What people are saying about the MAD World Summit 2023


After months of anticipation, Make A Difference Media’s sister event, the annual MAD World Summit, took place last week in person in Central London. With 140+ speakers, the multi-streamed conference and exhibition – also featuring this year the inaugural DE&I Summit – was a fantastic meeting of cross-sector employers looking for insight, inspiration and the right-fit inclusive workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing solutions for their organisations.

Here’s a taste of just some of the commentary from the event, shared on LinkedIn.

Hannah Pearsall, Head of Wellbeing, Hays

Reflecting on a great day at the annual MAD World Make A Difference Summits

This was my third year in attendance and it struck me how much the narrative around wellbeing is evolving.

💡 Not a single mention of free bananas or virtual yoga classes (both of which I love, but they were never the solution to workplace wellbeing)
💡 Panellists including CEO’s and CFO’s, not just People people!
💡 A Think Tank hosted by Amy Browne from CCLA Investment Management who are on a mission to ensure the investment community holds large companies to account on protecting the mental health of their employees

It’s an exciting to time for workplace wellbeing.

Geoff McDonald hit the nail on the head when he said wellbeing at work will fail if;
1. You don’t consider wellbeing a strategic priority
2. Your organisation is only held to account on safety and not health too
3. Individuals do not recognise the role they play in making positive choices for their own health
4. You think your strategy will be enough…..it won’t! When strategy and culture collide, culture wins every time and if your culture isn’t conducive to positive wellbeing, everything else is pointless!

Dr. Eloise Leonard-Cross, Head of People Strategy & Experience, Northumbrian Water Group

The Make A Difference Summits MAD World Summit has been jam packed with insights with some impressive thinkers on panels:

Dame Carol Black highlighted the worrying level of increases in young people not coming in to the workplace – these are our workers of the future.

Jo Bibby shared data that 2.6m of the working population are unable to work on health grounds with a projected 37% increase of working population with a significant health condition by 2040. However the workforce overall will only increase by 4%…

Barbara Jeffery shared nuggets from a report due for publication. 1 in 4 workers are showing symptoms of burnout. The drivers of poor health were job and team level (95%) however drivers of good health spread across all factors individual, job, team and organisation. Powerful comment to organisations “Targeting individual level won’t move the needle, you can’t yoga your way out of this”

Speaking to my scientific mind Dr Sarah Hughes encouraged us to look in to our organisations to create a culture of inquiry – insight is preventative.

Also delighted to have shared our NWG (Northumbrian Water Group) Living Well Case Study and link health, wellbeing and inclusion.

Join our growing network of employers
Receive Make A Difference News straight to your inbox
The workforce of the future: meeting multigenerational expectations around mental health panel, expertly Chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Age UK and featuring insights from Alex Will, President & Member of the Board of the event’s Headline Sponsor Calm Business, Mariyana Zhou, Human Resource Director, Radancy and Dr Wolfgang Seidl, Partner and Global Mental Health Consulting Leader, Mercer.

Heather Kelly

Wellbeing Washing: do you think it’s a reality?

At Make A Difference Summits MAD World conference in London an expert panel agreed YES IT IS.

But they also shared valuable insight on how employers can avoid this self-sabotage:

1. Dr Clare Fernandes MFOM Chief Medical Officer at the BBC shared that we should be going DIRECT to managers to find out what they need to support their people 💪

2. Nick Pahl CEO of Society of Occupational Medicine said we should have the most senior leaders engage in all the trainings, initiatives themselves to ensure there’s top down, genuine empathy & buy in 💪

3. Julia Biles Head of Wellbeing at Saga plc. says we must educate on a common language to talk about emotional health within a company. And that we need to hold mirrors up to leaders’ faces because if they’re disingenuous people see right through it & they don’t engage 💪

💡💡Everyone agreed employees must “believe the organisation is actually caring” in order to feel safe to utilise support on offer.

Tony Singh, Babergh & Mid Suffold District Councils

Amazing day, packed with incredible talent and insights from thought leaders across the Wellbeing and DE&I space who are paving the way for organisations to embrace and sustain their initiatives and efforts.

More reporting from the event to follow soon…

You might also like:


Sign up to receive Make A Difference's fortnightly round up of features, news, reports, case studies, practical tools and more for employers who want to make a difference to work culture, mental health and wellbeing.