July 28th, 2021
EPISODE 6: How Global Organizations Move DE&I Forward — with Elizabeth Nelson, Jennifer Amara, Michaela Simpson, and Paulette Gerkovich
In this episode of Your Brain at Work, senior Neuroleadership Institute researcher Michaela Simpson and NLI’s Director of DEI Practice, Paulette Gerkovich are joined by two distinguished guests: Elizabeth Nelson, the director of diversity and inclusion at Thomson Reuters, and Jennifer Amara, the VP of Global Talent at Otis Worldwide. This knowledgeable foursome of women walks through what works — and what doesn’t — about current approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion on a global scale.
SEASON 05 EPISODE 06
[00:00:04] SO: The last couple of years have created so many new narratives and questions surrounding the way we live and work. Some of those questions that we’ve addressed on this podcast many times before, surrounds diversity, equity and inclusion. How does an organization embrace diversity? What does inclusivity look like from an international lens? How do companies create a truly equitable environment?
We may not have the answers to all of these questions, but this episode is a great place to start. The VP of global talent at Otis Worldwide, Jennifer Amara, and Diversity and Inclusion Director at Thomson Reuters Elizabeth Nelson join us as guests on the show. Both of them share insider knowledge from their organizations and their path to implementing DE&I strategies on a global scale, from rolling out organizational commitments, surveying employee demographics in dozens of countries and rolling out solutions to employees worldwide.
Led by NeuroLeadership Institute’s Paulette Gerkovich, the DE&I Practice Lead and Senior Research Scientist, Michaela Simpson, our panel of professionals investigate ways that brain science can help strengthen a global DE&I strategy.
I’m Shade Olasimbo, 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. Once again, our panel consists of senior research scientist at the NeuroLeadership Institute, Michaela Simpson, NLI’s Director of DE&I Practice, Paulette Gerkovich, Jennifer Amara, the VP of Global Talent at Otis Worldwide, and Elizabeth Nelson, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters. Enjoy.
[00:01:53] PG: I wanted to start out by just telling you a bit about NeuroLeadership Institute to frame the conversation, so you see a bit of where we’re coming from. The NeuroLeadership Institute has been around for over two decades. We were founded in Australia and now operate in over 24 countries. We’re truly a global organization that has advised over half of the Fortune 100, and many, many others.
We’ve published extensive amounts of research, and do consulting and learning as well in three primary areas; performance management, culture and leadership, and of course, diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s NLI. Today, we really want to focus on these two very accomplished corporate leaders that we’re so privileged to have with us for the next hour. They’re going to walk you through what their organizations have been doing in the global DEI space.
We’ll spend the majority of our time hearing from them, and allowing you to engage in some Q&A with them. Before we do that, I just want to frame up today’s discussion around some of the research in the global DE&I space. The Society for Human Resource Management recently did a study of practitioners who were focused on global DE&I. One of the things they were very interested in was the connection between business and the DE&I effort. Where and how was that link made?
They asked their participants, what of the following business rationale reasons are you focusing on DE&I in your organization? They really primarily focus on DE&I across the globe, because they want to get the best and the brightest, frankly. This is probably not surprising whatsoever, if you’ve spent even five minutes in the DE&I space, right? The number one business reason for doing this is to get access to a broader talent pool.
Also, to get closer to the customer, or the client is one of the primary reasons. Now, I think for Americans in the audience, the second most popular reason might be a little bit surprising. That focuses on fairness, morality, ethics, simply doing the right thing. Now, we may in our hearts believe that this is the case. Very often in US companies, that’s not where we focus when we talk about the business case. If you’re doing global DE&I and I learned this the hard way, way, way, way back in the day when I did my first beginning engagement in Norway, we don’t always want to focus on the bottom line right out of the gate.
In a lot of countries that have a very egalitarian cultural ethic, for example, focusing on a business rationale as it relates to ethics and doing the right thing for the entire population, not just your employees is incredibly important. You can see that’s reflected here in the survey results.
