HR Superstars
HR Superstars

Episode 16 · 1 year ago

HR Superstars Summit: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging


It’s not enough to run through a regulatory checklist when you’re establishing or expanding your company’s diversity, equity, inclusivity and sense of belonging initiatives.

Diversity and inclusion is not about checking boxes on a list; it’s about creating a space of belonging through shared intent, individual empowerment, and proactive listening. Our leadership teams should continually be striving to create such space for a positive and equitable employee experience.

This episode is a feature from the HR Superstars Summit. In it, David Hassel, CEO of 15Five, Santi Jaramillo, CEO and Co-Founder of Emplify, and Milena Berry, CEO and Co-Founder of PowerToFly, discuss facilitating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in the workplace.

We also talked about:

-Emplify’s role in achieving a ‘true’ sense of community.

-Vulnerability and feedback as authentic signals of your employees’ experience of the company.

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:



Agile Engagement (book by Santi)

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

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for HR Superstars in your favorite podcast player.

... I had first hand experienced a lack of diversity on my own team, and so I knew there's a concrete problem to solve and there was a story of hope, and I wanted to match those two. You're listening to HR superstars, a podcast from fifteen five that highlights stories from the front lines of HR and people ups. 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. Welcome everybody. This is a special live recording of the HR superstars podcast at the HR superstar summit. You can find this in all of our other episodes at fifteen fivecom podcast. Joining me today. I'm so thrilled our Santy, how to meet you and Molina Berry. For those of you who don't already know, we recently acquired amplify, an engagement measurement platform that was co founded by Sanzi, who's now joined our leadership team. Santy also wrote the Amazon Best Seller Agile Engagement, so I strongly recommend you check that out. MOLENA is actually going to be giving a talk here at the DEI summit. That's also going to be a follow on episode on the Podcast, and she is the CO founder and CEO of power to fly, the fastest growing global platform connecting diverse individuals with companies that val you work life, integration, female friendly benefits, equal pay for equal work and environments where they thrive. Welcome, sounty and Melena. Thank you. Thank you for having us. Yeah, it's great too, great to see things. I always like to start off and understanding Milena, you know a little bit about what had you arrived in this line of work like? What was it about this world of what you're doing that felt like became a mission in a calling for you? Thanks, David, for giving the chance for me to take to tell you part of my story. I always laugh when I start talking about it and I say there is a threeday version of the story and I'm going to give you the three minute version of the story, because life is not lanear right and there's always a lot of different prongs that come into place. As you know, you make decisions that are big decisions like this right, leave a job, start a start a company, with all of its trials and tribulations and triumphs, frankly, and excitement. And so really the short version of the stories that I'm a former chief technology officer, so I'm one of those few women in tech who actually had a pretty good career and I'm also a mother of for right now. I was a mother of three when I started the company and I gave birth to three kids in five years. Frankly, it was a crazy time. I didn't read news, I was not, you know, in the world for a while and when I got my head out of the sand, so to say, of that experience of, you know, muttering three kids in five years, I realized that there's a huge there's a huge gap for women in technology and I reflected on my personal experience and I said, Hey, this was not my experience. My story is actually a story of hope. I had a good job, I had work cloud balance, I was going to company changing the world, and it made me reflect on the why behind it and I realized that, you know, the the talent of today really needs a little bit more flexibility and he needs an employer that's going to allow them to have that work life balance that we're searching for. And it really inspired me to turn my story of hope into the story of hope for at a time half towards population. I also realize that, as a hiring manager and a former chief technology officer, I had first hand experienced the lack of diversity on my own team, and so I knew there is a concrete problem to solve and there was a story of hope, and I wanted to match those two and that was really the impetus behind behind power of fly. Well, that's great. Thank you. Thank... for sharing that storyline. End To follow up on the other's. Now this rising content and and movements to really expand the conversation between beyond diversity, equity and inclusion and talking about belonging as part of this, and some begun to talk about they be the I be and I'm curious from your perspective, how did that evolution happen? Why? What is it? What is why is it in put them, I asked five questions here. Why is it important and and how does it relate to the e and I it's actually a very good forte into what I'm going to speak about at the actual summit that you know starts. I thinking about fifteen minutes. My my little spield there. But the teaser for we yeah, no, no, no for me, and actually I want to recommend it, was a belief, pat waiters, who's formerly really high up in tonic position, a Linkedin, who coined the word the IB right, she came up with a be on the end of the and I'm really grateful to her. She's she's participating a lot of power fly thought leadership activities and we're very grateful to her. I mean, for me it's interesting because we started the company with really atanicquisition go in mind and that was the first problem we were solving. For Right, like the women are just are in there, the first cadids are there. Everybody was just like raising their hand, not really knowing where to start when it comes to attracting them. And what became clear over really the seven years that I've been at this is that the pipeline and attantic quisition is just a very small part of the problem, that we can do all the great work of attracting people in the funnel, but they were not necessarily process messing through the process and through the final the right way. And worst of all is they'd find a job dream job, amazing company, all that stuff, and then they'll figure out that they're not, they don't belong. So you know, really in the last two years we've done a lot of the world that we're doing is becoming more three hundred and sixty with how we look at things and starting the cycle from all right, you have the tonic question goals, but what is happening on the belonging to you? Let's talk about this first. Yeah, absolutely, that you've clued into about you when you said they find out they don't belong, or other specific, very common attributes about a culture that would have someone not feel they belong. I mean microaggressions. I think that is a very good example. Right, people don't even know when they say things that are microaggressions in most cases. Again, the you know, I personally identify as women, immigrant, Queer, right and and, but out of people identify with out of things. That's that's there, you know, ways to identify and in what we find out is that there's also a lot of tokenizing happening. Right. So, black lives matter happened. All of a sudden you're asking your black employee or employd to to to educate you on the subject. Then you know, this month, obviously, we are really talking about Asian Americans, and now you go into your Asian American colleague and expecting them to teach you everything. So things like that can become really detrimental to how people feel at work on a day to day basis. And it there's a lot that we can do right from you know, just just building out the culture of belonging and a recognition that we're all dealing with whatever we're dealing with. But it's so important to also recognize what somebody as some other group is going through. We doubt necessarily saying, and by the way, that's my experience, and kind of comparing or or putting them hand to hand. Right, like, we all allowed to have our own valid experiencing the workplace. We doubt necessarily having to compete with each other for, like, who is most on the privileged or who who's most tand to represent it. Yeah, that makes sense. I'm excited to hear the rest of your talk and to go deeper in those topics and not to steal all of that right now, I have a question for Santi. You know, having built amplify...

