S 4 E7

March 19th, 2021

EPISODE 7: How Capital One, Akamai, and Freddie Mac Are Lifting Inclusion During a Pandemic

For this episode we invited three leaders from very different companies to reveal their approaches to lifting inclusion. NLI’s VP of Client Experience, Katherine Milan leads the discussion with Romita Grover, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging in the Card Division at Capital One, Lynn Hare, Director of Global Talent Development at Akamai, and Jon Suber, Supplier Diversity & Development Manager at Freddie Mac. Together, they review how their organizations structured inclusion programs, what obstacles they encountered, what they learned along the way, and what wisdom they can share with organizations looking to create similar outcomes.

Episode Transcript



[00:00:07] GB: Every organization’s DE&I challenges and goals are unique. They vary by region, by industry, by maturity and dozens of other factors. The variables are enumerable, the complexities dizzying. All this makes launching an effective DE&I strategy daunting even in the most stable conditions, let alone during a pandemic, but three organizations did just that. They leveraged science-backed strategies to launch meaningful and measurable change initiatives during what was a more than typically challenging year. In doing so, they helped their employees form new, more inclusive, less biased ways of working and they saw the many benefits that brings. 


We invited three leaders from these organizations to share how they did it. What underlies their stories is a blueprint that organizations can follow to lift inclusion even during challenging times. It’s based on how brains work and businesses run and it can help your organization too. I’m Gabriel Berezin, and you’re listening to Your Brain at Work from the NeuroLeadership Institute. 


We continue to draw our episodes from a weekly webinar series that NLI has been hosting every Friday. This week our panel consists of NLI’s VP of client experience, Katherine Milan; head of diversity inclusion and belonging at Capital One, Romita Grover; director of global talent development at Akamai, Lynn Hare; and supplier diversity and development manager at Freddie Mac, John Suber. Enjoy 




[00:01:36] KM: Thank you all for taking the time to join us today here at NLI as part of our ongoing mission to make organizations more human through science. We’ve been spending many years studying inclusion. How do you create inclusion? Why is it important? And I’m happy to be joined by these three panelists who have all done amazing work in their organizations to really emphasize inclusion. Make it a reality within their organizations during a time when it’s needed more than ever. 


Before we dive into that I did want to ask our panelists in honor of Women’s History Month, could you all share a story of a woman who’s been an inspiration to you in your life? And, John, maybe we can start with.


[00:02:17] JS: Sure. Thank you. That’s very easy. I’d like to give a shout out to my mother. It was just my mother and I growing up. So my mom taught me a couple things, pay now or pay later, and you don’t want to pay later, and she made sure that she was at all my baseball games, and this includes attending father-son baseball camp, sleepover camp with me on two different occasions. So thanks, Ma.


[00:02:40] KM: Amazing. Thanks, John. Romita, what about you?


[00:02:44] RG: Absolutely. I consider myself like really fortunate and grateful to have had women who have supported and inspired me over the years. Just like John, shout out to mom, who is one of the strongest women I know till date and early on instilled in me the value of education and financial independence. And for that reason I am inspired by leaders like Malala Yousafzai, who have made it their life’s mission to really further girls education, and she has laid out a clear call to action for governments and corporations which I find extremely inspiring.


[00:03:18] KM: Yeah, really inspiring especially coming from someone so young, and excited to see what she does moving forward. Lynn, who’s been an inspiration to you?


[00:03:29] LH: You know what? I’ve been thinking about this since the question was asked of me, and I don’t know that I could even say one person, because there’s so many. If I had to choose someone who was instrumental in the early part of my life, my grandmother was amazing. She never judged anyone for anything, and I learned a lot from that. She always had this demeanor of people do things for reasons and it’s not up to you to decide whether that reason is right or wrong. It’s for you to try and understand it. And so I think that was really important. But I think for me, just in general, there are so many incredible women that have forged paths for others, and I think that’s what inspires me. So many people don’t have the opportunity to – They don’t have the opportunity or the means or the courage to go after something where they feel it’s unfair or wrong, and we have these incredible women that do it for them to create that pathway. 