[00:05:14] MS: Paulette, could I just add something in terms of the science perspective? Some social neuroscientists find that on an individual level, what gets people to act to speak up, or to engage in certain behaviors, is when they look at a situation through what they call a moral lens, versus a pragmatic lens. When we look at something through a moral lens, or what we say at NLI, what is right versus what’s easy, we’re looking at how can we serve the greater good? How can we benefit our organization? How can we benefit our colleagues?
When people look at decisions through that lens versus what’s in it for me? How can I benefit? That’s not my fight, through the pragmatic lens, and they’re less likely to step in and engage and make decisions where it impacts more people for the greater good.
[00:05:57] PG: Such a great point. Thank you for sharing that, Michaela. I imagine, we can even extend that argument, particularly given what’s going on in the past year and a half around the world, in the US, I think, there really is an increasing acceptance to say, “I am doing this for the right reasons.” PS, it does so happen to affect the bottom line in a really positive way. We have over 200 studies now that show this. This is also just a good right thing. That argument does sway people. Thank you so much for bringing that up.
In terms of where these efforts focus, or the target audience, we’re finding, not surprisingly, that women far and above are the number one target audience for global DE&I efforts. I say, it’s not surprising, because it’s the one category, I think, that’s almost universal. It’s the most easy to define. Of course, it’s the most easy to measure across the globe. We know that our senior leaders like to see measurement. They like to see numbers when we’re doing DE&I. Women are the primary focus.
Of course, for many obvious of their good reasons, we really have a lot left to do to advance women in the workplace, and in the private space as well. Ethnic minorities are what we would call race in the US, visible minorities, for example, in Canada, indigenous peoples in many countries, that’s the second most common area to focus a DE&I effort. After race and gender, the numbers in terms of a strong focus really start to plummet.
We see below 10% of organizations strongly focusing on things like age, ability, religion, sexual orientation. Clearly, lots of work left to be done in these particular areas. When Sherm asked these companies who participated, where they were focusing their DE&I efforts, here’s what they told us. Work-life balance was number one. I have to say, this one surprised me. I really thought it would be widening the recruiting pool, and focusing on ways to develop folks, so that they have better opportunities to advance.
Work-life remains at the top, followed by recruiting, usually some training, sometimes around language, unconscious bias, lots in between, to appreciate cultural differences, overcome cognitive bias, and things of that nature. Fourth, most importantly, and I’m guessing this is more so in European countries, is something like an Ombudsman’s office. That is an area where folks can go to talk to somebody confidentially about any type of problem, or issue they might be having, work related, personally, etc.
Very often, focused on challenges that they might be having as a result of their identity and its relation to getting development opportunities, advancement opportunities, and the like. From there, the numbers start to drop off and we see things like, goal setting, very popular in some places; again, Europe, California in the US, not so popular across the rest of the country. Monitoring supplier diversity spending and things of that nature. To quote Marty DiBergi in Spinal Tap, “Enough of my yakking. Let’s turn it over to our accomplished panelists.” We’ll hear from Jennifer first and about Otis’s DE&I global journey.
[00:10:02] JA: Thank you, Paulette. I think, I’ll start by sharing a little bit about Otis, for those of you that aren’t familiar with us, and where we’re at right now really has defined our DE&I strategy. We are a world leader in elevators, escalators and moving walkways. We do everything, the end-to-end. We design, manufacture, install, and service them. We have operations in 200 countries and territories, and our employees reside and work in 68 of those.
Needless to say, we are a highly diverse workforce on multiple dimensions, with role, experience, educational background, race, ethnicity, language, culture. We are also in a real state of transformation. We in April of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we returned to our roots, and became a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange. It was coincidentally a 100 years after our initial listing in the New York Stock Exchange in 1920.
For the last several decades, we had been part of a conglomerate of industrials. Now, we find ourselves a 168-year-old company that is a little over one year young, again, having built a corporate center, having to answer to different stakeholders, all at the same time that our industry and really, every industry is going through a big digitization and the impact of digital technology on our business. We are working really in transforming into a smart software industrial. At the same time, we’re going through the change of being a publicly traded company.
