Rachel Collar – How employee culture helps successful acquisitions

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Julie Wilkinson  00:03

Hi, I’m Judy Wilkinson, and I’m a chartered management accountant and I’m excited to be launching the build and exit podcast. This podcast is for business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business portfolio by acquisition or at some point in the future, when to exit diversity. We’re going to bring real life stories and experiences of people who have grown by acquisition, who have exited their businesses, and other areas of business such as funding and cash flows. So there’ll be lots of opportunity to learn different areas of business and how you can in the end, transition your business from a lifestyle to adapt it to look forward to seeing you soon. Hi, I’m Judy Wilkinson. I’m really excited to be launching my new masterclass how to understand accounting lingo. de bas class is set up for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to get more financial understanding of their accounts, and financial reporting will be looking at things like p&l terminologies, EBIT, DARS, and how it impacts valuations and trends, balance sheets, net assets, and working capital, how the balance sheet might impact valuations and cash flows of businesses in general, I’ve set it out because the work I do focus on was about 100 balance sheets a month, and I feel that business owners in general don’t have that much financial acumen understanding financial reporting, or how to challenge their accountant. So it’ll be a great way for you to gain insight into financial statements and how balancing your accounts can really impact the value of your business. So looking forward to seeing you there is how to understand accounting lingo, you can find it and link straight to remember, I am really hoping you’re enjoying the build exit podcast. I look forward to seeing you soon. Hi, welcome to the building exit Podcast. I’m Judy Wilkinson. And I’m the owner and owner and founder of Wilkinson accounting solutions. We specialise in business acquisitions and exit strategy planning. And it’s why we’ve started the building exit podcast as its as we’re on a mission to give our listeners top tips from all different areas of business and things they need to think about to transition their business from a lifestyle to alas it. So I’m really excited today that we’ve got Rachel caller. Hi, Rachel.


Rachel Collar  02:25

Hello, thank you for having me.


Julie Wilkinson  02:27

Thanks for coming on. Rachel is the owner and founder of House of HR, HR consultancy, Rachel came from corporate world and now is obviously working in the SME space. And I also worked closely with Rachel on my last acquisition. So there’s gonna be lots of things we can talk about today. But first of all, I just want to hand it over to Rachel to give us a bit of background about yourself.


Rachel Collar  02:51

Yes, thank you, Julie. Thanks for that introduction. So yes, I was a corporate slave for 23 years in the world of HR, working with right from small organisations, right up to big global corporate brands. And then, just over two years ago, my husband survived a heart attack during the COVID pandemic. But that really sent us both off on kind of journeys about what’s life, what’s the purpose, what do I do? I love what I do, I just think I suddenly didn’t like the way that I did it. And I’ve always wanted to run my own business and thought to myself, You know what, there must be a way I can do this, this is a life changing event has to happen to give you that kick up the backside that you need to do something about it. So then six months later, House of HR was born, I decided to make that leap and start to do things the way I wanted to do it a lot more.


Julie Wilkinson  03:40

Wow. And then how has the journey been if you’ve been enjoying it?


Rachel Collar  03:45

Absolutely. I mean, it’s a complete roller coaster. Every day, I learned something new, I’m still learning. I didn’t know the world of networking existed. So that’s been interesting unravelling that. But one thing I can say is the SME business owner community is overwhelmingly supportive to the point at the beginning, it felt like too much it was so overwhelming. Everyone kind of wants to put their arm around you give their advice, their perspective. And it’s great to have so many different people to reach out on different topics, different subject matter experts. So almost having that those corporate departments you’d have around you like marketing it finance sudden you’ve not got them, but you create those connections through the small business community and have those experts around, you know, if not several of them as well. Yeah, definitely.


Julie Wilkinson  04:33

So the world of HR, then, I mean, typically people think it’s boring, probably like finance, to be honest. No, well, they will think we’re boring, don’t we back office staff. But actually, it is a really key aspect. People in the end are the key assets of any business, I believe. And especially in the world of acquisitions, you know, people are actually buying businesses fought to obtain resource more than actually obtaining customers these days. So maybe give a brief overview about why you think HR, in business in general is so important.


