Rachael Davidson, National Grid Ventures: Share Experiences to Take The Most Effective Ideas Forward

Rachael Davidson_Updated Photo

Rachael Davidson is Chief Counsel, Ventures & Group Assurance with National Grid Ventures – which operates a broad mix of energy assets and businesses in the UK and US.  Rachael is also responsible for the Group Risk, Compliance and Ethics teams, chairs National Grid’s Wellbeing Steering Group and is the Executive Sponsor of PRIDE, National Grid’s LGBT employee ally Employee Resource Group.  We are delighted to have Rachael join us as a speaker at the digital MAD World Summit.

MAD stands for Make A Difference.  The MAD World Summit is the global go-to solutions-focused event for employers dedicated to accelerating the shift from stigma to solutions, turning talk into action and moving workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing mainstream.      

In this interview Rachael gives a sneak peek of the perspective she’ll be bringing to the MAD World Summit agenda on 8 October.

Please tell us a bit about your professional background at National Grid Ventures. How did you come to be involved with the mental health and wellbeing agenda?

I am a lawyer by training.  I have had a number of roles in National Grid, and before that in other regulated industries.   As well as being interested in the law,  I really enjoy working with people and am curious about how people work!

The law allows me to help the companies I work for solve problems and work with lots of really interesting people.   As my roles have grown and included managing people, I’ve found learning how different people work and what drives them fascinating.  I have also experienced depression myself – firstly after my children were born, and also again recently when life’s ups and downs were overwhelming.  That has driven me to find out more about mental health.

How long has National Grid had a support programme for staff mental health and wellbeing?

We have taken the wellbeing of our people seriously and have a range of programmes, EAP, Wellbeing resources, Mental Health training for managers and in most recent years support for how people build personal resilience for a number of years.

We have information and programmes on many aspects of wellbeing, nutrition, exercise, mental health training for both individuals and managers.  We are also a signatory to the Mental Health at Work Principals which help us focus on what we need to do to support a good working environment.

What would you say has been the most effective aspect of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme (in general)?

We have worked very hard to reduce the stigma associated with disclosing colleagues may need support with a mental health issues.  Like many organisations we continue to have work to do, but we have seen that supporting people to speak about their personal journeys and stories helps.

Since COVID-19 what has been the most effective aspect of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme?

We have learnt a lot in lockdown in particular. What has worked well in lockdown – manager commitment and compassionate leadership. We have promoted tools that help to promote the focus on mental, physical and occupational health etc.

The pandemic has forced mental and physical health to the top of organisations’ agendas. Our goal is to make sure it remains a priority and becomes embedded as business as usual post-COVID-19. What do you think is the biggest obstacle that might stop this vision from becoming a reality and how can people driving this agenda within their workplaces overcome this?

Like many other businesses we are considering how we bring people back to office-based working safely, embracing all the things we have learnt from the remote working experience.  We also have colleagues out in field roles, who have not been able to work from home to do their roles.  They have needed support to keep safe and continue to need this support.

We are focused on supporting them with simple tools that can help them assess themselves or their teams on where risk areas may be (stress, sickness trends, referrals to Occupational Health, the update on our employee assistance programme, and the other issues that our employees are managing through e.g. financial wellbeing, loneliness/isolation, potential for suicide risk increase).

Is there anything you’d like to share about your participation in the session “Future of Work” session at the digital MAD World Summit on 8th October?

Excited to share the things that we are learning and curious to learn about other businesses.  It is by sharing our stories that we can learn and take the most effective ideas forward.

Rachael Davidson will be joining us as a speaker at the MAD World Summit – the global go-to digital event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing – taking place 8 October. We are also running Make a Difference Summit US in Association with Mind Share Partners on 15 October and Make a Difference Summit Asia on 11 November, 2020. Pick and choose the content most relevant to you. You can find out more and register here.

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