Dr. Ernest Wayde: Artificial Intelligence for HR
Technology. AI. Data.
The field of HR is exquisitely different than it was 22+ years ago when I began my career. At that time, most processes were still manual. People printed job applications and mailed or faxed them in. There wasn’t an easy way to collect people metrics because robust information systems didn’t exist. If data was collected at all, it was also manual. I’m pretty sure that we were still using carbon copy forms in some cases.
Fast forward to now, the business expects HR professionals to report on people metrics and provide insights that will help leaders make better decisions. Almost always the business wants to cut HR overhead – do more with less – while becoming a stronger strategic partner. This usually includes finding ways to make our function more efficient, automated, and data-driven.
Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI). Any time there is conversation around how HR can become better informed, more efficient, and help support higher engagement (and lower turnover), my ears perk up. If we want to be seen as the critical strategic partner to business leaders, we need to embrace AI – not just to be data-savvy, but also to identify innovative applications to improve the employee (and candidate) experience.
Ernest Wayde, Ph.D., M.I.S. shares more about his session, Artificial Intelligence for HR:
Q1) You have an interesting background! Tell us more about your training and education, and how that led you to the work you do today.
I am a life-long learner and have always enjoyed learning different things and integrating them together. In college, I double majored in psychology and computer science which, in my view, was a perfect foundation for my early interest in Artificial Intelligence. My first career was in the Information Technology field where I worked my way from programming to business systems analysis and project management. This experience taught me a lot about data and business technologies. It also gave me some insights into the interaction between people and technology in the workplace. I was fortunate enough to attend graduate school at the University of Alabama where I completed doctorate programs in both clinical psychology and cognitive psychology. Conducting human subjects research taught me a lot about how to glean information from data and about the importance of ethics and security when working with human-related data. My clinical work was an amazing experience that allowed me to work with and help people with a wide spectrum of behaviors and mental health.
I was privileged to work with Veterans and staff in the Department of Veterans affairs (VA). I worked as a clinical psychologist and then transitioned to organizational work after completing a fellowship in Organization Development (OD). During this time, I helped develop executive leaders and teams, and provided change management consultation. I also completed a master's degree at Wright State University in Information Systems (MIS). I got a chance to use my MIS training while helping staff at the VA implement a new electronic health record system. Nowadays, putting all these experiences together helps me bring a unique perspective as I partner with business to help them achieve success.
Q2) In the session description, you mention that AI sometimes causes apprehension and confusion for professionals. Why do you think HR professionals are reluctant?
Like every other industry, when it comes you AI, the greatest concern people have is about the impact on their jobs. What will AI do to our jobs? Frankly, that is a reasonable concern that can cause fear and provide anyone with pause. This fear is well documented. Research shows that a significant percent of people think they will be replaced by machines soon. That notion is further aggravated in entertainment where we see fictional examples of this happening. Add to this that depictions of AI in these fictional depictions are greatly exaggerated, information in the media can be confusing, and it's no wonder we are all a bit apprehensive about AI.
Q3) How do you see AI enhancing the work of HR?
AI can be a fantastic tool for HR. At the heart of it, it is really a time-saving tool. For example, Chatbots are the most popular AI-based application used by HR departments globally. This is a great time saving tool because it allows you to answer questions from potential applicants as well as current staff instantaneously, 24/7, in multiple languages and channels without human intervention. In fact, research has shown that HRs with mature AI applications can gain up to a day a week in time savings due to the use of AI applications. What could you do with an extra day of time every week?
Q4) Are there any areas of HR that you don’t think AI could enhance? Why or why not?
When a big part of your work is dealing with people, the types and strengths of relationships you have with those people is critical. But, when you are overburdened doing mundane tasks, it's hard to invest in relationship building. So, while AI can help you save time and allow you to focus your attention on the relational aspects of HR, it can't develop those relationships for you. At least, not yet.
Q5) What are some of the biggest obstacles to implementing AI technologies when working with HR professionals?
A few years ago, Gartner predicted 85% of AI implementations would fail, highlighting the need for a thoughtful and strategic approach to AI implementation. Start by taking a hard look at your organization's people and culture to see how previous technology changes have been received. Have people embraced and utilized the technology to its full potential or have they been resistant and slow to adopt, using only a fraction of the technology's potential? A lot of these issues speak to the importance of change management.
Secondly, because of the way machine learning works, a lot of AI applications are heavily reliant on data. How does your HR collect data? Do you have a mature data management process? Do you have enough data for AI to use? It is important to think through these questions. Think about how to best prepare your people and adapt your processes before you get to the actual implementation. This will significantly increase your chances of a successful implementation that realizes the benefits of AI.
Q6) How do you go about overcoming these challenges?
