Piloting Shadow Board at Credera UKReni Hristova
The idea of the Shadow Board was initiated by Credera UK’s leadership team. Whilst the idea of a Shadow Board is a relatively new concept, as a company focused on maintaining our people-first culture, striving for improvement, and keeping on top of innovation, the leadership team has been overwhelmingly supportive of our thinking and initiatives.
In this article, we explain why we established a Shadow Board, what we are getting out of it, and why we think other organisations may wish to consider doing the same.
The Board's view
“Credera has created a “Shadow Board” as part of its drive to ensure that decisions are made with input from a variety of perspectives in the firm including seniority, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. For us, the “Shadow Board” is not decision-making, but it provides an alternative perspective to the Board on our strategy and selected issues.
In addition to regular meetings, the Board actively seeks the Shadow Board’s opinion on various topics, whilst the Shadow Board will often raise issues or risks with the Board without being prompted. The goal is to ensure that those in the firm whose voices would typically be infrequently heard by the Board are given the opportunity to raise their thoughts directly with its members. In this way, the Shadow Board represents minorities of many types and helps educate the Board on what people really think but might feel uncomfortable raising in a senior forum. The Shadow Board concept also gives its members valuable experience of interacting with senior people in the firm on business-critical issues such as pay, promotions, and working practices.
The Board at Credera is very excited about this initiative and we have been humbled by the commitment, professionalism, and intellect of those who have been a part of it so far. We are convinced that the Shadow Board concept is a good one and is here to stay at Credera. To guide us in our learning process, we are actively seeking views from other organisations who have embraced similar arrangements and would be interested in sharing their experiences and advice.
The rest of this article was written by our current Shadow Board and describes how they feel about the initiative.”
The Shadow Board’s view
Why did we feel the need to establish a Shadow Board?
At Credera, we recognise the importance of putting people first, diversifying our perspective, and ensuring leadership stays in touch with our ever-growing business. In the last two years, we have almost tripled the number of employees within our firm, opened new offices, worked with new partners, expanded our service offerings, and launched an internal academy to support the graduate schemes for consultants and engineers.
The growth of the business has meant that we have a greater diversity of needs than ever before. The mission of our Shadow Board is to provide a bridge between our senior leadership team’s view of the company and the experiences of employees from all other parts and levels of the business. The team acts as an ear to the ground and represents the voices that may otherwise remain unheard.
Who is the Shadow Board?
The members of the Shadow Board are a diverse group of employees at Credera, from various parts and levels of the business. We listen to our peers and are willing to challenge the Board's views and influence Credera's direction in more inclusive and diverse ways.
The current members of the Shadow Board come from three different parts of the business – Engineering, Consulting, and HR. We work together to understand different viewpoints and bring our individual perspectives to each discussion. Here’s why some of our members decided to join the Shadow Board:
“Throughout my professional tenure, I have always wanted to bring change. Being part of the Shadow Board, I aim to strengthen our sense of community and represent our people's voice. I focus on bringing diverse perspectives to strategic decision-making and help shape the Credera culture for all of us.”
Managing Consultant & Lead
“The Shadow Board was set up to provide our wider Credera community with a platform to voice initiatives and concerns that affect who we are as an organisation. My goal within the team is to ensure that those voices are well-represented and heard. I am a strong advocate for learning from each other and keeping our work environment honest, healthy, and growing.”
“To me, innovation can come from anywhere in an organisation and as we grow, we will have an increased diversity of ideas and viewpoints. It is important we remain agile; to do this, we need to bridge any generational viewpoints and facilitate the right conversations from our more junior levels of the organisation to ensure we are ahead in the market.”
HR Ops Manager
“Credera is going through a period of fast growth, with numerous challenges to be found and overcome as we scale. Helping communicate perspectives across the company is an important part of the process to ensure decisions made are deployed with the best possible outcomes for both Credera’s business and community.”
“To me, being part of a people-first culture means everyone should aim to maintain a healthy and nurturing environment for all Crederians, be aware of the challenges others face, and support their colleagues. As part of the Shadow Board, I aim to look at situations from different perspectives and see how changes may affect people differently based on their circumstances, roles, and responsibilities.”
What is the role of the Shadow Board?
To be able to represent the opinions of all employees of the firm, we actively seek and listen to feedback from anyone in the business to raise a question, an idea, or a concern anonymously or in person with the Shadow Board.
We play an active role in providing feedback on the ongoing initiatives of the Board and other parts of the business to diversify perspectives. The Shadow Board is often consulted and provides advice on how employees may perceive changes, which gives us an opportunity to influence and diversify the decision-making process. We have regular meetings with our sponsor and CEO, Chris Dean, and we attend meetings with the Board to table our initiatives or feedback on the Board’s initiatives.
The Shadow Board also has a set of initiatives that we are working on to influence the Board and the company’s strategy. Example of initiatives that we have focused on in the last few months include pay transparency, inflationary pay increases, non-chargeable hours, and travel offsetting/carbon footprint. The details of the initiatives haven’t been included due to their sensitivity.
At Credera, the Shadow Board also provides mentoring and reverse mentoring opportunities. We recently launched the first iteration of our reverse mentoring scheme between the Shadow Board and our Board members. As part of the scheme, the Shadow Board works directly with one or two of the board members to set goals and serve as an accountability partner and confidant. Each of these goals are varied and the aim is to build a supportive mentor-mentee relationship. This initiative helps us bridge the gap between the Board members and junior employees and promote intergenerational collaboration and understanding within Credera.
In 2023, we will continue working to identify and support initiatives that make Credera an inclusive workplace where diverse perspectives are valued and people’s voices are heard. We look forward to sharing further updates as we progress in this journey.
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