The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) plays a pivotal role for their organization – they are typically seen as the second most important person in a company, and oftentimes find themselves having to juggle enterprise transformational dynamics, lead functional business partner teams, as well as pursue their own personal goals.

The problem that many companies end up facing, however, is that when they hire or internally promote a leader to CFO, there is an expectation that this person will already know how to do everything that is required of them. However, in reality, while their technical knowledge is no doubt there, having the skills to actually be a strategic transformational executive do not just appear overnight.

My consulting research has found that the average tenure of a CFO is only 4.4 years, which is alarmingly low. And a reason for this is because over 60% of CFOs are first-timers, with nearly two-thirds of those being internally promoted. What this suggests is that a lot of those entering into a strategic CFO role are doing so for the first time, and with limited day-to-day thought partnering. In order to ensure their success and foster the organization’s strategic objectives, companies need to be investing in them from the offset and continuously.

Organizations need to create formal support strategies that are aimed at professionally developing their CFOs. By having structured support for those first-timers, the overwhelm and eventual plight of becoming a strategic CFO will be mitigated significantly. This will make the executive better at their job in a faster manner, and increase the likelihood of retention in the future.

The fact is, gaining an in-depth understanding of the company’s priorities, its investors, external stakeholders, fellow senior leaders, and their team – as well as proactively building relationships with all these parties – can be a lot for someone who hasn’t before navigated the complexities of the CFO experience. Employers need to let go of this predisposition that being promoted to an executive automatically means someone knows how to be a successful strategic CFO– there is a gap between the two, and the way of bridging this gap is specialized advisory support.

And this doesn’t just mean generalized support on leadership skills, but rather specified advisory being provided by someone who understands the intricacies of a CFO role. Someone who has a grasp of the dynamics and challenges that will be faced on a day-to-day basis.

Finding the perfect CFO for your company is an important decision, so when you do find that person, be sure to take the time to invest in them to ensure the success of them and of your business. This will lead to a stronger leadership team with a confident and successful CFO who will go on to do great things – companies just need to be creating that foundation for them to build on.

If you would like to discuss the CFO Success advisory support services we can offer for your CFO, please get in contact with me at


Leaders play a pivotal role in any organization, and can be the difference between a company that thrives and a company that falters.

It is worrying to see that 43% of workers have left a job at some point in their career because of their manager. And more than half of workers (53%) who are currently considering leaving their jobs said they were looking to change roles because of their manager.  

Are managers also leaders, you may ask? While there are distinct differences between leadership and management, managers who are also effective leaders have a significant advantage when it comes to engaging and retaining employees.

So, what does a leader that employees want to work for actually look like? Consider:

Core Skills:

  • A blend of business-savvy and people strategist – when you have a truly effective manager, they integrate the needs of the organization with the needs of the workforce. This means aligning individual developmental goals with the bottom line.
  • Knowing how to make each position meaningful to the individual doing it and to the success of the organization:
    • For the individual, this means they have the opportunity to be engaged, to understand why what they are doing matters, to feel supported and competent in what they need to do, and to be able to take reasonable risks without fear of retaliation.
    • For the organization, this means creating a learning culture where people can continuously learn, grow, and create, with this culture tied directly to the goals and values of the company.
  • Not being afraid of change, but also not changing for change’s sake. Making space for trial and error as a leader can allow your team to be innovative, and will pave a path that allows both your employees and your business to develop and evolve.
  • Having the ability to see and communicate your vision of the ‘bigger picture’, and then being able to connect what your employees are doing to this picture.


  • Authentic and honest – an effective leader isn’t afraid to be vulnerable with their team, and this perpetuates a culture of openness in which your employees are more likely to reciprocate honesty, loyalty, and respect.
  • Approachable – approachability is always important when in a leadership role, but it is also crucial that you find the ideal balance. You don’t have to be ‘best friends’ with all your staff members, as you still have to make the hard decisions at the end of the day, but it is important to be personable.
  • Show that you care about your team as much as you care about the success of the business – this can be demonstrated every day through small activities (water-cooler conversations, casual feedback, socializing with staff). A single grand gesture on an annual basis can seem tokenistic and make the workforce feel disconnected from you – people should want to interact with you on a daily basis and feel that they can.
  • Remain humble – it is important to know when to take and when to give credit. Recognition is key for retention, with one report finding that employees were 56% less likely to be looking for a new job if they felt they were being properly recognized for their contributions.