An effective change management strategy can help prep your people for an AI implementation, including increasing the speed of adoption and ultimate utilization of the AI application. Start by getting buy-in from leadership. Then, help your leaders to be effective sponsors by advocating, providing resources, and championing the use of the AI platform. It is critical to address employee concerns, reduce fear, and build desire for the AI application in advance of the actual implementation.
If your organization is not collecting data, you should start there. Work with your IT department to make sure you are collecting and safely storing work related data about your employees and their work activities. Make sure you are collecting data in a responsible, secure, and ethical way. To do this well, you should be working closely with your IT department and establish a data governance framework to help you collect and use data responsibly and ethically.
Q7) What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
There is so much confusing information in the media about AI making it easy to get confused and afraid of it. Hopefully, this session will help people gain a basic understanding of AI and how it can be used to help save time and support them in their daily HR activities.
Artificial Intelligence for HR is offered on Thursday, October 13, from 2:30pm to 3:35pm - both virtually and in-person. Be sure to add this informative session to your calendar in your conference app!
About Dr. Wayde:
President of Wayde Consulting, LLC, Dr. Ernest Wayde, brings a diverse and extensive background in healthcare and technology from both the public and private sectors. With his training and experience in organizational development working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Wayde has provided coaching and consulting to executive leaders in healthcare across the United States. As a Prosci-trained Change Management practitioner and trainer, he has firsthand experience leading change on a broad scale and can speak directly to the challenges involved. Dr. Wayde is a former Director of Data Management and evaluation, holds a master’s degree in Information Systems, and has numerous certifications in Artificial Intelligence, including a certificate from the MIT Sloan School of Management. With his passion for people, processes, and technology, Dr. Wayde strives to help organizations achieve business success through the successful integration of these critical business elements.
Website: Wayde Consulting
LinkedIn: Ernest Wayde, Ph.D., M.I.S.
#WISHRM22 #SMILE #HR #HRCommunity #HRShenanigans #AI
Greg Hawks: Navigate Workplace Rapids
I had the great privilege to meet Greg Hawks in 2016 at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington D.C.. We happened to both be mingling at a pub with a pile of other conference attendees. Of course, shenanigators have a way of finding each other....
I immediately knew we'd be buddies. Greg is so fun, ridiculously energetic, and loves people! A kindred spirit!
While we had been connected for many years (6 to be exact), I finally had the opportunity to hear him speak this past June at the 2022 SHRM Annual Conference – a 7am morning session.
When Greg is on stage, he’s in his sweet spot. He will make you laugh, for certain. He will also make you think. He has a gift of analogies.
When I learned that he would be speaking at the WISHRM Conference, I knew I wouldn't miss it!
If you’re connected with Greg on social media, you’ve probably seen his famous half-face airplane selfies, early morning run selfies, pictures of very happy people winning yellow rafts, and his weekly Instigator letters. He is definitely someone you need to meet in person.
Watch our very short Zoom interview to get a glimpse of what you can expect from his morning opening keynote.
**Please excuse the audio spasms and frozen video. Technology, while awesome, isn't always perfect.
Be sure to join us in person or virtually for Greg’s session: Navigate Workplace Rapids on Thursday, October 13, from 8am-9:15am. He will get you energized and ready to love obstacles!
As a Corporate Culture Specialist, Greg shapes environments where everyone gets to contribute their best daily! For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture and and empowered employees. As a Keynote Speaker, he is an enthusiastic character. His style, wit and energy consistently capture the attention and imagination of audiences. His forward thinking contributes fresh perspectives that work. He’s annoyingly optimistic, contagiously energetic and slightly mischievous. People tend to like him. As a Virtual Conference Producer, he shapes an entirely different landscape. Designing the days, providing production, hosting the event, working with speakers and vendors - Greg fashions turn-key experiences that produce a virtual conference rivaling in-person gatherings!
LinkedIn: Greg Hawks
#WISHRM22 #SMILE #HRCommunity #HRShenanigans
The word alone can cause people the shivers.
We all know that where there are people, there is conflict. It has always been a little baffling to me why so many see conflict is a negative thing. Certainly, it can be. However, conflict can also be very healthy if it’s handled well. Building conflict management skills is important for HR professionals as we help our teams successfully meet the priorities of the business, and ensure that conflict doesn’t disrupt progress. I strongly believe that when teams are able to navigate conflict well, the team builds strength, trust, communication, and innovation.
I had the opportunity to connect with Anna Nielson to talk about her session “Conflict Capable Leadership” at the Wisconsin State SHRM Conference in October.
Q1) Tell us more about you and what inspired you to dedicate yourself to building conflict capable leaders.
I grew up in a family that didn't show me how to handle conflict. In fact, it was just ignored and denied. It made me feel alone and stuck and I always wished it could be different. When I became a mediator and conflict resolution practitioner, I was inspired by all of the possibilities of having skills in approaching and handling conflict created.
As I have navigated my professional life, I have seen conflict be the greatest barrier to people reaching and exceeding their goals.
