AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Andy Garrett, GSK global programme director - Workplace Adjustments Service

June 20, 2022 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Andy Garrett
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Andy Garrett, GSK global programme director - Workplace Adjustments Service
Show Notes Transcript

 

Andy Garrett is GSK global programme director - Workplace Adjustments Service – enabling employees to request and receive the adjustments/accommodations/accessibility solutions they need to be their best selves at work, including for working remotely. 

Andy is member of GSK Global Disability Council (GDC) in his capacity as co-lead for GSK’s global Disability Confidence Network employee resource group. Providing employee voice and disability subject matter expertise support to key disability inclusion workstreams led by the Disability Council.    Andy is also a founding ambassador for Purple Space (www.purplespace.org


 

>> Hello and welcome to AXSChat. I'm delighted that we are joined today by Andy. Andy Garrett is the Workplace Adjustment Services and Accessibility Director GSK. And also the EOG lead that and he's a PurpleSpace ambassador and etc. and we're all big fans of PurpleSpace. So, Andy it's been a long time coming. You know, we talked with you at the ILO GBDN a little but it's actually a long while back. COVID does these things to us. It's great to have you with us and feature you on on the show. So, you've been working in the field for a long time. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and the role that you play within GSK? >> Yes, of course. Firstly, thank you for inviting me to join you on on on this session. I'm really happy to share a little bit about my back story. You know, I'm working in a global pharmaceutical company now, but I actually started out as a police officer in London doing what what cops do a bit like on the TV, but with a bit more paperwork working in the frontline. But when I was in my very early thirties, I realized I couldn't quite see what I should be able to see. I couldn't read the number plate, the street sign, recognize the faces, and I had to go through, you know, investigations. Kind of long story short, I have a retinal disc disorder called muscular dystrophy. So it's a genetic condition that kind of switched on around that time. And it affects the central field of my vision. So things are blurry for me, a bit like for people who are very short sighted, but it's not something for which spectacles and refraction can help with. So I'm left with that blurry. Well, my peripheral vision is okay, but that had quite a profound impact on the safety of me working in my chosen profession at the time. And I really wasn't ready to take a medical pension. I felt I had a lot to offer still in that in that world, in policing. So I moved initially into training and development at the police training school at Hendon in London. I got real interest at that time, of course, around diversity and inclusion. The police had an exemption from the equality legislation back then. But, you know, I sort of self armed with knowledge. I realized quite rightly that the Government decided to change that and remove that exemption. So I suppose I was in the right place at the right time. I stayed on in that organization too to help them to become a more modern employer, both in London and nationally. So I set up a disability network in policing in London and then helped with forming forming national networks to support people with health conditions and disabilities in policing. So I stayed through to my term of 30 years and retired in 2015. But through my external networking night I was working with Kate Nash. I was on the editorial board for the seminal piece of work on Secrets of Big News. You know how people share that disability information with their employers and how employers respond. And it was through that connection, of course, was formed purple space. Kate is a strategic adviser to what we have at GSK called Global Disability Council, our governance forum for our Disability Confidence Strategy. They had decided back in 2016 that they really needed to invest in their workplace adjustment support for their global workforce. So introductions were made and I came to GSK initially on a 12 month fixed term contract, but they liked what I was doing. The model I put forward, I took the permanent role up in GSK six years now. So starting that model with the UK and extending out to North America and Canada, Belgium, Ireland, we're working on your other European expansion at the moment and I've got a pilot running in India, so I really want to push workplace adjustment support the model that we have into a pack as well. So quite a big remit. >> And it sounds like and I know from talking with Gopal because he's been really impressed with the leadership council and the governance and it's one of the few organizations that has a sort of similar governance approach to the one we have within our own organization. So how did you. Getting the executive to agree that it was it was an executive issue and that it was a governance issue and start putting that structure in place. >> Yeah, perfect question, because I get asked this question a lot. I do a lot of engagement calls with other organizations. They've learned, I think, a bit about the model we've done at GSK and my first question. When I went to GSK. Why are you doing this? Do you just want to be compliant with legislation or something else? And at GSK, they were