Rachel Collar  05:11

God absolutely, like you say they are the biggest assets. So it is we’re now well, we’re in a climate, even during the pandemic is still post pandemic. So become even harder to one recruit that talent you need in your business and retain it. And like you say, a lot of people look at the options of acquisition to actually get that resource, which I’ve certainly seen as well, because it’s just, it’s such a competitive landscape out there. And I think it’s always looking at things. So what can we do to it’s hard to attract, but how do we keep people? How do we look after their well being? How do we look after their development? How do we make sure they’re engaged, they’re happy to come to work, they enjoy what they do, and ultimately, that they’re productive? So there’s some real challenges I think the business is facing at the moment. I think that’s why HR is so key. Because that retention piece is a real big challenge. Yeah.


Julie Wilkinson  06:01

Why do you think having HR retains employees more than someone that doesn’t have an HR department? What do you think the differences are?


Rachel Collar  06:09

Well, I think, you know, obviously, it’s a wealth of expertise, you can tap into different ideas, concepts, things you’ve not thought about. Obviously, I work with a lot of HR suppliers, designed specific HR products for the SME markets, that could be software, that could be recruitment platforms. And often I can get a lot of things either as free trials, opportunities of business to try those things. But also the employment law, like changes every April and October. So being on top of that understanding, actually, the law says this, but what does it mean to me as an employer, do I need to do anything, so I not do I hate keep a watching brief on it don’t need to change contracts or anything radically like that. And a good example is, I do a lot of reviewing employment contracts for clients. And a lot of changes were made in March, April 2020, we’re all very busy with this thing called COVID, then, so people didn’t see the changes in the law that happened. So see a lot of businesses now kind of three years old, that still haven’t got employment contracts, or up to date. So it’s those sorts of things, making sure you’re compliant, but also helping you to become that employer of choice, which, for me, the SME world is so much more agile, rather than the corporate world, you know, I’m often speaking to the decision maker, the person that holds the budget strings, they can make a decision there, and then I don’t have to go through eight layers of approval to get a position signs off to to advertise. So that’s where for me, SMEs can make a massive difference and, and really get ahead of the game.


Julie Wilkinson  07:39

What do you think, is the one thing that people always have a misconception about in HR? So I’m just gonna give you an example in finance. So I think the biggest one in finance, people think systems fix bad processes, and they don’t need people. And the reason I think that they make those judgments is because they think a system can just do everything, you know, because zero comes online and says it submits a VAT return. But actually, it might submit it, but the question is, does it submit it right? Do you think there’s what do you think is the one thing in HR that people have this misconception that, Oh, you don’t need that? Or we do this? What do you think it is?


Rachel Collar  08:16

I think it’s definitely HR policies. I don’t like being the internal police force. I’m one of these that I’m not, you don’t need a 300 page staff handbook. I mean, how often do you ever read them? I’ve never read one that’s 300 pages long, I kind of off the second page, I’ve started to fall asleep myself. And it’s about having something that is really suitable to your organisation to your culture. You don’t need war and peace. Often you only need things as a when maybe they arise. As long as you follow the statutory law that the government says that you’ve got to do the barest minimum, there’s only a couple of policies you actually need by law. So you don’t need a big chunky staff handbook. But definitely, I think that’s one way people say, I’ve got that it’s all okay. I don’t have to worry about anything else. But then they often don’t realise the consequences of what might be in that handbook. And what they then have to follow as a result of having that very much in black and white.


Julie Wilkinson  09:10

Yeah, cuz I think I mean, not that I’m the HR expert, but speaking to people, I think there’s people conflicted with health and safety. So people often say, Oh, it’s okay. I don’t have to have more than five. I have to have more than five staff for it to warn. But I actually think that’s health and safety laws, not hate our laws. Do you agree?