...over the last number of years, and working with companies to understand, you know, are people engaged there, and I would imagine belonging plays into a factor of that. How have you seen companies utilize the amplified platform to uncover some of the issues they need to work around? Yeah, yeah, it's a great question. I think you, Millenna. I love the expanding her eyes in the three hundred and sixty view of this of this topic, because I think I read an article in HP o Hover Business Review around this and they made a metaphor of inclusion and belonging and indiversity and from the comparing and contrasting those, all those necessary components of a an an effective and Human Maine employee experience. As you know, the adversity is being invited to the dance, to the middle school dance, and inclusion and belonging our being in invited to actually dance when you're there. And and boy does it not feel good to be invited to a party that no one wants to dance with you. And certainly for me, as a Columbian American that was born in South America and immigrated here to the US, I a deeply resonate with that that it is both not only the numbers of the diverse the top of the funnel, but also sort of the the middle of the bottom of the funnel, which is actually a recreating inclusive environment that, once we attract in higher diverse candidates that make our organizations and our team stronger and better. Or do we do we welcome them, do we hear their voice? Do we invite them? Do we continue to to to invite them into the conversation? So that was one of the focus areas at amplify. So if you're not familiar with Amplifi, were now extremely proud to be part of the fifteen five family and amplified now is the engagement product pillar of fifteen five. And so ad amplify the company that I co founded, but before joining fifteen five, we would measure employee engagement in a really, really actionable way and then be able to then consult with HR leaders and and managers actually coach them on the date on how to actually improve engagement. And so engagement is actually a proxy for inclusion and belonging. There we would often seek customers that would set up employee segments, data attributes and their data that they would of to amplify. That would include demographic information, whether it's age, ethnicity, various other other attributes of a diversity, and then they would look and slice and dice the data by how are we doing with our Hispanic team members, you know, for example? And many times we'd see that a company would do a great job of improving diversity from a numbers perspective and then there would be rampant disengagement inside of that one segment and attribute. And so to have actual data that employees feel safe to act because it's anonymous and confidential, to actually have an honest answer about how included and how their current sense of belonging is, and then for hr to be able to look at that data and understand where are the inequities happening, where are we doing a great job building and a diverse where are we falling short in terms of creating inclusive and belonging environments, and being able to know where the the the the opportunity to improve that is and then what to do about it can be really invaluable and having clarity to really strategically diagnosed an issue and and get after it. And certainly there would be times where where some of the issues would be in a particular area of the business which is really curious, like why is there an inclusion and belonging problem in the Marketing Organization and not at all in the sales organization with similar levels of of diversity? And many times we realize that it would be something that a manager unintentionally many times was doing and creating a not a welcoming and engaging an inclusive and belonging environment for those team member. So I'm curious to actually ask you, mally know from that perspective to be to be sure, top down policy around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging matters, but also at the local level,... the manager level, that's many times were the employees receiving a lot of their employee experience right with their peers and with that direct relationship with their manager. So I'm curious what you've seen as we transition to this to the to the next section, what have you seen in terms of that that balance of top down policy but also the importance of that local level of the manager and and executives? It's a really great question and something I talked about a lot in fact. So I once was meeting with a very big technology company and and their chief of staff was sharing a story with me where, you know, there was a huge top down initiative about, you know, Dib and so much so that the CEO was given a mandate to improve the metrics, you know, in whatever fashion they had agreed on, the KPIS, it had agreed on and if you know, and they tied his variable compensation, his decutive bonus, to meeting those metrics. The story doesn't end well here and it is because that executive and you know, did not pass down that incentive down the ranks. Right. So he said it's very important, right, like he said how important it is, but the KPI is in trickle down the chain and and that's kind of where things disconnected. And apparently, the stories that the board said, if you don't meet those metrics, the bonus that we were going to give you is going to go to chararities promoting diversity, acquity inclusion, which I thought was a really interesting strategy to get executive by in and and, you know, if the results are met, to actually support it the industry and the movement. Right. So that would be kind of one of my recommendations is, whenever you putting any sort of top down approaches make sure that the success metrics are propagated and actually tied to people's compensation. At the same time. I've you know, we also work with a lot of companies and we get there. They were see Equity Inclusion Council come to us and say we have this. You know, we, the employees, have gathered and we think that's super important and we want to do it, but it doesn't happen without executive alignment. So I really believe you actually need both a top down and a bottom ups approach for this to really really work, and you absolutely need money allocated to it. That's the other piece I'll say is that what happens when it's only a bottom up approach is that when you don't, you know, have the budgets to execute any of these programs, a lot of it gets stifled into works. Lots of activities happening but not a lot of results. So money speaks for sure in HR and in dip as well, and I want to tell you how many achieve diversity officers I've met with very tight budgets. They have to go and ask the businesses for budgets and I think that, to my eye, is often quite perform a day. Right, like you've hired this amazing chief diversity officer, but if you don't give them money, what you've just tied them so you can say you have one of a certain demographic that's not okay. You have to give budgets to chieve diversity officers. Yeah, and what you just said is validated. We we saw the same experience and engagement data that the companies that made the most progress around inclusion and belonging when they would focus on diversity, had that tight partnership between HR executive alignment and the managers. It's sort of the triangle that's needed for real change to occur in many times h are saying and people opt to saying this is a problem, we need it, and then business folks are like, is it a problem? And then data can be a really good trigger of just bit of saying, Hey, listen, the data is pretty clear, and then there's not a debate around do we actually have a problem? Know we have a problem and then we can all aligne around this is a problem, this matters and we should put some real commitment behind it. And many times it's exactly what that's fascinatingly to thank you so we've got a bunch of questions actually from folks and if you want to ask a question, if you have if you're something you'd like that as go into the QA section and you can ask there. I...