The problem is that people don't know that they need explicit plans/policies/guidelines for how people in their organizations should approach conflict. They have processes in place for almost everything, except for conflict. We put people in a giant fishbowl together and expect them to figure it out. The stakes are high because their behavior is tied to their paycheck. I saw this gap and knew I could create something special to solve the problem.
I believe conflict capabilities are the greatest tool for success in organizations and I want to inspire others to believe it, too.
Q2) You mentioned in the session description that shifting your mindset about conflict is a powerful leadership tool. What shift needs to take place?
When I meet people, they often only see conflict as one-dimensional. For them, it's terrifying. The shift I help people explore is learning to see conflict in all new ways by gaining understanding about what they hope to achieve from showing up to hard conversations.
Q3) Why do you think leaders fear conflict?
People are scared of it because they are unprepared and unsure of what is expected of them when conflict happens. The stakes are high when your behavior is tied to your paycheck, and it's scary to take risks.
Q4) What are some of the ways that HR can help support creating conflict capable leadership teams?
First, HR professionals can lead the way in creating conflict capable teams and organizations by asking two important questions:
Next, they can work on a plan for creating a culture where the expectations about conflict are clear. This means that everyone knows exactly what the culture expects them to do when conflict arises including what to say and how to say it. This requires training employees, and modeling, reinforcing and rewarding these actions.
Q5) What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
I want them to take back a sense of curiosity about conflict. By giving yourself space to experience more than just fear, you are creating endless options for yourself and the people around you.
Please be sure to add Conflict Capable Leadership to your Wisconsin SHRM Conference session line-up! This session is offered virtually and in-person on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 12:45PM to 2:00PM (CST).
Anne Nielson is the founder and CEO of Conflict Capable Solutions. Her superpower is creating Conflict Capable leaders, teams, and organizations to drive innovation and maximize growth. She's an experienced civil mediator, conflict resolution consultant, Restorative HR practitioner, and facilitator. Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Diversity Studies from Metropolitan State University, and a master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
#WISHRM #WISHRM22 #SMILE #HRBreakingThrough #PowerofthePast #ForceoftheFuture
The Wisconsin State SHRM Conference is back with an amazing line-up of keynotes, sessions and networking opportunities – which, of course, means fun and shenanigans. (Oh, my heart!)
I am a geek for HR conferences! And I love to peruse the breakouts to find the sessions that resonate with me and my organization – with the hopes of bringing back some new ideas and/or information to my team, or for my own professional and personal growth. Continuous learning and professional development is incredibly important to me. I prioritize and protect it. I cannot tell you how many people I interact with daily who tell me they either don’t have time for development, or their manager/leader hasn’t supported (typically meaning that their manager hasn't approached them for career conversation).
My advice has always been to own your career. YOU are in the driver’s seat. Everyone else is a co-pilot (or backset driver – yikes).
Taura Prosek’s session, Empower Employees to Lead Their Careers, immediately stood out to me. I feel like we’re kindred spirits, and I had to connect with her to learn more about her, her passion, and her WISHRM22 session!
Q1: How did you get into executive coaching?
In 2013, I left the corporate world after 20 years to become the director of career management for the Wisconsin School of Business evening and executive MBA programs. 60% of my role was leadership and career coaching so I began a formal accreditation program to become a certified career coach as well as executive coach with the International Coaching Federation. Although there is an element of coaching throughout my entire career, it is the past decade where it’s been a focus for me having coached thousands of leaders in all areas of career and leadership. It’s been my most fulfilling role to date!
Q2: Why are you so passionate about empowering others to lead and own their careers?
I can’t count the times when someone would say to me, “I think I need a change” and what they meant by that was that they were going to start a job search externally. The root of this was likely that they outgrew their role and needed the next challenge. So often they weren’t taking a thoughtful and holistic view to this decision and instead, running away from something versus running towards something. After working through the Lead Your Career step by step process, often this decision resulted in an internal job change that aligned with their interests, skills, and business need versus leaving their organization that knows them and trusts them.
We spend a lot of time “at work” and to enjoy what we do, to feel valued, challenged, and energized is what it’s all about. Everyone deserves to figure it out and I was on a mission to create a system that would get them to their own answers. It’s no longer about what the company wants or needs me to do. No one else has the answers for us.
Q3: What is one of your own “a-ha” moments in your own career?
My career has been a windy road for sure. At each one of those turns was some kind of “a-ha” moment. One of my first experiences was after spending 4 years in finance at GE right out of college. I was asked to take on the Early Talent Manager role leading 140 interns and co-ops in all fields across the company. It wasn’t anything I was prepared for but saying yes to this challenge grew me in ways at the age of 26 I would have never thought possible. The “a-ha” for me was that taking risks can come with incredible reward. I have continued taking those risks as I’ve managed my own career.
Q4: In your session description, one of your learning objectives is a process that guides individuals into discovering the essential career criteria they need to make important decisions. Without giving it all away, can you tell us a little bit about this process?
