Carol Henry has been HR Director of the Arnold Clark Group for five years, having joined the organisation in 2002 as a Training and Development Coordinator, then working as Group HR Manager before progressing to her present role. She leads a proactive HR department that offers strong leadership throughout the business, delegating responsibilities and guiding branches in managing over 11,000 employees. Carol studied business management with HR at the University of Paisley and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.
“…Gender parity will not happen overnight – it is important that we don’t become complacent and remain motivated to think, act and be gender inclusive in all that we do…”
Refreshing approach to business
I started my career in human resources with a large Scottish energy company, moving from a generalist HR advisory role to learning and development in corporate HR. After three years, I began researching companies for my career development and came across Arnold Clark, who had their head office in Glasgow.
I didn’t specifically have my sights set on working in the automotive industry, but I was very quickly inspired by the simple and refreshing approach to the running of the business; I had the privilege from early in my Arnold Clark career to work closely with several senior managers and directors, which gave me this insight.
I joined the business in a learning and development role, moving quickly into generalist HR. I took on the role as Group HR Manager in 2006 and, increased my responsibilities in 2012 as Group HR Director. 15 years with Arnold Clark and I am proud to say it has been a great career journey!
My role day to day
As I’m sure many people will say, no two days are the same! That does keep the role interesting and presents many challenges too. My role has overarching responsibility for the following areas; People (employee relations, employee engagement), Recruitment, Health & Safety, Payroll and our training subsidiary, GTG.
The push to having a progressive people function within Arnold Clark requires all of these departments to become more adaptive, resilient and customer-centred. Ongoing integration, especially digital and staff engagement in all the related activities takes up a large part of my day; thank goodness I have a great team supporting me! The biggest frustration for me is not being able to spend more time with my teams. I always enjoy getting a chance to be in the offices with them.
Building a gender balanced workforce
In focusing on building a gender-balanced workforce, we have already seen an increase in women coming into the company. I am very encouraged by the response to the call for gender balance at Arnold Clark. You will have heard the steps we have taken, most significantly in flexible working arrangements and innovating in the way we recruit.
With our commitment to increase the number of women in the company by 5% in the next three years, I am confident that not only will it benefit talented women, it will enhance the company performance.
Investing in the workforce of the future
GTG delivers quality training courses and education in a wide range of areas such as logistics, automotive, health and safety, customer service, IT and administration. Of particular focus are our Modern Apprenticeship programmes. At any one time we can have over 2000 apprentices training with us, of which approximately 700 will be Arnold Clark employees, the rest coming from many of the UK’s largest companies including major banks, public utilities, emergency services and local authorities.
In Arnold Clark we recognise the importance of investing in the workforce of the future. Giving our own apprentices the best start, using state of the art equipment and being shown the dynamic of the company from the start of their employment is something we are proud of.
One of our key values is progression and our employees attend GTG for a number of courses to learn specific knowledge or skills to improve performance in their current roles. In addition, with the approval of many prestigious bodies such as IMI [Institute of the Motor Industry] and ILM [Institute of Leadership & Management], this allows professional development in our very own training establishment.
Celebrating International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day this year falls during Scottish Apprenticeship Week and we are very keen to tie both of these events together. On the day we will be visiting Scottish Parliament and exhibiting our new Apprenticeship Experience Van, which has been fully kitted out to enable us to go out into communities and explain the benefits of apprenticeships, let people try out some of the equipment and start the testing process.
I will be there alongside an all-female Early Careers team and female apprentices. We are hoping to arrange some activities with the apprentices and female MSPs to help promote that careers in STEM industries and in politics are not just for men. We aren’t limiting this level of support to just International Women’s Day – throughout the year we have several planned activities which aim to inspire and drive female talent.
Like many campaigns that have come before it, the #PressForProgress hashtag is important and powerful. Gender parity will not happen overnight – it is important that we don’t become complacent and remain motivated to think, act and be gender inclusive in all that we do.
Increasing our female workforce by 5% over the next three years
In committing to increasing our female workforce by 5% over three years, we introduced a five-day working week in sales – an industry leading move – to create a work-life balance that would hopefully be more appealing to both our current staff and prospective applicants.
We also arranged training for all our recruiters on subconscious bias, which will then be rolled out to all of our managers. This will ensure that we are focused on recruiting the best person for the role, regardless of age, gender, race or any other factor which would have no impact on their suitability for the role.
We are looking at all aspects of the business to make this kind of positive action and are including our marketing and communication teams to ensure that the images and messages that we create reflect the diversity of our communities.
Coming up next
Over the coming weeks and months, we are focusing on ongoing integration and attracting and retaining the very best talent for Arnold Clark. A particular focus is diversity and inclusion, and our Employee Engagement Team have been working away behind the scenes on a number of projects that will be launching throughout this year to our employees, including a Women’s Network, Youth Network and an LGBT network.
We continue to partner with organisations such as Stonewall and Womanthology as we strive to become an employer of choice and create a culture in which people choose to work. There are many changes on the horizon, and I need to ensure we remain flexible to rise to these challenges.