Diversity and Inclusion the First Step of Many
How Diverse Workforces Don’t End With Hiring
As we continue to teeter along the precipice of massive social and political change, and in an effort to better reflect the general populous – more and more companies and sectors are taking the necessary and much needed steps to increase diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.
To get directly to the point: Diversity in the workplace is a key to successful businesses. Not only does diversifying a workforce better reflect society and indicate a level of corporate sensitivity towards a customer and consumer base, but it also makes for a better business practice overall. By opening a workforce to a variety of different racial backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, abilities, behaviours and beliefs, workplaces are also opening themselves up for a diversity in thought, perspective, and collaborative problem-solving skillsets. They further open themselves to customer connection, employee motivation, quality improvement and more rounded training practices.
What is important to remember when working to further diversify a workplace is that there is no sure-fire single way to tackle it. Though it may seem like a good start, diversity and inclusion does not stop once the hiring process has been adjusted and after the hire has been made. The act of promoting diversity in the workplace is not the same as executing it successfully. It is more than tokenism, more than a quota to be filled or “boxes to be checked”, and more than a passing trend. Quite simply: diversity and inclusion is not something that needs to be continuously debated – it is an opportunity that needs to be put into action and actively tackled.
The act of inclusion is a long-term dedication to evolving alongside necessary changes in the hiring process. It is the willingness not only to diversify the initial candidate hiring pool, but to create a workplace that is wholly inclusive for a variety of different employees, with strategies to retain said employees and dismantle and rebuild old business mindsets and structures. It is the inclusion of diversity not only in the employee pool, but amidst executives, CEOs, leaders and boards. It is the day-to-day effort to create a healthy, accepting environment for employees and working constantly to eliminate unconscious bias, lumping individuals into categories, and workplace harassment.
In order to encourage and retain diverse hires, businesses must be willing to change and adapt, not only in how they search for said individuals, but in how they organize the workplace overall. This can come in a variety of different forms, including training, the formation of diversity boards, and providing more accommodations. For example, our current situation has demonstrated that remote work is not only achievable, but dynamic and flexible in its results. By continuing to offer the option of remote work even after we begin to re-adapt to a post-COVID world, businesses will be opening further options for accommodation, increasing their hiring pools and giving chances to good employees who may not have otherwise been considered.
Like anything else, businesses should be reflections of society they are in – colourful, diverse and dynamic. The act of diversifying workplaces is not easy, but it is reasonable to say that, now more than ever, it is fundamental.
eBook: Emergence Leadership
Thank you for attending SWAAC and Phelps webinar on Emergence Leadership on Thursday, September 24th, 2020. We hope the event provided you with some valuable takeaways.
Here is a copy of the eBook: Emergence Leadership- Pause, Plan & Prepare
Please contact us if you would like to schedule a one-to-one or a group session with Dr. Jill Birch on the topic of Emergence Leadership.
What’s Next ? The Workplace of the Future
Just recently, I was mesmerized by a photo of a café in Paris. People were spilling out onto the sidewalks – holding hands, laughing, smiling. Life appearing normal again. It made me think wistfully of what the future will look like as Canada reopens.
That’s the question our partners posed to clients in virtual coffee sessions we’ve held over the last few months. We asked leaders how they saw workplaces coming back to life. As we compared notes, three major themes emerged that we wanted to share with you as we prepare our workplaces to re-open.
Change with the Change
I’ll bet you thought the burning issue would be workplace transition. It was up there, but ranked second. The first theme was the most powerful – leaders are recognizing our values have shifted and are considering how these changes will affect everything from retaining employees to culture and productivity.
We heard from leaders the value of protecting families will be long lasting. Concentrating on mental well-being will also be a primary focus. Smart organizations are preparing for what is being called “total burn-out”; a condition affecting employees’ physical, mental and financial security.
And just recently we heard about how pandemic worries have been engulfed by the response to the murder of George Floyd. Preparing thoughtful and collaborative corporate responses to these seismic shifts, signals your organization, recognizing that we live in a changed world.
Work you can undertake to calibrate your organization are to revisit your vision, mission and values. Facilitate open conversations to clarify your organization’s position; don’t’ just talk about it, but demonstrate equity by engaging as many diverse voices as possible. Set timelines to ensure timely responses; wait too long and it will reflect poorly.
What we saw in our clients was that drawing strength from the guiding principles of humanity and humility went a long way to helping employees feel secure, respected and welcome when they return.
Help Employees Connect
A second theme leaders felt essential was frequent return to work communications coupled with the importance of broadcasting support for pandemic efforts.