This has a lot of implications for the workforce, the work we’re doing to drive those results. We talk about ourselves internally as being globally local. These are two terms that are really – it’s really an important balance for us. Decisions are made locally on the ground. That’s where our customers are. Employees said, yeah, we’re doing it in this global context now. That really required us to redefine, and we went through this a year before spin to define, what are our core values and the behaviors required to drive that?
Inclusion, empathy, empowerment, and collaboration became absolutely critical, along with the pace and imagination required to innovate and transform. What we found, a couple months in from becoming public, and two years in of working those cultural values, or core values, we found ourselves in the mid-pandemic, our employees were going through the impact of the pandemic. Our customers, our business, we were living through in our communities and with our colleagues, the results of that, and the results of social unrest, and a whole bunch of other things going on globally.
Our CEO, and her executive leadership teams, we sat down and said, “What are we going to do?” We came up with a program of commitments to change, centered around DE&I and around our inclusive culture, and the culture that we desire. We’re now one year in from that. We’ve made strong progress on all of them, and we’re revisiting them to say, what are we going to do next?
This is what led us to our partnership with NLI. Such a valuable partnership. We’ve learned so much and grown so much as an organization through this and we, working with NLI brought all of our people leaders, 8,000 of them through training and learning sessions to identify and mitigate bias and to make effective business and people decisions within that context. We’ve now been rolling that out to the remaining 61,000 colleagues across the globe, and are embedding, making it sustainable across the different pieces of our talent lifecycle. Paulette, that’s what we’re working on and where we’re at.
[00:14:13] PG: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing, Jennifer. This is tough stuff. It sounds you’re doing an amazing job, particularly through the changes that you’ve gone through and very difficult, probably the most difficult year any of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Elizabeth is representing another organization that’s going through a lot of change and has done some really interesting work in this global DNI space. Incredibly impressive stuff. Elizabeth, why don’t you share with our audience some of the things that you’re doing at Thomson Reuters?
[00:14:53] EN: Yeah, I would love to. As we think about Thomson Reuters footprint into ground, folks in what we do if you’re not familiar with our organization, we are essentially a technology and content company at the heart of what we do, really powering professionals that work in areas like, legal, tax and accounting, corporations, compliance, government and media, and making sure that they have access to tools, resources and content to make the best business decisions to advance the work that they’re doing within those markets.
When we think about our global footprint, as Shade mentioned in my introduction, we are very geographically dispersed. About 50% of our employees are in North America, and 50% of our employees in other locations across the world with really significant regional footprint in APAC, in EMEA, and in Latin America, in particular.
Now, as we think about our global diversity inclusion strategy, one thing zooming out of that a little bit, and based on some of the poll questions, and feedback that had come through thus far is that I know, one of the highest areas as Paulatte was recapping is time DEI efforts to our business schools. Particularly, at Thomson Reuters, our CEO has made a commitment that one of our top three business priorities as an organization is ensuring that we’re advancing our inclusive culture, and world-class talent.
Paulette mentioned, as we think about the why behind some of this work, a lot of it is around bringing in talent, advancing talent, and ensuring that there’s a sense of equity, inclusion and belonging, so that we can continue to grow and develop that talent in meaningful ways, and so folks can really expand their career and move around our organization, a lot of different ways to meet our customer needs.
As we think about that, that’s really what grounds our work. that’s what sets the precedent and the priority and the accountability for the work that we do in the global DEI space. Beyond that, specifically, within our DEI strategy, we focus on three main pillars of work. The first being, inclusive workplace, the second being diverse talent, and the third being customers and brand and making an impact in the markets in which we operate.
As we think about it and unpack that of what we’re aligning to in each of those focus areas, one really big piece that we’re doing within diverse talent is building a lot of transparency and accountability for advancing diverse talent representation across our global footprint. We’ve made three external commitments that are included in the social impact report that Nick shared in the chat section, that really focus on advancing women’s representation, advancing racial and ethnic representation across our organization, and increasing our black talent representation as well.