So to me, trying to pick any one, just the women that received the Women of Courage Awards and all – I mean, they are all incredibly inspiring in big ways. And then you have women that just do something nice at work or just give someone a voice. And so I think that the list is endless of incredible people out there and I felt cheated to pick only one. 


[00:04:53] KM: Thanks, Lynn. Totally understand that. And I think the thing that I love to hear about all of the answers is that it does touch on exactly what we’re talking about today. All these women were really role models of inclusion. How to actively include? How to make people feel welcome? Like they have a voice, like they matter. You’ve all done amazing work in your organizations to do that. 


We’re focusing on include today, which is the neuroscience of smarter teams, neuroscience behind inclusion. Creating an inclusive environment at work to make sure that we are making the best decisions possible, that we are deepening and widening our pool of meaning by hearing from everyone in our environment. And although we’re focusing on include in today’s session, you all did this, did include as part of a larger pathway. And you also all rolled include out in slightly different ways. So I wanted to kick off today’s discussion by asking how did you do it? What did the architecture look like in your particular rollout of include? And Lynn, I would love to start by hearing how Akamai chose to roll out include and how you handle deployment to make sure that it was uniquely suited for your environment. 


[00:06:12] LH: Thanks, Katherine. So as Katherine said, we had a pathway, and we really started our journey with grow, and looking at growth mindset was critically, critically important to this success of include. The way in which we looked at incorporating the learning into our organization is we started at the top. Now there’re all sorts of arguments which way you go to try and achieve that critical mass. But we started at the top and we made sure that all of our VP and above experienced – They used to experience a face-to-face experience with the NLI facilitators in four-hour workshops to give them the foundation. 


We then moved into the DLS and put all of our 1500 people leaders through the DLS using, again, NLI facilitators. And then when I was in consultation with our incredible team, Kyle, Mike, Michelle, amazing people. When we were really putting together the design of the program, when we looked at how do we get this further into the organization, the concept of leaving it up to our leaders to then pass that learning on that we knew wasn’t going to fly. And so we actually went through the process of a train the trainer, and we trained up 12 incredible facilitators, hand-picked, from around the world that actually delivered webinars to our six and a half thousand individual contributor employees. 


And we’ve had incredible success of over 90 percent of our organization have been through grow. Over 90 percent have been through include, and we’re getting close to those numbers with decide right now. And it’s really been instrumental in helping us to – That we had a system that worked with grow and we continued that. We have used the same methodology throughout all of the modules. And so we found that that people understand what’s coming next. They know how it works. 


Tm there was absolutely some skepticism around using a virtual format and having the hour-long webinars, but the way in which NLI puts the programs together with all the interaction that people are engaged in the chat, we soon found that our organization really adapted to this style of learning. So of course we did grow before the pandemic hit. We did include during the pandemic and it really did make a huge difference that people were familiar with that form of learning and it helped us to really get people on board and involved and engaged. And just creating the language, SCARF is now used as just part of our normal language in the organization. It’s inserted everywhere. 


And so we’ve really found that providing that ongoing, that very structured timely, consistent approach to the learning has created a huge difference to people’s adoption of include. Was it all easy? No. Did we have everyone on board? No. We’re a tech company. We have a lot of engineers that were weighing up this versus agile training and we kept having to say, “It’s not a one or the other. It’s a both.” This is about how we can actually work more effective together. 


And during the pandemic, the understanding of SCARF has been huge. Managers have been able to have those conversations with their employees and talk to them about how they’re feeling and talk about their threat state and really help them. And just recently, as in on the 1st of March, we went through a massive reorganization. Again, all of the language of growth mindset, our CEOs first words were we need a growth mindset to get through the pandemic. In the reorg, we need a growth mindset to get through the reorg and we need to work out how we can be more inclusive of each other. And it’s really helped to build a language that everyone can instantly relate to. The habits are critically important. How good it feels to lift people up? How good it feels to create clarity? And we’re actually able to incorporate these into our guide to help people through the reorg so that our managers go, “Okay, I know what that is. I know what I need to do here. I know how I need to talk about it.” 


Really, the process work for us and having those internal facilitators. I mean, I think we ran hundreds of sessions to get through all of our employees, but every single one of them was well-received, well-attended. Now we have trouble getting enough um spots for people because they want to attend the program now. Decide has just literally exploded in our organization. People love it.


