Transcript:

Mo: Hello, hello, hello and welcome to this week’s everyday inclusion and belonging where we talk about everything, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging under the sun. We are doing a redo here because I have invited Deb Gran back. Deb and I had this conversation, I don’t know Deb, 6-9 months ago and our live streaming didn’t work so apparently, we were supposed to do it again when we could show up as twins.

So, Deb and I have, it’s probably been 5-6 years Deb, in a couple of different organizations, you’ve brought Moxie in, and from the very first conversation I had with them, I was struck by both an innovative and grounded HR leader she is in terms of always being willing to think about what’s next.

An always grounding in how people are the core of an organization’s success and you’re so far from the compliance-based HR leader of the past. I’ll let you introduce yourself and then I want to dig in because we just have so much to talk about.

Deb: Yeah, thank you for that. It’s always a pleasure having a conversation with you, so if this one doesn’t go live, we’ll just do it again. We have worked together for a good couple of years at a couple of different companies.

It’s interesting, I will tell you that I think I started out as that HR compliance person because that’s where many of us start, right? In you know helping organizations be compliant in certain areas, but you know, as my HR career grew and I started to work with direct businesses is when I think I started really adapting into more of, what do we really need to do to get out of that HR policing and be that partner.

And you know, kind of carry us through as well so you know, as you know, I’m the Corporate Vice President for DiaSorinin North America right now, been with the company about two years. Prior to that, I was a Senior Vice President for Amplifon Americas and prior of that I was with a company called Soft Med systems that also became part of the Three M organization, so I’ve had a pretty long run in a HR, it’s been my entire career.

I have worked for small companies that have been, you know, purchased by big companies and I’ve worked for international companies. The last two organizations I’ve worked with have been Italian owned, so I’ve had global experience working with them as well.

Mo: Which is always interesting. I know that you were just featured in redefining HR and Lars Schmitz book that’s out, that’s amazing. And I’m not surprised that you were one of the leaders that he decided to feature. So, let’s talk about that.

Deb: Thank you. Well, it was an honor to be one of the people that was selected to do a highlight in his book. I think his book is amazing, I’ve read it several times because it’s full of anecdotes and stories from a lot of all different HR leaders and I think any one of us who are building our HR careers or are managing an organization can relate to some of the stories that are in there.

So, I think his approach was very necessary and it’s a great learning experience.

Beyond that, I think it’s a great book for CEOs who really want to maybe better understand how to partner with HR or what that HR leader can really do for them. So, you know, I was very proud to be part of it.

I have that sitting on the shelf in my home office and it’s a reminder of all the great people that I’ve worked with in HR over the years and the business leaders that I’ve worked with that I’ve learned from.

Mo: I think seeing your shift right from sort of that compliance based to now, how do you unleash the potential of every person in your organization, right so from let’s make sure we check all the boxes to, let’s think about diversity and equity and inclusion in our people practices as well.

Your HR team was named Best Of, right?

Deb: Uh huh.

Inclusive Organizations Is Top Down

Mo: So, one of the things that I’ve appreciated is, you know, depending on different organizations sometimes there’s no DEI function and it lives in the organization, which is what I love. Sometimes it’s driven top to bottom. In DiaSorin what you all have done is sort of lead from both where I’ve seen you say, you know, let’s take a look at some of our talent acquisition practices and some things that we’ve done and interrupting bias there all the way through, how do we help everybody understand their role in inclusion?

So, let’s just talk about some of the things that you’re doing. Do you want to start with talent acquisition?

Deb: Yeah, absolutely, because I think sometimes, nothing is easy, right? But it’s beginning of fixed right? Talent acquisition is the beginning of almost every experience that you will have as a candidate and then ultimately an employee. And it touches not just HR, It’s the hiring manager, it’s the peers of this individual as well. In 2019 we really started to take a step back in the HR organization to say, what do we need to do differently just from an experience perspective.

And you know, part of our challenge was also the environments of where we are situated. In our Minnesota location for example, we are further out from the city, we are closer to Minnesota, Wisconsin border.

So, we miss out on a very big population of people who don’t necessarily want to drive to the location that we’re in.

And then our office in the Los Angeles area they have the traffic issue so we have that standing in our way sometimes of really reaching candidates. So, we really started to look at how we were doing recruitment overall. At the same time, we started to have some more conversations with you about what are some of the things that we can do to not only increase the candidate pool, but how are we going to make sure that we’re bringing candidates in and having a fantastic experience and making sure that we are looking at things from a diversity and inclusion perspective and making those things regular as possible.

So, we really took the approach of what can we do from a candidate perspective. Can we have blind resumes, can we make sure that there are dual interviews at least that are happening most often. So, we’ve taken a step back and implemented some things that helped us create just a little bit different experience.