Rachel Collar  09:28

Absolutely. Yeah, you can be the HR expert, actually. That’s actually a really big misconception that often people say, I can worry about HR when I hit five people, health and safety absolutely mean it should be before that if you’re a good employer and care about your people, but you actually need to worry about things from that first employee. So having the employment contract in place and having statutory procedures in place, they count from day one, not for two months time, you can hand out that contract, that employee has to sign that contract either before or in day one of employment.


Julie Wilkinson  10:04

And what’s the worst? I mean, have you seen tribunals employ? You try Have you have you been part of them before?


Rachel Collar  10:11

Unfortunately, I have many years ago, I think, you know, definitely, if you’ve come from the corporate world, they’ve got bigger purse strings. So particularly when there are complex employee relation cases, often those compromises, and usually there’s a payoff as a result, that person leaving the organisation, so it never quite gets to tickle. And interestingly, if you’re like me in a real geek, and you love reading employment law cases, you’ll find lots of them are public bodies, public organisations, because it’s public money, they can pay off these people. So often, they will go the full course and will go to court as well. So that’s why you won’t see always a huge amount of public organised private organisations going to tribunal. But definitely, I think it’s a different culture. Now, I think we’re seeing now a rise in cases, again, speaking to peers in the HR industry, since the code pandemic, we’re all seeing a much, much higher level of grievances coming through, because I think people’s expectations of the workplace and what they want from it have definitely shifted over the past couple of years. So people are much more readily to maybe bit to complain about some of those changes in practices they don’t agree with. Yeah,


Julie Wilkinson  11:24

yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, I, I believe SME businesses should adopt a bit of a corporate mindset, I’m a bit like you, you don’t need to attend, attend, to sign off and things like obviously, that’s not realistic for, for a, you know, a smaller organisation. But I think having a structure in place, is really important. And I think that comes with HR, because obviously, I have HR for my staff. And what I think the benefit of HR is, is, obviously there’s the contracts and making sure you’re abiding by the law. But I think it’s also then, in real life, when employees are working, making sure that they know their objectives, and they’re working towards the goal. And you can’t, unless if you don’t get a proper system in place and contracts and manage your staff properly, you can’t really do those things.


Rachel Collar  12:12

Yeah, and I think managing performance is the issue in every organisation, wherever the size or the structure. And we know there’s big, big organisations out there in the corporate world who have ditched performance appraisals and objectives and all those things. But ultimately, it’s you know, you want to have productivity and profitability. And the easiest way to do that is managing somebody’s performance. But you’ve got to have the clear infrastructure for them to know what’s expected of them, and how you’re going to support them. enable them to achieve those objectives as well.


Julie Wilkinson  12:42

Yeah, you know, especially, you know, we see it a lot on the acquisitions, I always say my little quote is, people want to buy an asset, they don’t want to buy a job. And it’s interesting on the acquisition side, you know, when you see in someone that selling, and they have this all chart, and they think they’ve got the right hand, man, or woman, right hand man or woman. And these people are the FD, and they’re the MD. But actually, if you look in the real world, if you scoped the job of what these people are doing, what they’ve actually done is gone in and helped the owner work go from working 60 hours a week to 30 hours a week. So from the owners perspective, they’re like their dream come true. But actually, when it comes down to decision making, and taking ownership and accountability of the of the future of the business, often, these senior roles aren’t doing that. And I think it’s because a lot well, my experience is a lot of owners haven’t come from a corporate world. And I do think they don’t know hierarchical structure, you know, so they think it’s just about giving them time back, not about developing those people to actually run the business. So then these buyers come in, and come in and want budgets to be built, you know, they want KPIs, and none of their staff. Have you ever done any of these things? I mean, if someone say, you know, someone’s buying a business, what do you think in terms of people would be three key things that they should maybe look for in employees in terms of what the what they’re asking the seller about the employees of the


