CEB's Clare Moncrieff (L) and Mazars CLO Tyra Malzy (Simon Meyer)
According to recent research from CEB (now Gartner), in order to create an inclusive climate for teams, organizations need to focus not only on climate quality (the average level of inclusion that employees feel) but also on climate strength (the variation between how different employees perceive the inclusivity of their team). In a session on building inclusive leaders at our ReimagineHR conference in London on Thursday, we heard from Tyra Malzy, Chief Learning Officer at Mazars, about her experience integrating inclusion into her company’s business practices and engaging its younger workforce in decision-making. Here are some of the strategies she shared:
Normalize Inclusion in Leadership
As Malzy explained, Mazars needed to reach out to its millennial employees and help senior leadership see the business value of including these employees in its decisions. To meet these goals, the company made several key choices.
- Start with saying “yes”: Mazars found that when leaders were concerned with the impact of change, they often responded in a risk-averse manner, usually resulting in saying “no” to ideas that deviated from the organization’s typical decision-making process. By making a habit of saying “yes” more often, this helped generate a more open environment for co-developing solutions.
- Crowdsource ideas from employees: An important component of making leadership more inclusive is empowering employees to lead from the ground up. Mazars created an app for individuals to share their ideas with others within the company, vote on those which they like the best, and then have the top five presented to senior leaders. Finally, the executive team picks which business ideas to implement. Mazars also surveyed employees to understand their thoughts on management preferences and organizational culture. They then used this information to create specific projects associated with the interests of the employees.
- Bring visibility to functions and individuals that are doing this well: By sharing examples of diverse groups that are outperforming other teams or functions, Mazars challenges teams with limited diversity to step up their diversity of thought and improve their outcomes.
Create a Culture of Inclusivity in Decision-Making
McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s may not have a lot in common in their corporate philosophies, but both companies have recently begun offering their low-skilled employees significant educational opportunities that will help them wherever their career paths may take them.
Eighty percent of employees at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops are in their first-ever job. The Vermont-based company is now offering them skills training through an online program called Core Academy, where employees can take one of four courses: Beyond the Job parts 1 and 2, Activism Academy, and Social Equity & Inclusion. These topics jibe with the company’s stated commitment to social responsibility.
“We started thinking about what are our responsibilities to this entry-level workforce,” Collette Hittinger, the ice cream company’s global operations and training manager, told SHRM’s Kathy Gurchiek earlier this month, “and we decided we had plenty of programs about how to run an ice cream store,” but nothing to develop skills that would enhance workplace and customer interactions, such as emotional intelligence. The training opportunity also prepares their workforce, 75 percent of which is aged 18-24, for leadership down the road.
Ben & Jerry’s developed the program in partnership with the local Champlain College and California-based Story of Stuff Project. The coursework draws from Champlain’s MBA programs for its content and project-based structure. Participation in Core Academy is voluntary, but the program has been very well-attended and received. It also allows Ben & Jerry’s to stand out in attracting workers for their minimum-wage service industry jobs.
McDonald’s is offering a more traditional education credential, as participants in its “Archways to Opportunity” program can earn a high school diploma through the fast food titan’s partnership with Cengage Learning. Since the 18-month program launched in 2015, roughly 100 employees have completed it and over 800 are currently enrolled. Amanda Eisenberg at Employee Benefit News has the details on the program, which is designed for adult learners:
Earlier this month, Jeffrey Immelt was replaced as CEO of General Electric after 16 years at the helm of the company. Much of the coverage has depicted Immelt’s stepping down as a result of investors losing confidence in his leadership after GE’s stock underperformed in the past year, as in this Bloomberg report, for example:
Amid mounting pressure from activist investor Trian Fund Management, GE said Monday that Immelt will be replaced by John Flannery, a 30-year company veteran who oversaw a jump in profits at the health-care unit. In a sign of just how great opposition to Immelt had become in the investing community, the stock soared the most in more than a year and a half after the announcement was made.
This was not a snap decision by GE’s board of directors, however. In fact, the planning for Immelt’s succession began not in 2016 or 2015, but all the way back in 2011. Susan Peters, Senior Vice President for Human Resources at GE, shared the company’s strategy in a LinkedIn post, illustrating a thoughtful process befitting a giant corporation responsible for hundreds of thousands of employees and hundreds of billions of dollars in assets:
First, we knew it would take years to move potential candidates through the leadership roles that would develop them. We began intentional moves of key leaders to give them new, stretch experiences with ever increasing exposure to complexity.