[00:11:30] KM: That’s fabulous, Lynn. Thank you for sharing. And I’d love to share now some of the results that you all saw from that include rollout. So what we see here is a BCP, so behavior change percentage. At NLI, we’re really focused on making sure that habits are actually changing within an organization, because ultimately we spend money on training because we want people to do something differently as a result of what they’ve learned. And I’m happy to say you all saw 95% – I’m sorry. 94% of participants saying that they are applying positive SCARF signals to be more inclusive, and that’s at least one or more times a week. And really fabulous you’re seeing about 41% of those people saying it was four to six times a week or more, so probably daily. That’s fabulous. And the quotes here as well from participants about what they learned, really, really inspiring. And what you’re talking about with Scarf is so great, the language. Giving people that tool to be able to have the conversations so powerful. I always like to say what I’m working with my clients that when you start hearing things in the environment, someone’s saying like, “Oh, I was really SCARF’d.” Or like, “Oh, I don’t mean to SCARF you.” That’s the time that you know. It’s really caught on. You’re really starting to make a difference. I’m so glad to hear that. 


[00:13:00] LH: We encourage. We absolutely encourage people to use SCARF as a verb through everything that we do, and it’s okay to put your hand up and say, “Hey, I’m feeling SCARF’d right now,” in both a positive and negative way. I mean, we had to keep reinforcing to people that SCARF is a good thing. Like if you’re practicing the habits, then you’re positively SCARFing people. It shouldn’t always be focused on when someone actually makes you feel excluded. It’s about how do you make people feel included. And so we were really kept pushing the positivity of SCARF. That how it helps you to make sure that you’re actually meeting people’s needs in those social domains, which is really important.


[00:13:38] KM: Exactly. Giving people that boost. So now pivoting a bit, John, you all also deployed include also as part of a pathway, but you did it a bit differently. So it was a smaller audience size, and instead of using our DLS, our distributed learning solution methodology, you all went with our HIVE, or high-impact virtual experience. Could you share a bit more about what the deployment looked like for you all? 


[00:14:07] JS: Sure. Thank you um so we chose to roll-out, the workshops as part of a mentoring pilot program that we were working on. So we started the work on the pilot program back in 2019 and we did three different human center design sessions. So there had already been mentor programs going on at Freddy between the business resource groups and the individual divisions, but there was no overarching plan coming from HR, and that was a directive or our CHRO to the office of inclusive engagement that we wanted to look at how can we create a mentorship program that we can roll out to the entire organization? 


So with that in mind and from the human center design session we involved people across Freddie Mac, different divisions, different tenure, different levels so that we could get an understanding on what people were looking for in a mentorship program and also just as importantly what didn’t work in the mentorship programs that we’ve rolled out in the past. So one of the things that kind of bubbled to the top was the idea of the shared learning experience, and I had attended the NLI Conference or the NLI Summit back in 2019 and I thought that including the workshops as part of a mentorship program would be a great shared learning experience for both the participants, so the mentors and the mentees. And typically we’ve just done these shared learning experiences around the mentees. So we want to engage the mentors. 


So what we did is – And working with NLI, we actually chose the workshops based on our four mindsets. So deliver results, innovation, communicate with candor, and engage inclusively. So we did grow, and that covered deliver results and innovations. Connect was communicate with candor, and then engage inclusively was include. And the way that we rolled it out was in the beginning we had the application with the mentors and mentees both filling out the applications and we align the applications with six data points based off of the four mindsets as well as what do the mentor and mentees hope to get out of the program. We match those up because we wanted to create some sort of algorithm that we created on our own but with the hopes that we involve a software process to do the matching algorithm. 


So when we launched the sessions we found that include really resonated with our employee base or the participants, because in the beginning when we asked people what they wanted to get out of the sessions, they really mark engage inclusively was the top priority out of the sessions. And I think it’s no coincidence that the MPS score for the include session was the highest that we had out of the three workshops. And it also aligns with one of our tenants of the program was to improve the interactions and foster strong in working relationships between the participants and the mentors and also the participants and their individual staff. 