Decades ago, career decisions were kind of made for us. The company would say they needed you in a position due to your skill set. It was about business need and skill set/strength alignment. Well today, we are saying, “hey, I have interests, needs, motivations, and desires that need consideration.” For example, I had a friend who left a company because their outdated technology was so frustrating on her productivity. This was an important criterion for her. We may make a job change (internal or external) because we like the title and comp package. However, there is so much more that goes into our fulfillment related to the job duties itself, environment, size of team, travel requirements, culture, flexibility, belief in company or product or mission, and so on. Let’s put our arms around these criteria and create a list of things that are important for ourselves. This list acts as our compass and keeps us grounded. One of my criteria is variety. Just that one word. Variety. This isn’t a complicated process yet a critical one to ensuring we are taking a holistic view.
Q5: How can HR professionals help empower employees and leaders through this process?
This system can be tailored to meet the needs of each organization. We’ve had some organizations bring in Lead Your Career workshops for all employees to introduce this process. This allows them to get started on their career plan and have a more strategic approach to where they want to develop. This framework also empowers more authentic career conversations. It’s an important learning and development initiative that employees are seeking today. HR professionals can help by offering this training, becoming more effective career coaches, and equipping their managers and leaders to have more authentic career conversations. Stewart Leadership recently published a 73-page self directed Lead Your Career workbook to allow organizations a scalable and economical solution should that be a useful tool for HR professionals.
Q6: What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
When I am asked, “Why would you offer career support to my employees? Aren’t you arming them to leave us?” My reply is, “I’m arming them to grow and stay.” Your employees need interview training. They need professional resumes that highlight their accomplishments. They deserve to contribute to your organization that not only grows and develops their skills but that also aligns with their interests and motivations. Let’s embrace this area of learning and development. Your employees are craving it!
I love how Taura stated, “So often they weren’t taking a thoughtful and holistic view to this decision and instead, running away from something versus running towards something.” Taking ownership of your career means taking intentional actions towards the career and life you want. As HR professionals, we can help our employees do the same.
To learn more, join Taura’s session, Empowering Employees to Lead Their Careers on Thursday, October 13th from 12:45pm to 2pm (CST). This session is offered both virtually and in person.
#WISHRM22 #SMILE #HRCommunity #HRShenanigans
More about Taura:
Taura D. Prosek is an experienced executive with a unique background in business development and talent coaching and consulting. She has an ability to understand client needs and propose customized solutions to best meet their goals. With over 12 years of experience in consultative sales, she has a proven track record of building trusted advisory relationships with the needs of her client top of mind.
Over Taura’s 24 year career, she has had the opportunity to work in finance, sales, and human resources for diverse organizations such as GE Healthcare, Cielo Talent, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her background brings her knowledge in a breadth of industries, business types, company sizes, and global experiences. She is passionate about leadership development, career management, and building high-performance teams.
She graduated from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with a Masters of Management (MBA) in 2000 and from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a major in finance in 1993. She is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation and earned the Corporate Executive Leadership Development Certification (CELDC). Taura is a trained facilitator and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach who has conducted hundreds of workshops and training sessions ranging from small teams to large audiences.
Taura is originally from Muscatine, Iowa, and resides near Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Joe, and their three sons.
It has been a week since #SHRM22 in New Orleans came to a close. After a long-awaited year in anticipation of seeing real-live people, reuniting with old friends, and making new acquaintances, it’s hard to believe that we’re already making plans for next year. It was a whirlwind week.
2019 was the last Annual Conference that I had attended in person, which also happened to be the year that I announced I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2019, I was most focused on meeting people and spending time with them because I was genuinely afraid that it would be the last time I was able to do so. Then we all know what 2020 (and 2021) delivered. We’ve all been transformed by the changing world around us.
My purpose in attending the Annual Conference each year is two fold. One, I want to learn. It’s important that we are life-long learners, and to evolve and grow so that we can continue to make a positive impact in our organizations. Two, I want to connect with others and learn from them. Each person has a unique story, and a unique perspective based on their own experiences and background. There is so much value in learning from and with others. This was a lesson it took me far too long to learn. (Last year when I attended the conference virtually, I realized that I learn so much better in the company of others. There is deep value in the dialogue that happens during and after the sessions.)
My perspective of just about everything has changed significantly since my cancer diagnosis. I appreciate tranquility. I listen more – to the sounds around me, to people, to my own breath. I like to take things slower than before. This year, I unexpectedly found myself observing far more than I had in the past.
Rather than sharing my takeaways from the sessions I attended, I want to share with you two observations.
