How Zoom’s chief people officer handled unprecedented growth during the pandemic

Lynne Oldham
Lynne Oldham is the chief people officer at Zoom.

  • Lynne Oldham oversaw Zoom’s HR response during the pandemic.
  • The company started hiring for hundreds of openings to meet 30x increases in demand in March 2020.
  • Oldham brought in a new chief diversity officer who helped reshape the company’s equity efforts.
  • This article is part of a series highlighting high achievers in HR called “Most Innovative HR Leaders.”

There aren’t many companies or products that have been as central to the pandemic workplace experience as Zoom.

In a six-week period, the video meeting software went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million, a 30 times increase that put chief people officer Lynne Oldham in a very complicated situation. She had to increase the employee headcount significantly while moving the entire company remote and meeting the needs of this skyrocketing demand. For these efforts, Oldham was also named one of Insider’s HR Innovators for 2021.

Over the past year, Zoom added new leadership in cybersecurity, engineering and product, and a chief diversity officer. It also made an acquisition of Keybase, further complicating the execution of Oldham’s workforce strategy as they added hundreds of new employees.

Oldham also had to keep pre-pandemic employees top of mind. These workers were tasked with handling the initial bursts of demand, as well as a sharp shift to remote work.

“Zoom’s workforce was only 15% remote pre-pandemic,” Oldham said. “This meant most Zoom employees were navigating a new work from home environment while also working long hours to keep the Zoom platform up, and make updates to address the needs of new users and educate new users.”

One of her first priorities was holistic support for employees, adding new mental health benefits and wellness offerings, which expanded from covering gym memberships to covering grocery and food delivery, home office furniture, and more.

Oldham and her team also created “Camp Zoomitude” for the children of Zoom employees. This summer program provided “camp-based” virtual activities three days a week and featured family sing-a-longs on Fridays.

Screen Shot 1400 02 15 at 11.27.06
A screenshot from Camp Zoomitude, hosted by Jodi Rabinowitz, head of talent and organizational development at Zoom.

For newer employees, Oldham put a heavy emphasis on their digital onboarding program. Knowing they would be adding to their headcount significantly, Zoom leadership knew their onboarding needed extra attention. Oldham notes that today approximately a third of company employees are so new that they have never set foot in an office or met their coworkers.

Zoom announced the hiring of chief diversity officer Damien Hooper-Campbell in late May 2020. After George Floyd’s murder, Oldham facilitated an “all hands” town hall-style meeting to hear from employees on how they were feeling. In follow-up, executive leaders held additional listening sessions with Black employees to continue gathering feedback.

“Learning and education, we believed, were the key to making Zoom a more inclusive workplace,” Oldham said.

Continuing on the theme of education, Zoom launched ZoomTalks, a nine-part series of discussions on race in America completed in partnership with TIME and the University of Southern California where Hooper-Campbell was a co-host. Zoom also forged a five-year partnership with Claflin University, an HBCU, that will spend $1.2 million to provide internships, scholarships, technical support, strategy support, and more.

For Oldham, the main lesson from the pandemic was the responsibility for the holistic support of employees and the role that HR can play there.

“We are now all working through the cracks of life rather than just trying to live life through the cracks of work,” she said. “This means for the HR profession that social engineering will be more critical than ever. Understanding social capital and the nature of the remote workspace is going to be vital so that we can help create collaborative, innovative work cultures in the new remote/hybrid world.”

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As ESG investment and goals expand and the sector evolves, expectations grow for more accountability and data

US envoy for climate John Kerry, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US President Joe Biden listen as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks on screen during a climate change virtual summit on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC
US envoy for climate John Kerry, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US President Joe Biden listen as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks on screen during a climate change virtual summit on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC

  • Insider polled 614 business decision-makers in 7 countries about investment in innovation, ESG, and purpose.
  • A majority of respondents reported that their companies have ESG policies as well as specific goals.
  • Companies are learning how to measure ESG performance, as investors look for consistent, reliable data and analysis.
  • Visit Insider’s Transforming Business homepage for more stories.

Companies are increasingly setting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, as systems to measure the impact of ESG initiatives are evolving to meet the moment.

The momentum could be a driver of new areas of business transformation, particularly if companies focus on outcomes in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

The increased focus on ESG is unmissable. During a Transforming Business roundtable in December, Insider asked the panel about a reported surge in demand for ESG investing, fueled at least in part by the pandemic.

“Millennials are value-led investors – and they’re getting older and they’re getting wealthier,” said Edward Lees, a senior portfolio manager at BNP Paribas Asset Management, and a 2020 Transformer. “So this whole demographic of up-and-coming, value-led, climate-conscious people is being joined at the same time with an explosion of democratizing investment products where you can go on your mobile phone and pick a theme and press a button.”

The focus on ESG goes beyond individual millennial investors, however, as fund managers and insititutional investors are under increasing pressure to include ESG offerings for their clients and to supplement their own holdings.