So because of this, you see, we did the onboarding session where we introduced people to the program. And at first it was hard to get the participants to really agree to basically nine hours of sessions with the way that we structured the learnings, but we felt that it was imperative to get that because we wanted the facilitation aspect, we wanted to create the sense of a cohort and we also wanted to engage through chat. The challenge that we had was we planned all of this before the pandemic. So we had to make the switch to do it virtual as opposed to in-person and we weren’t sure how that was going to go, but we actually found out through our surveys that 100% of the people that went through our program found the shared learning experience that was aligned with their expectations of the program and they thought that it was a great way to move through the program. 


So we ran the three workshops. Like I said, include was the best rated workshop of the three, and it also matched up with the office of inclusive engagement and our efforts to make sure that the company engages more inclusively. And we found, again, through the summary or the survey that was administered, people were really looking at team meetings, giving feedback and goal settings and they really shouted out include as a way to communicate better with their team, enhance their listening skills and make sure that they were really involving what their team was telling them into some of the decisions that were being made.


[00:18:29] KM: That’s great. Thanks, John. And in terms of your results, as you said, they kind of speak for themselves. Again, seeing here a hundred percent of participants, saying that they’ve applied positive SCARF signals to be more inclusive. And what we see here the bar graph, we ask how much more effective do you feel in your role as a result of the strategies that you learned as part of include? And you got a 3.92. So almost a 4 out of 5 people saying that they feel extremely effective, more effective as a result of this training. 


And I know that there was a question in the chat a moment ago about how do we measure this? What does this look like? The results that we’re sharing for all three of these organizations come from NLI’s standard measurement survey. We believe measurement is really crucial to any learning initiative. It helps you understand where you’ve made progress, where you should make tweaks and changes. Really demonstrating that ROI. Again, included with all of our standard solutions, and that’s what the results here are from. We ask both participants as well as their direct reports or colleagues to reflect on what they’ve learned, but most importantly to reflect on what habits they’re actually now engaging in as a result of the training to see that behavior change. Thanks, john. 


Okay. So moving us forward. Again, Romita, Capital One. You all also did include rollout and decide and saw great results there, and still a bit of a different way of deploying than both Freddie Mac and Akamai. So I would love to hear what that looked like within your organization.


[00:20:13] RG: Yeah. I’m happy to share, and so many of the things Lynn and John were mentioning like resonate in terms of how we’ve approached this and the culture we’re trying to create. So our journey with NLI started about 18 months ago and we actually entered into a DE&I thinking partnership with them, which is like a consulting engagement. That basically entailed a review of our internal data and talent processes conducting associate focus groups. And at Capital One we call our employees associates. So if you hear me referencing that term. As well as executive interviews, which led to a synthesis of like what is the current state and what are the opportunities that lay ahead. And inclusion was a really key theme that came up that we wanted to really address and create a center around in terms of our approach, and it became even more important with the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice movement. 


From the start, our vision was to create a shared understanding, a common definition and build capability across all associates within the organization to create this culture of inclusion. So we knew that our rollout is going to be pretty broad and pretty wide. So in terms of our scope, we were going to roll this out to 20,000 associates within U.S. and international in different cohorts. So it became clear to us that doing a pilot first will give us the opportunity to make the necessary tweaks that we need before we do the broader rollout. And I’m glad we did the pilot, because as we move on to further in this presentation, I can think about like some really memorable things that came, which if we had not done the pilot, we wouldn’t have made the tweaks to that approach. So any organization looking to kind of roll this out more broadly, I would highly encourage that approach of doing the pilot before the broader rollout. 


Since fall of last year we have been rolling both include and decide in large cohorts of thousands of associate at a time. We are currently in midst of our international cohort as well as the cohort for our call center agents for whom we had to design a little bit of a different experience. So overall we adopted the DLS, the distributed learning solution architecture, for the entire organization. But specifically for our call center agents, their time away from phone is really important, and we wanted to make sure that we are effectively utilizing their time and giving them the learning in a very meaningful and bite-sized way. So I was really happy with our collaboration with NLI to further customize the DLS architecture for our call center. 


