Nicky Ivory-Chapman is head of talent management for Channel 4, with 20 years’ HR experience working on employee relations, talent acquisition and management, employee engagement, HR transformation, early careers and apprenticeships, as well as diversity and inclusion. She’s a passionate believer in removing barriers that prevent people accessing opportunities and has spent the last seven years at Channel 4 helping the broadcaster continue the work they do as champions of diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
“International Women’s Day is a chance for us to celebrate women and thank the women in our lives. It always makes me think about the women who fought for the freedoms and equality we have today, and to never take anything for granted.”
From Leeds to London
I grew up in Leeds and moved to London aged 16 to finish my training as a dancer. As a result, I didn’t go to university until I started working in HR, and only because I was lucky that my employer funded my degree in human resource management, which I did whilst working full time, which was pretty tough.
I’ve worked in human resources for 20 years, starting as a generalist and then moving into specialisms including employer brand, employee engagement, early careers, recruitment and talent management.
I have just completed a degree apprenticeship in professional coaching, again supported by my employer, that was funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. I’ve had responsibility for apprenticeships for many years so thought it was about time I did one myself and prove that apprenticeships are great for people of all ages and at any stage of their career.
A truly unique place to work
In my current role at Channel 4 I look after recruitment. talent management, early careers, apprenticeships and onboarding. It’s never dull! Channel 4 is a unique place to work, being a not-for-profit with such a defined remit and purpose means that each employee has an incredible affinity to the channel and what it stands for.
My job is to make sure that we are bringing in and developing the right people who can deliver the Channel 4 strategy to ensure the future success of the channel, in what is now a really crowded and competitive content space. Viewers have more choices than ever before, and more platforms on which to watch it. We have recently launched Channel 4.0 on YouTube, as if you have kids in the house, you’ll know how much time they spend on this versus watching ‘traditional TV’.
From London to Leeds
We also put a lot of focus into creating opportunities for young people and groups who are underrepresented in the TV industry. When we opened our national HQ in my home town of Leeds it was fantastic to be able to recruit so many local people, who previously would have needed to move to London to have a career in TV.
I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to remove barriers to opportunities and skills for young people and am really fortunate that we’ve had incredible support from our CEO to create and fund 4Skills since 2020. 4Skills was set up to find, nurture and grow the UK’s next generation of creative talent and covers a wide range of initiatives and programmes across the UK that engages people, from as young as 11.
In 2022, 4Skills supported over 23,000 people from across the UK with bespoke training, development and learning opportunities. In 2022 we invested £5m in 4Skills programmes and we have committed for this to rise to £10m by 2025.
Representing unheard voices and inspiring change
Inclusion and diversity are in the DNA of Channels 4 — we were set up to represent unheard voices and inspire change, and you’ll see that in our programming and films. So it’s equally important that it is embedded in how it feels to work here and that we have a truly inclusive culture where employees can celebrate their difference and be their authentic selves at work.
We have eight staff networks, including 4Womxn, which are there for anyone to join whether you identify as or are an ally to. The networks are not only a great support and safe space for employees to connect, but they also really help educate and celebrate each other. Each network has an executive as their sponsor and runs brilliant events throughout the year — including during Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Month, International Day of People with Disabilities, Earth Day etc.
Challenging silence and stigma around women’s health
4Womxn has led C4’s pioneering approach to staff wellness by challenging the silence and stigma around women’s health. Their visionary work has supported our people and business whilst inspiring change in our industry and beyond. In the past few years 4Womxn has led the introduction of a Menopause Policy, a Pregnancy Loss Policy, as well as providing support for reproductive health and fertility.
Don’t Fear the Smear
At Channel 4 we like to create a talking point and we can be bold in how we do that, so for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which took place in January, the 4Womxn network arranged for cupcakes to be delivered to our offices and placed a flyer on each desk to remind us all about the importance of having regular tests. They were not your standard cupcakes and they certainly got people talking!
I posted a picture of the flyer on my LinkedIn account and it’s definitely the most popular post I’ve ever done on there! Again, it got people talking and many women contacted me to say that had booked themselves in for their smear after being reminded about the importance of early detection. But I think the cupcakes were a little too lifelike for LinkedIn, and my post was removed… On the plus side by this point, it had had over 92,000 impressions.
However, I must give credit to LinkedIn that when the matter was brought to their attention it was quickly restored but in the interim period. Myself and some colleagues did have some fun with puns and hashtags on our LinkedIn posts to draw attention to the need to #savethecupcakes and #stopfannyingaround.
Thanking the women who fought for our freedoms
International Women’s Day is a chance for us to celebrate women and thank the women in our lives. It always makes me think about the women who fought for the freedoms and equality we have today, and to never take anything for granted.
I’ll be at work and in the office on International Women’s Day this year, which is where I like to be as there is always something interesting going on. This year 4Womxn has organised a panel event of inspirational women so I’m looking forward to that.
In with the new
For the remainder of the year at work I’m focusing on a few new things — we are currently piloting ways to increase internal development and progression, we have launched a new virtual work experience programme for students who are 16+, we are also investigating ways to support people leaving the care system with training and skills.
Outside of work, I’ll be hoping my football team doesn’t get relegated, so I’m looking forward to them staying in the Premier League next season — fingers crossed. Oh, and I’ll be watching lots of telly (mostly on Channel 4, of course). Quick plug for The Piano if you’ve not seen it yet — catch the full series on All 4, it’s heart-warming and I cry at every episode.