Rachel Collar  14:14

business? Yeah. And it’s a definitely I could have a really long list. But definitely, you know, first and foremost is looking at those contracts. So knowing from a legal perspective, what are you inheriting as a buyer, you know, what are terms or conditions that are in there, but also not to get caught out by terms and conditions that aren’t in the contract, but they’ve come what we call custom and practice, I could be something like a bonus that they’ve been paid every year discretionary, but it’s not in the contract. However, they could have been paid it maybe for 20 years. So it almost becomes an implied term of the contract. And that often, when I’ve dealt with a lot of cheapy transfer cases, with acquisitions, that’s often something that we can kind of uncover through the process because it’s not always written down in black or wiped somewhere? I think absolutely. Looking at the benefits, you know, what are the pension implications, the cost of those? Are their health care? Are there other benefits like employee assistance programme? Is there training that you’re paying for, you know, lots of, you know, from a cost implication beyond kind of the salary, what’s in the contract? What other things are there from a financial perspective that the employee is expecting or has got as part of their terms and conditions? And as we touched on kind of terms of HR policies, again, that can really drive what you might be inherited in terms of the culture of the organisation as well, you know, is it kind of a everyone does everything by the rulebook? Or is it quite a free flow knows nothing at all? And it’s a bit like that finger in the air, which there are there often is a lot of those situations as well. So it is definitely, and I’m going to be greedy and pick a four. But definitely, are there any outstanding legal claims against the business that you’re buying as well? And that’s often one that people think, well, you know, don’t ask that question. Because it might be, you know, offensive. But ultimately, you don’t even own a business where you could have a case that could be coming up against that employer. And ultimately, if they lose that case, it could be quite costly payout that might have to be paid as compensation as a result. So last one that I think people don’t really want to ask, but absolutely need to ask them a cost implication? Yeah. Yeah. I


Julie Wilkinson  16:19

mean, you need to know what monies you’re going to be owing definitely, don’t you when you buy it? I mean, I think, also when I did my acquisition, and obviously we see people doing acquisitions all the time, we’re always recommending, I mean, talking to the staff, if you can, before the acquisition closes. I know, I did that with the pick the staff that we to pick over on our acquisition, and it was so useful to speak to them, actually, one, you get it? I mean, luckily, our staff have just been absolutely brilliant, I really happy but I suppose you get a feel for speaking to them, like what level there are. And I definitely think that’s important if you get in someone that’s apparently sort of second in command, or is the owner. So because they’re effectively the new leader? And you kinda need to know, do they have the leader qualities? Because I think what tends to happen is, you know, people have been there 15 years, so they kind of just get promoted into the business, you know, promoted to that role, because they may know the business, which is, is good, you do want some that knows the business, but ultimately, knowing the business isn’t the end, be all end all it’s about, can you actually manage that business, you know, end to end with a bitch, you don’t know. And also you can get a feel for, you know, what they feel about the organisation what they do, like, what they don’t like, you know, you can ask them questions. Is that, is that something you help you help people with in the HR process?


Rachel Collar  17:36

Absolutely, because there’s a lovely legislation TUPE that I’m sure lots of people have heard about since then. So that transfer process, the due diligence that needs to be done in the background, as well as like you say that the consultation, the communication, with the individuals, often that force quite heavily at the beginning on the person selling the business, but then when you’re buying the business, obviously, you want to understand that skill set, you’re inheriting where they are going to be working in the organisation, like you say, they might have organically been promoted into the role that they’re in. And actually, in your own organisation, it wouldn’t necessarily say a leadership position. So you know, that trying to ensure that that person because yeah, we’re talking about individuals here, that that transition across from the current employer to new ones who they don’t know particularly well, they don’t know your culture, they don’t know your appetite for how you manage people, that you know, that transition can be quite a daunting prospect for individuals, you know, they could be concerned about, are they going to lose their job, all of those worries that come with it? But am I going to fit in? Am I going to get on really well with my, you know, the new owner or my new manager, and that, so it can be quite worrying times? I think having that open communication quite early on where possible, is a really great practice to do. And definitely, from an HR perspective, it’s supporting you right from the outset, from that due diligence to total transfer. And beyond.


