Sky Ireland’s New Horizons Initiative



As part of our Elevate Pledge Inaugural report launch, we delve deeper into some of the successful diversity and inclusion initiatives highlighted in the report. In this piece, learn about Sky Ireland’s New Horizons initiative.

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group.

What was your diversity & inclusion goal?

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity, and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation.  We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

Can you describe your diversity & inclusion initiative?

Sky employs just under 1000 people in Ireland with over 750 of those based at its Head Office in Burlington Road in Dublin. As part of our Sky Cares programme, we recently teamed up with Age Action to support the charity in its mission to achieve fundamental change in the lives of older people. In September 2021, Sky Ireland became Primary Partner of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team.

Growth and Development was identified as a key priority for 2021.  By introducing a Rotational Development programme, we support to people who want to grow, learn, and develop by either learning new skills or get help in progressing into new roles. Encourage people in different teams to work together, raising awareness of what we all do and build relationships and collaboration across the business.

Sky created 11 brand new roles spread over Marketing, NOW, CX, Operations, Sky Media, Finance, Trading, and Internal Comms. All roles were recruited internally. These roles were open to all colleagues across the organisation, and we particularly wanted to encourage growth and development of people from minority groups into non-front-line roles. These roles were 9-month placements, and the eleven successful candidates were each assigned a mentor from their new department, who supported and helped them with their development. Along with regular check-ins with the programme leads. After 9 months the candidates rotate back to their substantive role, but we’d hope that the participants would reap further success in their careers after the placement ends, if they so wish.

Focussing on the D&I Strategy pillars Representation and Progression, the New Horizons at Sky Programme promotes alternative inclusive recruitment approaches, regular mentorship and sponsorship and alternative talent scouting.  We maintained a balanced interview panel, by calling on our Diversity Action Group, a voluntary group of diverse members of staff, to ensure a balance of gender and ethnic representation throughout the shortlisting and interview process.  Enhanced a culture of inclusive leadership by forming structured mentorship, encouraging leaders to be authentic and vocal sponsors. The programme helped us identify diverse talent whilst providing a solution for recruitment and talent scouting.

We received 104 applications of which 44% where female and 16% ethnic minority. Two rounds of interviews were conducted with final offers to 11 candidates. The gender split here was 55% Female and 45% male, with a representation of 30% ethnic minorities. Currently, 64% of the candidates on the programme have successfully secured permanent roles in their seconded area of the business.

Can you share your top tips on running a similar initiative?

  • Gain senior leader buy in and ideally have it launched by Senior Leaders. Programme will gain more traction that way
  • Have a clear “why”. Be able to articulate the benefits of the programme to the business and individuals
  • Strong internal comms plan to support programme and gain interest within the business
  • Ensure that you have a transparent recruitment process and adopt best practice – balanced short lists, ethnically diverse interview, and selection panels etc.
  • Consider onboarding of both successful individuals and the managers (there may be first time managers or managers that have not participated in development programmes before. The amount of support that they needed was a surprise for me)
  • Have something in it for unsuccessful applicants – this could be a lunch and learn session, something on interview skills or a day in the life for the area that they were interested in
  • Regular check ins with participants throughout the programme from senior leaders and bespoke development activities for them
  • Off Boarding – consider how to handle those moving back to original roles if programme is only for a specific duration and they do not get a perm role

Learn more about the Elevate Pledge. 

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