A recent Transforming Business poll* of 614 business decision-makers showed that 60% of respondents their company had set formal ESG goals. Greenhouse gas emissions topped the goals set, followed by water consumption and carbon offsets. Equity and social justice, and diversity and inclusion were also among the higher priorities.

Measurement and accountability

The pressure is on to quantify ESG investment and outcomes, including at the US government level where newly confirmed SEC chairman, Gary Gensler, is expected to focus on ESG reporting. President Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate solidified this administration’s commitment to tackle global warming.

In February, Allison Herren Lee, at that time the acting chair of the SEC, released a statement signaling the admistration’s increased focus on these initiatives. “Now more than ever, investors are considering climate-related issues when making their investment decisions,” her statement read. “It is our responsibility to ensure that they have access to material information when planning for their financial future.”

In September, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Business Council (IBC) partnered with major accounting firms to create the reporting framework of 21 ESG standards, and more than 60 companies have agreed to adopt the framework.

The greater the accountability from companies, the greater the potential rewards, as investor appetite for these products grows. “The truth is, being an ESG leader does not guarantee your financial and business success, says Martin Whittaker, CEO of JUST Capital. “It’s way more complicated than that. You have to be able to assess what are companies really doing across environmental, social, and governance issues, how does that really relate to company’s short term accounting and financial performance, and how can i use that as an investor?

ESG, DEI, and business transformation

As companies race to implement ESG goals and operations, progress in these areas may drive new levels of business transformation. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), which are core tenants in the “social” portion of the ESG framework, is a crucial factor for driving products and programs that fuel innovation.

“The process of innovation as it happens within companies, and the beneficiaries of innovation, i.e. the customer, are all wrapped up in the “S” of ESG,” Whittaker said. “Knowing your customer, knowing your supply chain, what your customer wants and how you are meeting those needs – all that requires a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and requires companies to rethink how they do that.”

“Your progress towards innovation could be stifled if you’re not pursuing a DEI strategy,” he said.

*This SurveyMonkey Audience poll targeted individuals who work in a management capacity at their company according to the Audience panel. They included respondents from Hong Kong (n=50), Singapore (n=50), The United States (n=207), Canada (n=104), France (n=52), the United Kingdom (n=51), Germany (n=50) and India (n=50), with local translations in Germany and France. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected total of 614 respondents March 3-4, 2021.

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1 in 3 women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year, according to a new survey. Here’s what employers should do to help.

Black women influencers
Many women of color are often the ‘first’ or one of a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and the challenging dynamics that come with that are exhausting.

  • Women of color often feel unheard, unseen, and mentally and physically burned out at work.
  • A new survey found that nearly “two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
  • Women of color don’t feel safe talking about their challenges or saying they need a break without it affecting their career.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Women of color are exhausted. That is why so many of them are planning on leaving their job by sometime next year. Are you one of them?

A recent survey by Fairygodboss, the largest career company for women, and nFormation, a community for and by professional women of color, found that one in 3 of all women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year. More than anything else, the women surveyed cited feelings of burnout as their reason for leaving.

As the saying goes, a woman’s work is never done, and in 2020 our workloads became back-breaking. Many women faced additional family duties such as homeschooling kids, or taking care of aging parents in addition to having to shoulder most household responsibilities and increased demands at work.

“When you add all of these factors on top of the racial, gender, and class-based trauma caused by the events of the past year and the ways that those events directly impact the hearts, minds, and psyches of women of color, it can be easy to understand why all of us just need a break,” said Rha Goddess, cofounder of nFormation. “We have to remember that women of color are navigating the challenges of often being a ‘first’ or a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and many of the challenging dynamics that come with that, even in the best companies, are already exhausting.”

With women of color facing both the COVID-19 pandemic and the plague of racism, Goddess said, of course, stress levels increased in 2020. The survey found that despite lofty statements about a commitment to diversity, nearly two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. And 60% of women of color feel that their companies are not prepared to handle racist incidents in the workplace – both contributing factors when it comes to leaving their jobs.

“Many of the women we speak with at nFormation are tired of having the same conversations over and over again with leaders who just don’t seem to consider the full scope of their realities and the ways in which they differ greatly from their white colleagues,” Goddess said. “They want to be in the company of people who get it without the need for a PowerPoint.”

Furthermore, many women of color want more than a career; they desire a calling, which also causes women of color to consider leaving their jobs.

“COVID has caused many women of color to reconsider their career paths and they want to find a career with greater purpose,” said Georgene Huang, CEO and cofounder of Fairygodboss.

Reclaiming my time after leaving my job

Dionne Nicole of Houston, Texas, recently left her job at a full-service boutique marketing agency. She was hired to be a copywriter but as the company’s number of clients grew and the staff didn’t, she found her role expanding. Soon, she was handling strategy, business coaching, and project management for clients.

Then 2020 happened.

“It was a challenging year for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, but especially for me, as a single Black woman,” she said. “George Floyd’s murder was such a stark reminder that I’m not safe in this country, that the work isn’t over, and I have to continue to advocate for myself.”