There is no such thing as ‘perfect’, as perfect can look different to everyone. When it comes to being the best leader you can be, however, there are proven power skills, hard skills and characteristics that can help you become a leader your team will want to stay with. If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help coach you to become this leader, please get in touch with me at

If you have ever worked with Maister, Green & Galford’s Trust Equation, you’ll know that perceived self-orientation (i.e. someone who comes across as focused on their own agenda) is the quickest way to undermine a relationship of trust.

Generally, we have come to associate the word ‘ego’ with this idea of being self-centered, but actually, an ego is not always as bad as its initial connotations. While leaders being egotistical can lead to retention problems (especially with more than two in five employees having left a job because of a bad manager), they can also be a force for good. However, it is important to get the balance right – leaders need to develop and utilize a ‘healthy ego’ in order to optimize their leadership abilities.

So, what does a ‘healthy ego’ look like?

Well, one way to think about this is by considering the airplane safety briefing. When the cabin crew are doing the safety demonstration just before take-off, they remind everyone that in the event of needing oxygen masks, it is imperative that you put your own mask on first before attending to those of children or others around you. This is a great analogy for a healthy ego!

The fact is, nothing is going to unsettle an organization more than employees lacking faith in their leader. Staff want to know that their higher-ups know what they are doing, are good at what they do, and have confidence in the future of the company. There is some level of ego that every leader must have in order to believe that they are the right person for the job and have the ability to make the hard decisions and delegate where need be.

I believe the key to balancing this out and making this ego healthy is inclusivity – even though a leader benefits from being confident and having credible experience, they need to also have a growth mindset and be willing to listen and incorporate other opinions and use this when making a decision.

As well as this, if a leader is making their intentions clear by being transparent and communicative with their teams, then they do not risk this display of ‘ego’ being misconstrued as vanity or self-orientation.

If you would like to discuss how to find that perfect balance to create healthy egos in leaders, please get in touch with me at

When an employee passes away, it is difficult to know what to do and how to respond – especially as an employer. It is important, however, that leaders approach the bereavement as compassionately and as empathetically as possible, as failing to do so can have a noticeable and long-lasting impact on the workforce.

There are three main areas that employers need to address if a staff member dies, and these will allow the organization to offer its support and condolences, while also dealing with the legal and administrative implications.

1. Supporting the family of the staff member:

Upon hearing the news, employers should reach out to the family of the employee and offer their sympathy, as well as ask if there is anything they can do to help. After this initial contact, a more formal set of condolences can be sent – potentially in the form of flowers, or a book of condolences from the team.

It may also be appropriate to ask the family about the best way to commemorate their loved one at work – this will help highlight how valued they were as a team member and that the family is in the employer’s thoughts. Additionally, if the family agree, colleagues may wish to attend the funeral to pay their respects and have some closure.

It is also important to ensure that the family are aware of who and how to get in contact with the company in regard to the legalities of a sudden termination of employment due to these circumstances (such as pay, pension, life insurance).

2. Supporting colleagues:

It is very likely that some employees are going to be hit hard by the loss of a colleague, especially those who were particularly close to the deceased. It may be appropriate to consider offering compassionate leave to those greatly affected, as well as either directing them to in-house support services (such as Employee Assistance Programs) or external services such as Mind or the Good Grief Trust.

Be mindful that employees may grieve differently. If employers notice a dip in productivity or a change in the quality of an individual’s output, they should consider having a one-on-one meeting to see what they can do to help. From an inclusion perspective, religious and cultural beliefs can also influence how someone grieves, so this has to be taken into account (for instance, if someone requires a space to pray).

