HR Superstars
HR Superstars

Episode 4 · 1 year ago

Getting to the Root of Diversity & Equity: Are We Really Addressing the Issues? w/ Josh Bersin


After last year’s massive economic crisis, a lot of companies scrambled to cut costs. One program that was often cut: D&E.

But when that was followed by a massive social crisis, companies had the choice to either save face through the things they said or to create positive change by actually taking action.

Will the dual nature of 2020 propel our evolution forward to where we start paying attention to our role in society?


We talked with Josh Bersin, founder of the Josh Bersin Academy, the world's professional development academy for HR, about how D&E plays a critical role both in organizations and in society as a whole.

We also talked about:

-How companies can embrace corporate citizenship.

-How D&E conversations have evolved.

-How companies can support minority communities now and in the future,

-The biggest opportunity HR professionals have right now.

For the entire interview, subscribe to HR Superstars on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to HR superstars, a podcast from one fifteen five that highlights stories from the front lines of HR and people ots. Each episode will showcase fascinating conversations with leaders offering their unique experiences and advice for building an extraordinary company and culture. Let's get into the show. I'm actually really encouraged. You know, I've been. I've been part of the conscious capitalism community for a number of years, founded by John Mackie at whole foods and Rojess of Soadia, and their whole concept is that, you know, to be good citizens we have to be thinking about stakeholder orientation, not just shareholder or in orientation, so creating value for all stakeholders. And I think I was a little bit cynical about whether that would catch on in mainstream because even even the terminology conscious capitalism it seems a little fringe. And I got to say I was really, really encouraged hearing a number of leaders come out of Davos this past year, including Mark Benyoff it sales for us and some other folks, and starting to say that the new capitalism is stakeholder capitalism. So they're not they're not using the terminology conscious capitalism, but they're moving in that direction and even Jim Kramer, I saw on C NBC, talking about how this is what's needed from business and that, you know, his perceptions changing as well. So I really hope that that's the way that companies in the future to embrace citizenship. David, I agree with you with one of Caviat I think when the manifesto came out last year from the corporate round table and everybody you know jumped on at it was a lot of pr yeah, there's a lot of talk, now there's action. So, now that we have an economic crisis and a lot of people are losing their jobs, target gives all our hourly employees of two dollar an hour race. That is doing something. Yeah, though, now I think companies have to do something. One of the things it was bugging me during the economic cycle was all these companies buying back stock,...

...sitting on cash, not increasing wages but putting money into their shareholders. So now they have to put money into the employees, because the employees are bubble. So I think we're seeing the manifestation of it now. It's easy to jump on these lists and say we're going to do the right thing. You know, most of these companies that are big, they could give a hundred million dollars away to a foundation and they wouldn't even feel it, you know, they wouldn't even notice it. But really raising the wages of employees and putting money into programs and not laying people off, that's really starting to happen. So I agree with you. But and so fascinating because we had a massive economic crisis followed by an explosion of the social crisis that we've been in in this country for a long time, and so I think a lot of companies were okay, well, we need to cut costs and yeah, we need to take care of our people, but we need to cut extra things like Ourdi program and then boom the explosion of matter into the Stream and the enormous pressure for companies to not just pay lip service to how can we support minority communities? How can we actually educate ourselves? But we need to do something about it because people are watching and our employees are watching and there is a moral demand for us to actually grow up a little bit. And so I think it's really fascinating the dual nature of this completely intense two thousand and twenty. That hopefully actually pushes our evolution a little forward where we start paying attention to these things. I mean, I know for ourselves we're a predominantly white company. You know, our leadership team is mostly white, and we've been, you know, building a company is not an easy thing and we've been in the process of the struggle to be a successful company, because it's not an easy thing to build a company. And the DEI conversation has been...

