3
/11
Star Interview
Star Interview
Workforce

Iwan Roberts,
Global People Operations, Services and Experience Director, Entain


Iwan Roberts has had a varied career in HR, working for companies like British Airways, BT, and Facebook before joining Entain. Below, Roberts tells us about what it means to be a D&I champion, and how remote working has changed the D&I agenda…

Words by Kieran Howells

Geometric Pattern

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) underpins so much of what makes workers feel a sense of belonging, trust and psychological safety in their organisation. From gender and ethnicity to sexuality and disability, the role of effective D&I is to make sure that all workers feel welcome and able to do their jobs without fear of bias or stigma. It’s a subject that sits close to the heart of Iwan Roberts, the Global People Operations, Services and Experience Director at Entain.

For Roberts, who works for one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector, diversity and inclusion is about connecting with people, and being active champions of individuality, creating the right working environment where people are valued because of their identity, background and circumstances. Of course, good D&I also has a hugely positive impact on overall company outcomes; companies that embrace diversity see 2.3 times higher cashflow per employee, according to Deloitte data. For a people leader in a fast-growing company like Roberts, both these benefits are so important.

In this exclusive interview with myGrapevine magazine, Roberts talks about why D&I is a vital part of HR’s remit, what it means to be a D&I champion, and how digital-first working practices have changed the D&I agenda. Plus, Entain’s people lead talks about career highs and goals bookmarked for the year ahead.

Geometric Pattern
CV of Iwan Roberts

Experience

Entain
Global People Operations, Services and
Experience Director
Jan 2022 – present 
Facebook
Director, Global People Services
Jan 2021 – Dec 2021
Facebook
Director, International HR Operations
and People Services
Apr 2019 – Jan 2021 
Pearson
Vice President – Global HR Operations
and People Services
Nov 2017 – Mar 2019 
Pearson
Vice President – Human Resources,
Europe and Africa
Nov 2016 – Nov 2017
Pearson
HR Director – Technology and Digital
Mar 2015 – Nov 2016
BT
Senior HR Business Partner - Commercial,
Marketing and Digital
Jun 2014 – Mar 2015 
British Airways
HR Business Partner - Brand and Customer Experience
Apr 2012 – Jun 2014  
Iwan Roberts
What does D&I mean to you? Why do you think it’s a vital part of HR’s remit?

In my remit of building and scaling services for HR, I lead everything from compliance, through to employee relations, to global people services and all the bits in between. So, what D&I means to me is unifying those elements to build a truly inclusive service and experience. I have to think about everything we cover through the D&I lens from technology usage through to high human touch when needed for our employees.

A great example would be thinking about the look and the feel of our employee portal. In building that to truly be inclusive, we’ve had to make sure that it delivers a really great experience, regardless of who you are or what requirements you may have. Everything from font size to formatting, and what processes people have to go through to get the information they need. These tools are important, so they need to be easily accessible for literally everyone at all times. And that’s just one small example of what it means to create a truly inclusive company outside the traditional D&I lens. Removing barriers and providing access how and where people need it.

Geometric Pattern
 
  •  
  •  
  •  

"At Entain, we've got a massive opportunity to really think about how we create a global seamless experience"

Geometric pattern
In your career, what role has diversity and inclusion played?

I think more than ever before, people understand the value of true belonging in an organisation. I personally know the power that feeling able to bring your true self to work can deliver. Facebook was probably one of the first organisations that I felt like I could be my true authentic self, particularly as an LGBT+ leader. My time at Facebook really continued to shape me as a leader, because I realised just how essential it is to be a visible role model to others who may be struggling with bringing their whole selves to work. Being a champion and role model of the LGBT+ community, I don't think I realised at first just how empowering that could be for other people. So now, I think, standing up and being a champion of authenticity, for me, is really important.

Geometric pattern
Getting to know Iwan

Can you tell us a little about your career journey?

I originally started out as an HR generalist, before moving into the shared services and scale services space. That move allowed me to really focus on the employee experience, building HR services at scale that work for people, and that deliver real value. If you think how employees interact with services in their personal life and how simple that can be, we must bring that mindset in to HR and deliver an amazing and consistent service to our employees.

From a D&I perspective, I’ve done a lot of work around building inclusive services for all of our employees. I’ve been lucky to work at some really big brands, and each one has taught me so much about what the future of HR should look like, tailoring that service to the needs of that particular group of employees.


You've worked for some high-profile companies, from Pearson to Facebook, and now Entain. Do you feel like each role gave you an opportunity to grow your skillset?

I think I've been really intentional about my career choices even though it may look random when you look at the roles and industries I have worked in – scaled services has always been a key theme running throughout the roles I have done but in different formats from business partnering through to leading the services. One other key theme for me in my career is that I have been so lucky to work or live in different countries – again this has really [helped me] grow as a leader, particularly in the D&I space by experiencing different ways of working and cultures. I have always felt this has allowed me to learn more about my leadership style and approach.

Entain
Entain
 
Are there any goals that you have at Entain in the next 12 months that you can tell us about?

At Entain, we've got a massive opportunity to really think about how we create a global seamless experience. We’re really focussing on understanding our workforce better and designing how do we empower our managers and our employees to be able to get the information they need, or access to HR, in a much more consistent way. Providing people with an easy, accessible, frictionless and personalised service at scale from HR. For me, that is the key focus in the next 12 months; that maximisation of our HR technology, to support our employees and the business growth that we aim to achieve. We have some exciting times ahead!

 

"If [employees] know we’re transparent, that makes those conversations far more valuable and authentic"

 
Gemoetric pattern
What do you think it means to be a D&I champion in the workplace?

I think there's three things that stick out for me. The first is really focusing on building out a truly inclusive service, as we discussed. Facilitating an enriching and comprehensive employee experience, whether that employee is right in front of you, or across the globe. It’s so important that everything we design has that inclusivity at heart.

The second one for me, from a leadership point of view, is trying to live the values you promote. I want to ensure that people see our leaders practicing what they preach. As an LGBT+ leader myself, I like to talk openly about some of the challenges that I’ve faced, and encourage others to share their stories too. We have to be ambassadors first and foremost if we’re going to improve the lives of our people.

The third is a policy of openness with our people. We cannot succeed if we’re not being genuine with them. We need people to tell us the issues they’re facing if we’re going to help them. If they know we’re transparent, that makes those conversations far more valuable and authentic. This touches significantly on the psychological safety we need in our organisations and the belonging we can foster.

Gemoetric pattern
 
  •  
  •  
  •  

"At Entain, we've got a massive opportunity to really think about how we create a global seamless experience"

Gemoetric pattern
Do you think the move to hybrid or remote working has altered the D&I agenda?

For a lot of people, the way we talk about D&I has changed. It may be digitally now instead of face-to-face, but its core principles are very much the same. It’s still about making sure we’re truly connecting with people, and being open and honest with them. For us, we’re a company where a lot of our employees are store-based, so really not a huge amount has changed.

For us, making sure we’re connecting with people who we don’t see every day has always been a key focus. It’s just now more of a focus for others too, which has likely actually strengthened the consideration invested into D&I. The key is just making sure you've got that mindset that virtual belonging is just as important as it is in an office environment. I think the D&I agenda has raised in both importance and priority in the past few years for most organisations.

Gemoetric pattern

You have 1 preview page remaining.

Create a free myGrapevine account to read the latest HR news and analysis, and personalise your experience.

Sign up