3. Dealing with the formalities:

From an organizational perspective, it is important for employers to ensure that they are taking the necessary and correct legal and administrative steps after the loss of an employee. While it can seem harsh, it is important that employers formally terminate the contract of the deceased staff member. This will be marked down as their ‘leaving date’ from a payroll perspective, and they should be paid the remainder of their salary for the month, as well as any accrued holiday pay.

Employers must also contact pension providers and notify their revenue service of the employee’s passing, as well as pass on the appropriate information about life insurance benefits the employee may have been receiving to their next of kin.

Dealing with the death of a co-worker is difficult and can have reverberating effects on colleagues and the wider organization. HR plays a vital role in helping to respond to, manage, and mitigate these effects, and so if you would like to discuss how we can help assist you in consolidating policies around this topic, please get in touch with us.

Coaching is a fantastic way to draw the potential out of leaders. It helps improve confidence, productivity, and is a sustainable form of development, as what is learned is taken and applied independently afterwards. And this is a proven fact – on average, an individual increases their productivity by 86% when training is combined with coaching, compared to only 22% with training alone. But in order for coaching to be effective, the context of who is being coached, and when, must align with what coaching has to offer in order to actually reap a significant return on investment (ROI). Coaching works well alongside training when it supports the embedding of new skill sets which have been the subject of the skill building. More often, however, coaching at this level is focused on shifting a mindset. In that situation employers must first be able to identify if the leader’s needs are, indeed, coachable.

Coaching requires you to explore, support and challenge a leader’s thinking in order to help realign their perspective. However, an executive can only be coached to think and operate differently if they are open to doing so. Coaching isn’t designed to change people fundamentally, it acts as a way of unlocking unrealized potential – this new approach was always an option, it just needed to be teased out in a methodical way.

How can you tell if this is the case?

The individual should have exhibited a desire to be coached in some way, and previously displayed behavior of wanting to learn, as well as change in response to feedback. Coaching can be an intimate experience and can sometimes feel judgmental, when in reality it is designed to push the coachee so that they gain a sustainable form of development. If a leader has previously shown the want to improve and strengthen their abilities, then this person will be a perfect fit for executive coaching and will likely benefit greatly from it.

Also, timing matters! Coaching is extremely effective when a leader is at a learning inflection point. This can take shape in many different ways, but will typically be a moment of realization, a challenge they are facing, or noticeable dissonance. These all act as coaching catalysts, as they spark the focus needed for coaching to be successful. Once this inflection point has been identified, the coach can then help the leader map out the goals of their sessions and pave a clear path to meet them.

Executive coaching is rising in popularity – in 2022, it was estimated that the global executive coaching market was valued at $9.3 billion – which is almost a $1 billion increase from the previous year. This is because the satisfaction rate for coaching is near to 100%, but to ensure that it remains that way, employers must be able to identify the correct context for successful and meaningful coaching to take place. This ensures that money is not being wasted, but instead converted into a high ROI.

If you would like to seek out coaching at a leadership level or are interested in being coached yourself, please get in touch with me at

Positive workplace ‘banter’ is a good thing.

Having a cohesive workforce and a strong workplace culture is something that all employers strive for. And friendly relationships in the workplace increase productivity, as employees are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other. Banter can play a pivotal role in cementing these relationships.

There is, however, a fine line between ‘playful’ banter and what might be considered bullying and harassment.

Recent research found that a third (32%) of UK workers have experienced bullying masked as ‘banter’, while it is estimated that about 30% of the American workforce (which equates to roughly 48.6 million workers) feel bullied at work. And the number of employment tribunal claims citing allegations of bullying increased by 44% in 2022, which was a record high.

To mitigate the risk of this happening, regularly updated management training is essential.

The current workforce has the largest ever mix of generations working together, which means that lot of workplace banter risks being ‘lost in translation’ due to the fact that the boundaries of acceptability and what is tolerated have shifted so much across the decades. Consequently, what one person may intend as a joke, another may perceive quite differently.