...something that's definitely been happening for a couple of years. But boy, I tell you, we are taking it a lot more seriously now. We are really looking at Oh yeah, how do we need to change? How do we need to evolve? What mindsets to David and I need to update ourselves with so that we can accurately respond to what is being asked of us right now? I'll tell you. My person option was okay, you know, this is something that the people ops team should spearhead and we should have a committee and something we should take seriously and we're going to delegate that over there. And I think the thing I've woken up to is, you know, and I and Josh, you and I, before the show I mentioned we our leadership teams in reading this book white fragility and just working to educate ourselves. And I think the you know, the big Ah for me was, you know that it's just being like well, I'm a good guy, I'm not a racist, so therefore I'm doing my part. Actually isn't enough, because that takes you out of the curiosity, it takes you out of the conversation, takes you out of the responsibility for the fact that we are one society and this is our job, it's change job, it's my job actually to lead the DII efforts, to hold the pole, and so that's a big shift that we've had just in the past two weeks now. That's that's fantastic. I mean it's a very, very tricky topic. I live in Oakland, so I live in a very diverse community, as you guys know. Yeah, and I went to a mostly black high school and I think in the United States the underlying issue is that the black community has been mistreated for hundreds of years. There's enormous trauma that they've been through and it's very hard for a white person to really know what it's like to be black and walk down the street and feel fear from the police or whatever it is that happens. And the thing about Dni that it always struck me, because we've been doing a lot of work, I've done research on Dni. I met...

...many, many Dni people. Were trying to do a DNI programming the academy. We haven't quite figured out how to frame it yet. Is I think DNI is a critically important program but I hope it isn't getting in the way of the real issue of pay transparency, pay fairness and talking about these issues in a way that people can share their fears and concerns. That which is what I think what you're finding out, and I want to read this book. I haven't read a yet, but I will and I think people are going to find that the issues are much more issues of trauma, sadness, fear and not anger. This is this part of and also, by the way, black community is not the same as every other minority. Black people the United States have been through a particularly terrible situation and their family situations are usually different because of that. So we can't just throw it into the brush of DNI and that's the same thing as gender. No, it's not. It's different yet, and so I think we're beginning to really really have that conversation at a national level, which means we have to have it in companies too. But I don't think companies can fix it. I mean I think companies can be part of the solution, but we can't. We can't say to this the CEO of apple or who will, why don't you hiring more black engineers? It's way, way more systemic than that and I hope everybody now realizes that. So, Josh, given you a bit of a future rest and you like to kind of think about where? Where do the current trends take us? I'm curious if you have any thoughts of where you see the DNI conversation. You know, how does this evolved? Where are we in relationship to how companies are actually supporting their black employees, how companies are supporting minority communities and five, ten years from now? I have an interesting perspective on it that might be a little controversial. First of all, we have to have the talk and we have to be fair and we have to... transparent and we have to be diverse and we have to enforce it. I think in some ways, inside of a corporation. D and I is like a safety program if you violate it, it's a safety violation, which means you have to think about it as not. We're going to do some training and cross our fingers that everybody behaves differently, but we're going to have metrics, we're going to have measures, we're going to have checks and procedures. When people get promoted, we're going to look at WHO's doing the promotion and how their promotion was done, and is there a committee of people looking at that promotion and are we being fair and diverse? When I went to work for IBM in one thousand nine hundred and eighty one, or whatever year it was, we had affirmative action. My first manager was a black guy and he was a great manager. I don't know if he would have been in that job today. He may not. The infirmative action programs did move the needle in a big way in the S, in the eighty's, and so I think we need to go back to more structural things inside of companies that prevent bad behavior from happening, because the bias is always going to be there. I mean it's just some of the stuff people are born with. US and it has to be not okay and set some rules. So I think we need to be a little bit more proactive inside of companies and I think a lot of the tech companies are trying to do that. They're trying to set very strict goals and maybe an African American or a woman or somebody who's a minority will get promoted faster than a white male, and you know the white males are going to sit around and get all upset about it, but maybe that's just what has to happen in society because we have so much stuff already going for us. Okay, it's not it's not that big of a deal if we don't get promoted right now because we have a million other things that we're bringing to the table that the society gave us. So I don't know how to put that into words, but that's kind of where I think we need to go. Yeah, I mean it is a tricky thing. I mean I was having this conversation about in an ideal world in the...