First, there was a theme that seemed to be woven through almost every session, and at the forefront of conversations: HR professionals are weary. (I would strongly argue that everyone in almost every profession is weary, but since we are talking about an HR conference, I want to focus my comments there.) It wasn’t long ago that HR demanded a “seat at the table.” Well… 2020 came and whether we were ready or not, we were shoved into that seat (and glued down). HR had an incredible opportunity to lead their organizations through some extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Not only were organizations struggling to quickly pivot and do business differently, but every person was struggling, too – from challenges with virtual school, loss of childcare, caregiving for family members, not being able to see family members in long term care homes who were suddenly closed to visitors, losing loved ones to COVID, their own COVID diagnoses, loneliness, mental health challenges, psychological and physical safety, loss of jobs and income, access to healthcare, and on top of all of the COVID19 related challenges, communities have been facing relentless discrimination, racism, and violence…. HR was trying, gallantly, to keep it all together – support their organizations, employees and their own families. It has been a tough, TOUGH couple of years. I saw it on the faces of almost every attendee I met. I would ask, “How are you?” And, as expected, I would hear some variation of “I’m doing ok/fine/great…” Their eyes said something different. I would lean in and say more gently, “That’s excellent to hear. But how ARE you?” After a pause or two, their answers changed, and they would share what’s really going on, often from behind tears.
I often hear comments that “there isn’t HR for HR.” This may be true in most organizations. So while HR is there for its people, who is there for HR? HR professionals need an ear (a shoulder) just as much as any other human. Showing your humanity isn’t a weakness. Demonstrating vulnerability doesn’t make you less credible. We are emotional creatures. We get scared. We get angry. We get frustrated, sad, confused, and hurt. I encourage you each to reach out to your colleagues and peers and ask how they are doing – for real. And then give them room to answer. You don’t need to fix anything. Just listen.
The second observation is: HR people are good people. Certainly, there are a few bad apples (who often, unfortunately, can spoil the reputation of the good apples). And sometimes HR people can behave badly. At the sessions that I attended, most were packed - learning why DEI&B efforts were failing – and what to do about it; how to stop the retention bleed that may be a reflection of toxic work culture or a resistance to evolve the business and how it operates; how HR needs to evolve to be future-ready; how to think (and act) like an owner; and how to foster a people-centric culture. I heard laughter. I saw tears. I saw people. People who want to do the right thing and help others thrive. I saw people who are exhausted from trying to do the right thing, but often being accused of doing it all wrong.
We are in the business of people. Most of us are in this profession because we genuinely care for others and want to make the work experience a positive one. We want to make a difference in the lives of our employees, and in our communities. Over the course of five days, I observed 13,000+ HR professionals from around the globe coming together for a common purpose and shared values.
My hope is that each and every HR pro – in attendance or not – recognizes and cultivates the good in themselves and in others. That is one significant way we can #CauseTheEffect.
Part 3: Nicole Yeldell Butts - SHIFT: A Framework for Transformational Cultural Change in DEI&
You have extensive experience as a DEI strategist, coach and facilitator. Tell us more about you and what inspired you to dedicate yourself to leading organizations through transformational change.
Over the past 20 years I have served in various DEI roles, including Chief Diversity Officer. I have built three inaugural DEI offices and have, trained, coached and counseled senior leadership on DEI matters. What I have learned in my years of doing this work is that diversity, equity and inclusion must exist in the hearts of individuals. When it doesn’t, there is no law, policy or strategy that can create it. We have seen time and time again how laws are broken or interpreted so narrowly as to not honor the spirit of the law. How policies are ignored or reasoned away. How strategy is set aside as priorities change. DEIB must be in the consciousness and courage of individuals to create and sustain.
In this work I have seen organizations say one thing yet do another and the lack of trust and credibility that it creates. I have also seen organizational leaders sincerely struggling with their role in DEIB. Not knowing what it means, how to achieve it or what their personal role is in the work. I found that many leaders have good intentions – or think they have good intentions or want to have good intentions – but do not know how to turn good intentions into tangible action that positively impactful outcomes.
My inspiration is that I believe we as individuals and as a society want to do better and I believe we can do better. I believe that given the tools, we will do better and I believe SHIFT is one of those tools.
You mentioned in the session description that most organizations jump directly into DEI&B initiatives and strategy implementation, but that doesn’t achieve or sustain cultural change and improve outcomes. What is one of the major obstacles to sustainable change?
One major obstacle to sustainable change is losing focus on the “why”. Without a focus on and a commitment to the “why” of DEIB the ball gets held, passed or dropped when other priorities arise, and when push back happens. And both will happen. New priorities will arise. There will be push back to DEIB efforts. Both can derail organizational focus and commitment. Don’t hold, pass or drop the ball. Stay focused on why you are doing the work and keep the ball in motion.
Another obstacle to sustainable change is lack of measurable evidence of progress. One aspect of SHIFT is defining and measuring success. As with anything else, if we see progress, it motivates us to continue our efforts. This is no different. So we need to determine exactly how we define and measure success and continually monitor how we are doing. This ongoing monitoring of success helps support sustainability.
