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Award-winning HR: HR Director of the Year

What does it take to win HR Director of the Year? In this short series, we take you through past winners of the HR Excellence Awards, and how they impressed the judges.

Backing up fantastic strategies with rock-solid figures, each winner has managed to persuade judges of their team’s impact on business.

In the third instalment of the series, we look at 2022's HR Director of the Year, Carol-Ann White, of brand management firm Landor & Fitch.

Not yet started your entry? View 2023's categories now.


HR Director of the Year: Carol-Ann White, Landor & Fitch

In the search for HR Director of the Year, HR Excellence Awards judges seek true people leaders who are collaborative, committed to diversity and inclusion (D&I), and who have displayed an exemplary record in the past 12 months.

In 2022, Carol-Ann White, group CPO at design agency Landor & Fitch, not only fulfilled each of these requirements but did so with flair and a clear commitment to challenging the HR status quo.

Judges’ tips for entering the HR Excellence Awards

Keep HR on brand by changing with the times: Carol-Ann White, Landor & Fitch

In her time at L&F, White has helped guide its evolution from traditional brand consulting agency to an integrated brand transformation group. In addition to championing employees during this change she has driven a total rethink of the firm’s people proposition.

Examples of her creative approach to HR are easily found.

The firm’s Above & Beyond programme, for example, gives every person in the business up to 10% of their working time (around 220 hours each year) to dedicate to personal growth.

Employees spend the time as they choose.

In the past 12 months, staff have chosen to develop tech skills, visit exhibitions for creative inspiration and even built a tech platform to store the firm’s case studies more effectively.

Another example is the firm’s Globetrotter policy, first introduced by White in 2015.

Employees are given the opportunity for secondment across the world – a win-win in terms of career development and the creation of a global community at L&F.

A simultaneous virtual secondment programme runs across 26 offices worldwide. Both programmes have come into their own in a newly formed hybrid world.

Thanks to White, rigid annual appraisals have been replaced with an employee-led approach to development.

Now an ongoing process, development is driven by individuals and their managers according to a framework of core types of conversation: check-ins, career, reward, and challenging conversations.

The model has already been adopted by a number of companies within L&F’s parent company and communication group WPP.

White’s commitment to diversity and inclusion at work was also impressive.

Working in partnership with the global CEO, she has empowered women across the business.

More than half of the firm’s employees (56%) and 46% of its global leadership team are women.

This was a stunning result, considering the media and communications industry averages a 37% ratio of women in leadership globally.

She has likewise lent significant support to the women in leadership programmes Fast Forward and Walk the Talk, outside of L&F – though she has had excellent results when bringing both inside the company too.

A staggering 94% of women across the WPP group said the programmes had helped them develop a bigger vision for themselves, and 95% felt empowered to lead change.

Thanks in large part to her work, L&F was listed as one of Great Places to Work’s 2022 Best Places to Work for Women.

White has been committed to creating a brilliant inclusive hiring strategy that has seen the company leverage detailed data to ensure representation at every stage in the hiring process.

In the past 12 months alone, L&F UK and US have hit significant targets of hiring 25% of new hires from under-represented groups.

This outstanding commitment to D&I can also be seen threaded through the company’s early careers strategy, which also took home a HR Excellence Awards trophy in 2022.

Thanks to her dedication, visible in the initiatives and strategy she drives every day, White has made an inestimable impact on L&F.

White's work on culture meant that 90% of employees agreed they can be themselves at work. Not only did this push a 7% improvement in retention, it also meant 91% of L&F’s employees saying they were proud to work there.

Each of the leaders on this year’s shortlist had done some outstanding work, but it was White’s innovation and agility when adapting the company's HR strategy that marked her as a standout winner and 2022's HR Director of the Year.

Enter for HR Director of the Year at the HR Excellence Awards 2023.

View the full list of categories here.