Nicole says she felt that in order to do so, leaving her job was a must. She needed to no longer be in an environment that didn’t support her well-being.

“I also need to have more control over who benefits from my intelligence and gifts because I want the world to be different and I feel called to do my part,” she said. “That’s why I decided to start my own business.”

Today Dionne Nicole is a holistic business coach for women who want to do business differently. Her goal is to show women that the 9-to-5 or 40-hour workweek model isn’t the only path to productivity – something she realized during her time at her previous job.

“I need to have space for deep work, and I need to be able to stop and go for a walk and let my ideas marinate instead of being behind a desk just for the sake of being seen as working,” she said. “There is absolutely not just one way to accomplish something.”

Most of all, Dionne Nicole wants to help the women she works with to prioritize self-care. During the pandemic, she recorded more than 100 episodes for her podcast Unconventional Self-Care Diary to offer ways women can reexamine their relationship to self-care.

“A bath only goes so far,” she said.

Dionne Nicole wants to help women learn how to give themselves a break.

“More than anything, I’m on a mission to help women value rest because in a world that is ‘go, go, go,’ I want to reclaim my time,” she said. “My ancestors didn’t have the luxury of rest, so I actually consider it a form of my reparations.”

What can companies do to better serve women of color?

If companies want to retain the women of color they employ, they must get serious about diversity and inclusion initiatives – which means moving beyond lip service.

“Corporate pledges and statements are a great place to start, but they need to be backed up with actions,” Huang said.

These actions should include investing time and resources into defining a diversity and inclusion strategy that spans recruitment, hiring, and workplace practices and that sets specific goals.

“From thousands of anonymous company reviews left on Fairygodboss, we know that seeing women and women of color, in positions of leadership is critical in attracting women to your organization and is a clear example of showcasing your commitment to gender diversity,” Huang said.

Company leaders must be willing to have difficult conversations.

“There has to be honest dialogue about where the gaps are in knowledge, mindset and behavior so that they can be addressed,” Goddess said. “Company leaders need to be willing to be educated about realities that are distinct from their own.”

Women of color need to feel safe to talk about the challenges they face and safe to say they need a break without it being detrimental to their career. Women of color also need to feel supported in their goals and aspirations.

“High quality leaders understand the importance of investing in their people,” Goddess said. “According to our women, there are cases where individual leaders within companies are doing it and it makes a world of difference when a woman of color can say that she feels seen and heard by the people who are supposed to serve and support her leadership.”

Women of color want credit where it’s due. When they don’t get it, they consider leaving their jobs.

“They want their intelligence, brilliance and infinite potential to be recognized instead of taken for granted,” Goddess said. “They want to be honored for their contribution.”

But company leaders must care about their employees’ overall well-being, too.

“At nFormation, our women are seeking a kind of asylum from all of these never-ending demands to put everyone else’s needs and agendas before their own health,” Goddess said. “Yes, women of color are strong, but we are also human.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon was ranked by LinkedIn as the best place to grow your career. But the list omitted major factors like pay and race.

LinkedIn office
LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, ranked Amazon as the best company for US workers to grow their careers in 2021.

  • Linkedin published its list of the top US companies for career growth, ranking Amazon first.
  • LinkedIn’s revamped criteria this year included factors like promotion rates and gender diversity.
  • But the list didn’t consider other key factors like pay and racial diversity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In his final letter to shareholders as Amazon’s CEO earlier this month, Jeff Bezos downplayed concerns about the company’s working conditions, defending it as “Earth’s best employer and Earth’s safest place to work.”

The letter came on the heels of Amazon’s aggressive anti-union campaign, multiple illegal firings of whistleblowers, a tripling in the number of labor complaints against the company last year, and climbing injury rates that are nearly double the industry standard.

When Amazon announced its quarterly earnings call this week, it leaned on another source to prove that it’s a great place to work: LinkedIn. On Wednesday, the Microsoft-owned job platform published a list ranking “the 50 best workplaces to grow your career in the U.S.” in 2021.

According to LinkedIn’s criteria, Amazon earned the top spot, which the company touted in its earnings release along with high marks on lists by Fortune and Boston Consulting Group.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

LinkedIn did a massive overhaul of its criteria for this year’s list – which it explained in depth in an accompanying blog post – eventually landing on what it said were seven “pillars” that researchers have shown lead to career progression: “ability to advance; skills growth; company stability; external opportunity; company affinity; gender diversity and educational background.”

While any list claiming to rank the “top” anything is ultimately based on subjectively chosen criteria, several seemingly important factors didn’t make the cut, including salary data or any demographic data beyond gender.

LinkedIn confirmed salaries were not factored into the rankings but wouldn’t comment further about salaries on the record.

“In terms of the diversity pillars, we measure gender diversity, specifically, which looks at gender parity within a company, as well as educational background, analyzing the spread of educational attainment among employees. We are working on additional diversity criteria and hope to continue expanding this pillar in future years,” LinkedIn spokesperson Maggie Boezi told Insider in an email.