...think we've got someone of the team feeding us a queue of things that folks are curious about. So the first one from Jesse is around how fifteen five accounts for marginalized communities in the tool and the platform itself says. Well, I strongly believe in positivity, while acknowledging that pot toxic positivity is also a phenomenon. There are certain workplace experiences that are very specific to people of Color, to women, to non binary, to neurologically diverse folks, to queer people, to parents, etc. How do you account for these experiences that are very specific to these people? I think there was someone in the in the chat was talking about how anonymous surveys work, because sometimes people don't want to be known and they want to stay on this I wonder if something maybe you could start talking about why anonymous is an important component and I can kind of talk to the other side about why we feel non anonymous feedback is also really important. And So, before we designed the entire survey system, we did some research and we would ask folks will how do you actually know that your engagement surveys, your employee surveys, that the data is valid, that the data is actually real, because there's a real dist incentive sometimes for someone to be honest and say hey, I might be disengage on I'm seeing some real issues, I don't feel included and belonged. That can many times have, if not handled the right way, a negative impact on their career, compensation, etc. And so you know, many times they would walk us through their survey from the first five questions were how old are you, what's your demographic and what's your department? And I'm like, I know, I'm the only thirty something, you're old and marketing. That's Hispanic. They can you start off just feeling totally not so I think that the very first thing is that the way that we designed the engagement serve a fundamentally is that the organization gives us the attributes and we never ask the individual to give us those attributes themselves because, whether or regardless of whether they're confidential, people just don't feel like if they have to input it into the system that that's going to be handled carefully. So data integrity and data securities really important, so that only the right people, only a couple of people in HR have, have access to that. And there's also the rule of five, meaning that we will never show engagement results at fifteen five with our engagement serve it unless there are five respondents and at certain times three. Three can be a part of the conversation. Three respondents and at that point you're able to get really granular into a particular team or segment or demographic without exposing any individuals individual answers and tying it to their identity. And we always knew that our business would end the day that employees don't truly feel safe, that we are on during the bargain of creating a safe and open space for them to truly speak up about their authentic experience and it's our responsibility to display that data in a really, really conscious way to respect that that individuals and honesty and an authenticity that they're giving us, but yet at the same time be able to give Greeny larity to hr into leadership and be able to align them on hey, there's a problem here, generally speaking, and then that can be addressed in a really thoughtful in a really thoughtful way. Think that's that's really important part of it and every little thing, from the communication from the CEO saying we want your voice and this is important to please be honest, is our are all of the little touch points and that's why the engagement approach that we have is not only software, but it's also coaching and consulting, really partnering with H our leaders on how to do this really well, because employee feedback done well is incredibly powerful. Employee feedback done poorly's incredibly damaging. And so to just hand the keys to an organization, to a software tool and say good luck, we hope you don't mess up and blow up your culture in your business if you make a couple of mistakes, we sent and a were alongside the ride...

