Mary Haddock-Staniland is about sparking positive change, in the corporate world as a highly regarded thought leader and in social spheres as a committed advocate.

After a varied career spanning 20 years, Mary was appointed, in 2020, Chief People & Inclusion Officer, now the role is known as the Global Senior Vice President of DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging) for EverCommerce, the parent company for business management software company, Timely Limited. Still, the first executive-level role of this nature in any New Zealand organisation. 

In addition to her role at Timely, Mary is an accomplished and highly sought-after keynote speaker, panelist and MC who brings the right balance of energy and insight to events of all sizes. She also holds a range of advisory and governance roles, and in 2017 was appointed an ambassador for charitable trust, Lifeline Aotearoa.

What does a better world of work look like to you?

We certainly put a lot of effort into our DEIB journey at Timely. It really is part of our purpose, not only to foster these values within our own organisation, but to actively promote them externally with our customers across the globe.

A better work world for us, is one where every individual is valued as their true selves. Where the experiences of those minorities and underrepresented groups are actively valued as bringing an extra dimension and richness to what we do and how we do it.

It is more than saying that we “accept” a diverse range of people, and more that they actually belong. Everyone is entitled to a seat at the table.

DEIB is a journey, not a destination. This is ongoing work, as the world changes, and the people in it change, we need to continue to pursue the maintenance of these values. This is not an area where anyone can afford to sit back and say “we’ve done it”.

For our business, our people are everything. We don’t rely on huge capital investment for our productivity, it flows from our people, and the work they do. Enabling them to bring their best selves to the task is critical.

What is your business doing to build a better world of work?

At Timely we like workplace initiatives that benefit both our team members and the Company. 

To that end, any new idea should make it easier for our people to do what they need to do, enhance their work life experience and also improve our overall productivity.

One recent initiative we implemented was “no meetings Tuesday”. This ensures there is one day a week where our team members know they can plan to focus purely on their own tasks without the distraction of attending meetings. This is now a valuable window to deal with project work or anything else that requires no interruptions.

Measures like this in themselves are not major, but cumulatively, they add up to creating an innovative work environment designed to let people achieve their potential.

What are your predictions for how work will shift over the next few years?

In our industry, intellectual talent and creative thinking are highly sought all over the world. There is a significant shortage of really talented people who can innovate and problem solve. I think that means  employers really need to think about the proposition they are pitching to prospective team members.

Obviously remuneration has to be competitive, but the package goes well beyond that. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s about creating an environment where people feel valued and safe being themselves.

Where good management focuses on removing roadblocks. After all, what's the point of  engaging great talent if we just tie them up in process and hurdles!  Where people's personal lives are valued and can intersect seamlessly with their work life.

So I think the big change, everywhere that I see at least, is that the employer is the one who is going to have to sell themselves, not the employee.

What is the biggest challenge you see for companies who want to improve the experience of work?

I think there are a number of challenges to be conscious of. 

A real challenge in the DEIB space is not only creating that sense of belonging for all sorts of different people, but actually ensuring the Company benefits from that difference. 

Advancing DEIB shouldn't be a burden, the idea is to benefit from it, but that takes some application. Actually incorporating different thinking and frames of reference into decision making and product development.

Also minimising churn. While the workforce is increasingly mobile, for the Company, replacing valuable team members is incredibly costly. Not just in terms of recruitment, but the lost time in getting a new person up to speed, and initializing all of those valuable interpersonal relationships that the previous office holder had. This is something we measure quite closely, and of course exit interviews are incredibly valuable in getting a sense of why the churn we do have, occurs.

What is one piece of advice you would share with businesses that are wanting to build a better world of work?

I think essentially a better world of work occurs from the bottom up. Our role as managers is to facilitate that and remove impediments to it happening. Listen to your people, if they see that you are taking on board feedback, they’ll tell you what they want and need.

People tend to be happier at work if they can be effective. So work on giving your people the opportunity to be just that.

Is there an individual you admire who you believe is building a better world of work?

Ryan Baker, one of the founders of Timely, was quite visionary in terms of what he viewed as critical to the future of the Company and how he wanted Timely to achieve its goals.

Ryan really did want DEIB to be woven into the fabric of the organisation, and for that aspect to be an integral part of the story of Timely that went out to our various stakeholders.

In this respect Ryan was well ahead of his time, and I admire him hugely for his foresight and how he valued his people.

Know of someone who's building a better world of work?

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