Amazon paid its median employee $29,007 last year, and the company said this week that it would raise pay by up to $3 per hour for 500,000 employees. But despite lucrative salaries and benefits for corporate employees, research has shown for years that Amazon setting up new warehouses often drives down wages in the area.

Those salary disparities take on added significance when factoring in the racial disparities between Amazon’s warehouse and corporate employees. In 2020, 32.1% of all Amazon employees were white, while 13.6% were Asian, 26.5% were Black, 22.8% were Latinx, 3.6% were multiracial, and 1.5% were Native American.

But the path upward is narrow for employees of color at Amazon.

Among corporate employees, 47% are white, while 34.8% were Asian, 7.2% were Black, 7.5% were Latinx, 3% were multiracial, and 0.5% were Native American. Among senior leadership, 70.7% were white, 20% were Asian, 3.8% were Black, 3.9% were Latinx, 1.4% were multiracial, and 0.2% were Native American.

LinkedIn’s decision to rank Amazon as the best place to grow your career without accounting for racial diversity data may be especially surprising to some members of Amazon’s diversity and inclusion teams, who told Recode that internal Amazon data showed that Black employees are promoted at a lower rate and given worse performance reviews than white coworkers.

Insider’s Allana Akhtar also reported that Amazon lags far behind competitors like Walmart – ranked ninth on LinkedIn’s list – when it comes to Black and Latino representation in upper management.

As for Amazon’s warehouse workers, Bloomberg reported in December that Amazon is “transforming the logistics industry from a career destination with the promise of middle-class wages into entry-level work that’s just a notch above being a burger flipper or convenience store cashier,” citing government data that showed more than 4,000 Amazon employees are on food stamps in just nine states.

Turnover rates at Amazon warehouses are estimated to be as high as 100%, according to the National Employment Law Project.

One possible explanation for why LinkedIn’s list still ranked Amazon first despite the above data may be that its list appeared to focus on white-collar workers.

In her blog post explaining the methodology, LinkedIn senior managing editor Laura Lorenzetti, said that the list “since its inception showed professionals where people like them were most eager to work.”

Boezi, the LinkedIn spokesperson, told Insider that the list included all full-time and part-time employees regardless of job title – except freelancers and interns – and that LinkedIn “regressed our findings against outside sources such as the World Bank and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and evaluated various scoring mechanisms for every pillar we selected.”

While LinkedIn’s list may not single-handedly change jobseekers’ minds, Amazon’s case reveals how the underlying data that goes into such rankings is far from unbiased.

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TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson, who oversees 17,000 employees, shares the one leadership trait that’s the most important in today’s corporate world: empathy

Roger Ferguson
Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA, said interpersonal skills were crucial to his success.

  • TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson is set to retire at the end of April after 13 years as a corporate chief.
  • Insider spoke with Ferguson about what he’s learned about leadership.
  • He explained why empathy is the most important skill for leaders to develop and show today.
  • This article is part of a series called “Secrets of Success,” which examines specific leadership tips from prominent business leaders.

Roger Ferguson knows a thing or two about leadership.

As the vice chair of the Federal Reserve from 1997 to 2006, he steered the country’s economy through the massive financial aftershock of September 11. After serving as an executive and then chair of reinsurance company Swiss Re for two years, he took the helm as CEO of TIAA in April 2008 – leading a financial-services company that manages over $1 trillion in retirement funds.

And in the past year, he’s overseen 17,000 employees through a shift to remote work during a pandemic and the racial reckoning following George Floyd’s death.

“I’m really proud of the fact that during those periods, we kept our values,” Ferguson told Insider. “We have come through these series of crises as a financially strong and stable company with ample capital.”

Ferguson is set to retire at the end of April, handing the company over to Thasunda Brown Duckett, former CEO of consumer banking at JP Morgan. As his tenure as the company’s chief winds down, he’s had more time to reflect on his career. He told Insider that there are four specific traits that define a good leader: expertise, vision, perseverance, and empathy.

Empathy, he said, has been the most helpful in his career as a leader – especially during difficult or uncertain times. Having this trait, regardless of your industry, will make you a better manager or executive, he said.

Empathy, as Ferguson defines it, is the ability to create an environment in which team members can bring all of themselves to work.

“Individuals don’t want to follow someone who’s going to treat the follower as just a cog in some grand plan, a small piece of wood in the large machine – that does not make anyone feel very good,” the CEO said.

Effective leaders take time to embrace diversity, the unique skill sets individuals bring to the table. They care about how their employees feel and cultivate an environment where all people can feel comfortable.

Workplace experts agree that empathy, and emotional intelligence in general, are key to leading productive and engaged teams.

Empathy can take many forms. It can be a leader making work more flexible for employees juggling caregiving responsibilities or expanding child care benefits, as many parents struggle to work and raise their children during a pandemic. Ferguson took both of these steps to support employees recently.

“In a crisis moment, showing some empathy gets people to follow you,” he said.

There’s a clear payoff. People are generally happier when they’re shown empathy. And multiple studies, including one conducted in 2019 by the University of Oxford, have found that happier employees are more productive.

