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Being a judge for the This Can Happen Awards 2020

By Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Hays 

Mental health is arguably one of the most important factors which will affect our workplace over the next decade. People are living and working longer than ever before, and positively, more employers are realising that they need to support the good mental health of their colleagues within their workforce.

Many colleagues across many organisations may struggle with mental ill health over the course of their lifetime, so it’s vitally important we recognise those who are already leading the way and making a positive difference to supporting good mental health in the workplace. 

I’m really pleased to be part of the judging panel for this year’s This Can Happen Awards 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing evidence of innovative and impactful ways employers have implemented mental health strategies, initiatives, networks and campaigns. 

What’s important to me is seeing employers who are enabling more equal access to roles, career progression and support for those with mental health conditions. In data from our Hays Diversity & Inclusion Report 2019, we found that close to half (49%) of professionals believe there is unequal access to career progression opportunities because of mental health.

For employers, examples of structured career progression plans for all professionals regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or mental health history is important – and purposeful support and interventions for everybody, regardless of background, to achieve their full potential within an organisation is what I’d like to see evidence of. 

It’s also important to note that access to resources to support mental health support shouldn’t be limited to existing staff, but also to prospective employers too. And we see this in our role at Hays as recruiting professionals. This is something that needs to be emphasised from your first point of contact with a candidate and maintained throughout their time with you as an employee. From the offset, you should make it clear that any mental health issue they wish to discuss will always be treated with confidentiality, respect and understanding, never judgement or intolerance.

I’m looking forward to seeing examples of how employers and individuals have been able to implement this cultural change and evidence of how staff are able to be honest and open about their mental health, meaning support can be provided much earlier. 

Yvonne Smyth 

Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion 
Judge for This Can Happen Awards 2020 


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This Can Happen has truly helped to move the needle on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, providing access to exceptional speakers, innovative ideas and practical solutions for how businesses can work together with staff, customers and broader stakeholders to ensure that everyone can thrive at work and be fully supported with any mental health challenges they may face.

Sarah Boddey, Senior VP, Northern Trust