Julie Wilkinson  18:54

Yeah, yeah, cuz I mean, I’ve on this podcast, I mean, I mean, you’re the eighth guest, we’ve probably had, well, I’d say at least five of the eight of Dell acquisitions. And we talked about it and I know people was okay, but quite a lot in all of those acquisitions. So things I remember people were saying was, you know, they didn’t drive up in their, you know, Ferrari or their, you know, they wanted to go turn into the organism, like, they are just a person that they’re not here to, like, invest and change everything, they’re here to invest because they want to make it better, or being humble explaining to the staff as the buyer that actually they no more than the buyers, do. They actually need these people on their journey. And I think these types of approaches, I mean, this is the top approach I take as well. I think these types of approaches work in the SME world, you know, in corporate world, like you say, whereas billion dollar deals where they just come in, maybe they don’t care about the people but I think in the SME world so sellers really care about their employees and that’s one of the things they want protected and you know, they want buyers to be caring about their employees and do right by them. So I definitely think the HR is really important at that point. Access.


Rachel Collar  20:01

Yeah. And that’s absolutely why I love working with SMEs, because I think there is a very different feeling about looking after people that dignity that respect, recognising people as individuals, and you can’t hide as a number, you know, you are, we are potentially usually a small team. And that impact, you know, you can almost double your organisation overnight can be quite a daunting prospect. So I think showing that you have that, that human side to you knowing that that’s been the experience, the others have demonstrated, and that that’s worked for them. That’s really great news and music to hrs is, yeah,


Julie Wilkinson  20:32

we’re all about, we’re all about people, aren’t we. But I think it’s just so important. I mean, the amount of times I see, I’ve seen it incorporated to the amount of times I’ve seen, I suppose owners or directors or leaders, whatever they may be in that organisation. So coming out sort of screaming that people because they’re not meeting targets are being a bit funny, because targets haven’t been met, when people don’t actually even know in the first place. what’s expected of them. Funnily enough, I did a post on LinkedIn, you know, a buyer buys a business and goes in suddenly wants East artist owners to be building budgets, having KPIs. And the thing is with these employees, if they’ve never worked in a corporate company, before, they’ve never probably even built a budget, know how to build a budget, let alone present those budgets. But these people are probably directors, I’ve seen it myself when we’ve done post acquisition consultants, and you know, you are managing director sales directors, supply chain directors wherever they may be. And you know, they’re really good at their job. But they’ve never sat there and thought about the financials so much, because they’ve never had to because the previous owner of this SME company just took it all on his shoulders never really had any financial reporting, kind of went by the money in his bank and successful company, but never really changed it, they were probably the investors. So I think understanding skill sets of people and what you want them to do versus what they do do, if you find that out pre acquisition, it gives you some quick changes after acquisition.


Rachel Collar  21:57

Yeah, and I think you’ve got to also be careful in terms of some of the cheapy legislation around that, that person transfers on their terms and conditions, the job the role that they’re doing, as a result, and that’s where you definitely need kind of HR input advice and support about, you know, if you’re looking to make changes post, or pre or pre or post transfer, you know, some legal implications that could happen as a result, because absolutely, that person, nine times out of 10 is lifted and shifted as if nothing change, literally just the name of their employer has changed, everything else remains the same. But it is then you kind of look at, okay, what skill set you’ve got, what are the opportunities to grow and develop that individual, particularly, they’ve come from organisation where they haven’t been given an opportunity to kind of maybe show some of their expertise or develop in a particular way, or have the opportunity to be promoted, if they’re going into a larger organisation, maybe.