“At the end of the day, the leader probably makes a small number of decisions, but many other people make daily decisions and they must be done in a way that’s consistent with the larger goal,” Ferguson said. “I think that’s best done by people who are really most engaged and are really committed to and bought into the vision.”

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Walmart significantly beats out Amazon when it comes to Black and Latino representation in upper management

walmart employees
Walmart employs a higher rate of Black and Latino executives relative to Amazon.

  • Black and Latino people are represented better within Walmart’s upper management than Amazon.
  • Black and Latino people made up 14% of US presidents and vice presidents at Walmart.
  • Just 3.8% of senior leaders at Amazon are Black, and 3.9% are Latino.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Diversity among underrepresented groups within Walmart’s upper management slightly beats Amazon.

Black and Latino people accounted for 14% of US “officers” last year, the company reported. Walmart defines officers as leaders who have president or vice president in their job titles.

At Amazon, Walmart’s primary competitor, Black employees made up only 3.8% of senior leaders, and Latino people accounted for 3.9% of senior management roles.

Read more: Frustrated third-party sellers say Walmart’s platform is severely lacking compared to Amazon, and they are desperate for the retail giant to catch up

Although white people are overwhelmingly represented in senior leadership at both companies, fewer senior roles at Amazon than at Walmart – 70.7% compared with 74.5% – are held by white employees, due to higher representation of Asian employees in the e-commerce giant’s upper ranks.

Asian-Americans are not underrepresented groups at most tech companies, but still report facing racial discrimination and a lack of promotions on the job.

Black employees made up 31% of the lowest-level roles at Amazon in 2020, and Latino workers accounted for 26% of the lowest-level roles. At Walmart, 39% of hourly workers are Black and Latino. White people account for 52.3% of hourly Walmart workers, but only 28.5% of Amazon’s field and customer support workers.

Got a tip? If you’re a Walmart worker, you can contact Insider reporter Allana Akhtar by email (aakhtar@businessinsider.com), phone (646-376-6058), or encrypted messaging app Signal (248-760-0208). We can keep sources anonymous.

Walmart, the country’s largest employer, had 1.5 million total workers in the United States last year. Amazon did not disclose the total number of US workers in a recent report, but said it plans to increase headcount to an estimated 1.2 million workers last year.

Amazon senior vice president Beth Galetti acknowledged the firm has “more work to do” to build a diverse and inclusive environment. The company said it will double the current number of Black directors and vice presidents in 2021, as well as increase the number of Black employees in corporate roles by 30%.

Amazon did not have additional statement to add. Walmart was not immediately available for additional comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

ADP has developed a workforce-diversity tool that lets you compare your company’s progress with others

Office workers stock
ADP’s new dashboard lets companies benchmark the diversity of their workforce.

  • ADP’s new DEI Dashboard lets companies break down data by ethnicity, gender, age, and disability.
  • Employers can also compare their company’s makeup to others in the same industry or region.
  • ADP told Insider that the dataset was the top-rated request by its clients.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

HR-tech company ADP has launched a new platform that lets employers compare their workforce’s diversity to similar companies.

The tool also lets companies see whether they’re retaining and promoting employees from marginalized communities at the same rate as others.

This development comes as the pandemic continues to widen healthcare, employment, and financial inequalities.

The World Economic Forum said closing the global gender gap would take an extra 36 years, due to the impact of the pandemic, during which 5% of all employed women lost their jobs, compared with 3.9% of employed men.

Meanwhile, staff have slammed BlackRock, McDonald’s, and Salesforce for their slow progress in improving workplace diversity – and DEI executives told Insider’s Marguerite Ward they’re burning out amid the billion-dollar push to diversify corporate America.

Read more: Verizon has pledged to spend 30% of its production dollars on minority-owned production companies, and has built a tool to vet its ads for bias

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Dashboard is part of ADP’s DataCloud and lets companies break down data by criteria including employees’ ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and veteran status.

ADP DEI Dashboard
ADP’s DEI Dashboard lets you track diversity trends over time.

ADP says the tool will help companies see the makeup of their employees and identify whether any diverse groups are underrepresented.

The software also lets companies benchmark themselves against similar organizations using what ADP says is one the largest available sets of real workforce data.

Jack Berkowitz, ADP’s senior vice president of product development, told Insider that this is the first time such large-scale benchmarking tools have been made widely available on the HR-software market.

ADP’s DataCloud lets employers select comparison companies by industry, size, or location. The data is aggregated to protect employees’ privacy.

As well as comparing DEI, the tool also lets companies compare organizational metrics like headcount, labor costs, and turnover. This lets employers see, for example, how their headcount by department compares to others in the same industry, or what percentage of total labor costs other companies in their region spend on sales and marketing.

Suzanne Harris, vice-president of human resources at IT-services company NexusTek and an ADP client, told Insider the company would use the tool to compare diversity data over time so that it can monitor trends and track progress.

