Culture Clash set for London event following success of Bristol debate

Culture Clash, The HR World’s first in-person panel debate around engaging and recruiting emerging talent took place to a sold-out Bristol audience – with a second date in London now set for early October.

Culture Clash Event Bristol Debate

14 June 2022

Story by
Alex Crowther

Culture Clash is going ‘on-the-road’ to London following a sold-out event in Bristol debating the issues employers are facing around engaging and recruiting young talent.

Held in partnership with the University of Bristol, TechSPARK and sponsored by Sanderson Solutions, the morning included two panels followed by a Q&A and networking lunch.

It also saw keynote speaker Hannah Awonuga give personal insights on how she rose from a 17-year-old working in Barclays to now being Global Head of Colleague Engagement and EDI in the bank.

Panellists and attendees came from a wide range of industry, from CEOs to international HRDs, business leaders, talent managers and recruiters.

The HR World editor Sarah Rice said: “This was a timely discussion seeking to address both the issues faced by the much-maligned ‘Gen Z’ and employers of both large and scaling businesses who want to recruit and keep them.

“This undoubtedly is causing a ‘clash’ of cultures as each group wants to get to work and make successful outcomes, but in a post-pandemic business world, it’s unclear how to solve the problems with traditional methods.

“There is so much flux in the jobs market and in the economy in general that it’s essential we create safe spaces for honest communication so that true learning results in informed action to help us create a better future of work.”

Rob Taffinder, University of Bristol Careers Service assistant director, said: “It was a fantastic morning of insight on an issue that reveals a huge amount of differing cultural approaches to hiring and retaining talent.

“As we enter into this next phase of employing young people, we must ensure they enter into a workplace that both fits their expectations as well as providing true learning and progression.

“That’s a hard task but by sharing experience from across the employer community we can get under the skin of the problem. With Culture Clash we have started that journey and the next event is pivotal to drilling down into the themes that emerged last week.”

Some of the key takeaways to come out of the morning included:

  • Gen Z expectations are high so you need to deliver in the job what you say you will – otherwise they are not scared to walk
  • To ensure you are reaching a wide variety of talent from different backgrounds you must keep the recruitment process simple and interactive (ie: don’t have 10 pages of online forms to fill out)
  • Understand their value – not just in monetary terms but in what they can lend to your culture and purpose
  • Focus on inclusion and making sure your Gen Z community feel they have opportunities to thrive, make an impact and have the flexibility they desire

The cross-learning debate comes at a time when there are more vacancies than candidates and the choice of roles is wider than ever before, for two generations who have been branded ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’.

Sarah said: “There was a huge amount of enthusiasm to get stuck in to asking the hard questions and the insight from our panellists and speaker was second-to-none – leading us to realise we could have had a whole day of debate.

“That’s why we’re taking Culture Clash ‘on the road’ with our second event in London and are looking forward to providing all the information in market report before the graduate hiring round kicks in toward the end of the year.”

Culture Clash panel one was chaired by Simon Reichwald, the strategic lead for talent at Connectr, and focused on the question: “What can employers do to engage and recruit emerging talent?”.

The panel included Yorkshire Building Society CPO and sustainability lead Orlagh Hunt, CEO and founder of Babbasa Poku Osei, CEO of XLedger UK Mark Pullen and Bhumika Zhaveri, HRD EMEA at Spreetail.

The keynote speaker Hannah Awonuga, Global Head of Colleague Engagement and EDI at Barclays, took the stage in between the panels to tell a little of her story.

Having started at the retail bank at the age of 17, Hannah's insights focused on how creating a social mobility agenda is the key to unlocking talent of all ages, helping employers create safe, inclusive spaces where people can be themselves.


The second panel was chaired by Dr Harry Pitts, lecturer in work, employment, organisation & public policy at the University of Bristol School of Management, focusing on: “How do you retain emerging talent as business navigates a post-pandemic world?’.

The panel included Chris Butt, CEO & founder of Cognisess, Kim Clarke, head of HR UK at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Ross Crook, managing director at Sanderson Solutions.

You can register your interest for the London event here.



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London / October 2022

Following the success of our first-ever, in-person debate at Bristol’s Engine Shed, we are taking Culture Clash on the road to London in October.