You know the blind candidates and resumes whenever possible. Obviously, that’s different when it’s an internal referral, but you know, just making sure that people are looking at each candidate with a clean slate. Then our dual interview process I think has taken us a long way. Usually I sit in with the interviews with our president and other executives. It’s an opportunity here, two different approaches from our organization. Share a little bit about who we are and really help each other build a really great interviewing experience and at the end then we sat in and we saw the same thing.

We can have that really strong conversation about why that person is or isn’t the right candidate for this particular position. So, I think just doing some of those things have really helped open our own eyes and the HR and the TA team, but also integrate that into the conversations that we have with our hiring managers and our hiring leaders as well.

Inclusive Organizations Have Consistency

Mo: Well, what I love and what I heard Deb, is there’s you’re creating consistency. Because oftentimes, we know that unconscious bias is going to creep in if we don’t have that consistency in the process.

I also love and I know that you haven’t mentioned it, but I know that you’ve invested in making sure that everybody that touches that cycle has an understanding of unconscious bias and how to interrupt it in the process. I look back to this, I was like 23-24, my company would send me out and say yeah, go to this campus and do these interviews.

We had no training. We could ask whatever we wanted. Talk about a flawed process.

So, I love that you continue to hone in on what you’ve done.

Deb: Not just for us locally, just so you know. When we look at our hiring practices, some of the training materials that have been put in place that’s from a global perspective.

So even though you know North America is where I focus the training materials that we’ve looked at, and we’ve helped develop have then part of a bigger picture. So, the organization as a whole wants to make sure that we’re using every opportunity to be consistent, to hire the right individuals as well.

And then we certainly, you know, implement it on our end so it’s been an opportunity for us to have a strong voice globally in the preparation of that, but then also share a similar message amongst all of the people who are involved in the process.

Mo: Right and again back to that consistency. What is this experience like? Whether you’re in Italy or whether you’re here, or you know whether you’re in Minnesota, whether you’re in LA.

We’ve always said we won’t just do, what is unconscious bias. And we won’t just talk about unconscious bias in hiring because you can’t then put people into workplaces that are toxic.

And I appreciate some of the things that you’ve been doing. And again, you’ve always from our first conversation said what’s the five-year strategy for this? Versus can you come in and deliver this training, and then we’re done.

I was, how does any training fit with a strategy that’s long term that gets to that core? What’s my everyday experience as an employee?

Talk about some of the things that you’re doing on the other end of the spectrum. We always say that that recruiting and interviewing is tip of the spear. OK, now what is it like when I show up every day at your organization?

Inclusive Organization’s Long Term Strategy

Deb: Yeah, I can tell you a couple of things, I will also tell you that there’s a lot that we’re not doing right yet. You know which you and I have talked about as well. I think you know to start with the recruiting process obviously was the first thing, but organizationally, you know we spent time with your organization, the HR team, the TA team for us to better recognize unconscious bias ourselves since many times people come to HR, they think we know everything right, and that we’re going to be able to teach everyone.

But if we don’t start working on it for ourselves, there’s no way we can help engage in that conversation within the organization. And then we expand that similar learning experience for the rest of the organization.

And I’m the first to say that a learning experience is one event, it’s what you do with it and how you can continue to reinforce it and have the conversation. In the conversations that you and I have had, we’ve always said it’s all about the conversation and what comes next. Within each of our organizations we did spend more time with our senior management team because again, they are the leaders of the organization, we want them to be comfortable and uncomfortable and learn how each of us are going to deal with that.

So, beyond the standard training initiatives, there’s been some ongoing discussions that’s led by the local HR Direct. We’ve also tried to take some bits and pieces that might seem a little bit easier, but again, it helped along the way. Which is, we use LinkedIn Learning for a lot of our learning events for our employees, and we’ve put together clusters of training. That number one, all of the managers and leaders have taken 1st and then push that out to our employees.

Again, really just to start to develop that internal conversation. Because if we can’t have the conversation, and I know personally, I know how uncomfortable it is to have the conversation.

I made no bones about the fact that I have to check my privilege every single day. I know that I am an older white privilege lady and I have to remind myself of that every day so that I can think differently as an HR leader and believe me, I don’t walk around always reminding myself of that, so I have to get checked. And I can give you some examples of getting checked, you know.

Mo: I would say that piece is so important. We’re all on this journey, we’re all going to make mistakes, but it’s how are we questioning ourselves, right? We tend to look at inclusion superpower of you know what’s my privilege here, what do I need to be doing, what are the mistakes?

It is all about the daily what happens, what’s the conversation, and what do you do after the mistake?

