Why leaders go to MAD World Summit & DE&I Symposium


According to the MAD World Summit and co-located DE&I Symposium’s post-event survey, 84% of those who attended are putting 17th October 2024 – the date of the next edition of this business-critical event – in their diaries.

If you missed this year’s sessions, or simply want to listen again, you can tune in to the recordings here.

At the Summit, our Features Editor Suzy Bashford caught up with a range of business and thought leaders to find out why it’s now firmly established as a go-to in the workplace mental health and wellbeing calendar.

Here’s what they said.

MAD World helps you to stay ahead of the curve

Dr Nicola Eccles, Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing with breakfast briefing sponsor OnWellbeing enthused at the end of her session about MAD World’s melting pot of interesting and dynamic people talking about mental health and wellbeing. She stressed that it’s the place to be if you want to stay ahead of the curve on all aspects of employee mental health and wellbeing. “Mental health” she said “is a moving target. We are shifting everyday as the culture and world shift and MAD World keeps abreast of that”.

It’s good for starting provocative, meaningful, progressive conversations

Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid UK backed up Eccles’ words, explaining that he attends the event because he wants to provoke different thinking. “The world has changed” he said “it’s different than it was 5 years ago and we’ve got to work out a way through because work done well is good for our mental health”.

A valuable source of insight and inspiration to take back to the workplace

Ruth Pott, Head of workplace wellbeing at civil engineering company BAM UK and Ireland attended the event to gain nuggets of insight and inspiration to take back to the workplace. She said: “You always go away with one or two nuggets of information and inspiring comments that make you go ‘actually that will really work in my organisation’.  Or it helps me think about something in another way”.

Collaboration to create a thriving workforce

An aim of MAD World and the DE&I Symposium is to help embed workplace wellbeing by breaking down the silos that often exist in organisations and bringing together people with a range of job functions and from across different sectors. Helen Willis, Chief Financial Officer, Costain told Suzy that the Summit is a learning opportunity to see how other people and functions are seeing things.

She also explained: “For me it’s the ‘what’s next?’ and I’ve already had a couple of really interesting conversations about how do we connect the research – the pure thinking if you like – with the pragmatic steps around what we can do as individuals and as organisations to really make a difference”.

Dr Eloise Leonard-Cross, Head of People Strategy & Experience, Northumbrian Water Ltd echoed Willis’ perspective. She explained that by having streams around DE&I and health and wellbeing, the event demonstrated the bridge that exists between the two and the connected approach that is really important. “That’s something that excites me to see more of in future” she said.

Evolving conversation: embedding mental health and wellbeing

Emily Gabrielsen, Health & Wellbeing Manager with Centrica comes to the Summit to hear the conversations and the buzz around creating cultures of wellbeing and how we embed this into organisations. She explained to Suzy: “I was here a few years ago and I’ve really seen the conversations evolve and develop – more and more it’s getting to the top of the list. It’s just as important as safety and other things that are going on in the business as well. It’s great to see that shift really starting to happen”.

Headline sponsor Calm Business’ President Alex Will also recognises this evolution saying: “We were thrilled with the engagement at MAD World Summit. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet a wide range of employers who recognise the importance of prioritising mental health to build a productive, creative and happy workforce. These forward-thinking organisations aren’t just making mental health a priority— they’re reinventing the way work gets done to support mental health.”

An energising experience

For Sofi Musleh, Head of DE& for LGBTQ+ and Gender with Novartis a highlight of the event was the opportunity to share the space with like-minded peers who share the same thoughts and principles. “You’re not trying to get them to buy into it, that’s an energising experience” she explained.

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