When it comes to workplace transition, the second theme, leaders underscored consistent and frequent return to work communications were essential. In the next breath, they spoke about the importance of broadcasting support for pandemic efforts.
The work of Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, was cited as a glowing example. Linda helped scale up production of ventilators, used the trucking division to help food banks and harnessed supply chains to provide much needed PPE (personal protective equipment) to front line workers. These are the proud stories employees and customers will remember long after the pandemic has ended.
It’s vital to concentrate on internal communications. One idea is to plan water cooler events during weekly huddles by opening video calls 15 minutes before and keeping them open 15 minutes after. These opportunities, as well as setting up special instant messaging help employees stay connected.
Intriguing Decisions Await – But not for the Faint of Heart
A third theme centred on making balanced strategic decisions in five areas.
- Trade-offs between technology investments and the other two biggest financial commitments – employees and rent
- Redesign of organizational footprints and structures, reimagining workflow and compensation
- The need for open, flexible and agile thinking to parse out ever-moving compliance targets
- Reimaging strategy when rule books have been thrown out of the window
- Pushing the pause button before re-introducing cumbersome practices that slowed down organizational decision-making and innovation
As you prepare your re-opening and re-boarding plans, size up and audit everything that’s been touched by the pandemic. Don’t be surprised when practices that evolved during the pandemic work better than older methods. If you haven’t already, engage diverse enterprise wide teams to give you the straight goods on what could and should change. Embrace the “3S” mantra: streamline, shortcut and sustain. If there ever was a time for evidence-based decision making, this is it.
To help you navigate over the next few months, the Phelps team has assembled an expert panel who will be sharing their perspectives on what the future of work will look like. From a digital perspective we will be welcoming Rashmi Swarup, VP Digital Learning, TVO and Simon Chan, VP Talent Academy and Future of Work at Communitech. Weighing with a human resources lens, they will be joined by: Carrie Pond, CHRO, Trillium Health Partners; Kurt Webster, Director of Human Resources, Scepter; and, Mary Madigan Lee, whose broad experience crosses the health, retail and financial sectors.
So get the coffee pot on, and be sure to join us for an insightful Zoom conversation on June 25 at 10:00 a.m. for “What’s Next?: The workplace of the future”.
Coffee Chat with Lawrence Eta, CCO – City of Toronto
A conversation between Lawrence Eta, Chief Technology Officer of City of Toronto and Jayson Phelps, Partner of Phelps.
On this video, we explore the pre, during and post-pandemic scenarios of the City of Toronto with the questions:
- What was the City of Toronto’s digital capacity pre COVID-19, compared to where you are today?
- Have you had to adjust your approach as a leader to still be able to provide support to your team virtually?
- What might be different coming out of COVID-19?
Join our conversation with a member of the Senior Leadership team of City of Toronto to gain valuable insights transferrables to your sector.
To view this interview, visit: https://bit.ly/CCLawEta
Leaderships Next Normal
I was speaking with a client last week and we had a good chuckle when she told me her crystal ball was broken. We were chatting about how things might evolve as more of our economy opens up. The only thing we could determine is the next eighteen months would be unlike anything we’d ever seen. Will the economy be shaped in a “J”, a “U”, a “W” or an “M”? No one really knows where the answer lies in this alphabet soup.
As we ended our Zoom, she shared “This isn’t about the “new normal”; it’s going to be all about how we shape the “next normal”.
She went on to say, “How the coming year unfolds is going to significantly impact the kind of leaders we need”. Her last comment stayed with me.
As the Phelps’ team works with clients to map out their leadership strategies, our approach has evolved. We’ve become scenario based and find the flexibility and responsiveness of this method supports the needs of differing client requirements. Our approach is anchored in four frames, each supported by a question to help you reconsider your leadership development needs.
Frame #1 – Do your homework: We’ve been scouring e-book summaries, devouring studies, tire-kicking predictions and watching webinars until our eyes burn! I’m sure you have too. This is the time to absorb and analyze every bit of intelligence you can lay your hands on. As you synthesize this data, find the threads that will help you weave your findings into your current strategy. Next, we pull these threads through into budding scenarios. We pay particular attention to how these threads intertwine with sector and organizational culture attributes.
As you’re making sense of this data, snap the missing puzzle piece into place by posing Frame #1’s question, “How are our current leaders being relentlessly responsive in applying their learning to the forces now impacting us?