And after the initial rollout is complete in this spring, we already have sustainability strategies in place in terms of how are we going to bring new associates along the way as well as what will we have in place from a refresher training perspective for those associates who have already been through this training. So for that reason we did enter into a multi-year enterprise license with NLI because we wanted to ensure this wasn’t just a one broad rollout experience, but we have strategies in place to continue to do a follow-through.




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[00:24:31] KM: Great. Thanks, Romita. Again, looking at the results that you all are seeing from your include rollout. So 93% of participants applying positive SCARF signals to be more inclusive and 78% of participants saying that they’ve discussed the SCARF model with direct reports or colleagues at least one or more times a week. Again, some fabulous quotes sitting there. Anything else that you want to add before we move ahead or anything from John or Lynn?


[00:25:04] JS: No. The only thing I’ll add is that one of the things that contributed to our success in terms of adding mentors to the program was the engagement with our human resource business partners. In an effort to be more inclusive within HR in general, we wanted to leverage their expertise to help us choose the mentors that they thought would both be the best fit for the program, in general, as a pilot and to go through these neural leadership institute workshops.


[00:25:31] LH: And I think the one thing I would add with what Romita was saying about looking at the ongoing. I think it’s such an important piece thinking about the where to. I mean, we engaged in a two-year engagement with NLI to roll out grow and include and decide and we’re launching voice in May. And it’s been hugely – I mean, hugely successful in the organization, but we are getting people saying, “Okay. So what’s next and how do we reinforce it?” And I think that’s that constant reminder, that’s what we found has been critically important. Constantly reminding people of the habits, constantly reminding people how important it is and the impact it has to think about how inclusive you are is what really makes it successful. This can’t be a one and done. This has to be – It literally is an entire mindset shift around how do you engage with others, and that’s really what we’re driving so that it becomes the habit to engage differently. And I think the include module has allowed people to – We found grow was a little harder for people to be tangible. What am I doing when I’m doing growth mindset? But when we started with include, all of a sudden the lights went on and people are going, “Oh, I know. Now I know what I’m doing. There’re tangible things. I need to have a growth mindset in order to be inclusive. And then I apply these strategies.” So I think that the connection points that you need to make along the way, and thinking about the ongoing is really important. It isn’t just something you do as a course or a program. It’s an entire journey that you need to take the organization on.


[00:27:17] KM: Yeah, exactly. The metaphor that I like to use is habits are really like a muscle, right? You have to exercise.  You have to practice all the time. You can’t you know build that muscle once, sit at home and then expect to be able to go run the 5K after spending months not having practice, right? It is that kind of constant work needed. And that’s why we focus on making the habits very simple and very actionable so people don’t have to think about it too much and it becomes more of a natural response, more automatic, that people are engaging in. 


So speaking of kind of how people are experiencing the program, I was wondering if each of you could share what’s the most memorable story or the most memorable thing that you remember from the rollout hearing from participants or maybe that you yourself experienced going through the program. And Romita, maybe we could start with you. 


[00:28:18] RG: Absolutely. So this is where we learn from our pilot approach. So one of the things that we learned in our pilot approach since we were rolling out include was in the pandemic world to create that social learning experience was really important. So really adding a kick-off experience where before we entered into the learning cohort, the associates had the opportunity to hear from senior leaders and other associates about why they’re excited about this journey was really important for us. Then also integrating heart and humanity into the whole experience. So we implemented this approach of creating videos where leaders and associates at the end of every learning week would share their reflection of like what was the learning that resonated the most. 


So to me what was inspiring is all the stories that came out in those kickoff sessions and the learning videos and where the application of SCARF goes way beyond the walls of Capital One and how people can really apply this in their day-to-day life to improve relationships and create more inclusion not just at Capital One but beyond, right? And to me that’s really inspiring even in the slide that you had up there with our metrics. One of the comments said, “Before SCARF, like I was not feeling included, but I wasn’t sure how to really explain the experience I was having. And SCARF gave me the language to understand my own experience.” And I think like that was super powerful and inspiring in my mind.


[00:30:02] KM: Thanks, Romita. John, what about you?