...future that I want to see is that we have diverse companies and diverse leadership teams and diverse boards, because that's just how things work, because we have a diverse society and there's equal opportunity and there are companies like that to you know, you go to Nestlee. I mean I've visited so many big companies around the world, companies that do business and many, many countries and have businesses that are uniquely like CPG companies, for example, where they have to build a product that appeals to people in this country of this nationality. They tend to be diverse by nature because they can't operate without being diverse. But companies that don't do business that way, they have to sort of force themselves. So it's it's definitely learning process for every organization. Can you tell us a little bit about the academy? We think it's an amazing idea and you know you're saying that you're looking at creating some DII content in the academy. Just give us all about of an overview of the academy and what the actual vision for this as I and what's the impossible goal with the academy? But you, guys, I think I got to thank you for asking me these guns of questions, because I don't get a chance to talk about this, for having my belief on hr having done it now for twenty years as an analyst. Is it? It's a devilishly complicated domain because it does cover so many of the topics we talked about earlier and it is more of a craft than a profession. It's not like accounting where you learn the general accounting gap and then you just go become an account you can't do that. You have to constantly be creating and iterating and learning from other people in order to do hr well. So what I wanted to do with the academy is create a place where hur people at all levels and all types of companies could come to learn what is the latest and greatest and bestest way to do all these different things. And it may not be written in a book yet somebody will write a book about it, but then there'll be another book after that. And... the academy is a place to learn. It's both formal and informal and unstructured. It's it is a place. People go in there. We have tenzero people in there now and so it's really growing and you can talk to each other. But the learning methodology is stories, case studies, lots and lots of videos from real practitioners and lots of interactive conversations directed in a learning strategy to get you to talk about the problems you have in your company and, based on the frameworks that we teach you what would be different ways of solving it, and then other people will communicate with you and you get a lot of feedback. So the way the learning design works is all of the formal programs are done in cohorts and you go through a group with about fifty, roughly fifty people, and by the end of the program you get to know all fifty people and you have all talked about the problems that you're trying to solve with those other fifty people. So not only do you learn from us and all the companies that we've studied, but you get to learn from this other group. So that's the idea of it, is to make it a very dynamic, continuously evolving learning experience, and it's turning out it's kind of working. I mean I didn't know if it would work, but it's really working and nomadic learning. The company I work with as a magnificent company and so we had lots of experience from them and you know, now we have the pandemic and we have public health, and I mean how many people in HR studied public health? Not that many, right. How many people studied infection and disease prevention? Not that many. So this is a perfect example of something we have to learn about very, very fast. You know, working remotely has been a big topic recently. Obviously resilience is a big topic. Positive psychology is a big topic. So we have a platform now where we can very quickly get this information together and create a learning experience for people. And the other thing about the academy that we realized over the last year is it. It is a safe home. We call it the home, the world's home for HR. It's a safe place to be yourself and... about the problems in your company in a supportive way. It is a community in a sense, although we don't really call it that, but it is a very much of a community and I think that spirit is alive and well in there. What are some of the topics that you haven't covered yet that you really want to cover? Well, we're working on a big program on organization design, which is a very complicated, rapidly changing topic. That'll be out later this year. We're working on a big program on organization individual resilience. That's all about the topics of designing the organization, in the business practices, in the HR practices and the individual practices for agility and resilience, because we're in a world of, you know, kind of more. They'll be more black swan events after this. Two Thousand S, I think, are going to be full of black swans. We got. Yep, you know where I mean. We're six months into the first year of the decade. You know, the whole thing in Minneapolis is sort of another black swan event and then you know they'll be more. We want to do a program on diversity inclusion, but I don't know how yet, so that's on the list. We have a pretty interesting program on recruiting and talent acquisition. We kind of push that off because that's less of a problem at the moment, but we'll get that out by the end of the year. We get a whole bunch of things on our list. That's great. If you had a magic wand and UK update yea the entire world of HR with one shift and one wish for every HR people off Department of the world. I think the biggest opportunity HR professionals have is to create their own t shaped career. In other words, go deep and go broad. Learn everything you can about the topic that you're the most interested in and then learn everything you can about the adjacent topics to that, because, as our professionals, cannot be specialist the...