...for you. Where your copilot, your you have the hands on the wheel, but we can, we can make sure that you don't make any mistakes along the way because many, many times little little words, little tone chain is in welcome emails and how we explain the confidential a man you can can go a long way in either eroding trust or really creating a safe splace for people to be authentic and share their voice and it's really a gift for leadership to have the authentic voice of someone speak up and China white an opportunity for the company to be better. Yeah, I mean I can speak first and of that, having been in an amplified customer for two years before we actually decided to bring the companies together. You know how important how much of a gift that that is, when you really get insights into what's happening and where that where the areas that could be improved. I think making sure that you close that feedback loop, that someone from the company and leadership, if not the CEO, comes back and says, here's what we heard, these are the things that we think we have areas to improve. We're you know, these are the things we have the capacity to deal with now and these are this is what we maybe you're going to try to address a little bit later, but having people feel like the the feedback actually mattered, that it was considered, that the company cares about it is taking action, I think is something that really sets the foundation for further voluntary feedback. It's interesting is early in the early days, a very strong orientation to non anonymous feedback because of some of the downsides of anonymous feedback and the early days of building fifteen five we use the third party anonymous feedback tool and I remember saying to someone, Gosh, you know, I think like eighty percent of this feedback these people probably would have felt comfortable sharing with their name attached and now I can have a conversation with them about it, but that twenty percent that I knew people maybe didn't have the psychological safety to share, was really, really important. And so I think now blending these two things, with fifteen five being open, when there is trust between a manager and employee that you can share vulnerably something that you want to bring up and then actually have a dialog to resolution for that individual is an equal also important piece. And so getting back to the specific question of how do we use the tools to address experiences of different people's perspectives and experience as well, important to recognize that each person has a unique and different experience and giving them opportunities to communicate, whether they need the psychological safety of anonymous or they feel safe with their manager to share about their experience and what's going on. It's you're giving a number of different channels for them to to express themselves. And what I was going to say is that it's actually a really interesting conversation, as we had power of fly or try to navigate this an it was there's not anonymous, you know, putting it into a more structured tools process, etc. We're definitely getting into that stage. But for me, traditionally, and it actually it's amplified both in now cultural and communication principles as a company feedback, he's a gift right. This is really an and actually it's a huge part of our DNA to the point of if you we kind of tested during the interview process, we they might be perfect, but we would you know, they might not be perfect usually or not. Like nobody's perfect, and so we take out the thing that we see as a growth area and we provided feedback to an interview person. Then we see how do they react, because it's very easy to as a question. Tell me about a time somebody's given your feedback and everybody knows they have to, you know, say the feedback is great and so you want to test it on the spot of how that muscles developed. And frankly, a lot of people bread in a more traditional corporate environment don't really experience feedback in the same way as we expect to internally. And and and then the other word that you said, David, that really resonated with me is vulnerable. Right do people? Are People ready to be vulnerable enough to share that feedback with their manager? Well, vulnerabilities and not a key kind of cultural pillar stone for us and that you if you cannot display vulnerability in your hiring process, you do not get hired. Right, and I'm usually the vulnerability...

