For this month of our In Conversation with series we are delighted to get to know more about Aoife Mulqueen, Talent Specialist in Vodafone Ireland. Aoife participated in the panel session at the Inclusive Employer launch last week sharing her experiences in creating an inclusive workplace at Vodafone Ireland.
Please describe your role and responsibilities and how many years you have been in the company
My role is the Talent Specialist in Vodafone Ireland HR team. My responsibilities include talent management and succession planning within the organisation, leading the performance management process locally, and of course Diversity and Inclusion. Within Diversity and Inclusion, I sit on our steering committee and I am responsible for a number of projects in the Diversity and Inclusion area for example, Unconscious Bias training, reviewing our resourcing process, and most recently exploring how we can reach out to the neuro-diverse community. I’ve worked for Vodafone since 2009, and in HR at Vodafone for the last 6 years.
I studied politics and sociology in college and was quite an active student politician. I was elected the Women’s Officer of the UCD students union, even starting a campaign called “Students and Staff against Sexism” which was quite challenging at the time! I enjoyed and learned so much from that experience, that I decided to undertake a masters in Equality Studies at UCD also. After college I took a number of different directions, but once I found myself working for HR in Vodafone, there was such a huge appetite for diversity insights it was a pleasure to slip back into that area. It feels like coming back to my roots in a way!
Can you tell us about how Diversity & Inclusion evolved at your company?
The Diversity and Inclusion agenda in Vodafone Ireland has grown hugely in my time there. It started in 2011 with the establishment of our Women’s Network, which is sponsored by our CEO Anne O’Leary, and has grown into a pillar of our company culture. The overarching aim is that all of our people should feel respected, valued and able to “bring their whole selves to work”. This isn’t just the right thing to do, but also it creates a more productive and innovative workplace. We also understand that culture doesn’t stop at our own walls, but actually in order to create sustainable change, we need to share both our successes and challenges with other companies, with secondary school teachers, with young people and with organisations like Business in the Community.
What are the challenges you encounter in driving the diversity & inclusion agenda and how do you stay inspired?
There have definitely been a variety of challenges over the years, particularly in business where you have competing priorities on a day-to-day basis. One of the classic challenges of this field revolves around moving people from well-wishers to the owners of inclusion. Every one of us is powerful in our own circle of influence and has the agency to make tiny behavioural changes that can have massive impact on inclusivity and belonging for others. Helping people to see and prioritise this on an ongoing basis can be difficult, but very worthwhile. To stay inspired, it’s important to stop every so often and compare where you are, to where you have come from and celebrate the progress you see.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
When it comes to fostering a culture of belonging in an organisation, to me the biggest victories can sometimes be in the smallest events or interactions. So while I am proud that we have won a number of D&I awards over the years, the accomplishments that I personally celebrate the most are hearing meaningful feedback from our people who feel valued and celebrated for being themselves despite feeling different, or seeing small behaviour changes that demonstrate understanding of the value of our diversity strategy. I love a good KPI as well as the next person, but I find the “softer” evidence very powerful.
What is your motto in life?
Be a lifelong student. One of the things I love about diversity and inclusion is that there is always a new perspective outside of my own experience to learn about and unravel.
What would a perfect day entail for you?
I have a 4 month old puppy named Harry who I am bonkers about, so probably just walkies with him and my husband, followed by brunch and a movie!
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