It was really important for us to really share that vision globally, where we were looking to grow, and we’re really looking to see increased representation. Now, what that doesn’t mean is that that doesn’t mean we’re not still focusing on LGBT plus inclusion, representation, disability representation, other facets of diversity, but it is giving some focus and really, where do we have a spotlight and where do we want to see some very significant growth, while we’re working on the wider panoramic view of facets of diversity across Thomson Reuter.
Whereas, I say, TR for short, to bring that to life in a really meaningful way, we’ve really focused on increasing transparency. How do we bring our employees along that journey with us? How are we building transparency and understanding where we are, where our gaps and opportunities in that space? Again, how are we trending towards that goal at the end of the day? In organizations that I’ve worked in, in the past, before coming to Thomson Reuters a little over four years ago, it was DEI data sat in certain people’s rules. There’s very limited access, and that’s certainly, we don’t provide access to everyone everywhere.
As we think about our high-level goals, and where we want to see progress, we’re sharing with our employees on a monthly basis, how are we trending towards that. They’re not just hearing about it once a year, they have readily access to that based on our diverse talent representation goals. We’re continuing to look to increase that transparency even more.
The second piece is as we think about our inclusive workplace and how we’re looking to drive progress in that space, we’re getting really specific around what data do we have and how do we expand the completeness of data around our employee demographics globally? For example, it’s pretty common, if you’re an employer in the US, you have apply an opportunity for your employees to self-identify different diversity demographics, and you can then use that data to power a lot of analytics in this space.
Looking at your employee surveys, disaggregating data by diverse talent communities, looking at talent flow, and a gap that we had as an organization that we worked really, really focused efforts on, beginning in August 2020 is expanding employee self ID across our global footprint. In July and August, we offered employees the opportunity to self ID, for example, race and ethnicity in only six countries. US, Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico, South Africa and the UK.
Yup, as I mentioned, we have employees in over 80 countries across the globe. What we did is we focused on expanding self ID. We now ask race and ethnicity self ID questions in nearly 50 countries in which we operate, making sure that was legally viable for us to do so, that we were meeting all of the privacy and compliance requirements in that space, and that there were criminalization of certain facets of identity like LGBT, which we still see in some of the countries in which we operate.
That has provided us a significant increase in foundational employee data for us to then get deeper insights into how we’re trending in the space, again, deeper insights into the areas of opportunity, missed opportunities, and really diagnosing that in a meaningful way, and putting interventions against that. Really understanding the uniqueness of our employee experience outside of a North America lens, which is where that data tends to exist in a lot of companies in a really robust way. I think, that’s been foundational for us to advance this work differently, as we think about it across our global footprint.
The success of that, one thing that I wanted to point out, because one of the top results, was translating concepts, like inclusion and equity globally, understanding diversity definitions and categories in different countries, is the power of that work and our ability to do that work with speed came from working directly with our employees and our leaders across those countries. It wasn’t DEI as a team, or our stakeholders that we pulled together as project managers defining that.
Instead, we really leaned into empathy, research and focus groups directly from our employees in that space. It wasn’t just a copy and paste of what are the census options in Thailand around race and ethnicity? We then took that back to employees in the region to verify that. Are we missing anything? We got some really incredible feedback from our employees that helped us bring the right values to our employees, so that they could self ID in a meaningful way, and see their identity reflected in the options in which we provided.
A good example of that is, we had an employee working in Hong Kong, who is Canadian, who identifies with the particular race and ethnicity that we didn’t have in that space. We were able to work through and rapidly iterate around what those options look like. For us, it’s really about progress, not perfection in this space. How do we continue to see progress? How do we openly ask for feedback from our employees around what’s resonating, or not? Then from there, continue to iterate and grow, as we look towards that foreign goal and continuing to create that momentum, versus it just being a moment in time. Those are some of the things that we’re really leaning into that power then our overarching strategy, as I mentioned, around diverse talent, inclusive workplace and customers and brand.