What have you learned are some of the beliefs and behaviors that create barriers to inclusive and equitable workplaces?
There are so many, we could write a full paper on the numerous barriers and how they show up but let me focus on four - the top two that I see from an organizational standpoint and the top two I see from an individual standpoint.
One of the greatest organizational barriers to DEIB is the belief that it is the work of a person or an office. DEIB is the work of every person in an organization and executive leadership must establish and hold true to the fact that it is the work of everyone. Organizations often hire a person to lead the DEIB effort and assume that is enough. They think of it as a job that a person is responsible to completing. DEIB is not transactional. It is cultural. DEIB is about shaping culture and culture determines the way everyone in the organization makes decisions, set priorities, acts and how we hold accountability. DEIB impacts every aspect of an organization and is the responsibility of everyone in that organization. Organizations can hire a person or create an office to lead this work, but they must understand that that person or office is responsible for leading overall organizational culture change, not simply doing DEIB work.
Another organizational barrier to DEIB is what I refer to as DEIB busy work. Just doing things because you think you are supposed to. Let’s create a Diversity Council. Let’s make Juneteenth a holiday. Let’s write a statement. Let’s provide implicit bias training. They are doing all these things, but those things are not getting them anywhere because they haven’t decided where they want to be. It’s like the old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” So, they are DEIB busy but there is no direction, no purpose, no defined outcome. And then they say, “Well, we have done all these things and they aren’t working.” So, they give up and say they tried.
The top two ways I see individuals create barrier to DEIB is a lack of personal recognition and accountability, and fear.
Individuals often believe that DEIB is not their responsibility – it has nothing to do with me. I treat everybody the exact same. I am color blind. I have not bias. All my decision making is objective. They don’t recognize that we all have bias and that our bias impacts our decision-making and behaviors. And since they don’t recognize this, they also do not hold themselves accountable for their bias, their bias decision making and their impact on people and the systems in which they operate.
The other barrier that comes up for individuals is fear. One fear is related to feeling personally threatened as they fear being excluded in this environment of inclusion and they fear being displaced. Another fear is related to a fear of speaking up. They may see differential treatment, but they are afraid of calling it. They may not know how to effectively call it out, they may not know how to advocate for themselves or others, they may fear being ridiculed for advocating for themselves or others. So the status quo goes unchallenged.
Your experience led you to the creation of SHIFT. Can you describe SHIFT and the changes you’ve seen companies experience by using this framework?
SHIFT is a five-point framework for transformational change which means it the change is effective, measurable and sustainable. Using the SHIFT framework, we begin with identifying the desired destination – the North Star, which lies in the answer to the question, “Who do you want to be as an organization?” After determining your North Star, you than assess where you are currently in relation to that North Star. Next we chart a course from where you are now to where you want to be – this is the strategy development aspect. If I am currently here but I want to get there, how do I close that gap? What things do I need to put in place to close that gap and how do I measure my progress? Fourth we implement the plan developed in step three. This is where most organizations start. They just start doing random things – DEIB busy work, but those things are not aligned with an overarching strategy designed to get you to a North Star. And last, you assess, reflect and determine next steps.
By using this framework, I have seen clients move from arbitrary DEIB activities to intentional, directional and coordinated efforts with personal and organizational accountability. I have seen them define the culture they want to create and develop very clear and concrete pathways for shaping that culture. And most importantly, leadership is personally and organizationally committed to the North Star.
One of the learning objectives is how to develop a strategy for determining the organization’s DEI North Star. How do you describe “North Star”?
The North Star is the clear vision or picture of who you want the organization to be as it relates to DEIB. To become you must first envision and as Stephen Covey says we must begin with the end in mind. The North Star is beginning with the end in mind – visualizing and defining the way you want the organization to show up in the world before you just start doing random DEIB activities – that DEIB busy work I mentioned earlier. In setting your North Star you must determine the organizational DEIB values, why those are important to the organization and how those values will be demonstrated by the organization. The North Star allows you to define who you want to be and how you want to show up. Without the North Star you are aimlessly floating through the galaxy.
What do you say to HR professionals who know they want to do something to change their culture, but aren’t sure where to start?
HR professionals need to understand that there is a difference between organizational stated values and lived values. Companies often have stated values but culture is what is lived. The goal is to turn stated values into lived values. Always start with values. What is important, why is it important and how do we demonstrate it and then stick to it. DEIB is about shaping culture and the shaping of culture and socialization of new norms neither happens quickly nor by accident but rather takes absolute consistency over time.
What are some of the ways that HR can support the organization’s leadership through transformational change?
HR can support an organization’s leadership through transformational change by keeping the focus on stated values and the why of those stated values. Here is why we said this was important to us. If this is what is important and why it is important, how do we demonstrate it? Continually hold leaders accountable to the stated values by asking “Does this align with our stated values?” “Does this demonstrate and support our stated values?” When decisions are made and priorities are set that are misaligned with the stated values and the why, HR can push back by asking “How does this align with our stated values?” or more directly, “This does not appear to align with our stated values.”
