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Recruitment and culture Q&A: Albert Goodman

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In the second of our new series of interviews showcasing what firms are doing to create great cultures to attract and retain talent, Sarah Bowden reveals why Albert Goodman was recently named the best accountancy firm to work for in the UK.

18th Jul 2022
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Back at the start of the Covid pandemic, Sarah Bowden joined the team at Albert Goodman as head of HR. Since then she has been working with the team to continue building on the solid cultural foundations they already had. At the Best Companies 2022 awards ceremony in May 2022, Albert Goodman was named best accountancy firm to work for in the UK.

So, what does culture mean to you?

It’s about the way that we work and the way we engage our people. We want to bring in people with similar beliefs and values at all levels – we can teach the technical element. 

What three words would you use to describe the culture at Albert Goodman?

Collaborative – it’s about all of us working together. We know we can work remotely and still work together, but this also includes collaborating with clients.

Inclusive – it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do, you are equally important as everyone else. We have an employee forum and frequent survey where we capture feedback so we can act on that and make sure everyone feels included.

Progressive – we are not scared of doing things differently. If it doesn’t work out, we review what went wrong. Then we can change things and try again. 

Sarah BowdenYou mentioned that part of your culture is formed around this idea of bringing people into the business with similar beliefs and values. When you’re essentially hiring on cultural fit, how do you ensure you’re also hiring for cultural add?

We ask questions and we spend time with the talent we attract. We provide opportunities for them to ask questions and make sure they feel we are a good fit. For example, for our trainees we don’t just go through an interview process, we actually invite them in for a whole day so that they can really see what the environment and the team are like.

It also feeds into our value of inclusivity as actually some people don’t interview well but would be fantastic additions to our team. So seeing them in action, as part of group discussions and so on, gives them an opportunity to present themselves in the best light possible too.

Talk to me about the company values that you’ve launched this year? 

Our values were previously very client driven. We redeveloped these in April, at a team away day, so that each value has both an internal and external viewpoint. We are now updating all of our internal documents, personal development plans and so on to ensure that these values are a focus.

So, what are those values?

Collaboration – this is really about coming together as a team and with our clients to achieve the best results for everyone.

Progressive – again, very much about being forward thinking and looking at what more we can do, but also what we can do differently.

Trustworthy – being accountable, flexible, delivering results and having integrity around that.

Impactful – it’s about being community focused, challenging what we’ve always done and keeping things such as carbon emissions and charity work in our minds across all we do.

Your management board is predominantly female. How do you measure and promote diversity in the workplace?

We absolutely believe in the best and right person getting the job – male or female. 

Three out of five of our management board are female and so we are technically female-led and almost 50% female across our senior management positions. 

We have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy with targets around this too and despite not having to report our numbers for the gender pay gap report, we do, because we think it’s important.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to a firm looking to improve its culture? 

Listen to your employees, be really open and honest with your plans and communicate with everyone frequently.

 

Read Kayleigh Graham’s previous interview on recruitment and culture with Lynsey Light of Kreston Reeves.