[00:22:56] SO: You love listening to Your Brain at Work, and we love hearing your feedback. It’s a beautiful working relationship. It’s why we’d appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to complete our listener survey. Visit neuroleadership.com/podsurvey to let us know what you love about the show, what we can do to improve it and topics you’d like to hear more about. Now, let’s get back to the show.
[00:23:22] PG: Thank you so much. Some of the questions that I had on my mind were, how do you determine for each of you where you’re going to specifically focus your efforts? As you start out with creating your strategy, for example, how do you know where to point directionally what you’re going to be doing?
[00:23:47] JA: I think, for us, that was really part of these commitments that we laid out was first, identifying – and this is part of being an authentic leadership team. They said, we don’t know what we don’t know. We have an independent review of all of our talent practices. Seeking input on where should we make some revisions? Where do we perhaps leaving the door open for biases and how should we prioritize that?
Then sharing that with the entire workforce, and now sharing the update on what we’ve learned and what we’re now changing, is part of it, Paulette. I’d also say, again, I described our workforce for reasons to say, in order for us to embark on this work, figuring out the measurement, all these different things, we knew that we needed a common language and mindset around why we’re doing it.
Michaela, you brought up some of the research earlier about how important having that basis of why we’re doing this work, how important that is to move and embarking on the partnership with NLI was really around building that common mindset and language for us then to do the work on. It was a key foundational element.
[00:24:59] PG: That’s Great. Thank you.
[00:25:00] EN: At Thomson Reuters, I think it’s both a – it tends to be both a qualitative and quantitative approach to where we focus. From a quantitative perspective, we’ll look at where is our global employee footprint? Where do we have opportunities and gaps in terms of whether it be representation, whether it’s around learning, where we’re looking to grow as an organization, where are we forecasting our hiring, or where we’re forecasting our leadership teams to be, our location strategy.
Might be inputs that we see based on from a qualitative perspective, things like, leaders coming to us and essentially, knocking on our door, sending us a message saying, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of energy around this. This is something that I’m really committed to for my team.” Or a part of our business, a business leader saying, “Hey, this is a commitment that I’m making. I want to see marked improvements around my organizational help index, and my sentiment of employees around their feelings of inclusion and belonging.”
It’s a bit of a both-end approach. The data piece, how we define that, how do we focus in. The nice part about doing it from a data perspective is we can then find a few markets to test in in terms of employee populations, get some really great success stories and win and then expand from there. Oftentimes, that helps us disrupt the mindset of this doesn’t work for my region, or this might not make sense. We’ll start to uncover what is some of the safety bias at play within that space, or what are some of the mindsets and behaviors that we need to look to shift in testing something new.
Oftentimes, if we can test it in a market with some of the – what seemed to be apparent, similar constraints and have wins, that helps us get across the finish line a little bit faster in different places. Fundamentally, it is that that both-end approach. We’re constantly getting feedback from our employees as well. We have a collaboration board that we started over the last few months with our business resource groups and members from those groups, along with the leaders from those groups and their executive sponsors, where at any time, they can drop in feedback into this collaboration board, whether it’s based on the diverse talent community they represent, or pillars within our DE&I strategy.
We’ve got that continual feedback loop as well, so we can rapidly shift. It’s not something that we put in place in January, and hope we’re pointing in the right direction come December, something that is iterating every month and every quarter.
[00:27:30] PG: Yeah. This is really interesting. If I were to bring together everything that I’m hearing, it’s really a mini-masterclass in how to do change management incredibly well. There’s that creating the common language, or the common pillars around which you can rally, looking at the data, identifying the challenges and responding to those, but also looking to your employees and to leadership, to hear what they think the issues are, or where they have energy and passion, because you’ve got to have that support, and then continuing to evolve.
Because no good diversity initiative just sits there and stays static. It’s fantastic to hear from both of you, how you’re continuing to reshape these efforts, as you learn from your employees in particular.