I am intentional about using the phrase “stated values” and not simply values because there is a difference between stated values and lived values. Using the phrase stated values - “this is what you said but it is not what you are doing” – holds leaders accountable to their words. Continual consistency to those stated values will shape culture and turn stated values into lived values.
What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
The motivation and energy to continue doing the work of DEIB because now they have a clear roadmap for creating real transformational change.
Please be sure to add one of the two offered in-person sessions to your calendar. Additionally, take the time to introduce yourself to Nicole afterwards!
Part 2: Dr. Jarik Conrad: 13 Brutal Realities Stalling DEI&B Effort
Thank you for the opportunity to connect! I’d love to get to you know you a little bit. How did you start your career?
What’s important for people to know is I grew up in East St. Louis, IL. It’s a challenging community. I grew up having questions around why I was seeing what I was seeing - why were most of the people in my city black, why was there so much crime, and why was the community so distressed? It didn’t sit right with me at a very young age. So I started studying people.
I have always been a person who speaks my mind. I feel like I could say things in a way that connects with people differently, or in a way that connect the dots. I’m a problem solver. I like to say I’m a scientist by nature and a teacher at heart. That’s where writing and speaking come into play.
Human behavior is all about science. Talking about how the brain works - the amygdala, the wiring the contributes to behavior, our fight or flight response. I feel like there is an answer here. I’m compelled to ask why does this happen and what does it mean? I think about the impacts of it. If we understand this, there is a probability of change. I take that scientific framework as I try to diagnose what is happening with people and situations. I’ve been able to draw in audiences that don’t necessarily want to hear DEI&B. But when I talk about how the brain works, people are more interested.
DEI&B has been a topic in organizations for many years, and it doesn’t seem like much progress has been made in most organizations. What are the most critical challenges that prevent organizations from changing their culture and having a positive impact on not only DEI&B efforts, but importantly, addressing disparities and the experiences of underrepresented groups?
As a foundation, one thing that organizations are going to have to come to terms with is that we can’t just deal within the walls of the organization – not just the things that happen inside the business. There is an increasing appetite for how we interact in society. When people leave work, the have to drive home, and if they are more likely to get pulled over because of the color of their skin or go to a dilapidated community, it is deeply important that organizations have a broader sense of the societal issues that affect their business.
Organizations want answers. They want “what are the 10 things…” I can’t do that. If I can help you understand how you [the organization and society] got to this point, then we can talk about how we can change the system and can agree on how we can move forward.
It’s uncomfortable but the reality is that because we have a dominate population, for the math to work, you have to be aggressively intentional to bring in underrepresented groups. (I will talk about the math of this in the session!)
People can get behind the language and the narrative around equity and fairness. People know that certain people shouldn’t get ahead based on color. But the macro ideal sometimes comes in contact with micro realities. We have to deal with that.
How might HR be contributing to these challenges in organizations?
People in HR are well intended. They like people and they want to connect. But great intentions without awareness, education, and skill doesn’t necessarily move the needle. This issue isn’t about being kind. It’s about having a fundamental understanding of how we got to this place and how we can move forward.
We’ve done ourselves a disservice by focusing attention on unconscious bias. It’s like they didn’t know. Where is the accountability for that? That’s BS. These are unconscious behaviors that give away conscious bias. Behaviors are an extension of what you believe. We have to accept that we have people in our lives that we cannot excuse their bad behavior. We just have to be honest about that.
Where does HR begin address these challenges?
If employees are the life blood of the org, then HR has to be the heartbeat. HR is uniquely positioned in the organization to address these issues. But we have to understand this stuff – not just the needs of underrepresented groups. We also need to understand why people are resistant.
What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
I hope it inspires someone to move. To do something. I hope that it isn’t the session that you sit in, it’s interesting, you get credit, and you walk away. I hope that people will focus on just one brutal reality, and commit to overcoming this in their organization.
The above was a snippet of our conversation. There was so much more to this dialogue, and I cannot be more excited to attend Dr. Conrad’s session - offered in person on Monday, 6/13/22 from 10:30-11:30am Central. Make sure you add it to your calendar!
Additionally, consider picking up his books: The Fragile Mind: How It Has Produced and Unwittingly Perpetuates America’s Tragic Disparities, and In Search of Humanity: Why We Fight, How to Stop, and the Role Business Must Play.
It’s not too late to register for #SHRM22 Annual Conference & Expo in New Orleans, from Jun 12- 15, 2022. Be sure to use this link when you register: https://shrm.co/shrm22-influencer
#SHRM22 #SHRM22Influencer #CauseTheEffect
Part 1: Stacey A. Gordon - Adapt or Die: When Failure is an Option
How did you get your start in human resources?