Frame #2 – Be tenacious: Like you, I’ve been puzzling through a myriad of conflicting predictions in retail, sports and entertainment. The death of Neiman Marcus last week was certainly a jolt. But many analysts pointed out there were issues long before the pandemic. As quickly as we hear traditional retail like NM is dead, we learned about yesterday’s reopening of Hong Kong’s Hermes store – a store that rung up $2.7 million in just one day, representing the largest in-store daily sales figure, ever. That’s doesn’t sound like the end of retail. It sounds like a new beginning!
Frame #2’s question is “How can we support our leaders to develop an innovation culture to take advantage of current market conditions?”
Frame #3 – Engage in robust scenario planning and treat this process as you would managing a multi-responsive financial portfolio. The old ways of strategizing using SWOT and Michael Porter’s Five Forces, assume a stable environment from which you can plan. These models won’t work as well now and you want to give yourself as much agility and room to manoeuvre in peak and valley situations. Regional differences in epidemic impact, for example, are reminders that diverse views, those closest to the source of action are essential. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, no one size fits all.
Frame 3’s question urges the development of a key leadership capability: “How can we become more active listeners to gather insights and apply them to scenario development?”
Frame #4: Apply past learning to Next Normal scenarios. Although his April 1 opening was dashed, Michael Wekerle’s re-imagining of the venerated Toronto night club, the El Mocambo, anticipated more people would want to stay at home and be entertained. While he did expand physical capacity, he was prescient in building a live streaming model as part of his services for stay at home fans. Diversification in business modelling and channel marketing will be key to many organizational re-births.
Frame 4’s question is: “How are we helping our leaders develop foresighting and digital capabilities to apply learning to our own situation?
Mapping out the Next Normal for your organization will be crucial as the economy begins to reopen. The reality is that the kind of leader who brought you success in 2019 might not be the same leader you need for 2020 and beyond. Difficult questions will need to asked. Innovative scenarios will need to be created. We need the right people with the right capabilities leading these crucial portfolios.
As you consider the questions posed in the four frames, we hope you will join us on May 21 for a conversation on Emergence Leadership with Dr. Jill Birch, who will begin by sharing five key competencies leaders will want to embrace during and post pandemic. After Jill’s remarks, we open the conversation up to learn from each other and share how our organizations are preparing leaders to excel in a world that will be markedly different as we begin our emergence.
We look forward to seeing you then!
The Phelps 101 Guide to Effective Remote Workplace
As we’ve all pivoted quickly into remote workplace environments, we wanted to share some practices that have worked for our colleagues at Phelps so other teams could benefit from these accelerated learnings.
Jill Birch | National Director, Leadership and Strategy
Never stop learning about how your role and industry are changing in the face of COVID-19. It’s easy to fall into the trap of streaming COVID-19 news 24/7. While keeping up-to-date is important, it’s just as vital to scan for trends and news directly impacting your sector. Explore themes that rise to the top and ask yourself, how can I use this information to contribute to my organization? Join future “virtual water-coolers” at work and share what you have learned and hear what others are sharing. If we all do our part to keep current, it not only helps our own work but can provide innovative ways to respond to upcoming workplace challenges.
Jayson Phelps | Partner
Fluidity – as our professional lives blend with our personal lives more during this period of isolation, fluidity is an important consideration. Keep your patterns similar to going into the office every day, but take advantage of no commute or leaving to get a coffee during the day and integrate your schedules more openly. Look at your day as a fluid period between personal and professional. Work a few hours, take a bit of a break and spend some time with family and then work again for a few hours and take a break. The traditional work day of 9-5 can be flexed. Maybe it means working until mid-afternoon and taking a break for an hour or two (get outside and do some yard work or a walk) and then sit down again in the evening to work for another 1-2 hours.
Diana Rucchin | Research Coordinator
For me, keeping my home office in the same manner as when I’m working in the office really helps. I use 2 screens when working at the office, my laptop and my monitor. Bringing both of them home with me was a really good decision as it keeps me working at the same speed. As well, keeping my area free of distractions is important because it’s easy to get sidetracked when working from home by the news, chores or others who are at home with you. Overall, I think maintaining routine and best practices as if you were in the office including getting ready for work adhering to a dress code, being punctual and ensuring some breaks away from the computer throughout the day.
Margie Peskin | Senior Research Consultant
We have four people all working from home so we try to huddle in the morning to figure who needs quiet at what points of the day (exams, video calls, etc.) and then agree where that person will work undisturbed. We also are trying to stick to routines and plans for the day as much as possible.