Having managers who have been trained to understand what is acceptable means that they can diffuse these situations and act accordingly if someone feels that banter is going too far. But this training needs to be regularly updated as boundaries of acceptability are constantly shifting.

It is also vital that managers appreciate that cyberbullying is becoming much more common at work– especially with the rise of remote and hybrid working models.

Passive aggressive emails, pestering messages, and group chat banter can all result in employees feeling they are being put down, so it is just as important to establish positive online working policies in an evolving working world.

Finding the balance of banter at work can be difficult – but it is important to embed a culture of acceptance and inclusivity to avoid playful exchanges tipping over into bullying and harassment.

To discuss creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture in more detail, please get in touch with us.

Today’s economic and social climate plays a big role in perpetuating stress in the workplace. Executives who know how to leverage personal pressure while effectively managing stressed employees possess a vital skillset, particularly in a cost-of-living or organizational identity crisis.

For example, leaders who successfully practice healthy personal habits and foster wellbeing in their organization’s workforce hold a significant competitive advantage. Knowing how to manage their own feelings of stress can also increase an executive’s longevity in the demanding world of c-suite leadership.

The above global report recently found 41% of senior leaders were stressed, and 69% of executives were thinking about quitting because of their wellbeing. Therefore, effective stress management can be key for reducing executive turnover. And in the same breath, stress management in the C-suite will have a trickle-down effect on their company. The idea of ‘follow the leader’ rings true in today’s world of work – if the C-suite is experiencing burnout from stress overload, how can they also effectively mitigate the stress levels of those who work with and for them?

This article focuses on three of the actions C-suite leaders can take to leverage the tensions inherent in their roles as organizational leaders. For information around mitigation of stress in the workforce, check out our article here.

How can executives leverage personal stress?

Know the Difference:

Savvy executives start by recognizing the difference between feeling stress and feeling pressure. A certain level of pressure and expectation is inherent in any executive role. This tension is often motivating and a beneficial by-product of personal and organizational success (e.g., company growth). When working in a high-stakes position, however, stress can easily mask itself as ‘just part of the job’, when this isn’t the case. By correctly identifying stress versus pressure, senior leaders can take advantage of tension-ridden scenarios through innovation, perseverance, and focus.  They can rally flagging troops to achieve objectives and recharge themselves by accomplishing challenging goals or navigating rough waters. Conversely, failing to identify personal stress can result in questionable decisions, divisive behavior, and decreasing productivity and morale. Choosing the most effective path forward begins with correct identification of stress vs. pressure.

Schedule for Health:

Stress management has been heavily researched, and a myriad of resources, training, techniques, and approaches exist, and this is because stress is known to have negative effects on the body and the mind. Chances are, most C-suite executives have studied and built their stress management skills over the course of their career. Executives can be experts in ways to mitigate stress in their organization while failing to prioritize their personal physical and mental health management. One study found CEOs work an average of 79% of all weekend days, 70% of their vacation days, and 62.5 hours per week. Knowing how to best mitigate stress helps lessen negative influence, but only if stress management is a scheduled, prioritized, and practiced part of an executive’s daily routine.

Successful executives schedule their health into their lives just as they would schedule shareholder meetings. Allocating specific time in the day to exercise, eat, and reflect is essential. There is no one set thing executives should do in the time they block out for themselves. Rather, it’s important to take that time and do something restful, rejuvenating, or just plain fun. Executives need balance as much as employees do, so establishing a clear work-life balance is instrumental to managing stress and mental health.

Be the Leader:

It is also important to remember that executives are role models – their behavior has a direct effect on the culture and tone of the company they oversee. If they are trying to promote values of mental and physical wellbeing while choosing not to comply themselves, their team will likely feel less comfortable asking for support or assistance when it is needed. The classic example? Coming to work when sick, but then encouraging staff to take the day off if they are unwell. This type of mixed message has a trickle-down effect on the organization and can elevate workforce stress levels.

While these actions may feel simple or obvious, getting started may not be easy. One path to greater personal and organizational wellbeing is through executive coaching.

