15 November

How do you create psychologically safe workplaces?

Last week, we gathered with other industry leaders at BNY Mellon's London office for our This is Me Autumn Event, where we discussed how to create psychologically safe workplaces. Below, our new Programme Manager Bethan Aspland shares her experience of her first This is Me event and brings to life some of the thoughts from our speakers Hani Kablawi, Donna Smith, and Phil Canale: 

Our This is Me Autumn Event kicked off with Hani Kablawi (Head of International at BNY Mellon) welcoming participants and emphasising how BNY Mellon’s HEART Employee Business Resource Group aims to create a welcoming environment where all employees feel included, valued and able to contribute their diverse abilities. Hani also highlighted the prevalence of mental health concerns and the importance of trust and a supportive culture.

This event was also my first opportunity to speak on behalf of The Lord Mayor's Appeal about the This is Me programme, and how our campaigns, tools and resources can support organisations on their mission to support staff wellbeing. Our three unique tools are:

  • Storytelling – empowers organisations to encourage their employees to have open conversations about mental health by sharing their own personal experiences.
  • The Green Ribbon – businesses wear the green ribbon pin badge as a visual demonstration of support for those with mental health challenges and as a sign of their commitment to help #EndTheStigma surrounding mental health.
  • Wellbeing in the Workplace – an online programme developed in partnership with Samaritans to give employees the skills they need to manage their mental health and support those around them.

You can find more information on these tools by registering for our This is Me Resource Hub here

Our next speaker, Donna Smith (HR Projects Lead at Lambert Smith Hampton) shared her authentic mental health journey and its integration into her career. Donna also highlighted how she actively works to establish safe and healthy workplaces, offering ideas for supporting workplace wellbeing, including:

  • Regular monthly check ins with the Mental Health First Aiders at Lambert Smith Hampton to ensure they are well supported and continue upskilling,
  • Wellness Page on your internal intranet with resources, guidance and signposting of what support is available.
  • Host ‘Tea and Talk’ sessions in offices, breakout areas, with posters on walls.  Entice them to attend with free cupcakes(!)

Phil Canale (Senior Vice President, International Area Management at BNY Mellon) then shared his experience on how BNY Mellon are applying an intersectional approach to the This is Me 10 measures for creating psychologically safe workplaces, highlighting the challenges they have faced implementing the support as a global organisation and what they have done to overcome these challenges. Key takeaways include:

  • Engaged and passionate Employee Business Resource Group (HEART) which creates a community through which employees can build supportive relationships, share personal stories, and amplify best practices internally and externally.
  • Leveraged the Mind Forward Alliance Thriving at Work model to ensure a fully comprehensive approach across regions.
  • Creating a global wellbeing policy – helped formally capture intent and ensure consistent communication.

Most importantly, Phil highlighted the need to continuously listen, learn and adapt to the mental health needs of the organisation and their employees.

We also facilitated powerful round table discussions where industry leaders shared their valuable knowledge and experience around creating psychologically safe workplaces and also the current challenges they are facing.

One of my most memorable takeaways was during the feedback from the roundtable discussions. Wallace Wang (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Partner at Barclays) shared how in the book "The Four Stages Of Psychological Safety," Timothy R Clark outlines a model with four progressive stages:

  • Inclusion Safety – Members feel safe belonging to the team.
  • Learner Safety – Members can learn through questions and experimentation.
  • Contributor Safety – Members confidently contribute ideas without fear of embarrassment.
  • Challenger Safety – Members can question ideas, even those from authority, and suggest significant changes.

I thought this provided a simple framework that organisations can use to develop strong employee wellbeing support systems and processes.

Finally, Elizabeth Canning  (Chief Operating Officer, Pershing, BNY Mellon and Physical Disability Executive Sponsor, HEART) and Nikki O’Sullivan (Chief of Staff at BNY Mellon) lead closing remarks simultaneously in London and Manchester, emphasising the wealth of actionable ideas shared. Guests left with tangible insights for implementing positive culture change and reducing mental health stigma at work.

That's definitely a win in my eyes!

To find out more about the This is Me programme and events, please email thisisme@thelordmayorsappeal.org

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