[00:28:22] MS: I just wanted to lead off with something. I would love to hear Jennifer and Elizabeth, their perspective on this. I have a little bit to share on this as well. Somebody wrote that a challenge for me around DE&I efforts in South Africa is that there is no psychological safety. People are not willing to engage. How can we overcome this challenge?
Before I throw that question out to you, I just like to define what does psychological safety mean It’s a climate in which people feel safe, expressing their ideas, concerns, sharing ideas even, mentioning mistakes without fear that they’re going to be shamed, or they’re going to feel embarrassed, or they’re going to face retribution. This is from Amy Edmondson’s work at Harvard. She’s written a lot on this.
It’s really important that organizations create a climate of psychological safety. Otherwise, people are not going to feel safe, bringing their authentic selves, let alone, just mentioning things and bringing to light, especially issues around DE&I. Elizabeth, if you could share some of your perspectives. Jennifer, you as well.
[00:29:23] EN: Yeah. What comes to mind is really building that trust and that feedback loop with employees, I think, that’s where we’re starting to see the biggest gains around psychological safety. For example, I mentioned empathy research and focus groups being really important as part of our approach and how we advance our DEI strategy, or align in the initiatives, or interventions that we want to test.
Now, to get to that point, we’ll solicit feedback from employees. As mentioned in chat, if your employees don’t have the trust, or psychological safety, how do you know that you’re getting all of the data points and that quantitative feedback that you’re really looking for? We start often with a space of building trust, of being a trusted advisor, being a source, being someone who will continue the conversation and feedback loops and inviting voices to the table, and then getting to see when other people are contributing and sharing, how do we take that information? How do we protect confidentiality, where it needs to be protected, and when it needs to be protected? How are we making progress, so that they can see ideas just don’t go into a black hole, or feedback doesn’t go into nowhere, and that it’s not taken action on? But they’re really able to see that progress real-time as we move throughout the calendar year.
I think, that’s where the psychological safety starts to grow. We also try to understand from a local cultural context, what are the operating norms within that office, that work culture, the communities in which we live and work? Make sure that as we go about our approach to building empathy research, to building those communication feedback loops, all of those pieces, that it’s done with not just in North America lens pressed on the rest of the world, and how we do business in our work culture here in North America, but really, what makes sense from that local context tends to work out best for us.
Again, it’s a little bit around trial and error and having this shared humanity and humility when we get it wrong, because we don’t always get it right. We’ll get really critical feedback from our employees. “This didn’t land with me. This didn’t feel safe. This didn’t really meet my needs.” I think, being open to that critical feedback has been really helpful as well in saying like, “Hey, we recognize, we got it wrong, or that didn’t work. Let’s pivot our approach for this next session.” That’s where we’re starting to see those gains. Hope that helps.
[00:31:43] JA: Thank you, Elizabeth. There’s so much in there. I would start with in our business, in our industry, safety is an absolute, because so many of our jobs are really high-risk; installing elevators, manufacturing. We’ve partnered with our environmental health and safety teams around this concept, recognizing that we can’t even have physical safety without psychological safety. Even the basis of our safety program is, “Hey, if you see something that’s not safe, you are empowered as an individual employee to stop work.” I can go on and on.
That basis then, and that being ingrained in our culture is an absolute, I think has helped us here as well. A lot of these concepts that we’re introducing, we’re doing it within the context of our safety program as well. Because if folks don’t feel psychologically safe, then they’re not actually physically safe in our workplaces.
We’ve also done another piece of this, I would say, is our senior leaders absolutely modeling authentic leadership. It’s a conscious effort. You see it even in this public commitment to change, and on and on. I think that that helps create an environment. We’ve also introduced different programs that create the space for folks to have these open conversations. We started a program in the US called breaking bread, breaking barriers, where you come together, talk about tough topics in a large group, break out into small groups. It’s based on research Michaela, some of the research you’ve even put together. We’ve now, that you just shared with us, and we’ve moved that into – deployed it in 10 other countries under a different nomenclature, something that fits the culture and the language there. It’s a conscious effort. it’s hard work.