[00:30:06] JS: I think the biggest takeaway or the most memorable story is just that the communication between the participants and myself and how they really looked at the NeuroLeadership work was timely and relevant as to how we can like reframe and dismantle the thinking patterns that unintentionally exclude and further impact how teams like respectfully collaborate and engage. So it took the participants out of the normal way of thinking and it started with the grow workshop and the growth mindset. But down to include on how to communicate better with people? How to be more inclusive? And it’s not typical in the way that we work in terms of the way that we think, but we wanted to make sure that this program would have an impact on the way that our teams were communicating with one another and engaging more inclusively. And people were actually talking about tangible things that they took away from the sessions on how they can listen and drive conversations with not just their peers, but their leadership as well. 


And then we also got insight. The mentees got insight into how the mentors actually looked at include and how they would engage from a leadership level in terms of what they learned from the workshop. So it’s really about how to better engage inclusively. How to communicate better and how to um make sure that you’re able to communicate with your team on a different level.


[00:31:30] KM: Thanks, John. Lynn, what was the most memorable kind of story or moment for you? 


[00:31:34] LH: I think one of the ones that really resonates with me was as part of our program, we started an ambassador program, grow ambassadors, and people got a little deeper training to be able to demonstrate the behaviors out there. And their job was to demonstrate positive habits. Not to pull up people who didn’t demonstrate them. So they weren’t the grow police. They were the role models. And we did a challenge with them. We put them on this 21-day challenge and we broke them into four teams by region. And every time they used to grow, an include habit to lift people up or create clarity, they had to put #done into a chat that we had. And we counted the dones and there was a reward for the team that had the most dones. 


But the memorable moment about this was one of our ambassadors in Korea, and he said to me, “When I started doing this I kind of thought this was a little weird, but as I was doing it I had all of these people saying, “I really like what you’re doing. Can I do that too?” And some of the things he was doing was appreciating people for their work by lifting them up. And he was asking questions saying, “Do you know the full picture of what’s going on here? Do you need more information? Do you need more clarity?” 


And just some of these behaviors, he had these other people going, “I really like this. Can I have some of this?” Like, “Can I do this as well?” And I think that was when the penny started to drop for a lot of people that very small gestures can actually go a really long way. You don’t have to boil the ocean. You don’t have to change the world or take that one person who is not very inclusive and is never inclusive and turn them into a tree hugger. It’s these little things that you can do that can really make a big difference. And I think that’s what’s so memorable about our journey is people started to discover it. This is something they can actually influence themselves and that can have a positive impact on others. 


[00:33:44] KM: Thank you, Lynn. And so a question coming up. Curious to know whether you found any correlation between the DE&I, so diversity, equity and inclusion success, and ESG, environmental, social and governance initiatives from a corporate perspective. Have any of you seen kind of any connection points or any correlation?


[00:34:05] JS: No. I would say not yet. Our ESG function is relatively new. So we’re in the process of really trying to figure out how we fit into that space. 


[00:34:15] KM: Great.


[00:34:16] LH: Ours is also really new, but we are – What we’re doing is I’m working with a few of the teams in the organization and we’re trying to make connections between the include habits and the grow habits in general and how that applies in the work that they’re doing so that we can make some combined mission-critical goals around some of these initiatives. And I think to me this is the critical component of all of this. It’s how do you connect the pieces so they don’t just look like these disparate standalone initiatives. 


So one of the things we did was connect the include habits to our values and show people how these connect. And I think it’s the same in this space. It’s allowing us to connect the different initiatives and say we’ve got threads running through all of these things around how we actually want to behave and the core direction that we want to take. And so I think that’s really important. It’s not just a training program that you’re throwing out. It’s actually part of other initiatives in your organization. 


[00:35:30] RG: Yeah. I would plus one that. At Capital One, I think inclusion is a key part of the destination where we want to go, and it’s less of a destination, but a direction of belonging. And that is woven into our corporate values. So as the diversity, inclusion and belonging team works closely with our teams on corporate social responsibility, like that is part of our core values about doing the right thing, the excellence, respect for individual, creating a culture of belonging. And this is a pathway to get there, right? So it’s part of that bigger story.


[00:36:11] KM: Great. Thank you. So the last major question that I have for you all, and you’ve kind of touched on this in parts, but would love to hear from each of you. If you had one piece of advice to give anyone out there who might be thinking about doing a program like this, what would that piece of advice be? And, John, maybe we could start with you.