...check so I ask a lot of weird questions. But but it does take I think, especially in the remote first team, and we are remote first steam. That's part of how you create culture, is our ability to outside of the you know, I'm not going to bump into in your office, I'm not going to see the frown on your face. I might be missing some of them. You know, physical cues of of human interaction I am I able to share with other people, because that's how you create cohesion. Right, people can you know? They bound over the heroes journey and over the hardships that they've gone through in life. And and so vulnerability and feedback a kind of handling are just to key components that are not only important once you start a job at like you got a scream for it on the way in. Yeah, having people who are are ready and at that stage where they feel like they can participate in that way. You know, it's harder than in this remote environment that we're all we're all in and many companies are in sent permanently or semi permanently. One of the things that we've done is really, really this belief that with more trust comes the ability to feel safer, to have more safe safety and be more vulnerable. And we have a we have a fun thing that we do on Fridays where we invite anyone who wants to come together for question Friday and once a month somebody becomes the question asker and they show up every morning at ninety and Pacific and ask it a personal question and we have, you know, sometimes eighty people in the room. We're going to break out so we don't get to share about our lives for fifteen to twenty, thirty minutes and get to know each other as human beings and recreate some of that that you, you know, would have if you were in an office and say hey, let's let's all go out to lunch. So you know, I think that having practices like that are are our great ways to shortcut the I think, or recreate what you would get naturally if you were all together. Our version of it it's called Tgiif, a spinoff of Tgif, and it's like one Friday morning a month we say it's saying God, it's inspiration Friday, right, and so then we talk can not not no work related things, but simply what inspired us. I mean people can really talk about anything but the if they need help with a with the script and the prompt, it's what inspired you recently and what is something personal happening, you know, this weekend or just month of whatever it is, and so and then you kind of post on the mictne next person. So you avoid the limbo there. But it's been a really a fantastic way to just get to know people on a personal level in every mode setting. I think that's really key. I love that. Yeah, we're actually working on creating more of a menu of offerings for people who want different types of those types of interactions and I think we might borrow that one. That's really great. 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, would 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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