By the Editorial Staff
I grew up on the south coast of England – on a clear day you can see the coast of France, which probably inspired my curiosity about what's on the other side of the water. I nearly joined the army to 'see the world', but my mother persuaded me to go to university instead. I studied in the UK and France as part of an EU Erasmus programme and did a 6-month placement with Citibank in Paris during my time in France. After graduating, I returned to the UK to work for Citibank in London.
After four years there, I wanted to work further afield. State Street was advertising for a role in Johannesburg, South Africa, a joint venture with Nedbank, so I applied and eventually moved in September 1998. South Africa was going through an incredible transformation. Nelson Mandela had only been released from prison a few years earlier and the first open elections had followed in 1994. Seeing how Nedbank had very diverse staff by 1998 was very refreshing. After my time in South Africa, I moved back to the UK, and have since worked on almost all of the EMEA Middle Office deals in some shape. Seeing clients grow and thrive makes me proud to play a part in their success.
On top of my daily role, I'm also the Executive Sponsor of the Disability Awareness Alliance (DAA) UK, a global committee that connects supporting functions at State Street to work together under the Global Disability TaskForce for North America, EMEA and APAC. The objective is to introduce the following components: operational, systemic solutions, technology and infrastructure, as well as branding and marketing.
The operational component involves establishing a DAA network in all regions to promote disability awareness and understanding at State Street. This enables volunteering opportunities with Non-Governmental Organisations that support people with disabilities, and we focus on implementing regional mental health programmes through BeWell/Optum by responding to the specific mental health needs of employees with disabilities.
The focus of the second component is finding systemic solutions for all candidates and State Street employees with a disability or long-term physical or mental condition. The aim is to make sure everyone is supported effectively regardless of location. This includes making reasonable accommodations/adjustments, which involves process design and regional ownership. It also encompasses working on business statements and communicating that State Street wants to hire and support employees with disabilities because it's in line with our values.
Another facet of this component is DAA Central – a centralised knowledge base with guidelines/regulations on hiring, onboarding and managing employees with disabilities. The platform is also a collaboration space and a place to celebrate our achievements.
The focus of the technology and infrastructure component is assistive technologies, such as speech-to-text and amplification, which are usable everywhere. Technology must be accessible, and all technology requested through procurement must have an accessibility option. Social media accessibility is also crucial, as is setting up an audit schedule to regularly review this.
Finally, the marketing and branding component supports branding activities that show that State Street is a disability-friendly company, and creates and extends partnerships with external organisations to constantly add expertise to the organisation through training, workshops and supporting materials.
I really enjoy what I do and still find work interesting, and I continue to learn. I've had serious health issues in the past, and that's given me some perspective on the way disability can hit you during your working life. I'm now closer to retirement than starting my career, and when I eventually retire, I hope to get more involved in charitable work and give something back to the less fortunate, especially those with disabilities.
Richard Dodds is Head of State Street Alpha Solutions EMEA, and has worked for State Street since 1998 in the UK, South Africa, and running projects across Europe. He studied in London and France and holds a dual degree in European Business Administration. He is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CiSI) and the Executive Sponsor of the Disability Awareness Alliance (DAA) UK.