Deb: Yeah, and also the transition from personal life to professional life because I think for me and maybe others as well you know, I always thought I had it more in check when I think of my personal life.

You know, I have more open conversations with friends and family, and I realized that for me, privilege does not mean that I didn’t work hard to get where I was at. I grew up very poor, right. So it wasn’t that I had a silver spoon in my mouth. I know that that’s not what white privilege is.

It’s for me that I have, you know, 2 white sons and I’ve never had to worry about them driving at night and getting stopped and what their response is going to be. I have a sister in law who has had to have that experience and you know, I understand that.  But sometimes, especially as an HR person I think, you then walk into your place of business and you have to wear a business hat, of course, but for me, that personally stopped me from thinking a little bit about how comfortable I felt externally having those conversations. And now I’m feeling a little bit like I’m not and it wasn’t any of the companies that I’ve worked at that that did that, it was me.

I had the vision of OK, I’m the VP of HR, I need to be appropriate, I need to be this and you know what I have found is, the more I’m number one recognizing and saying I know this is who I am and so I’m coming at it from this angle and I’m trying to understand.

Even when I ask a stupid question, most people are appreciative or at least they’re telling me they are.

And also, recognizing that I don’t live the same life everybody else lives. And I have to try to understand it as best I can and have to listen and help you know, lead the way so I can be a facilitator of things but I’m not the owner of it.

Mo: And that it’s OK if it’s messy.

Deb: It is you know, you warned me five years ago. There’s nothing easy about this right?

And I think the more you do, the more difficult it gets. I think sometimes it’s getting started and I think I shared this with you on our last call, which was sometimes there’s just, I don’t know what to do next.

Right, because I’m so worried about offending somebody that I get a little stuck or organizations get a little stuck. So, I was really happy when the organization that I work with today, the team and the leaders embraced, what do we need to do next.

And now I think we’re at a point where it’s OK, we’ve done some of those nicety things, and we’ve recognized it now, how do we move to the next level?

So, we are really reaching out more to our employee base to say you know, we’ve got some external companies who are helping us formulate what this plan looks like. We’ve got a template, but I don’t want it to be, you know, Deb Gran’s template or HR Department template.

We want to get feedback and we’ve gotten some good feedback on some of the things that we’ve done, but you know, I’ve also gotten some feedback on, you know, why didn’t you do something  an as difficult as it is to sometimes get out there and say, you know what, I didn’t do something and it was wrong, deep down I’m really happy that somebody called me on it and it is painful.

Mo: That’s progress, right?

Deb: Yeah, it really is. Because I think if somebody is willing to say something to the VP of HR, number one, that tells me that other people are obviously having that same conversation. Because not everybody is that brave to come and say something. And I have to listen to that, you know.

And you know, I think that that’s really important to be able to balance that, listen and when I make a mistake, say I made a mistake and hopefully people understand that and will overtime, understand that I’m being genuine when I say that. And that we continue to move forward in positive manners.

Do The Next Right Thing

Mo: Right, and modeling that right. I heard you, I learned, we’re going to do better. And here’s what’s next. Because again, this is so iterative. What’s next, right? Do the next right thing. Do the next great thing, and stumble along the way and give up the privilege of comfort.

Worrying about saying the wrong thing is 1 level of comfort. Being in a workplace where you feel excluded or ongoing microaggressions, that’s a whole different level, right.

Deb: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

My motto really is, it’s all about the conversation and if the conversation that you’re having with me, or I’m having with you, is making you uncomfortable, let’s talk about that and let’s create an environment where it can and would be acceptable. There are times when some things just do have to be said and whether it’s me saying it or somebody saying it to me, and I can tell you my experience, especially over the past year, that when anybody’s come to me to say you know, anything they’ve been disappointed, or they wanted to hear it differently.

They’ve shown me such respect in the way that it’s been said you know, to me that I can’t imagine it being done any other way. And you know what a tremendous gift and learning lesson you know for me to be able to take that information and do something with it.

Inclusive Organizations Have A Growth Mindset

Mo: Well, and I think that sort of imbues everything that you do this growth mindset. Just sort of leaning into the mess and leaning into the growth and leaning into this this consistent, how do we do it a little bit better? How do we do it a little bit better?

I think sometimes we think it’s got to be a whole scale. Let’s burn everything down and start again and so much of this work is the incremental next.

Deb: Especially in an environment like 2020 for every company, right? Regardless of what you or your business was in.

I didn’t talk to anybody this past year that wasn’t running crazy. You know, doing something you know as it relates to people balancing. Business is like this all the time and 2020 it was even more so. And so sometimes I think you know in conversations I’ve had with other HR professionals as well, that if we own it, then we have to put the box in the parameter around it and just roll out something really beautiful.