Another is bringing a consultant on board to help identify effective health and welfare strategies. Taking action to intentionally manage stress and pressure can result in a domino-effect of improved productivity, organizational culture evolution, and improved attraction and retention rates.

Knowing how to manage stress at an executive level in a healthy manner can cascade down the hierarchy of your business and foster a healthy, happy, and productive workforce. To get in touch to discuss coaching for stress or implementing health and wellbeing strategies, please connect with me at

This time of year, there are the usual surveys and articles about merit increases and executive pay increases.   

For example, I saw a recent private company survey that said that more than 46% of organizations in the US plan to provide a more than 6% increase to the merit pool.  Similarly, I have seen many articles commenting on the ‘astounding’ increases in executive pay

However, you must be very wary of year over year comparisons, especially after a multi-year period where companies all took differing approaches to weathering the COVID hurricane. Because, as usual, there is no context given. 

What is not said is: how many of the companies responding gave no increases during the pandemic; how many of those execs took significant pay cuts and no bonus during the pandemic; how many of those have just been restored to their pre-pandemic pay; how much of the pay ‘increase’ is really just due to rebounding stock value.

The practical reality is that there are several national surveys that have reached a general consensus on the merit pool increases being offered for 2023 – most have agreed this will be generally in the 4% range. While this materially lags the costs of living increases that employees have been experiencing, it is a focus on cost of labor, which is expected to increase by the 4% (it should be noted that merit pools have been at or above 3% for the last 4+ years despite inflation for several of those years being at 1% or less).

So when it comes to determining executive pay, we suggest you ignore the noise and focus on fundamentals.  Are your salaries reasonable given the competitive market and the scope and complexity of your business? Is the bonus target and leverage appropriate? Are the metrics true drivers of value creation for stakeholders? Do your long-term incentives adequately align management with shareholders? Quality begins with these fundamentals, and if you can answer these questions in the affirmative, you do not need to pay attention to the media din around compensation. 

But, if you find that you need assistance in answering these, then this is where we can help. With a range of long-term expertise in compensation strategy and pay philosophy, OrgShakers are able to help your company navigate the reality of executive pay increases so that it is a true reflection of the current economic context. To get in touch, either head over to our contact page or email me directly at

By Marty Belle, Therese Procter and Viona Young

Chris Rainey’s latest HR Leaders podcasts featured Stephanie Murphy (People Analytics Leader at Dell Technologies), and together they discussed the topic of accountable leaders through the use of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) data.

In response to being asked some of the biggest challenges she is solving with DEI analytics, Stephanie answered, “I think the biggest thing has been accountability…it’s about making sure that if you bring people in they’re going to stay in.”

She goes on to outline how in the context of Dell, they added a separate category into their annual survey to be able to measure inclusivity in different teams, and then set up a system which would flag potential causes for concern if leaders scored below a certain point.

This completely aligned with our thinking and prompted us to consider the importance that accountability plays in the DEI space, and how holding oneself accountable can sometimes be a daunting thing, but inevitably is a strategic imperative. 

In terms of leaders and line-managers, understanding the importance that their roles play in driving DEI throughout the company and holding themselves accountable for that can be the difference between a successful and non-successful business dynamic. There has to be zero tolerance for ignorance on DEI and the spotlight has to shine on awareness, education and training where the necessary leadership skills are weak or nonexistent entirely. 

We turned our attention to a global report published by Lee Hecht Harrison which found that despite 72% of business leaders and HR professionals recognizing that leadership accountability is a critical business issue, only 31% are satisfied with the level of accountability they see from leaders in their organization.

There can be a number of reasons for this accountability gap, and one that we have noticed on numerous occasions both in the US and the UK is the fact that the DEI space is continuously expanding its parameters to include much more than it originally did a few decades ago. 

While it is fantastic that more multidimensional diversity attributes are being addressed in DEI strategies, this does pose the potential risk of diversity efforts being diluted if organizations do not take into consideration the research conducted by Bailey Jackson, who was one of the first to identify that some differences matter more than others. Specifically, she found that the diversity attributes that make the biggest difference are ethnicity, gender, marital status (and children), race, sexual orientation, language, physical ability, socioeconomic status, religion and mental ability. From this perspective, it can be challenging to identify accountability when the scope of DEI feels like it is still being determined.