absolutely clear that the imperative here was to enable productivity and inclusion. Yeah. And so we I put forward a model. I outlined what the common barriers are for people with disabilities to have the confidence to ask for adjustments and accommodations. The barriers. The. Process gets in the way. You know, finding the right things that people need and getting the approvals through and finding the right supply chain and that, you know, people were able to get the things that they needed at GSK, but those barriers still existed. You know, who qualified, who was disabled enough to warrant that support? How do you find the budget? Who pays? What are the common things that we're familiar with? So I decided to bend them all and say, Well, let's work a little bit differently. I introduced a centralized model whereby people could have the confidence to come through our process. We partnered initially in the UK with a specialist workplace adjustments organization. In this case, micro link to have a conversation with the individual. What is it you need and how do we get it to you? So the centralized model aspect of that was. Let's help to identify what you need in terms of adjustments and accommodation for you to thrive, to be your best self, and to feel included at work yet to support your productivity. Let's get those used to you as quickly as possible so centrally we can raise the purchase order and get the items shipped out to wherever you might be. We've taken a country by country approach to that, but in terms of the business case for the organization, you know, the focus there is on delivering a model that works for people and managers. They can focus on their day jobs and we deliver compliance as a happy byproduct. So it matters less to us why you need the adjustment or accommodation to be your best self at work. Many people will need an adjustment or an accommodation long before the law would qualify them as having a disability, or they themselves might think of their situation as fitting. The disability paradigm and definitions vary in so many different countries. So yeah, for us we, we swept away the medical model. You know, we, we embrace the social model of focusing on what do you need and how do we get it to you. So you don't need to sit in front of a medical professional if you need a, you know, a bespoke ergonomic solution or a bit of assistive software. We still, of course, engage with those professionals where we might need to, but far less so. Very few of our cases now involve engagement with with the traditional occupational health route. So we focus on getting people what they need to be successful and included. And we've been building out the specialist supply chain as we've expanded that service into other markets, as I said. So that was how I won over the council. It was very clear that this was a productivity and inclusion model and actually have now got the metrics. When I go to other countries, it's it's actually quite cheap. You know, our average cost is is under £1,000 end to end and that's for the process. Any assessment if it's needed and it isn't always and the solutions themselves so £1,000 to equip someone to be successful in their role in any business alone a business like ours is is is nothing. So we've proved out that it works. People love the service. The feedback is is highly positive. So that helps us as we expand into other markets where we're speaking to senior leaders about what we're trying to do. It's a very good feelgood message to do the right thing. >> And welcome. And you mentioned that you have started in the U.K. and then you're doing the project in other countries. How do you manage expectations, particularly from people who work at countries without that support doesn't exist and they look, oh, it's it was so great that I could work in the UK or I could work in another camp because they have all that. How do you manage those expectations? >> The main challenge for us, as I have mentioned, is the specialist supply chain. In fact, we're working on that at the moment. We've gone country by country as we build the supply chain. I'm in the midst of writing a global policy which will be rolling out at the end of this year, because the global policy will set the tone for each of those countries. And whilst we might not have the specialist supply chain ready, we're hoping by late this year or some point next year to be able to have the service available to everyone, even if they have to go through local procurement, you know, once we've identified the things that you need. So yeah, managing expectations, we engage with our customers directly. They can ask us questions in confidence about how the process works. We can talk them through what the right solutions are for their circumstances. That's where we use micro link, for example, to do that nonmedical adjustment needs assessment, which then recommends that for an end user they need perhaps product type B and C not to forget. Of course, a number of people with disabilities will need adjustments and adaptations to their ways of working. You know, and again, that's the idea behind our global policy to say to our leaders, let's start from a position of. Yes. Yes. You can have that adjustment, that accommodation, unless there's a very good justification for. No, it's not possible. Or we'll give you something else. And again, the end users find that they value the confidentiality in the service. They value that they don't need to have that conversation with their manager if they don't want to. We'd like them