September 26, 2022

Blueprint For All: How Encore’s Cabot Business Leaders Mentor Youth to Help Build a More Inclusive Society

When colleagues at Encore Capital Group’s Cabot Credit Management (Cabot) business participated in a global effort to help identify and define our core Values last year — We Care. We Find a Better Way. We are Inclusive and Collaborative — Cabot leaders wanted to find ways to live those Values out loud. They struck a partnership with Blueprint for All, an organization working with young people, communities and organizations in the U.K. to create an inclusive society in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or background, is provided with tangible opportunities to thrive.

In addition to Cabot donating to the organization, Cabot leaders work with Blueprint for All’s mentoring program and Community Leadership Academy, helping people from underprivileged backgrounds across the U.K. realize self-confidence, fulfillment and career progression. Blueprint for All in turn is reviewing Cabot’s policies to identify opportunities to improve inclusion. Encore Communications Team interviewed three Cabot leaders about their experience mentoring young people and adults through Blueprint for All’s programs. Their responses, edited for length and clarity, are below.

cabot business leaders Craig Buick, Jane Perkin and Mike Rustil

1. What made you want to get involved with Blueprint for All?

Craig Buick, Chief Executive Officer, Cabot Credit Management

Our business is set up to help address the issue of financial inclusion by making credit accessible through partnering with consumers to restore their financial health. I am really proud of what our teams do to provide the help that millions of people across Europe need.

But inclusion is much broader than just financial inclusion. It is an essential element for a successful, vibrant, forward-moving society, and the same holds true for business. We all – at the individual, team, business and societal level – should be constantly challenging ourselves to do more to promote inclusivity.

As we thought about how to address diversity and equity as part of inclusion, we recognized that we don’t have all the answers, and at times, you need someone to bring a different line of thinking, perspective, and set of experiences to open up new possibilities. That is where Blueprint for All came in. We had heard about what they had done for other organizations. From our initial discussions it was clear they would be a valuable partner for us, and they wanted to work with us as they could see how we genuinely wanted to make change in this area. And so it all began!

Jane Perkin, Chief People Officer, Cabot Credit Management

Blueprint for All is passionate and committed to creating pathways to social mobility for all, and for me that aligned well with our own Mission at Encore, Cabot’s parent company, and at Cabot as well as my own personal desire to do more to support those that are in less privileged situations.

Mike Rustill, Head of Talent Development, Cabot Credit Management

On a personal level, I felt a desire to serve as a coach because of the reciprocity of this partnership and their potential influence on our ways of working. I wanted to learn and grow whilst supporting people achieving their goals and ambitions.

2. What value do you think your mentorship will bring to your mentee?

CB: Every one of us is different, and nobody can ever really be someone else. We all need to know who we are and be willing to have an open mind about what we might become.

I grew up on a sheep farm on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Australia, and only ever wanted to be a sheep farmer when I got older. And here I am running a business in Europe with a team about the same size as the population of the island I grew up on. Without mentors in my life who opened up my mind and gave me the courage and support to try new things, I would never have had the rewarding life that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. I hope I can provide that similar challenge, support and courage to my mentees to explore what might be possible for them.

JP: I think these types of relationships benefit, in equal measure, the mentee and the mentor. I have learnt a lot from my mentee through our conversations about their experiences, how those experiences impact them and what role they may invite me to play in their journey.

MR: Being a coach is a fulfilling and enriching experience. While my goal is to offer a different perspective, challenge their existing thinking, support self-directed learning, and improve intrapersonal insight, I find myself growing and my thoughts being challenged through the mentorship experience itself. I truly believe that the best coaching relationships bring value to both, the mentee and the mentor.

3. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt or gotten out of your experience as a mentor?

CB: If you open up and are truly present in the discussions, then it really doesn’t matter about someone’s background or interests. You can find commonality that enables a really fruitful discussion to take place. My initial mentee was really interested in music and art – which aren’t really my core passions. But as we talked, there was so much we had in common, and the conversation really flowed. It makes you sit back and think if you focus on the commonalities rather than the differences when we approach new relationships, how would they be different?

JP: I’m not sure about the most surprising thing, but one thing that I have gotten out of my experience as a mentor is a renewed appreciation for intent vs. impact. While you may have positive intent, it is important to always be mindful of the experiences another individual brings to any interaction so that your impact is as intended.

MR: I am learning more about a world I don’t understand, and I am beginning to see the world through my mentee’s eyes. I was also surprised how quickly we have connected though our past experiences (e.g., childhood upbringing, ambition, desire to help others, etc.).

4. What role do you think mentorship plays in creating inclusive and collaborative workplaces?

CB: The biggest impact for me is less about the structure or framework that mentorship provides – it is about the state of mind. Being a mentor is about setting others up to succeed; it is about helping the mentee discover what they are truly capable of and giving them the courage to pursue it; it is about empowering them to take control, to take a risk, to be willing to fail and learn. If we all shifted a little from being managers to being mentors, the conversation changes – the empowerment that brings to our people creates a culture that means inclusivity and collaboration are simply a part of who we are, not initiatives we seek to deliver as projects.

JP: I feel that mentorship provides a bridge between individuals from different backgrounds and experiences where they can learn from one another’s experiences. This increases individuals’ appreciation for how another person may be experiencing the world, leading to more empathic behaviors, which, in my view, is the bedrock of an inclusive and collaborative workplace.

MR: My coaching role is developing and improving my cultural competence as a leader. Understanding different perspectives and motivators helps me understand and empathize with people better. It helps me model inclusion through developing trust and transparency and providing tangible feedback.