[00:33:33] EN: You bring up a really good point. I mean, the more you can embed a culture around psychological safety within the workplace and shared values and mindsets and behaviors and language, I think that’s where you start to see exponential gain. At Thomson Reuters, we’ve got mindsets and behaviors for all employees around being customer-obsessed, challenging, committing, and a growth mindset. That helps us have this shared understanding and ways in which we can work together.
Then for our leaders, it’s around model, coach and care. Again, what is that accountability then aligned to those mindsets and behaviors? Then we connect everything else that we do, whether it’s how we’re mitigating bias and decision-making through partner with NLI on breaking bias. That shared language, and we connect it with our mindsets and behaviors, and other ways in which we talk about our work culture, and that starts bringing it into a bit more of the norm, versus it feeling like, “I go about my daily work. In certain situations, I need to code switch.” We’re not asking for folks to code switch. We’re asking folks to lean into the shared values, mindsets, behaviors, and so forth.
[00:34:40] JA: I would just add, allowing the space for employees to build it. The program that I mentioned, breaking bread, breaking barriers, that was started by one of our employee resource groups. It’s now a program we’ve adopted, like I said, in 10 other countries. That was an employee resource group came forward and said, “We want to do this.” We provided them the resources they needed to research and create it and implement it. I think, the more you can empower employees to do things like this on their own, versus it coming from the company, you’re also creating psychological safety.
[00:35:13] MS: Maybe Jennifer, you’ve tapped into one of the questions that somebody had about incorporating cultures and indigenous cultures and any insights into the incorporation of ceremonies and protocols in terms of indigenous employees, so that an organization is not unintentionally adopting a DEI approach that perpetuates colonial mindsets.
It sounds like, your organization is being mindful and letting it in part be employee-driven, that it’s not just, and which is another question about the business case for DE&I. It’s almost like, where’s the human case? I’m hearing, you’re making a human case for DE&I and you’re incorporating people into that.
[00:35:51] JA: Absolutely. Giving them the space, but also the resources to create what they need. All of our employee resource groups have a budget and support for whatever it is that they want to go after, for colleagues in the company.
[00:36:05] PG: Thank you so much. There were some questions around accountability. For example, how do you ensure accountability, especially when we’re talking about such a large expanse of stakeholders and employees? I mean, we’re literally talking about doing this around the globe. How do we make sure it happens?
[00:36:25] EN: For us, at Thomson Reuters, it’s really embedding diversity and inclusion into our operational processes, or business processes. For example, from an accountability standpoint, within our leadership teams, our operating committee, so our CEO, and his direct reports, and those leadership teams meet regularly. Making sure that looking at the data around our progress in the space is part of those business meetings and done regularly, is the way in which we’re driving progress there.
Additionally, our HR stakeholders haven’t always had easy access to this data, or shared methodologies and ways to analyze the data. The data sets are huge. We’re not all data scientists, even though I’m a data nerd, self-proclaimed at heart. That may not be everyone’s expertise. We’ve leveraged tools and technology. Tableau is a really great example in which our data teams can help us create a standardized dashboard for looking at the data.
Our HR stakeholders who are working with our business leaders and other folks who are driving progress in this space on the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis, can access the data on-demand, real-time, filter it in meaningful ways to find what they need, and easily export it and bring it into business team and leadership team meetings.
Again, operationalizing that, making it easy and leveraging technology to bring that to life has helped us be a bit more successful. Now, if you’re not a big conglomerate, like Thomson Reuters, and might not have access to all of those tools and technology, I would say fundamentally, it’s making sure that this is part of your business as usual. Again, as you’re consulting with your business leaders and setting their goals and strategies, how is this baked in there and how are you coming at it regularly?
In your business reviews, not just about revenue and market growth, or other key indicators that you might be looking at, but how is DEI at the table and being talked about? How are your talent conversations going? Are you looking at talent from a diversity, equity and inclusion lens? Are you just aggregating data in meaningful ways? Some of that can happen in spreadsheets. I’ve spent much of my career doing that in spreadsheets and not fancy tools. I think, prioritizing that is a really great place to start.