Another reason for this gap could be the fact that DEI can sometimes feel like a difficult / sensitive topic to discuss as a leader – especially if this leader is white and male. There is a tendency to stray away from uncomfortable conversations, as well as avoid topics that they may not have a deep understanding of and/or insights into. This can lead to avoidance of accountability, which can have a negative snowballing effect on the company culture as it perpetuates values that do not align with the organization. 

This is why accountability is so important when it comes to DEI, and why Stephanie’s data-driven method of measuring this has been so successful for Dell. Executives must ensure they are being very clear with leaders and managers about their DEI responsibilities, and then find the best way of tracking and enforcing these practices for their company. 

What we can conclude, therefore, is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for cataloguing this, but we need to ensure as leaders we step up and hold ourselves and others accountable for acquiring, practicing and improving the grasp of new DEI competencies. By doing so, we can begin to perpetuate a culture of belonging at work and see true inclusion in action – one study even found that having a strong sense of belonging at a job was linked to a 56% increase in productivity, a 50% drop in turnover, and a 75% reduction in sick days.

At OrgShakers, we have a vast amount of skill and experience creating global DEI strategies across different sectors, and are able to help ensure that DEI is remaining a business priority. 

We know that having a diverse workforce has been proven to improve profitability, and so establishing accountability for DEI in your organization is the first step towards embedding this into the fabric of your company and reaping its rewards (from an economic and environmental, social and governance perspective).

To continue this discussion around DEI, don’t hesitate to reach out to us us through our contact page!

Recently, I was out with a friend, and she mentioned how she hadn’t been into work that day. I asked her why she didn’t go, and she told me, “I just wasn’t having a good mental health day, so I called in sick.”

When I asked if she’d told them the truth about her mental health, she said she’d claimed a physical illness because she was embarrassed.

And this got me thinking. With almost 8 out of 10 organizations (79%) reporting that mental health is a major driver of workplace absence, how can employers take steps to tackle the issue if employees are lying about feeling mentally fit to work?

I started looking into whether other people were doing this, and the answers echoed that of my friend’s.

Slater and Gordon discovered that 55% of employees who took mental health days claimed to be physically unwell for fear of being judged, demoted, or sacked.

According to a global report published by Aetna International, more than half of employees (52%) diagnosed with mental health issues admitted to lying to their employer about taking a sick day. It also found that those with an undiagnosed mental health condition were more likely to lie about being sick due to stress (45%) and ‘feeling down’ (42%).

The pandemic brought the mental health crisis – and the real effects it had on business – to the forefront. With nearly 80% of workers saying that having access to mental health services would make them more productive, as well as 64% adding that they would be more attracted to a company that offered these, businesses have responded.

In the US, nearly 23% of workers say their employer has introduced new mental health support, and in the UK, YouGov found that 59% of large employers were offering mental health services.

All of which means that the challenge is now one of trust. Mental health can be a tricky discussion – but when employees are lying about it, there is no ‘discussion’ to be had.

So, if you are a business who would like to find out how the introduction of mental health support can drive employee performance and productivity, or how you can open up the conversation about mental health at work, you can get in touch with us here.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Managers who know when to have a laugh and not take themselves too seriously tend to be some of the best. Their joie de vivre makes for a happy workplace and fosters healthy relationships with their team.

We will all have experienced occasions, however, when a manager has inappropriately bookended a far from light-hearted message with quiet chuckles. This is what is known as laughter padding – and it can be far from funny!

Laughter padding is a very common reflex that its perpetrators use without even realising they are doing it.

Much of the time, this innate need to smile or laugh can emerge in managers or executives who have to discuss something uncomfortable, deliver unfavourable news, or ask something of someone they suspect that individual will not want to do. And the problem with this tic is that it may undermine their authority.