...way they used to be. We have to be very aware of all of the HR practices touch each other. Now pay is impacted by diversity. Diversity is impacted by recruiting. Recruiting has to do with tech and then they and data, and so think about yourself as a full stack professional, like there's this idea of a full stack engineer. Will you know the harder in the database and the middleware and the UI and all that? I think in the best of all worlds, that's your career in hr, to become a full stack HR person. And if you do that and if you love it, you'll have a great career and you'll have incredible job opportunities and you'll add huge amounts of value. And it'll go in these meandering directions from company to company, and one day you'll be working on a project in and play experience, in the next day you'll be working on something else. Maybe it'll be workplace design. So it's a very rich career and I think that's my that's my dream, is that HR people really develop themselves in every possible way and that makes the world better, makes companies better, it makes work better for everybody. I love that you framed it before as a as really a craft over a profession, and I think that, you know, what you just described really gives color to that. One last question before we wrap. So you know we've you've seen fifteen five and you've got of seen our progression. So what do you think we should build next into the product? Well, first of all, I think you guys are an amazing company and let me just give you credit for what you're doing. The performance management software space has been brutal for a lot of vendors and you guys have done a really amazing job at not getting bogged down in the old models of performance management and actually creating a tool that really helps people run their companies in their teams, because that's what this is about. There's been temptation, there's been a lot of temptation, to go down back into the old way of doing it. Yeah, and you know people will ask for that in HR people will always ask for that. So you're going to constantly have to do with that as a challenge. I think the most interesting opportunity you guys have is to continue to build... enabling tools for being your best self, which is the vision that you guys have, and I think that's your philosophy. Getting to know you better, you know, is it tips, is it nudges? Is it suggestions? Is it training? Is it developmental assignments? What is it that will help me as a person, as an individual, as a team leader or as a manager or supervisor executive, become better, because I will in turn make my company better? That's a big whole bunch of options, exactly. It isn't it isn't just creating a link connection to linkedin learning and saying here's a bunch of training and go get it. It's a little more subtle than that, as you guys know. Yeah, and so I think you guys are very good at that and that that's, I think, where I would put my energies. Yeah, we agree. I think you got a guide people down the path and it's a you know, it's just like our lives and careers. It's a nonlinear process. So that that makes it an interesting challenge. This has been great. Josh, thanks for taking this time today. Any closing thoughts for our listener? Thank you, guys, for asking me such open ended questions that I don't always get to talk about. I would say for the HR people listening, you've probably gone a through a very tough year. Most of you probably haven't added a year anytime off this year. You're probably working a lot of hours, you're doing things that you never thought you had to do before, but I would say sort of strap in and just live through this. This is the greatest learning opportunity of your life. Two Thousand and twenty is the year of HR. In every single company, we are being asked to take on heroic roles, to partner with it, to partner with facilities, to partner with legal and figure out how to get through this process. You'll probably look back on this sometime in the future and say, wow, you know, that was a year that I really learned a lot and I met some amazing people and did some incredible things in our companies. So try to enjoy this, as stressful and difficult as it... That would be my number one message right now. Thank you so much, Josh. Thank you, guys. Fifteen five is the only evidence based people and performance platform for highly engaged and high performing organizations. Strategic HR leaders in all industries use the platform to win by improving communication, up leveling their managers and increasing company wide engagement. Learn more at Fifteen Fivecom you've been listening to HR superstars stories from the front lines of HR and people ops. Be Sure you never miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast player. If you're listening on Apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a thoughtful review or give a quick rating by tapping the stars. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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