Right, well there’s no way in hell that could happen. None of us have time anymore. We don’t have the luxury, especially at you know, certain company sizes to have somebody fully dedicated to this, and so part of that is you know us as HR leaders, it’s going to fall, at least in our purview to start with that we have to be comfortable asking people to help us.

And know that that’s bringing them into our world. You know that sometimes that makes us a little uncomfortable, right? But what a better way for us to really embrace things and better understand and do things. I feel like anybody who’s made some progress in any one of the programs or the conversations that they’ve had this past year, they’ve probably put some tremendous thought and effort to it. Because doing anything this past year has been a real challenge outside of just, you know, getting regular work done and people balancing their home lives and everything else that’s happened as well.

Mo: And we know the old way wasn’t working either. You know you think you have to go through everything to, well, circumstances really did say, work looks different.

Deb: Exactly, Yep.

Mo: Yep, and how can we build this back in in a more inclusive way? Such an opportunity too, and again to sort of lean into the mess of it and to be willing to let go. I’ve been talking with the Moxie team a lot. You know we’re experiencing growth and I said, you hit a point in every organization that it’s a wind tunnel where you have to literally let go of the way you’ve done everything in the past because it doesn’t serve you anymore and sort and think about OK, what serves us now?

What serves us as a team now? What serves our clients now and again, be willing to let go and to embrace change, which most people don’t love.

Deb: Yeah, we’ve gone through, especially for our group in Minnesota. You know, one of the things that is so fantastic about our Minnesota location is that we have longevity in our employees.

We have many employees that this is the only company that they’ve ever worked for and that’s you know something companies today just can’t really boast about right. It’s something that we are very proud of. At the same time, that makes it very challenging for new people to come into the organization because there’s so many unwritten rules that are in people’s heads, right?

So even just the onboarding process of making somebody feel welcome and understanding how to get something done. Many of the hiring managers have been having those conversations with their HR business partners about, what can we do differently? You know, so that’s change right there, you know.

Mo: If folks want to go back and watch I had a conversation with Madeline Borkin of I4 CP, and one of the things and they do a lot of research best practices. One of the things that they figured out is sort of a next practice.

When somebody comes in very, very intentionally connecting them and having them understand the influence networks in an organization. Because if I’m from an underrepresented group, you know let’s say that’s a class, I don’t know how that might work or I don’t know how things are done around here. Well, don’t leave it to that person to figure that out, tap them right in.

Deb: Right, and you can’t have everything written in a manual either, right?

Mo: The influence map isn’t going to show up in an organization’s manual.

Deb: You know, we’re in the process of building something very similar. We had many years ago in a program called Lo Amico program which is buddy, you know, in Italian and we are re flushing that right now to kind of include this, which is how do we get new individuals connected with the right internal individual that will have those you know off the cuff conversations. The unwritten rules.

How do we get things done here and then help build you know, further you know our culture in the organization as well. That to me is a huge step for this side of the organization. Like I said, we have fabulous people who have worked here for a long time, but we also are growing so we have new people coming in.

And so how do we embrace that, you know and really transfer that knowledge as best as possible.

Mo: Well, and it’s interesting that’s one of the inclusion nudges that we have in here for teams. For the new person, don’t make them walk in and be the new kid at school and come back and say, who am I going to sit with. Instead, who is that person right? And so, they get integrated really quickly into the team.

Deb: Yeah, absolutely. And as you know we are implementing the Everyday Inclusion App with our employees in the month of April, so we’re hoping to use that for a couple of reasons.

Number one, just because it has a fantastic daily reminder in there and how better not to, you know raise our own awareness every single day, but also the tools that are within the app are things that a team can use, an individual can use, and we can use from an HR learning Department to help push out to the employees as well so we think it’s going to be a great tool for us.

Mo: Yeah, we’re super excited and again, it’s part of this road map that you’ve had, which I love.

OK, leave me with one last truth bomb Deb, about all the work and HR’s role in building a diverse and inclusive organization. Yeah, whatever you, whatever you want your truth from to be about.

Truth Bomb

Deb: Well, you know for me the truth bomb really is that many times its always inclusion starts at the top and its top down or somebody has to take a stand. And I’ve got fabulous leaders, I have people who have made strong comments and commitments to the organization.

But it’s not just there, and it’s also not just grassroots, because I think that you know, sometimes grassroots depending on the size of the company especially, are not embraced as much as they could or should be, right?

And so, it has to be this continual influx throughout the entire organization and where I find, you know, in many organizations that are of such a size where you don’t have, you know a separate Chief Officer to focus strictly on inclusion and diversity.

Many times, it does fall into a HR bucket and what we have to make sur