Jenny Hinde | 40 Outstanding global women 2023
As part of our Think Women Outstanding Global Women profile series, we chatted to Jenny Hinde, Executive Director at The Clear Company, a UK-based diversity and inclusion firm that focuses on inclusive recruitment and talent management. Jenny is passionate about promoting equality for women, and gives a fascinating insight into what makes an excellent, impactful leader.
“Now I am in a leadership role where I can be 100% myself and genuinely lead in the way that I want to lead and that has been transformational”
Jenny Hinde, Executive Director at The Clear Company.
A career in HR for large corporates, advising on restructuring and tenders, always through a lens of diversity and inclusion.
“Organisations need to rethink their recruitment strategy in order to find and attract a more diverse selection of leaders” says Jenny. “Rather than judging candidates by traditional standards or a conventional career journey, they need to examine what skills and qualities they can bring to a role.”
“We work with a lot with search firms who say they have been asked to provide a diverse shortlist, while also being briefed that the candidate needs to have had 15 plus years’ experience in a specific sector or role,” she says “Because of the historical context, those two things are often not compatible.“
“The challenge instead is to encourage leaders and organisations to step away from some of those very traditional approaches to recruitment which continue to create barriers to candidates from different backgrounds.”
Jenny has always held a great interest in inequality — early in her career she was involved in projects bringing people on long term absence back to work, and supporting those who had disabilities or caring responsibilities who wanted to return to the workplace.
In her varied career Jenny has worked in the HR departments of large corporates, advising on mergers, acquisitions, restructuring and major tenders, always through a lens of diversity and inclusion. She has more than 20 years’ HR experience and before joining The Clear Company she was HR Director of Amey where she led a successful Diversity and Inclusion agenda in the construction and engineering sector for 10 years.
“I always had a great interest in equality and I remember doing school projects around women’s equality,” she says.
She became women’s officer at university and from early in her career was involved in projects bringing people on long term absence back to work, and supporting those who had disabilities or caring responsibilities who wanted to return to the workplace. Her passion developed further around D&I and five years ago she stepped out of the corporate HR world and became the leader of The Clear Company.
“Now I am in a leadership role where I can be 100% myself and genuinely lead in the way that I want to lead and that has been transformational,” she says. “In many ways, I wish that I’d made that leap much earlier on in my career.”
Is there a Male Vs Female leadership Style?
Jenny says that the challenge many organisations face is that their board and leadership team have become homogenous over time. A board dominated by men tends to make decisions in a certain way.
“Typically, those homogenous teams are male dominated with a certain style of leadership,” she says. “If this is the case, then you’re not embracing difference, you’re not bringing in different voices, and you are shying away from anything outside a narrow zone of operation.”
She cites studies which show that bringing women into leadership roles can create improvements, both in financial and non-financial terms, for example in improving health and safety outcomes. The evidence is there that teams perform better not just financially but in other ways. However, women in leadership still have a massive mountain to climb in terms of achieving equality from a leadership perspective.
Jenny believes “that millennials are and will continue to change the working environment, pushing for a more inclusive culture and eschewing the 70-hour working week that previous generations considered necessary to ensure promotion to leadership positions.”
While working women face systemic barriers in society around access to childcare, shared parental leave and caring responsibility, Jenny suggests that “encouraging men to embrace flexible working could be an approach that benefits families.”
wHAT MAKES A GOOD LEADER?
Jenny believes every leader is unique, and there is no one way of leading a team. However, there are key outcomes of leadership that are universally desirable, regardless of style or gender these include;
- Creating psychological safety for teams, so that they feel valued for their contributions
- Role modelling inclusive behaviours and demonstrating to your team what you expect in terms of those inclusive behaviours
- Empathy when leading teams, whatever the sector your industry is in
Outstanding Women 2023
Jenny’s tips for WOMEN LEADERs
Build your evidence base
It used to be you were told to Build your Brand but gathering evidence of your value is better
You can be a really impactful and strong leader and still be inclusive. You need strength to be inclusive.
Be courageous around your personal leadership style.
Keep a record
Keep a record of your successes and positive feedback. You can refer to it in appraisals and use it to remind yourself of your value if you are not feeling confident