And as well as looking at overall data, NexusTek plans on using the data to provide executives and managers with specific metrics related to their department and job functions, too.

Some companies, like The Carlyle Group, are going one step further by tying managing director promotions to inclusive leadership.

“There’s never been a time for people data to be more important,” Berkowitz said. He added that ADP evaluates around 400 software and tool requests from customers each year and a comparable EDI dataset was the top-rated request.

HR companies are responding to this growing demand for diversity data, too.

Website Glassdoor, for example, added a “diversity and inclusion rating” to its job-review system, and also lets job seekers compare pay and ratings by demographic groups.

Meanwhile, former college careers advisor Byron Slosar set up recruitment app Hive Diversity, which connects employers with a focus on DEI to college students from underrepresented communities.

Harris added, however, that it’s important to not just have a diversity approach reliant on checking boxes or meeting quotas.

“It is more important to us that all our employees, regardless of their background, feel included and valued and that we have a healthy culture that allows them to bring their authentic self to work each day,” she told Insider.

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Two UK-based venture capitalists weigh in on whether the investing industry has improved its diversity in Europe

PAULA GROVES   bycompany

Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor-and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which inspired racial justice protests around the world-businesses across corporate America and Europe spoke out against racism and discrimination last spring.

Venture capital funds were no different. Silicon Valley behemoths, from Sequoia and Bessemer to Kleiner Perkins, tweeted about doing better on diversity. But as the anniversary of Floyd’s murder approaches, has anything really changed in the investing world?

“I think we have, absolutely, [seen change],” said Paula Groves, a general partner at the venture capital firm Impact X, which invests in underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. “You see a number of companies and corporations…start to allocate funding to Black entrepreneurs. … All of these corporate giants have been spurred by the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, and I applaud their efforts.”

Groves-who began her career on Wall Street in the 1980s, then worked in private equity before spinning out her own VC fund focused on women- and minority-led tech companies-said that regardless of what investors may say about diversity, what really matters is where they put their money.

“Getting capital in the hands of [diverse] entrepreneurs is going to be so important from a wealth creation standpoint,” she said.

Supporting Black entrepreneurs has broader implications beyond just their individual companies, Groves said. Studies show that Black entrepreneurs typically support other Black businesses, such as restaurants. They’re also more likely to employ Black people in their own companies. It’s called the virtuous circle, and leads to wealth creation, which then leads to more entrepreneurship.

Funding Black founders also makes good business sense for investors.

“Mainstream entrepreneurs are getting most of the capital, as we know, and certain deals are oversaturated,” said Groves. “When deals become oversaturated, they become overvalued. … If we can find these hidden gems, we can take advantage of a valuation arbitrage, if you will, providing capital at a lower valuation, working with businesses to grow, and creating strategic value.”

Boosting diversity from within

Andy Davis, the founder and general partner of the 10×10 fund in London, said he is optimistic about progress being made inside venture capital firms themselves.

“On the VC side of things, we’ve seen a lot more Black VCs not only get interviews but get hired,” he said. “We’re seeing more people get to the final stages of interviews and get offered funds-so the VC industry is moving, in my opinion, though it’s moving slowly.”

Davis has worked in the past with the London-based firm Atomico, which he said is making a concerted push to hire more Black investors. That said, many of the roles being offered to Black candidates are entry- or mid-level. That’s below the seniority level at which real investment decisions are made.

“There is an issue at the check-writing level,” Davis said. “We do need to progress the careers of those who are at mid-level.”

He said there are only a few Black venture capital partners in the UK, and those that exist are partners at their own funds. In other words, there are no Black partners at non-Black firms.

Davis, who began his career as a startup founder before moving into angel investing, created a network of Black British founders in 2015. A few years later, he started a similar community for Black venture capitalists and angel investors. Those efforts have culminated in the 10×10 venture capital fund, an early stage fund to invest in Black founders, announced last July and launching next quarter. It will begin with about £3 million ($4.2 million).

Europe vs. the US

So far, both Davis and Groves work primarily with British startups. In some parts of continental Europe, investing in diverse entrepreneurs is complicated by a lack of data. In France and Germany, for example, the governments do not collect racial statistics at all.

Even in the UK, a recent study by Extend Ventures-a not-for-profit for diverse entrepreneurs-found a dearth of data on diversity in venture capital.

“We must be prepared to shift the status quo significantly on race with the same determination that we’re tackling gender disparity,” wrote industry expert Patricia Hamazhee in the report. “Without data, we cannot marshal the evidence that is demanded before change can be made.”

Groves said there is a handful of European investors starting to build out the Black entrepreneurial ecosystem, and that she believes it will grow.

“I would say that the European ecosystem is probably about 20 years behind the US ecosystem,” she said, adding that that’s true of the VC space in general, not just in terms of VC diversity.

Davis agreed that American VC funds tend to have more capital-and that the US has more of a startup culture.

“In the UK we are traditionally conservative, and in the US they are a lot more open to risk and the idea of entrepreneurship,” he said.

What next?