[00:36:37] JS: Sure. I guess my piece of advice would be be clear on why you’re implementing the program and what business objectives or leadership principle or strategic mindset does it tie to. Both Romita and Lynn talked about tying it to either mindsets or principles within the organization, and that’s how we tied it at Freddie Mac. We tied it to our mindsets to make sure that there was a relevant case for the workshops and to go along with the workshops to match up with our business imperatives and business values. So I would just make sure that you’re clear on why you’re implementing the program and what does it tie to so that people see the larger picture as to why they’re participating in the program.


[00:37:20] KM: Yeah, the why is always so important for motivating people to take action and stick with it. Romita, what comes up for you is the kind of key takeaway piece of advice?


[00:37:33] RG: You really have to prioritize this work, right? I mean, it’s one thing to roll out a training program. It’s quite another to declare it as a business priority. And by that what I mean is we know that there is a competing mind share for our associates. There’s a lot going on within and outside of work. So when we do say that we’re going to roll out this new learning experience or this training program, are we truly creating the space for them to deeply engage in this or this is one more thing that we are adding to their play? 


I know that within Capital One as well as other companies and industries, employees are reporting higher levels of burnout. So when I say prioritization, it means like, yes, you’re creating space for your associates to truly engage. You’re creating resources for the leaders who are going to be ambassadors and champions of this work, right? So what can we give in our leaders hands that they can create a more social learning experience around this and really be our ambassadors as we roll this out? 


And another thing about prioritization is what both Lynn and John have talked about, is like what is the sustainability? What is the plan after the plan, right? The training is easy, but the application is hard and it requires the constant reminders and reinforcements and a plan to really sustain this. It’s by no sort of like coincidence that I have this like Zoom background behind me. Like that’s like one of the resources we we’ve rolled out to really keep this top of mind. Why not take advantage of being in this virtual world and reinforce what SCARF stands for? 


One of the other things we did is actually start a nudge program where employees can opt into receiving a monthly nudge around inclusive behaviors that are reinforcing the SCARF training that we’ve done. So truly create a business priority in it versus treating this as a training or a learning experience, because that’s when we will get the true benefit of it.


[00:39:49] KM: Yeah, I think it’s a great call out. And we talk a lot to our clients about one of the best things you can do is map these trainings to your larger business goals and objectives that people understand. How will this inclusion training that on the surface doesn’t seem to connect to our larger goals or objectives? How is this going to help us get there? And I think especially for growth mindset, so many great connections to corporate goals around innovation and experimentation, all of that. So yeah, really, really crucial. Great takeaway there. And Lynn, what about you? What would be the advice that you would give to someone considering a program like this?


[00:40:32] LH: I think plus one to John and Romita. The points they’ve made are so essentially important, that connection. I mean, we originally launched our grow program, the entire program, because we ran an engagement survey and we introduced the concept of our ability to anticipate and adapt to change, and we scored terribly on it, and we have really, really good engagement scores. And so it came from that when we said, “Okay, how do we become a more agile organization? How do we help people?” And we found that it was growth mindset, that it was inclusion, that it was these that were actually getting in the way of us being agile. So that was where it came from. And so we were able to make that direct connection to the overarching goal of the organization to be one of the leaders in innovation, etc. And so I think they’re both. 


But the thing the thing for me when you do anything like this, you’ve got to create opportunities for people to play, and we did that through the challenges. We had trivias. We had opportunities for people to just play around with the concepts and that really helps to reinforce it. Teams would have mistake of the month in their team meeting so that they could – Someone could talk about a mistake they made and talk about the learning from it. So we created these little opportunities, people to play with the concepts, and we found that that actually really helped to reinforce it. So don’t take it all too seriously. Add some fun. Particularly during the pandemic, it became so important to do that and so important to create opportunities for people to be more inclusive and talk to each other and spend 10 minutes of their meeting just chatting about, “Well, how are you coping?” These things were really important, and the include module helped us to reinforce all of those things that it’s okay. It’s okay to do that. It doesn’t have to all be about business. So that’s what I would say. Really incorporate this as something that you’re doing that’s helping everyone to grow.


