· Features

Future leader: Cheryl Samuels, NHS England

HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the industry to discover what makes them tick.

Throughout university I worked in jobcentres and supported people from all walks of life. Working in this field you realise that anyone can find themselves needing help to get back on their feet.

It was from there I secured my first role as a personnel officer with the Defence Housing Executive, a part of the Ministry of Defence. This was the first time I saw how unfair treatment manifested in policies and procedures which were used to prevent me achieving my goals. 

The HR profession has an influential role, and an opportunity to be a critical friend within an organisation. As it stands, we are not looking internally at what we represent, and the messages we give out explicitly and subliminally impact our ability to attract into the profession and to retain. 

What the leaders of tomorrow think:

Lauren Turner, senior HR advisor, British Library

Sarah Cousins, organisational change manager, British Heart Foundation

Toby Lott, regional people manager, PKF-Francis Clark

The pace of change prior to the pandemic was slow in terms of inclusion, and utilising technology. I want to avoid a return to traditional practices and policies which are not inclusive and don’t fit with modern day staff experiences or aspirations. 

The HR function needs to focus less on what we call ourselves and to move from a transactional service to one that is transformative, agile, strategic and responsive.

We also need to be a service that acts with empathy and compassion and operates with social justice at its core, so that we advance equality in all forms rather than support the status quo.

It takes time for society to change and for accepted injustices to become unacceptable. It is our duty to positively disrupt those practices and structures to be truly inclusive and to gain diverse representation at all levels in all organisations and sectors.

Workforce planning will continue to be problematic as this traditionally has been an area organisations don’t do so well, and the funding does not follow the modelling seamlessly. 

I am spearheading a social movement for change in collaboration with the London Healthcare People Management Association (HPMA) to create a more inclusive HR profession with a view to improving the lived experience of all HR & OD professionals.

I am calling for all sectors and industries to hold the mirror up as we are often viewed as the moral compass of an organisation and to get behind #InclusiveHR. 


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This piece appears in the March/April 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.