Julie Wilkinson  22:45

And that’s why they need contracts review. And because you know, it’s easy for people to go in after and just go, regardless of their role. You know, it’s easy to go in as a warehouse director as an uncle, right now you’re doing this and you’re doing this budget, you know, at the end, it doesn’t really matter, the seniority of the roll, I suppose at the end of the day, if you’re changing the role quite substantially, or wanting to change some of those roles. You have to write you kind of have to abide by the law. I mean, maybe some people are lucky go in and change and someone just adapts maybe that can happen. But ultimately, on the reverse side, someone might not and then that’s when you get yourself into a sticky situation, isn’t it?


Rachel Collar  23:21

Absolutely. And that’s where definitely speaking to somebody like myself, helps in terms of what you what you can or can’t do within kind of the boundaries of legislation. And I think, you know, a lot of the time, I’ve found that where the person has been, you know, communicated with being part of that process, often, you know, willingly kind of accepts those changes. And often it’s an opportunity for them to grow and develop and maybe get promoted, but ultimately, where you want to change quite significantly, and maybe to the detriment of the individual, that becomes a very different story. Yeah. And now, and how do you


Julie Wilkinson  23:53

I mean, I like yeah, we I think probably by podcast, I’ve had a mix of men and women on it so far. I think it’s about 5050. Actually. So I’m not preference either way. I have men and women on the podcast. But then what do you see in terms of women in business? You know, because I quite like having female entrepreneurs, especially people with acquisitions. I think it’s quite, you know, I know myself working in acquisitions. 98% of the people I work with be within professional services on acquisition, or people doing acquisitions is men. So it’s nice to


Rachel Collar  24:23

see. Yeah, absolutely. And interestingly, I randomly go for my Instagram feed yesterday and a pitch came up saying that of the SME population, that a quarter of businesses are female lead, I actually thought that was quite sad in terms of statistics, I thought I’d love it to be a lot higher, of course, would but actually be looking to corporate world to senior leadership positions. And I’ve certainly in most of my career, I’ve reported into a global HR director somewhere across the other side of the world, and they’ve been male. And I would say, you know, that’s been my experience in the corporate world that a lot of their senior leadership teams I’ve worked in Again, has predominantly been male dominated and often being in a 7030 split in an organisation. But I think what I’ve definitely found to work in the SME community is I’ve experienced the lows, more female business owners, female founders. And that, for me has been so inspirational as part of my journey to kind of motivate me and move on and actually see really successful powerful women, you know, who have had maybe similar stories, journeys, worse journeys than you, but turn around and make that really successful. But let’s try and get that number up a quarter is not enough. We need a lot more.


Julie Wilkinson  25:34

Yeah, no, I know. And I people say to me, because you know, that people I get told, we’ve never actually seen a woman sort of lead in the sorts of professional services and acquisition for I get told that by a lot by men, and actually, the I find I’ve had a really good take to it, like people like to say they like the fact that I’m a woman. And actually, I’ve had some clients that are hired after the law, oh, Julie, we need to hire or we know, we need to hire a woman, you know, which is a bit of a joke, you know, obviously, they can hire a mother as well. But I think it’s nice when you see sort of female lead departmental heads or directors or business owners, isn’t it? Because it means we’re pushing up in the world?


Rachel Collar  26:14

Absolutely. And I look back on my career and think, you know, HR is very female dominated career is a caring profession, or we tend to call it and I think for me, you know, it’s sad for micro, the reflection is that most of the senior senior positions globally have definitely been male dominated positions. But yeah, we definitely see a shift and a change. But I’ve definitely a proud to be in that quarter of SME business, being a female business owner,


Julie Wilkinson  26:39

want to help people change it, though, because it’s hard, because obviously, men do a good job as well. But I mean, from a organisation recruiting, if they wanted to, say have more female lead roles. The problem would be is if they actually went to market, I don’t even know if this would be legal. But if they actually went to market and said, we only want to hire a female, I mean, you probably can’t do that anyway, can you? So