to talk to their manager about their adjustment and accommodation support and to be proud of their disability difference. But we recognize that that doesn't work for everyone. So they can come in confidence to us and we can we can run the process on not involving that manager. We can and that worked for GSK, for us, that really valuable part of our model. >> All right. I wanted to see if Antonio is going to follow up, so I'm going to come in. So, first of all, we really, really are grateful. And I love this story that you had that you just went out created in the GSA. GSK said, well, okay, this makes good business sense. So kudos, kudos to you on that. How many countries are you in, I would assume. Yes. Yeah, I think you are in a lot of countries. But how many countries your claim? >> We are. Yeah, we are. We're in, I think over 90 countries in some way, shape or form. You know, we are employing or before we demerge. Yeah. You know, approaching 100,000 employees and contractors together. So, you know, we're not there yet where, you know, we have reach at the moment is is around 55% of our global headcount where we've got the end to end specialist supply chain to be able to you know, to be able to provide people very quickly with the things that they need. Work to do to extend into those other markets. >> And I just want to say, Andy, I agree. We always have more work to do. There is always more to do. But at the same time, we want to celebrate all the work you've actually done so far that has really made a global impact. And so I know we got a lot of work to do, but thank you for all the work you have done and your team has done so far. But okay, now I'm going to ask you the hard you know, these aren't hard questions, but I also know, you know, my crew, Lincoln, we've love you. We've had him on this wonderful guy. He's also been very supportive of access chat. But one thing here in the States, for example, and I know you are in the States, is that we don't want to identify and people with disabilities, even if they need accommodations or adoptions, they're really afraid that if they come out and tell somebody that they're going to be discriminated against. And so how do you make it safe for the employees to be able to tell you? Because the goal I hope that everybody, the employees would think was that the goal is to make you as productive as possible so that you can be happy because people want to do a good job. So are you finding that in some countries it's harder for people to understand? Really, we really do just want to accommodate and support you so you can be productive. Are you finding more countries are resistant and how are y'all? There's just so many moving parts with all of this, which is what we say a lot. And these gigantic brands real easy to say, just do this, Andy, when you're dealing with so many variables. >> So now it's and it's a really good thing to call out. You know, we're dealing with individuals here and their private information, their own personal journey about, you know, their disability information. And there is in now most markets in more you know, you mentioned the US, perhaps more so in the US than other markets. There is an element of fear. You know, we called that out in that sequence of big news work many years ago that people are fearful about putting their hand up to say, yes, I have a condition that that could be a disability and I need something different, which is the reason why we decide partly why we came up with a model where you can come to our service in confidence and. You don't need to go and have that conversation with your manager to, if you like, feel you have to justify your circumstances and share private information about your medical diagnosis. That's not the important part. It's it's again, with our communications that go out to our leaders. It's so important that they understand this is a productivity driver. How do we equip people for success? Yeah, we've moved on in the estates and facilities of the other worlds. One size doesn't fit all. Yeah. And the point here is that people might have, you know, a difference in in terms of health condition or disability, and they need something different for them to be successful. And I've really recognized the privacy of that information. So, yeah, that's why we put the model in whereby they can come to us in confidence. We won't share any of that information with their manager. We've gone through Global Privacy Review on the data that we capture, even to the point where if we do decide to run a non-medical assessment using micro link and their specialist providers to identify for an individual, you know, let's say with a learning difference, you know, what their information processing barriers are and to recommend the right solutions to help build, you know, support their productivity. The report, you know, comes back to the individual, to the employee. We put a copy on the occupational health record, but it's sealed. That's where it stays. I don't even see the reports. I don't need to see the report. I don't know. I don't need to know why you with your what the specifics of your health condition are. My team needs to know what's been recommended so that we can go out and source it, get it to that individual. And if anyone asks us for that report, then they don't get it unless the employee consents. >> Oh, that's that's so I love listening to corporate brands that are figuring out all these gigantic moving parts. And I want to say also, we are all living in the days of the great resignation where 