My DE&I Journey at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Ellie Watts, Diversity, Equality& Inclusion Coordinator at Mercedes-AMG

Ellie Watts, D&I Coordinator at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, gives an insight into her career in DE&I, the team’s Accelerate 25 program, and why she is so passionate about diversity and inclusion.

I joined the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in 2018 as a Graduate within the HR department. I had previously trained and qualified as a primary school teacher, however, following working with Mercedes in my final year of university, I decided I wanted to specialize in HR. Initially joining Mercedes F1’s recruitment and early talent team, I subsequently moved into learning and development, supporting the professional development of our team members, graduates, and our apprenticeship program. During my second year in HR, I studied a Post Graduate Diploma in HR Management with CIPD accreditation whilst working and qualified in May 2021.

When I heard about Accelerate 25, the team’s five-year program to mark the formalization of our vision to become a more diverse and inclusive team, my interest was piqued. I decided to apply for the newly created role of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Coordinator and was successful, taking up the mantle in January 2021. Initially I reported into the Talent Manager, but as time has gone on the role has expanded and is now a Lead/Specialist position, reporting directly into Paul Mills, our Chief People Officer.

My motivation to be involved in DE&I was similar to the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. Not everyone has the same opportunities, experiences, childhoods, or privileges, and I feel passionately about creating a safe space where all people are treated equally and with respect and given access to the support and tools they need to develop personally and professionally.

I love meeting new people and networking, and this role gives me plenty of opportunities for that! I really enjoy hearing about people’s different backgrounds, experiences, and motivations. It has been an eye-opening journey which has helped me to reflect on myself and my own personal growth and drivers.

Accelerate 25 and our partnership with EW Group

In our team, DE&I is a core focus spearheaded by our Accelerate 25 program, and we are working on numerous initiatives for 2022 focusing on creating an inclusive culture for all. DE&I is not a bolt on – it is engrained in everything we do from the top down.

In 2020, we partnered with EW Group to conduct an in-depth diversity diagnostic to analyze and understand our recruitment and development processes and identify how we could enhance inclusivity. EW Group’s expert consultants facilitated focus groups to build insights from our team, which fed into a detailed report providing recommendations and actions to reach under-represented groups through mentoring, work experience, sponsorship, and targeted advertising.

We also created an internal network, our DE&I forum, consisting of volunteers from all levels of the organization, to contribute their ideas and feedback on diversity and inclusion at the team, supported by the EW Group who facilitated the network design and set-up. The DE&I Forum meet bi-monthly with the focus of learning about one another and listening to the suggestions from the group on what we could do as a team to become a more inclusive and diverse workplace. The feedback provides us with an opportunity to share with the management group and senior leaders in order to embed DE&I further into our organization. The ideas and suggestions are key to driving forward inclusion for us.

Ellie Watts, Diversity, Equality& Inclusion Coordinator at Mercedes-AMG speaking at an event

In addition, we were delighted to launch our Mulberry STEM Academy with the support of Jane Farrell, EW Group Co-Founder. The five-year program with the Mulberry Schools Trust gives young people at the Trust’s schools the opportunity to learn in-depth STEM and gain insights from our team and our employees, as well as access to events such as career conferences and insight days, work experience and mentoring.

As part of my development, I completed EW Group’s ILM Level 4 Award in Managing Equality & Diversity in an Organization in December 2021. I enjoyed the training course, and it was really useful to hear lessons learned from across different sectors and recommended best practice.

Mercedes F1’s diversity, equality and inclusion goals

As part of our Accelerate 25 program, we have the ambition for at least 25% of all new starters to come from under-represented groups. In 2021, 38% of our new hires were from an under-represented group – a very positive start. This has had an impact on our overall employee demographics too – at the beginning of the program, 12% of our workforce were female, and 3% from ethnic minorities. We concluded 2021 with 14% female employees and 6% ethnic minorities employees. Whilst this is a marginal rise, the improvement is a result of the incremental steps we are taking and are evidence that our efforts are helping move the dial on DE&I.  We acknowledge that this is a journey and there’s still more to do, however we are attracting the talent pools we might not have reached before, which is a great feeling and credit to the work undertaken so far as part of the Accelerate 25 program.

This year, we will continue to work with our DE&I collaborations, Stemettes and AFBE-UK, on exciting initiatives and events, as well as our new membership with the Business Disability Forum. We will soon be congratulating our first cohort of Mulberry STEM Academy scholars which will be a fantastic event and a great way to celebrate all the work they have done in the past year, which hasn’t been easy with the Covid-19 restrictions.

I really enjoy working in DE&I and find it a rewarding experience. No two days are the same for me and because the topic is constantly evolving, I feel I’m learning every day. Working with the DE&I Forum is one of the highlights of my job, having a group of people that are passionate about the topic and support throughout the year with various events, is invaluable to the Accelerate 25 program.

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