“In the wake of Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd movement, I think other people are starting to wake up to what I believe is an opportunity-not just to right a societal wrong, but also to maximize results and bring equality,” said Groves. “I believe that economic inclusion and the economic domain is the next place for equality in our society.”

For her, the key to getting Black entrepreneurs better access to capital is to prove that investing in them makes good business sense.

“Oftentimes people feel like the solution is to get a bunch of really smart people in the room and sit down and talk about strategy, and brainstorm what’s broken and how do we address these needs, and write a report,” she said. “We’ve done that for years. We have the data, we have the information, we’ve proven the business case-so let’s start to deploy the capital.”

Impact X, which has raised money from high-net-worth individuals in the UK and US, has so far invested in more than 20 transactions. The firm has had one exit-a fintech company, which it exited at a 7x markup in valuation from its initial investment. Groves hopes to have two more exits by June.

“So we’re proving the thesis,” she said. “[We’ve got], not just the data as to why it makes sense from an academic standpoint, but now we have actual financial results that we can point to.”

When it comes to finding diverse European entrepreneurs to invest in, Davis said there are plenty to choose from. “Every month I see about 120 companies and end up investing [personally] in 0.8 percent,” he said. Of those 120 diverse startups, about 100 are founded by Black entrepreneurs. “So,” he said, “when they say there’s a pipeline problem, it’s not on the founder end.”

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4 steps diversity and inclusion consultants recommend for hiring more Black and brown employees – and keeping them long term

Unemployment, job fair
Getting people from marginalized backgrounds in the door at your company is just the start of an effective diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

  • Corporate diversity plans will fall short if companies don’t make Black and brown employees feel valued.
  • That’s because employees who don’t feel heard will quit.
  • Successful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans give employees voice and agency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have gone from empty buzzwords to well financed initiatives within companies across the country. Industry leaders – from Google to JPMorgan – are investing in internal and external programs to promote racial equity. Leaders are hiring more DEI executives and promising more workplace diversity within the next few years.

But this progress is at risk of falling flat, some of the country’s top DEI experts told Business Insider.

Mastercard’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer Randall Tucker said efforts by leaders to advance racial justice and equality in their workforces will be short-lived if they focus only on getting more Black and brown employees in the door. That’s because if Black and brown employees don’t feel respected and valued at a company, they’ll leave to find another job.

“It’s not just ‘Let’s find diverse talent.’ It should be you’re hiring diverse talent, and at the same time you have the levers to retain that talent. Otherwise you’re just wasting a lot of money,” he said.

Randall Tucker
Randall Tucker, chief inclusion officer at Mastercard, said companies risk Black and brown employees experiencing “onlyness.”

It’s not enough to focus on diversity alone. Black employees make up 12% of entry-level employees, but they account for just 7% of managers, according to McKinsey research published in February. A big part of this problem is that Black employees feel less supported than their white colleagues, the same research found.

To retain and promote talent, executives and managers alike have to prioritize equity and inclusion at the same time.

Equity goes beyond equal opportunity and encompasses the distribution of resources in a way that ensures everyone is treated equally. Inclusion encourages everyone to bring their whole unique identity to work and respects and values difference.

Black and brown employees face ‘onlyness’ at work

For many newly hired or promoted Black and brown employees, there’s a real risk of “onlyness,” Tucker and other DEI experts told Business Insider.

“Onlyness” is the phenomenon whereby a person is the only person of color, woman, LGBTQ person, ect. in the room. McKinsey and Company researched “onlyness” and found that LGBTQ women of color are the most likely to feel this way in the workplace.

If leaders don’t assess their company culture and proactively give employees from marginalized backgrounds a seat at the table and a voice in company decisions, “onlyness” turns into feeling excluded, or worse.

“Diversity and inclusion have to happen in concert,” Tucker said.

Doris Quintanilla, executive director and cofounder of The Melanin Collective, a DEI consultancy, said companies are at real risk of only achieving part of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Since Trump’s election, I’ve seen hiring of people of color in different organizations, but I don’t see them staying or being happy because we’re not treating them like the human beings that they are. They’re still tokens, they’re tokenized,” she said.

Being tokenized is “the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly,” per Merriam Webster.

“It’s not just about getting people in the door if they walk right out in six months to a year, right?” she said.

Doris Quintanilla
Doris Quintanilla, executive director and co-founder of The Melanin Collective, encouraged executives to pay employees who lead ERGs and other diversity councils.

What it takes to prioritize equity and inclusion

Equity and inclusion can seem like such intangible ideas. But certain key steps can help make it happen.

  1. Treat DEI initiatives as core to your business’s strategy

Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do.

A 2018 study by Boston Consulting Group found that increasing diversity in leadership teams increases profits. Another study of 22,000 firms found that companies with more women in their board rooms and on their executive teams were more profitable. When diversity increases, so does company performance.

Kerryn Agyekum
Kerryn Agyekum, principal of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice at The Raben Group, a DEI consultancy, outlined multiple ways companies can champion inclusion and equity.