[00:42:40] KM: Yeah, I love that. And we at NLI even do mistake of the month at our big all North America monthly meeting. We share people and we like to vote on like, “Okay. Whose mistake was the worst? Round of applause.” And it’s a great way I think to really encourage people to keep that experimentation and make them feel I think that when someone makes a mistake it’s easy to feel bad, to feel like you’re not going to be included if you share this, “Am I going to be viewed as weak? As not a powerful member of the team who’s contributing fully?” And so it’s great for both those growth mindset I think and the inclusion reasons. 


So one thing that you all have touched on that I’d love to hear maybe a little bit more about is this idea of sustainment and giving people additional tools nudges, making sure that you’re sustaining that learning journey. So I would love to hear a bit more from you all about what have you found to be most effective when it comes to sustainment of the learning. What’s worked in your organization? And, Romita, since you have that great background, I’d love to start with you if that’s okay. 


[00:43:56] RG: Yeah, absolutely. I can talk. I mean, like in our mind, we knew from the beginning that sustainment was a really – It was going to be an important thing not even just a differentiator but something we must deliver on if we need this to stick for a long-term behavior change, because we all know it’s not easy to change habits. It requires constant reward and reinforcement. 


So some of the things that we’ve done from a sustainability perspective, I talked about the nudge program. What was really important for us for the nudge program was it’s a program we developed internally with a team of people analytics and behavioral scientists within Capital One utilizing the SCARF framework, but we wanted to provide folks an optionality whether they wanted to opt-in or opt-out. So it wasn’t just like our training rollout was not a mandatory thing. It was completely voluntary. Like we reinforced the importance of it, but nobody was required to take the include or the decide training. The same thing was with the nudge program. And I think when we first like launched it, within the first week we got close to like thousand people signing up to receive the nudges and the program has just been growing. And what we do is we tie it very timely to what’s happening within the organization anyways during that time. 


For example, in December, we’re asking people to think about what they’re planning in terms of for the holidays or how they can have a more inclusive or rewarding sort of end of the year. In January, when reviews are going on, we are giving a nudge around how to give meaningful feedback. So really this is not a standalone thing. It’s taking the SCARF language but reinforcing what’s happening in the fabric of the organization at that month. 


And then just one more thing I will add is similar to what Lynn had mentioned, we created this belonging ambassador program where we took group of associates through further training into our principles of belonging using the SCARF language, using the decide, the seeds language in the decide program to further embed the belonging ambassadors into our key talent processes. So at the end of the year we did this for a performance management process, and now as we are heading into the spring talent management process we are expanding the application of belonging ambassadors who have been trained on these concepts to be part of that process. 


So really my biggest advice on sustainability is like how can we integrate this into our regular processes so that it just like reinforces these principles into things that folks are already doing versus doing something extra.


[00:46:49] KM: Thanks, Romita. John, what about you? 


[00:46:52] JS: I agree with Roamita in terms of how do we incorporate this into our normal processes. So that’s something that we’re looking at for the broader rollout. We’re actually engaging with NLI to rollout the DLS for the uh entire organization for the mentor-wide launch. But in terms of what we did for the pilot, again, utilizing human-centered design, we found that the mentees liked lunches or lunch and learns the most. So what we did is we have the mentees – Each mentee would take a turn leading the lunch and learn where they would discuss how they actually been engaging on grow, connect and include. So they got to talk about all three of the workshops and what tips and tricks that they were using for the workshops that helped them, things that they discussed with their mentor. So we saw that those lunches increased our ability to sustain the content and really drive home the learnings that people got from the content. Again, it goes back to us trying to create that cohort feeling in the beginning so that everyone felt as if they were going through the program together both mentors and mentees. 


[00:47:53] KM: Thanks, John. I wanted to thank you all for joining this discussion today. Again, thank you, Romita, John and Lynn. 




[00:48:04] GB: Your Brain at Work is produced by the NeuroLeadership Institute. You can help us in making organizations more human by rating, reviewing and subscribing wherever you get your podcasts. Our producers are Cliff David, Matt Holidack and Danielle Kirschenblatt. Our executive producer is me, Gabriel Berezin. Original music is by Grant Zubritsky and logo design is by Ketch Wehr. We’ll see you next time.



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