[00:38:41] PG: Brilliant. Thank you. Jennifer, did you want to jump in here and talk a little bit about accountability at Otis?
[00:38:50] JA: Yeah. I’ll just mirror what Elizabeth shared, is the data and then the constant use of data is so critical. We, again, in preparation to become a public company, we embarked on every single one of our countries that we were operating on, their own datasets, their own payroll, their own – We had no really way to get a quick handle on the data of our workforce. We now do, as of two months ago, we now have one common platform and book of record for all of our employees.
It’s integrated across the different talent lifecycle processes, compensation, our talent reviews, our succession planning, recruiting. Weekend data and the analytics that we knew we needed was part of the requirements of setting up that platform. We now are able to look globally, global level, all the way down to a very local level, and embed that in our practices, including our business reviews, and what we bring to the board of directors and what we bring to our monthly and quarterly business reviews, data around DE&I and our workforce and what’s happening. I would just reiterate Elizabeth’s point of that is critical to doing this work and practicing this work, in order to hold folks accountable and understanding where we’re making progress.
[00:40:09] PG: You’re both very clearly focusing on the use of data and technology. What else strikes me as a common thread through your answers is the embeddedness into the business of what you’re doing. That, I think, is a key ingredient to the success that you’re seeing, really making sure DEI and the business are closely integrated. So interesting. Michaela, I think there was a question you wanted to address?
[00:40:35] MS: Right. There’s one on trust. How do you ensure that issues such as trust actually happen? I see silos in our large organization that initiatives are not focused on the employee. Just to backtrack and just take a bird’s eye view of trust and accountability, these are themes that I’ve heard both of you talk about; trust, accountability, transparency, and how they’re all really tied together. Being accountable, that’s doing what you say, that’s going to engender trust in people. When people feel they can trust their organization, they’re more likely to stay, they’re more engaged. There are many ways you can show trust about being competent. That issue about transparency, sharing information, so that people know what’s happening.
Then acknowledging, maybe where, “Oh, we said, we were going to do this, and this didn’t happen.” Acknowledging that and we’re working to do better. Adopting that growth mindset, and how critical that is, or an organization and the people in the organizations. I just wanted to create that frame before I pass it on to you to address this question from your perspectives.
[00:41:42] EN: Yeah. Totally echo that. I think, the question that we ask, or I look, at least to ask our employees quite often is, what does success look for you? How do you want to be communicated? Really understanding the variety of our individuals’ needs, so that we can start to be much more internal, customer-centric in how we do the work that we do, and that it’s not a one size fits all. I regularly asked that, so that I’m not making assumptions, or casting my shadow of how I do business and like to be interacted and collaborated with on others in that space.
[00:42:16] JA: Yeah. I think, I’ll just add one quick – It’s somewhat a tactic, but it’s been a very helpful one, is embedding this in our employee survey. We survey all employees globally, twice a year, 12 questions in each survey, including open-ended ones, and we have the ability to do a lot of analytics to find those global comments. Ensuring that the questions that we’re asking are getting at this point of trust, even the ones that aren’t explicitly asking about it. Trust and trying to measure through the engagement survey, how our employees are feeling about whether or not we’re an inclusive culture, and whether we’re practicing what we are talking about. Very helpful.
[00:42:57] PG: It’s so interesting. Thank you so much, both Jennifer and Elizabeth, for your incredible wisdom in this area, for sharing your experience. I know this is an easy stuff. There are ups and downs and you’ve been candid about what you’ve gone through to get to this place. Very appreciative. Michaela, of course, thank you for your wisdom, and your great questions.
[END OF EPISODE]
[00:43:26] SO: 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 Matt Holodak, Danielle Kirshenblat, Ted Bauer and me, Shadé Olasimbo. Original music is by Grant Zubritsky and logo design is by Ketch Wehr. We’ll see you here next time.