40% of people had said they will not be with the same brand. And also, I believe that we're living with a time when some people do not want to work for big brands because there's a perception all corporate brands are evil. And of course, that's ridiculous because it's made up of people and most people aren't evil. But one thing I love about what you're doing, and not only that, you're accommodating your employees so that they can bring their best selves to work, which is why would we want to do anything different. But it also you're fighting for talent like every other brand. And so I believe doing things like this makes you an employer of choice. And I know that that's something that's very important. And more and more to the younger generations, they want to work for an organization that cares about their people. So your program alone that GSK must be so powerful, big, and that's why we're really honored that we can continue to spread the word. But I just wanted to point out some of those variables that gas is benefiting from because they're actually caring about their employees and making it safe to make it to help us be productive. I also want to make another point that I think people forget is that you you might need to accommodate an employee that's working with you multiple times. You know, as we live our lives, as we're working for you, our needs change. I know as I started hitting the forties, I started not being able to see as well. I can't hear as well. I'm way past the forties now, way, way past. But I also wanted to just make that comment because I know that's something Neil deals with as well. But also I think people forget that you don't just do it once, right? Well, maybe I'm wrong that you just do it once you down. Boom. >> No, no. And people do come round again that people's needs change over time. You know, for us it's another one of the drivers for why we want to do it this way. You know, GSK is a is a health care organization. Yeah. Pharmaceutical or private emerging at the moment or consumer health care business. But, you know, we're very sensitive naturally about the data that we capture within our business, within our product development, dealing with patients and consumers and the pharma business, of course, you know, handling very sensitive information about people's, you know, health circumstances and our new our new language of unite. You know, I was telling you earlier about how we, with a new branding is about uniting science and technology with talent to get ahead of disease together. Yeah, the talent bit is really important. You know, we've got to bring in diverse talent to help with our innovation and how we develop products. To think differently about big problems, big data, big science. And we, of course, we need people that are able to perform and think and function differently. So the diversity and inclusion imperative for us, particularly with regards to disability and health conditions, we really want to attract talent into our business because it makes us better at developing the products and of course engaging with patients as we develop, you know, medicines and vaccines. You know, people with disabilities and health conditions are a part of what we do. So it's a really important business driver for us to get it right, not just for our people, but to set the tone for how we engage with our key stakeholders, health care professionals, patients and consumers. >> Essentially your reinforcing your brand identity through the work that you're doing. I think you raised a couple of points that I want to go back to around the sort of cognitive assessments and stuff like that. I know that quite often what happens in other cases is that the manager gets sent the report before the employee. And the way we do this is a real, real problem because. And why programs like yours and our access unit are really important because we are not perceived as threatening in the same way that occupational health has been seen to be a tool through which people are exiting from the business now. Not all occupational health appointments are that sinister, but people perceive them in that way because they have been used as ways and tools for managers in the past in organizations to to find a way to get rid of an individual and to manage them out of the organization. So we deem medicalised like you because we recognize that what we want is to win the trust of the individual. >> Indeed. But frankly, a manager is just not qualified to interpret that kind of information. So, no, we don't want them to have that. We want to be able to say to the manager, we've run a due process and to maximize productivity for this individual. These are the items that they need. And we've supplied those and we've spent the money. And actually as a back end process, we do cross charge back to the line of business, but the land manager doesn't get to say it just it's just about where the costs sit on the balance sheet. But equally, they're not getting. Distracted from their day job. Trying to manage a process that they usually don't understand too well. You might deal with a person with health condition or disability a couple of times through your career, and you can train telepathy in the face. And some, you know, most will want to do the right thing. But perhaps managers feel like they're treading on eggshells in this subject. They're not that what I would call disability confident. So they are actually grateful. In my experience. They're grateful to have a due process there is that is running the process