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
Although the candy company Mars owns some of the world’s most famous brands (who hasn’t heard of M&Ms?), its employer brand is much less well known, Quartz’s Oliver Staley observes. Staley takes a close look at the company’s ongoing efforts to become more attractive to talent as it plans to expand its workforce by 70,000 employees over the next decade. Like other big players in the confectionery industry, Mars has historically been very serious about guarding its trade secrets, but its notoriously secretive culture had the downside effect of limiting the number of people outside the organization who knew what it was like to work there.
The company now faces the challenge of attracting talent from a generation of young people who grew up enjoying Mars products, but may never have thought of it as a place to pursue a career:
To get its message out, Mars is doubling the staff dedicated to luring college students, deploying social media, and honing its sales pitch to woo potential candidates. That often means showering them with M&Ms, and handing out gift boxes stuffed with candy bars and snacks. In making its pitch to MBAs and recent college graduates, Mars also stresses the variety of opportunities it can offer new hires because of its many business lines, and recruiters talk a lot about the company’s corporate culture, which historically combines egalitarianism with eccentricity—sometimes with surprisingly forward-thinking results.
That culture has in some ways been ahead of its time—Staley notes that Mars was ahead of most American corporations in adopting ideas like open offices, flat management, and bonuses based on company performance. The company scores high on lists of great places to work and people who work there tend to stick around. Indeed, that’s one possible reason behind the company’s current recruiting challenge:
At Employee Benefit News, Richard Stolz highlights the growing popularity of pet insurance as a voluntary benefit for employees:
In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%, according to the North American Pet Insurance Association. The trade group also calculates that the number of pets insured in North America grew by 11.5% last year. One factor behind the growth seems to be deferred childbearing by millennial generation employees, and the increasing number of “empty nesters” who substitute pets for human children. …
At cloud computing solution provider VMware, pet insurance is a “natural fit” within a wide variety of voluntary benefits, according to Rich Lang, the company’s senior vice president of HR. “Offering pet insurance helps us stay competitive in the marketplace and attract and retain workers,” he says. He also believes pet insurance can give the employees who purchase it a productivity boost. “A healthy pet equals a happy employee,” he says
While few US employers currently offer pet health insurance, SHRM’s 2017 benefits survey shows an upward trend, with 10 percent of employers offering it compared to 9 percent last year and 6 percent in 2014. About 8 percent of employers allow employees to bring their pets to work, while 3 percent have a “bring your pet to work day” event and 1 percent offer to cover pet care expenses while employees are traveling on business. Given many millennials’ devotion to their “fur babies,” it’s not surprising to see employers trying to cater to the needs of their pet-owning employees. There can be too much of a good thing, however: Dog-friendly offices may be fun for employees, but they are often not much fun for their dogs.
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Conventional wisdom holds that younger millennials and members of “Generation Z,” the oldest of whom are just entering the workforce, are “digital natives” who have never known a world without home computers, the Internet, and other commonplace digital technology. As such, it is often assumed that these “natives” have a different relationship to these technologies than those of us who had to learn to use them as adults (or as teenagers, in the case of “old millennials”). Digital natives expect technology to touch every aspect of their lives and to work seamlessly, the wisdom holds, and become frustrated when it doesn’t conform to their expectations. They are also understood to be more comfortable with digital multitasking.
However, a paper published recently in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education calls the entire narrative of the digital native into question, mustering “scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital,” according to its abstract:
It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.
The paper comes to our attention by way of an editorial at Nature, whose authors point out that educators and employers alike may be over-investing in solutions targeted to digital natives whose needs may not be all that unique after all:
As public figures, CEOs and other top executives of major companies wield influence beyond the realm of business: Their public statements are carried in the press, politicians answer their phone calls, and their views on social, political, and global affairs carry uncommon weight. In the past year, we’ve seen CEOs of large US companies take public stances and put pressure on political leaders regarding a number of controversial issues, including most notably immigration and transgender rights.
Not long ago, CEO activism was generally seen as a liability, a way of alienating customers and employees who don’t share the chief executive’s political views. However, a new report from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research finds that attitudes toward politically engaged CEO are changing, thanks to millennials feeling increasingly positive about CEO activism. Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor delves into the report’s illuminating findings:
Millennials are the one group that sees this trend in a significantly positive way. In the survey, 56 percent of millennials said CEOs and other business leaders need to engage on hotly debated current issues more today than in the past, compared with just 36 percent of Gen Xers and 35 percent of baby boomers. Forty-seven percent of millennials said CEOs have a responsibility to speak up on social issues that are important to society, compared with just 28 percent of Americans in older generations. And millennials were the only generation in the survey in which the percentage of those who said they view CEOs more favorably for taking public positions actually expanded since last year, rather than declined.
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I’m what many people would call a gamer. I own and play a lot of video games, I see games as my primary source of entertainment, and I’ve even built my own high-end gaming computer. I’m also pretty well connected with the gaming communities studied in the recent controversial paper claiming that better video games may account for why young men are declining to pursue full-time employment. I don’t dispute the data backing up these economists’ argument, but I do take issue with their framing.
The premise of the paper (as it has been described in the popular press) is that young men are choosing video games over potential jobs because video games are as good at building the social networks and feelings of self-fulfillment as those jobs. However, my experience with this community suggests the opposite: Gamers who choose not to work do so not because because games are a great substitute for a career, but because the jobs they would qualify for don’t make them happy.
Among the gamers I know who best fit the profile of the demographic examined in the study, many are vocal about the dissatisfaction they feel with the roles available to them. This seems to be reflected in the data itself: The paper also finds that while more educated young men are also playing more video games, this has not led to a significant decline in their average work hours. Undereducated gamers, by comparison, tend to qualify only for jobs that are dull and menial, with low pay, poor mangers, no upward mobility, and high and risky barriers to better job opportunities (particularly, college education). Many don’t see gaming all day as a goal, but the best of several bad options—the exception being those few gamers who believe they can play competitively.
In recent years, a number of large US corporations have ditched their suburban office-park campuses for new headquarters in city centers in response to a growing need to court tech talent and millennial employees who prefer urban lifestyles. Through the lens of McDonald’s recent relocation from suburban Oak Brook, Illinois to Chicago’s trendy West Town neighborhood, the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell explores the impact this transformation is having on the prosperity of suburbia, USA:
McDonald’s may not even be the most noteworthy corporate mover in Illinois. Machinery giant Caterpillar said this year that it was moving its headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, which is closer to Chicago. It said it would keep about 12,000 manufacturing, engineering and research jobs in its original hometown. But top-paying office jobs — the type that Caterpillar’s higher-ups enjoy — are being lost, and the company is canceling plans for a 3,200-person headquarters aimed at revitalizing Peoria’s downtown.
“It was really hard. I mean, you know that $800 million headquarters translated into hundreds and hundreds of good construction jobs over a number of years,” Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said. Long term, the corporate moves threaten an orbit of smaller enterprises that fed on their proximity to the big companies, from restaurants and janitorial operations to subcontractors who located nearby. …