  1. Invest in DEI initiatives like you would other core business areas

Quintanilla of The Melanin Collective said you can’t underinvest an area and expect great results.

She suggests hiring top-tier consultants and paying employees, or otherwise recognizing employees, who lead employee resource groups (ERGs) and other important company inclusion initiatives. Indeed, more Black and brown employees are asking for recognition or payment for their ERG participation, which some call “a second job.”

Boston Scientific has adopted this approach by inviting its ERG leaders to executive-level company conferences, among other perks.

  1. Examine who’s in leadership positions in your organization

Kerryn Agyekum, principal of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice at The Raben Group, a DEI consultancy, said employees from marginalized backgrounds need to see people like them in positions of power to feel that they can aspire to similar levels of success.

Agyekum has a question executives should ask themselves: “Are we still relegating our Black and brown people to service areas or support roles within an organization or do they truly have influence and power as decision makers in business critical areas?”

  1. Remove systemic barriers that prevent Black and brown people from succeeding

There are many ways your organization might unknowingly be holding employees of color back.

For example, mentorship opportunities that rely on relationships that form naturally often leave employees of color behind, considering that many people in high-powered positions are white. And people are more likely to mentor those with whom they have things in common. This is why women of color are the least likely to have sponsors in corporate America, research shows.

Agyekum encourages corporate leaders to enact plans that give Black and brown employees equal access to sponsorship and mentorship opportunities.

She also suggests leaders revisit their hiring practices to weed out unconscious bias that favors white candidates.

In addition, leaders should conduct pay equity reports and proactively remediate any discrepancies they find, she added.

“If you’re a person in power, it isn’t your job to leave all of the Black and brown employees to figure out this whole ‘race thing’ on their own. You actually have a responsibility to remediate toxicity and remove systemic barriers,” she said.

This is an updated version of an article originally published in November 2020.

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A top Wells Fargo exec shares a strategy any leader can use to create an inclusive workplace culture

Lisa McGeough
Lisa McGeough, head of Wells Fargo’s international banking operations, said leaders shouldn’t be afraid to call out bias when they see it.

  • Lisa McGeough leads all of Wells Fargo’s international banking operations.
  • She said calling out microaggressions is crucial to creating an inclusive workplace culture.
  • Leaders must get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations around bias, she said.
  • This article is part of a series called “Leaders by Day,” which takes a look at how prominent business leaders are tackling various challenges in today’s economy.

Lisa McGeough leads Wells Fargo’s international banking operations, which encompasses all the firm’s businesses across the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

In other words, she’s one of the most important people at the bank, and one of a select few women who’ve broken the finance world’s glass ceiling, or the set of barriers that hold women back from the industry’s top positions.

According to Deloitte research from 2019, women hold only 22% of leadership roles in finance. While the number of women in leadership roles is expected to grow to 32% by 2030, that’s still well below parity.

Microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice, are a major reason why more women and others from underrepresented backgrounds aren’t able to climb the corporate ladder, McGeough said.

Calling out microaggressions is one important part of creating an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed, she said.

“We must address all aspects of diversity in both our recruiting and managing strategies, asking difficult questions about where we don’t measure up and why?” she said.

McGeough knows from experience just how microaggressions can turn a workplace toxic. She shared her suggestions for any leader to address microaggressions in the workplace.

Learning from her own experience

Since starting at her first banking job in 1984, McGeough has experienced many subtle forms of bias.

Male colleagues would say things like “You’re so good at note-taking” or “I didn’t know you were interested in golf.”

She even had one manager who insisted she go home to take care of her kids instead of offering her the opportunity to cover clients who required extensive travel. This was despite her insistence she was the family’s breadwinner.

“If microaggressions are left unchecked or are not addressed in real time, they can create an exceptionally negative workplace environment and culture,” she said.

Today, as a leader, she uses her past experience to inform how she oversees her direct reports. She has a zero-tolerance policy for microaggressions, and will call them out.

How to call out microaggressions

In the wake of the racial reckoning happening in the US after the murder of George Floyd, fighting prejudice in the workplace is no longer an option. Employees, customers, and investors are demanding more diverse and inclusive companies.

In addition to the moral imperative, it’s also crucial for business. Microaggressions alienate employees, increase stress, and lead to a decrease in productivity, McGeough said.

A study based on over 11 million survey comments by Peakon, an employee engagement platform, revealed that a poor office environment is one of the top three reasons why people quit their jobs.

The first step, Sheena Howard, associate professor of communication for the online Masters of Business Communication program at Rider University, previously told Insider, is to remain calm. Then, address the comment in a direct and composed manner.

McGeough said managers shouldn’t be afraid to say things like “She was talking,” “Don’t interrupt them,” “What did you mean by that?” “Let her finish,” and “Don’t talk over them.”

“It’s essential that leaders and managers prioritize building diverse and inclusive teams,” she said.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently told Insider that the key to creating a more inclusive environment is not being afraid to have uncomfortable conversations. McGeough agreed.

“Leaders must challenge this behavior by addressing it directly,” she said.

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