for them. Yeah. >> I agree. And I think the other thing if you going back to the secrets and and big news, we for sure Kate talked about disclosure being a dirty word and it's sounding like if you've done something terrible. So I think the the move towards I didn't ification and self-identification is important but but that requires a culture change so so you are also you know, you mentioned that you're the lead of the algae. What role does the EOG play in changing the culture at GSK? >> Yeah, I'm so glad you asked that question because something that encouraged me to step up and and co-lead the the network. I talked earlier about our governance forum for our disability confidence strategy. You know, it's led by a member of our global leadership team. And it's got, you know, very senior people, senior vice presidents from around the business driving a number of workstreams to to improve our disability confidence. Myself and my co-lead colleague Tracy from the US, we are active members, we're members of the core team on that council. So when we were looking at assessing where, where are we in terms of disability confidence, we chose to use the UK Business Disability Forum Disability Standard. Tracy and I led the work around the business to gather the evidence against the ten sections of 160 criteria for that assessment to give us our baseline of where we are as a as co-leads of the network. We did a huge piece of work capturing voice of customer. What does it feel like as a person working at GSK when things don't go well for disability inclusion? What would you like to see? So with that evidence base lining around the business with that voice of customer through the disability network, that's what we used to inform our three year disability confidence plan and the six key workstreams that are within that. I lead two of those workstreams myself around workplace adjustments as one workstream and another one about our accessible premises. We have an h.r. Workstream. We've also got a digital accessibility workstream and other work looking at how we develop our products and services and how we work with our suppliers and partners. So yet as members of are co-leading at disability where we're front and center at the table helping to set the strategy. Look at the governance and, you know, the measures of how we how we measuring our progress toward disability confidence. Know it's about us. So we should be at that table. So, you know, I'm immensely proud that we're part of that governance as well as how we support our. >> Our. >> Employee voice into the into the change that people need. >> And and you mentioned workplace. You have mentioned hiring talent. So I'm very pleased to know we are here connected remotely, not from home or from work. I would like to know what your approach to this new hybrid workplace, how are you making it working this workplace for everyone? Because we have a new set of tools now coming that everyone needs to use to collaborate, to ideate. So how are you making all this happening in a productive way? >> Again, it's like a fed you. The questions are often a promise, but it's like, good. Give me the opportunity to to tell you about what we've been doing. The COVID experiment, if you like, the pandemic, the dreadful pandemic that we've endured in the last two years, arguably has been a good thing for people with disabilities, because it's proved that your employees can be trusted if they're equipped to work in hybrid settings and remote settings. So, you know, technology was one of the first things. We have manufacturing sites, we have labs, we have offices. And of course, some jobs have to be done on site. You know, you can't make pills and vaccines from hope, but there are aspects of that work that can be done in a hybrid way. So, you know, collaboration tools like teams we worked with Microsoft as a strategic partner with them to accelerate our adoption of Microsoft teams and its accessibility features like Captioning. We accelerated our roll out of teams so that it could equip people to work from home. I remember we were asked to look at we had a policy around working remotely and of course it was all about temporary, you know, how do you equip someone to work from home? But of course, it's no longer temporary. We're now working. You know, I think I've been in into one of our sites twice in the last two years. You just cannot expect any employee when they have a health condition, disability or not, to use a laptop, balanced off the ironing board in the kitchen, you know, in one corner of someone's bedroom. It's just not ergonomically sound. So, again, you know, with less people going to our sites, yes, we've reduced our footprint, but we've reinvested that money in equipping people to work from home. We introduced a process, we call it performance with choice, whereby people could have a conversation to decide which ways work better for them, whether it's one day in the site or permanently from home working remotely. What works for you as an individual? But an important part of that is we set a stipend in each country. If you need to go out and buy some equipment, we put a supply chain in place and say, Here's a catalog. You can go buy your standard desk chair, monitor that you might need. But no, and that was up to a certain value in the UK, I think it was £500. But we were absolutely clear that if you needed something bespoke and specialist, if you had a disability or health condition. Our service was always geared up to help people wherever they work, whether they working at