Shanaya Dheda | Social Media Strategist
Not being in the physical space of my regular work environment that I am used to has been the biggest adjustment. I find there can be many distractions when working from home – sometimes it is even too quiet. Our new ritual of early morning huddles every day of the week are quite refreshing – they help us to all stay connected and on top of priorities. As a team, we outline our daily agenda identifying any areas we need cross-collaboration and additional expertise. Many times throughout the day, we will “video” call each other to discuss a project – again this is a great way for us to collaborate and share ideas.
Nayely Figueroa | Marketing and Operations Manager
Because working remotely is now the norm, being aware of phishing and other cyber security threats out there is essential. If something sounds fishy, it probably is. Check the validity of a suspicious request directly with your IT experts before opening a questionable link, running an unknown program or forwarding sensitive information to someone. Stay alert and keep your team’s and organization’s digital work space safe.
These are challenging times and our Phelps team are here for you. One of our core values is ‘Nimbleness’, and with our bespoke and virtual model of doing business, we are agile and able to pivot to meet your evolving human capital needs.
#PhelpsWhateverItTakes #PhelpsIgnitesLeadership #StayAlertStaySafe
Phelps Is Here for You – Whatever It Takes
Today we find ourselves in a place few could imagine. Prepared as our organizations are, the magnitude of the COVID 19 virus is in a category of its own. Phelps is here to support you through these unprecedented times. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community, including our employees, clients, candidates and their families.
The Phelps team will do whatever it takes to help your organization respond to human capital needs as they arise. Phelps will remain open serving clients throughout the COVID 19 period. Should additional social distancing regulations be put in place, our entire team will continue to work virtually and remotely, to provide you with uninterrupted Executive Search and Leadership Advisory services.
At this time of rapidly changing conditions, we have identified 5 key pivot points in which you may need support. In consultation with our International Partners, Panorama, we have refined human capital best practices to next practices that will sustain your organization through COVID 19.
- Accelerated leadership and human capital strategic planning have been designed to ensure you are prepared to lead in times of high-pressure.
- Interim solutions at your fingertips. We have a rich network of seasoned executives, managers and professionals who are able to work with you at a moment’s notice.
- Career Transition processes have been accelerated to support difficult staffing decisions in the days ahead.
- Coaching individual talent and teams to rise to the occasion during times of crisis harnesses and aligns everyone’s talent, creativity and innovation.
- Advisory services for Boards and CEO/C-suite to provide experienced consulting during crisis-management and crucial decision-making moments.This is the time you will be asking extraordinary things from your team and colleagues; and there’s no doubt, unanticipated things will be asked of you. Accelerating performance, mastering a steely-eyed focus and pivoting with every turn in this pandemic is what will ensure your organization emerges wiser, stronger and ever more agile.
As we care for the vulnerable, treasure our front-line health workers and those who are combatting the virus, we’re as determined as you are to pour every ounce of energy, resources, and ingenuity to flatten the curve. Together, we will overcome this moment.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Gig Economy and the Interim Executive
Written by Carmen Jeffery, Principal Interim Leadership Solutions at Phelps
As the Gig economy hits its stride, so too has the presence of interim executives. Try a search for “Interim” on LinkedIn in your “people search” and you’ll see what we mean. Those in Human Capital Management will attest that most medium to large scale organizations have an interim or two stepping in to take over the helm of a mission critical business unit or function when no one internal is able or available.
Put simply, Interims are self-employed executives who are hired to fill leadership gaps. These Gig opportunities present themselves not only at the mid to senior executive levels but also at the board level. Interims do the work – consultants hand it off.
The typical catalysts that create opportunities for interim hires are retirements, sudden departures, maternity leaves and unforeseen circumstances that generate the unexpected. Organizations often hire interims when faced with precariously long cycles to hire their own full-time leaders. Executive Search cycles can take 3-6 months, Interim Search cycles can be as fast as 24 hours.
A look at the top Freelance job platforms in North America will convince any one that the age of freelancing is well upon us. The Gig workforce is a veritable part of any progressive workforce planning and is ensconced in most CHRO’s frameworks towards enhanced employer branding and workplace innovation.
The amount of incorporated self employed individuals has doubled in Canada since 2000. The age for self-employment has also been on the upswing with 4 out of 5 self employed people are over the age of 35 in Canada alone. By 2020, 45% of our Canadian work force will be freelance.
Interim executives are a growing faction of the Gig economy, playing an essential part of creating high returns and visionary plans for Human Capital.
To talk to us about how Phelps’ Interim Leadership Solutions can help you, please contact us.