By 2012, we wrote the job description and then continuously evolved it. We focused on the attributes, skills and experiences needed for the next CEO, based on everything we knew about the environment, the company’s strategy and culture.
A new report from the Boston Consulting Group underscores a significant obstacle to the development of women leaders in global organizations: an imbalance of opportunities for global mobility. While women are slightly less willing than men to relocate internationally for work, BGC found that among those who are willing, fewer women than men are afforded the chance to work abroad:
Among the women we surveyed, 55% told us that they are willing to move abroad for a job assignment (including 44% of women in relationships and with children). Our research also shows that this percentage is not fixed: companies can take measures to increase it.
However, only a small subset of women currently get the opportunity to take international postings. According to our data, fewer than 30% of the women who were willing to move had actually done so, compared with nearly 40% of the men in similar situations. In other words, there’s a gender gap that companies need to overcome. If companies continue to assign more men than women to international postings, they will unwittingly be putting their promising female managers and executives at a disadvantage, decreasing the diversity of their future leadership teams.
Now more than ever, international experience unlocks doors to leadership roles in multinational firms, and while global competencies are hardly the only thing leaders in such organizations need to succeed, the absence of those skills can quickly derail a leader’s career path.
Silicon Valley employers sometimes blame slow progress toward greater diversity in the tech sector on the “pipeline problem”: The tech giants would like to hire more women and minorities, they say, but there just aren’t enough candidates from diverse backgrounds pursuing education in STEM fields and obtaining the skills they need to qualify for the jobs these companies are looking to fill.
Today, tech companies are increasingly recognizing that the pipeline problem isn’t going to solve itself, and are taking proactive steps to build bigger and more diverse pipelines by partnering with universities, coding bootcamps, and other educational institutions to create more opportunities for students from underrepresented communities to find careers in the field. At HRE, Andrew McIlvaine profiles two such initiatives, at Cisco and EY:
As part of its new approach, Cisco used its “Diverse Representation Framework,” an internally created data-analytics tool, to help it identify schools that would be good potential sources of diverse talent. It also trained its campus recruiters to use data mining to identify top students in science, technology, engineering and math fields, says [Kelly Jones, director of talent acquisition and global university relations], adding that engineers constitute about 60 percent of Cisco’s annual hires.
The company is also focusing on building a pipeline of diverse STEM students early on in their college careers. “We go a bit deeper, focusing on students who are freshman and sophomores, because juniors and seniors have already decided on their major — but sophomores and freshmen are often still exploring,” she says.
EY, McIlvaine adds, “starts even earlier, focusing on diverse high school students to get them interested in the accounting profession”:
Ross Kelly at Chief Executive recently highlighted a noteworthy poll from the Conference Board in which executives were asked what fears about the year ahead were keeping them up at night:
Despite recovery signs emerging in some Western economies, a fear of a global recession was nominated as the top “hot button issue” by 555 CEOs representing 30 countries questioned by nonprofit peer group The Conference Board. Their second-biggest concern was “developing next generation leaders”, followed by “cybercrime” and “failing to attract and retain top talent”. …
A skills shortage is being gradually compounded by a demographic shift in labor markets that’s shirking the size of talent pools, both in developed and developing countries. To compete, survey respondents said they were trying to create more inclusive work cultures to bring the most out of employees and make them feel more valued. They also were creating skills-development programs to improve capabilities to maximize digital transformation.
Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace interviewed 37 of their sorority sisters from the early 90s to understand what happens to women’s ambitions in the years following college graduation, and at the Atlantic this week, they examine the career arcs of these women in a series of essays called “The Ambition Interviews.” To understand the divergent paths the women took between college and the time of the interview, they divided the group into three categories:
- High Achievers: women for whom motherhood had little influence on their career trajectory
- Opt Outers: women who left work as soon as their first child was born, and
- Scale Backers: women who moved to less demanding jobs after their first child
While not a scientifically rigorous survey, Schank and Wallace’s project sheds some light on the factors that motivate many women to drop out of the workforce after having children. Throughout the series, they investigate these women’s career trajectories to uncover the choices they made and the factors that led them to become either High Achievers, Scale Backers, or Opt Outers.
This classification of women into these three groups is an accurate way to categorize their past career trajectories. However, the fact that a woman has had a career path that reflects one of the three options does not necessarily imply that she will continue on the same path moving forward, or that men’s aspirations are static. For HR leaders, it’s important to recognize the impact an organization can have on its employees’ ambitions.