Mental Health Q&A: Bentley
In advance of #WorldMentalHealthDay, we caught up with Emma Humphries from certified UK Top Employer Bentley. Emma is co-chair of its wellbeing network BeAccessible – in this interview she reveals more about the network, how it contributes to positive change within the organisation, and how mental health has moved up the organisation’s priority list.
Tell us about yourself and your organisation?
I’m Emma and I work as a Technical Analyst here at Bentley Motors. Bentley has a proud 103-year history of building the most sought-after luxury cars, and we’re also on the most ambitious journey with our Beyond100 plans to become exclusively electric and end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030.
At the heart of Bentley are our 4,000 colleagues. Whilst those numbers might sound big, we’re a tight team with generations of families working here, which makes Bentley a very special place to be. I am proud to follow the footsteps of my late Grandfather who joined the business the day it opened its gates, followed shortly after by my Nan. Since then, there has always been members of my family throughout Bentley’s history; my father, working mainly in Security, and my three brothers working in Purchasing, Maintenance and Finance. When I finished college, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Bentley brand and family. I’m proud to have just completed my 25 years of service, working predominantly in Logistics - a department and family that is full of drive and passion.
It’s our people that bring our vision for Diversity and Inclusion to life with our colleague led networks. I co-chair one of those networks, known as BeAccessible. It was launched following World Mental Health Day in 2021 and our ambition is simple; we support colleagues in all aspects of health and wellbeing to ensure our workplace is inclusive, and aim to create an equal environment for colleagues with disabilities. Other colleague networks include BeProud, who advocate for our LGBTQ+ community, our BeUnited network who represent colleagues of ethnic minority, our BeReady network, who support colleagues with a background in the army or other recognised force and our BeInspired network which brings together those with an interest in increasing the proportion of female colleagues across all of our business areas to accelerate our progress towards Bentley’s Beyond 100 goals of 30% women in management by 2030.
How has Bentley’s mental health strategy evolved over the past year, in what we all hope is a post-pandemic world?
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted us all in different ways, and we quickly realised that we could not deliver a one-size fits all approach to mental health. With the support of our Head of Diversity & Inclusion, the BeAccesible network established a Positive Mental Health Workstream, and evolved our strategy to have a range of touchpoints for colleagues in a way that works for them, whether that be at work or in new home office.
So, our multi-tactic approach means colleagues can get access to face-to-face peer group support through our regular Time to Talk sessions or get more tailored and personalised support through a trained Mental Health First Aider. But we have also evolved our strategy to focus on day-to-day mental health through BeFit walking programmes, BeFit fruit giveaways etc, as well as the opportunity for colleagues to join our allotment community to enjoy the outdoors because we know helping colleagues with positive habits can help mitigate the impact of mental health stressors.
Has mental health moved up your organisational priority list?
Absolutely, in fact it is being actively championed, from board level to factory floor. It makes me feel proud to work here and excited about what the future holds for Bentley.
Bentley offers an array of resources for colleagues. This month, along with the network’s regular monthly Time to Talk sessions, we are promoting our Mental Health Traffic Light guide, which contains several useful resources - for example, a list of our Mental Health First Aiders and information on our BeFit programs, designed to get colleagues moving and exercising. We are also sharing colleague’s experience of Ben, the Automotive Charity, and the great support that they offer to colleagues from our automotive industry. The network chairs and members have regular opportunities to meet or ask questions with the Board where we receive full support, answers and guidance, ensuring that we are all striving for the same goal of improving colleagues' experiences.
How have conversations around mental health changed?
I’m a firm believer that the more we talk about mental health, the more we can demystify. We’ve got a supportive communications team who help make health and wellbeing a priority across our messaging, and we’ve been empowered to host monthly MS Teams sessions to reach our remote colleagues, or those working at home. We also use national events to bring awareness, for example May’s Time to Talk was about Loneliness.
This constant conversation has seen the network reach 170 members, as well as engaging with many more thousands of our colleagues in some way.
Mental health is definitely becoming something that more and more people want to talk about and support and I am really proud that our BeAccessible network has been an enabler for this.
What will be your priorities in Mental Health in the year ahead?
The network has just advertised a companywide Movember campaign, we will be focusing on mental health during International Men’s Day with our Men’s Forum Workstream to ensure we continue our mission to remove taboo and stigma and encourage colleagues to start conversations and signpost. BeAccessible also promotes Bookboon, which is a digital learning service provider for corporate learning & development. In particular, we will be promoting titles linked to mental health and stress as a priority on awareness days and throughout the year generally.