGB and our peers.
Our goal was to raise the profile of the NGB across the company. We swapped experiences with a comparable group called Horizon, set up by Interbrand, a global consultancy.
Some other highlights include setting up a session with special guest Josh Levine on the topic “How to Design a Company Culture at Work Employees Love”. We expressed the need to define a common purpose – a new North Star – for staff to work towards together.
Towards the end of the year, the NGB was also paired up with Nikkei’s emerging leaders to work on an assigned project to strengthen the relationship between our two companies. This partnership was diligently set up by an NGB member who is based in Japan.
What we learned
As well as gaining a better understanding of how the board operates, the experience has been professionally rewarding. We end the year more confident and with a better understanding of our individual strengths and/or areas for development. Working alongside people from other departments and teams helped us to break down some of those silos that can exist in companies.
The clearest lesson is that it is so important to bring your authentic self to work and that your perspective can influence things if you are empowered to speak up. We found we were most effective when we were frank.
The FT Group management board were consistently open to our suggestions and recommendations and we thank them for being gracious listeners – and forensic interrogators. Though our tenure is coming to an end, there is always more to say, more to learn and more to improve. We now pass the torch to the incoming cohort and wish them every success."
If you are interested in finding out more about our NGB and a career at the FT, then visit: https://aboutus.ft.com/careers