Sylvia Bruce, Mental Health Consultant & Former HSBC Director
Livestreaming on 13 February 2024, #RISK Digital examines the changing risk landscape in a content rich, knowledge sharing environment. The one-day event sees over thirty expert speakers provide insight and guidance on how organisations can mitigate risk, reduce compliance breaches and improve business performance in the digital age.
Sylvia Bruce is a mental health, performance and talent risk consultant. As Director at HSBC, Global Banking and Markets, Sylvia’s team managed a multi-billion USD portfolio. Sylvia has also driven forwards several DEI initiatives in her capacity as a Mental Health Network Chair, Business Disability SteeroCo member, and as a women’s equality network committee member.
Sylvia is a finalist for Lifetime Commitment to Wellbeing at the upcoming Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards.
Below, Sylvia talks more on her professional journey to date and answers questions on the key issues of her #RISK Digital session.
- Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: Who’s responsible? - Tuesday, 13th February 2024, 14:30 – 15:00pm GMT
Could you outline your career so far?
I started in international banking straight from school at 18. My father got me the job, and that was that. I was one of only four women in that year’s in-take for clerical roles. I loved my job working in trade finance.
I worked hard, steadily progressed and moved around medium-sized international banks, gaining expertise and a solid reputation. Years later, unrelated to work, I experienced a poor mental-health-to-full-recovery episode. My lightbulb moment came when telling my counsellor that I wanted to pay for the help I’d received. So, alongside my banking career, I invested heavily in myself, became an integrative counsellor, later a coach.
I had transformed too, my outlook changed. I had a voice. Rather than drifting, I made conscious choices. I moved into investment banking, and was regularly headhunted. At my last position as a Director at HSBC, I lead a team managing a multi-billion USD global portfolio and was the business stakeholders’ go-to person.
I was also workplace mental health champion and a founding committee member of Balance, its gender parity ERG. My passion for people outgrew that for business, so I navigated an exit strategy for a new beginning doing what I do now.
Is our mental health as a global workforce worsening, and which groups are hardest hit?
I’d say yes, although it’s difficult to prove given data for global areas is scant or unavailable. However, The Lancet’s 2022 report estimated global burden of poor mental health as USD5 trillion. In the UK, data from several respected sources concludes workforce mental health is worsening and costing the economy at least £117.9 billion per year (5% of UK GDP in 2019) and absences, presenteeism, and leavers – due to poor mental health – are continually rising.
Many believe, and readily available data suggests, that Millennials and Gen Z are the hardest hit. Yet, Baby Boomers and Gen X have challenges too. Parents are hit hard by a rise in children’s and young persons’ poor mental health. There are cultural and diversity considerations too; let’s also remember, impact is not in isolation.
The ripple effect is far reaching, and every group, howsoever defined, can be affected, directly or indirectly. So, in my opinion and experience, all groups are hit hard in one way or another.
What primary strategies should organisations be employing to overcome this trend?
There’s no silver bullet! And strategies depend on various factors: an organisation’s size, structure, resources etc. However, I think primary strategies would include:
Re-think current strategies
After all, if they were working, the numbers (of suicides, attempted suicides, burnout, stress, absences and leavers due to poor mental health, stigma etc.) would be reducing, surely?
More training, so everyone thinks differently about it
Many still consider mental health/wellbeing a ‘fluffy’ concept – a ‘tick box’ exercise, as separate from business. Educating everyone to be cognisant that mental health matters – the difference it makes on all levels, and to business – would mean it’s taken [more] seriously.
Review current support provisions
Many organisations believe their provisions are comprehensive, yet they’re mostly focused on treating conditions rather than preventing symptoms. More investment in prevention via education and actions would encourage, and maintain, more mentally healthy workforces.
Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: Who’s responsible?
Despite heightened awareness, the statistics around mental health in the workplace remain concerning, with 78% of millennials and 81% of Gen-Z workers leaving jobs due to mental health reasons (Mind Share Partners Study).
We confront the disconnect between rhetoric and action, emphasising the substantial loss to talent pools and the need to attract, engage and retain talent. Dispelling the notion that mental wellbeing is solely HR’s responsibility, the session urges a collective effort in shaping workplace culture. The focus is on genuine reflections rather than conventional ‘right thing’ rhetoric.
This panel encourages courageous conversations, shifting the narrative from ‘why’ and ‘what’ to ‘how,’ offering practical strategies for tangible change.
Attendees are invited to join the panel for a collective commitment to fostering workplaces that prioritise mental wellbeing and drive impactful change.
Also on the panel…
- Dr Richard Caddis, Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing & Chief Medical Officer, BT
Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: Who’s responsible?
Time: 14:30 – 15:00pm GMT
Date: Tuesday 13 February 2024
#RISK Digital will examine the changing risk landscape in a content rich, knowledge sharing environment. Attendees will be able to learn and better understand how to mitigate risk, reduce compliance breaches, and improve business performance.
Risk is now everyone’s business. Enterprise chiefs need to be tech-savvy, understanding how GRC technology fits into strategy and how to solve regulatory challenges.