Rachel Collar  27:03

absolutely, you can’t, but you can do what we call this little thing called positive discrimination. So if you feel there’s a part of your, your local community or the gender balance that is, you know, you want to kind of correct, then absolutely you can do we call positive discrimination. So if you were this rarely happens to be fair, we say you’re going to recruit to either no financial controllers, one was male, one was female, they got through the final stages, say the recruitment process equally matched in terms of experience qualification, and literally, there wasn’t kind of a, you know, nothing, you could kind of put between the two of them, you could decide, actually, we’ll go for the female because we’re underrepresented in female leadership positions, this organisation, that would be what we call positive discrimination, and that would be allowed. But to actively go out there and say, right, you know, we only want a female person then absolutely can’t do that. But if you were undecided, and they were fairly much candidates, then actually you could decide to appoint the female organiser person as well. But other things to consider is, how would you track females to the more senior positions, you know, often, you know, females would have had, you know, career breaks, and that might have impacted, you know, their acceleration in their career, maybe looking for flexible work in home working. And that becomes more difficult, the more senior you become in an organisation, but we’ve seen some big organisations like the BBC, have their senior HR role actually be in a job share between two females. So there is definitely shifting, changing some of that mindset out there. And it’s hopefully we’ll see some more of that along the way.


Julie Wilkinson  28:33

Yeah. And I suppose also part time dads as well, because I’m sure there’s some stay at home dads out there. What time rolls, isn’t it? So? Um, yeah, it’s good. I mean, we’re pretty virtual. We’re fairly flexible, anyway, by company, because we don’t have any offices or anything. And I know that our staff think it’s really good. You know, we do have targets and stuff that people have to meet, but we are flexible, like, for instance, you know, we’ve let our staff go and work in other parts of the lot of different countries and things like that to go on holiday and things like that whilst we’re working, which is good virtual working.


Rachel Collar  29:04

So yeah, absolutely. Always be careful on some tax implications for us is different.


Julie Wilkinson  29:10

Yeah, that’d be the type of tax direct to come on. You know, there’ll be a we don’t just start let people work from anywhere, just in case your tax implications. And I have to ask somebody else, Rachel, because I see this on social interview a lot. So you’re, it goes away from HR, but your tattoos? This is just brilliant. I have to do because I didn’t even know that you had tattoos. I’ve obviously known you for a little while now. And then you added this photo on LinkedIn that light showed or is it a full sleeve? Yeah. Got full sleeve on the my right arm I thought was more or less than even I’ve forgotten. Yeah. What? How have you found? I just think this is interesting. How have you found discrimination differences between sort of in the business world versus in the corporate world? Have you seen a shift


Rachel Collar  29:59

Oh, I’m not it’s not as much as my bed expected, but I think it’s been, it’s something that’s been sort of very personal to me. So definitely in the, I think, because of my profession and what I did, and having tattoos for 26 years, you know, it’s very, when I had it done, it definitely was a taboo, you know, it wasn’t anything anyone talked about. And I it was a secret that I kept, and I had tattoos I could easily hide, hence why my back’s got lots of random things on it. And I think for me, I definitely experienced if, you know, my husband’s Yeah, heavily tattooed as well. And we’ve had very, very different experiences, both outside and inside of work of discrimination and comments made, you know, he’s certainly not experienced the degree of things that I’ve experienced in my career. And then I think, you know, I started to work with HR policies, procedures that started to get really quite strict, and, you know, tattoos on Shere Khan, and I’d sit there and sometimes be in meetings, and people would start being quite derogatory about people with tattoos, and, you know, making a perception about them, I think him if only you knew. So it was quite nice to have that little secret. But then, you know, there’s people that I’ve worked with for years that never knew, and, you know, reached out to me, so I decided, you know, actually, I’ve kind of put myself in a little box, because the corporate world expects me to be in that little box, I now need to be the more me the authentic self. That’s part of why I’ve made the choice to do the journey that I’ve done. And I just thought, I’m just going to throw out that learn LinkedIn, see what people’s opinions are. Because my view is, you’ve all got to most people got to know me without tattoos. So if I’ve changed one person’s perception, about people’s tattoos, that we can be professional, we can be successful, we can have great careers, we can earn some great money, then hopefully, that’s me, I’ve made that one change somebody’s minds about me. But it’s definitely are lots of people opened up to me, I saw a lot of support, actually, from the SME world of actually, you need to be your true self, you need to be your authentic self. When you next come to a networking event, make sure we can see your tattoos on show, which was never really going to be me particularly. But definitely for me, I think it’s a boat that sides out of people who really open about it for themselves. But the sad thing is that I had a lot of people in the HR profession message me privately, because obviously do want to make comments and LinkedIn in case their colleagues or employers, so to say, you know, I’ve been a similar situation, you know, I’ve not been able to show my tattoos or express myself in a way because of the career I’ve chosen and what to do as well. But definitely, I mean, I’m of the view, I’m still of these ones, I would say don’t have your hands, neck and face tattoo, because you can’t cover that up. There’s still a lot of stigma out there, both in the SME world, both in the corporate world and both in society around tattoos. And definitely, you know, for me, I made the choice that I can decide to show them or not show them dependent on my hair or feeling that day.