home or on site or both. So yet you're not we're not bound by those financial limits. We we can still run the process and an assessment usually remotely onsite or at home. And we can supply those products and solutions wherever you're working and in any and an important investment in it centrally in assistive software, you know, you don't have to go and buy your own license of Dragon or Jaws or Zoom text. You know, these are now all available centrally on our you know, you can't just get software at GSK off the Internet. You know, there are firewalls to go through. So we put all of the assistive tools onto our software hub internally. They've all been tested and scripted for compatibility with our systems. And not only that, we've also set up a tech support team. So if it breaks, there's someone that can help you with your assistive software. We go micro to train them to help with fixes. That could be your only access to the role that you have if if perhaps you have low vision software, for example. Again, it's about equipping people in ways that work for them. Removing the barriers. If you needed assistive software, for example, you can find it on our tool and you can have it within hours. It's also approved. >> You know, it's one of those things that when you have that centralized approach, you can package the software and you can deploy it. I know. We can deploy stuff and people can have it installed within a couple of hours, multiple language versions. You know, we know clients where they haven't taken that approach. People can wait months and years to first have to go through processes and the benefits of centralization. You have a consistent toolset you can test against. You can keep that interoperability going between the your your assistive tech and your mainstream, taking your line of business applications that that's really important to enable people to do their job. So credit to you for having done the work and continue to maintain that. I think it's really important. And as Deborah has pointed out in the chat, you're not wasting licenses as well because you know who's using it and frequency of use and all this kind of stuff. >> So that when people when people leave the business, those licenses get recycled. Yes. Know and it's not just about providing the the assistive software and the text excuse me, the tech support again through our vendor, through micro link. We can if you're a new user of assistive software, we remotely we can provide training and how to use it. >> Yeah. And this is super important and that training means it's not show for it. I mean, that was the other thing that we found with a lot of clients that didn't have that centralized approach was that you would have multiple different versions and you go into units in the days where you'd move from maybe Windows XP to Windows seven, you go, Right, well, we need to upgrade our chose users where they chose over the Xbox in the cupboard somewhere. >> Yeah, we did encounter a problem with that when we, when we, when we upgrade it. I think it may have been to Windows ten and we found that some of our assistive software licenses were not compatible. So we learned from that and we've now baked that into our system upgrade process. So any new system or platform or upgrade that we purchase now has to be tested against our assistive products. If you need to upgrade to the next version of Clara Reed or whatever that software is, then we we proactively do that. We don't wait for someone to be locked out because it's not compatible. >> No, that's right. I mean, I think that know one of the few organizations that is doing evergreen accessibility really well, you know, it's something that we do we offer it as a service to our clients, but you're doing it independently and that's fantastic. So, you know, and that proactivity just means that you're not getting the calls where people are saying, I can't work any longer. We had one organization which will remain them. Why are we paying you lots of money? We have three tickets. That's the point. The point is that everyone can work, and that is a rarity when something breaks because you're being proactive. So it's an investment. >> So you're attract service gives you the opportunity to look at the metrics for service improvement and where are the pinch points? How do you improve things, what's what's not working, you know, frequently so that you can, you know, build a more inclusive system. You know, our digital accessibility workstream is one of the. Core Workstreams in our disability council because, you know, we're in the digital age. Digital is the great enabler and we know what I know personally, that accessible tools, you know, that enable me to do my job day to day and to interact. So yeah, it's vitally important that we make it as easy as possible because the productivity losses of locking someone out of their unable to work to their best ability, how would they feel about that? So it's it's you know, it's so important that we look at how do you equip people for success in their way. >> Absolutely. On that note will end. We need to thank MyClearText. Thanks for keeping this captioned and accessible. And it's been a great pleasure speaking with you. And we look forward to joining us on Twitter. >> Thank you. Delightful chatting through these issues with you. And we just hope that more organizations can take that, if you like, the the more inclusive and less compliant driven approach. You know, think about the productivity gains of doing the right thing. >> So true. So true. Thank.