Now, it is not uncommon for managers to feel a bit out of their depth. A recent study found that managers significantly lacked confidence in their ability to talk about potentially sensitive issues such as work flexibility and employee wellbeing. These are the situations when the laughter padding reflex can kick in.

In their subconscious they are trying to ‘soften the blow’ of their words by padding them with laughter – but to the person receiving the message this can easily be perceived as the manager failing to take the issue seriously; ‘This is no laughing matter!’

This can lead to a range of communication issues with a senior member of staff and their team. The urgency of a request, or the clarity of feedback, will be at risk of falling flat, and these problems that could have been avoided are now being given the opportunity to snowball.

So, what can a manager do to prevent this?

A lot of the time, a person doing this habitually will probably be nervous to some degree. The fear of having to speak publicly, known as glossophobia, is a very common one, with up to 75% of the population being affected by it. In this situation, a management coach would be able to help them improve their confidence by guiding them in understanding why this laughter padding response is being triggered.

Interestingly, the reflex is believed to stem from humans’ instinctive need to gasp for air to oxygenate the muscles. We take deep breaths to prepare for an emergency or in the face of danger, and in these scenarios the ‘danger’ would be the possible repercussions of telling someone off or speaking in a difficult circumstance.

To combat this, a coach might suggest that if the manager knows they are going to have to have a conversation that they suspect may not be well-received, they rehearse what they are going to say. Practicing it a couple of times will make it easier to approach the discussion.

As well as this, a coach will help them to distinguish when it is and isn’t appropriate to laughter pad. The reality is, laughter padding in the right context is a great tool to increase managerial approachability. But the key to this is chuckling when it is more genuine, and fits well with the tone of the conversation. This way, when they are having to have a more difficult discussion and are not padding it, the person listening will realise that this is a more serious situation.

It's all about finding that balance, so if you think you or your managers might be laughter padders, you can reach out to our team of coaches for help in turning laughter into a leadership asset – not a derailer.  

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

In the US, February marks the start of Black History Month – which aims to recognize the achievements of Black Americans and their contributions made to American history. It has been celebrated nationally since 1976, but was being taught even before this all the way back to 1926, with the founding of Negro History Week.

And yet, despite actively trying to be conscious of the value that Black Americans have brought to their country, we can see that, even today, they are still faced with severe disparity – especially in the workplace.

The first Black CEO of a Fortune 500 company was not promoted to this role until 1987 – now, if we fast forward to the 2021 research gathered by SHRM, there were only four new Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, two Black men and two Black women. This equates to 0.8% of Black people in a CEO position, compared with 86% of White men.

This is without mentioning the fact that the Washington Post found that only 8% of the 50 most valuable corporations in the US had Black workers in top executive roles. This is a stark realization that in a month where we celebrate the value of Black people in America, they are still heavily undervalued in the corporate world.

That’s why I find it so important to remind people why we still celebrate Black History Month.  Because we are still on the journey to equality and the eradication of prejudices. Therefore, it is crucial that employers are using this month to reflect on their diversity, equity and inclusion policies, as well as listening to the voices of their employees of color, so that they can show they are continuously committed to changing for the better.

Racism in the United States is deeply, deeply rooted, and it is still very much present in many of our society’s systems and structures. The first thing most organizations can and should do is admit that, to some degree, there are biases and inequalities still present in their workplace culture.  As these prejudices are systemic and subconscious, they can be easily overlooked due to being less overt. However, talking about disparity, shining a light on the fact that the experiences and opportunities for Black people are different and scarcer than their White counterparts, is a step all employers need to be taking to work towards achieving true equality.

Cultivating an inclusive environment at work that leverages differences is a continuous journey – it requires consistent work and dedication, but it produces real, beneficial results for your team and your company. Black History Month demonstrates all the incredible things that have been achieved by Black American trailblazers over the course of history, and employers who are educating themselves and their people around this will better understand that the best innovations come from diversified perspectives.

To continue this discussion and look at how you can take advantage of all the opportunities that being inclusive has to offer, get in touch with me at

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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