Julie Wilkinson  32:49

And interesting. So are you allowed the policy in a company that says you’re not allowed to show tattoos? Is that legal?


Rachel Collar  32:58

Absolutely, there is a thing called corporate image. So it could be you know, about, you know, that particular dress code, what you can wear, what you can’t wear, what’s appropriate, no workplace, there’s definitely about the corporate culture. But there’s some things that could be, you know, discriminatory, in terms of, you know, particularly around kinds of particular rounds, religious dress, or things like that, that people need to take into consideration. So you can this to some degree or two, quite a lot of degree, you can definitely enforce a corporate image. So could thing be like no piercings on show, but a lot more businesses now be much more lenient. And as long as those tattoos on show aren’t offensive, particularly if you’re still in a customer facing role face to face sales roles, there’s still a little bit stigma about not having tattoos and shows when going to professional meetings with clients


Julie Wilkinson  33:46

as interested. I mean, I think I could only crossbow avoid, think about tattoo Luthor like that, or people I just think, you know, people do a job and they are who they are, aren’t they? So but I suppose there are. There are different professions, but I’m here.


Rachel Collar  34:04

Absolutely. And I choose to wear my art rather than hanging on a wall. Should someone treat me differently because of that, you know, I’d like to think 23 years career in HR corporate world is good enough to show I’m good at what I do. I’m not gonna be one of these, that’s going to be you know, glaringly showing all my tattoos off just to be controversial. It was just to explore, you know, ignite that discussion and get a healthy debate going.


Julie Wilkinson  34:26

Yeah, no, it’s cool. Well, okay. So, so we’re coming towards the end of the podcast. I mean, we’ve done a lot of talking about HR and acquisitions. So I hope people go away and I don’t think enough people bring on HR representatives personally in acquisitions. That’s my experience. So hopefully, people will think about the HR side of things when they buy in. But in terms of if people need help, where can they find you?


Rachel Collar  34:53

Absolutely. You can find me on LinkedIn. So Rachel colour or the house of say HR spelled H au ‘s or Instagram and Facebook. Well, thanks


Julie Wilkinson  35:03

so much for coming on, Rachael. It’s been a pleasure to have you here. And to our listeners. Thank you so much for watching. If you love our shows, hit the subscribe button on YouTube, or leave us a rating and review on Apple podcast. We’re trying to get it up some more listeners, come see the show. And we’ll see you again soon. So, once again, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our podcast. I hope you found it useful. If you did, there’s anyone else in your network that might benefit from our podcast and please share it with them even just click the link and send it to them or send it in a Facebook group or other social media channel. Don’t forget to subscribe. So other podcasts come to you directly as of when we launch them. So I’m really looking forward to seeing you next time. We’ve got some really exciting things coming up. And we’ll see you again soon.