I started in recruiting. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed getting people hired. But I realized that there were problems in making that happen. At first I was thinking that it was the candidate’s problem. But then I realized it isn’t the candidates. It’s the companies. I was running into how to get people hired into companies that don’t value them. At that point, I moved specifically into DEI.
Tell me about the work you’re doing now.
We work with the leaders of companies. Most employees know they need to do better, but they don’t feel like they have any power. What’s baffling is often the executive team is surprised when I say, “you have the power to change this.” I help them to look inward – the problem is looking at them in the mirror. You start with coaching. They have to get to a point when they admit that something is wrong and needs changing. They have to see that this is literally happening in their workplace, and they have the ability to fix it. They have to take responsibility, and then be accountable.
Tell me more about making an impact in the world by making workplaces work for all.
I realized that policies and procedures work for some people, but not everyone. They work if you show up in the box they have created – this degree, from this school, with this hair style, etc. But if you don’t check the boxes, you’re not considered as worthy. It’s admitting that something has to be done. All is everyone. Including the people you don’t necessarily deem as worthy.
What is the failure your refer to in “When Failure is an Option.”
The failure is refusing to act.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that HR may be making that contributes to this disconnect?
3 things: Not admitting that something needs to be done, not taking responsibility, and not being accountable. Companies do that with sales or other areas. If you don’t meet the criteria, there is accountability. But there is a reluctance to putting metrics around DEI. They have to ask, what does that mean and how will we know when we’ve reached it?
How do you determine which metrics to use?
Do a survey. You can’t just stick your finger in the air and see which way the wind blows. How do you know what needs to change unless you ask the people? In addition, we also look at HR data (such as exit interviews, performance reviews, policies), and stakeholder interviews. We can then pull it all together to paint the picture of where to start.
How would you describe the role of leaders in creating workplaces that work for all?
They have to role model it. For many it’s hard because they don’t know how. They have to have a sense of what people in their organization are looking for. Good leaders know we have to evolve and change. Their job is to role model and demonstrate what it looks like to lead with openness and authenticity.
What are some of the ways that HR can have a positive impact – both individually and throughout their organizations?
They have to stop taking orders and start strategizing. Your role is to advise the people around you. You have to say, “Wait a minute – let’s look at crafting this differently to have a different outcome.” HR has to stop acting as an accomplice to leaders who are not doing their job. Step out of the compliance mindset and into the strategic mindset.
What is the #1 thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
It is their job and responsibility to be the solution. You don’t stop being who you are when you step into the office. It comes with you into the workplace. Our actions contribute to what the outcome will be. We need to stop searching for the “one big thing.” If it’s the one big thing, it’s so easy to wipe clean and dismantle with one word or one swipe of the pen. We need to look for the small individual things that we can all do that will eventually add up to the big thing. If we’re all doing our part, all contributing to the small things, it’s not possible to dismantle.
Be sure to add Stacey's session "Adapt or Die: When Failure is an Option" to your schedule (included on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Leadership & Personal Growth tracks). This session is offered in person and virtually on Monday, 6/13/22 at 3:30pm-4:30pm CST.
I was reminiscing recently about my first (solo) SHRM Annual Conference experience in Chicago many years ago. I recall vividly how gigantic the conference center was and how overwhelming it all felt. As a long-time conference veteran, I often see that lost look on the faces of attendees, and always stop to assist. I've been there.
For those of you who may be attending for the first time, I offer a few tips to help you make the most of your conference experience.
#3: Prepare Your Session Schedule
Visit the SHRM22 Annual Conference website to peruse speakers, pre-conference offerings, networking events, and all general/concurrent sessions. Click on “Program” at the top, then select “Full Schedule.” This takes you to a page where you can scroll through the entire conference from beginning to end. You can also search by keyword, the type of pass (Virtual or In Person), by day, by event type, by learning track, and by competency. Take each day/time in bite sizes. Consider your own career aspirations and professional development. What are some gaps and areas of opportunity that could help advance your career? If your company is paying for your attendance, think about the most critical needs of your company and what sessions you could attend to help support those needs. You may even find it helpful to sit with your leader(s) to discuss what options might be most impactful.
Also, it is helpful to have a backup to your first choice. Sometimes the sessions are full. Sometimes you just don’t feel like walking across the entire conference center to get to the next session, so it’s good to have a backup (or two).
#2: Wear comfy shoes
Speaking of walking, the conference center is huge. You are going to do a LOT of walking throughout the day. (I average 20,000-25,000 steps in a day.) You are going to want shoes that will not give you blisters or cause pain. I cannot stress this enough. I made the mistake of wearing high heels one year, and by mid-day my feet were killing me. From then on, flats, tennis shoes, and, yes, sometimes flip flops. Comfort is key on this topic.
#1 Invest in Your Professional Network
I wish I had had a mentor early in my career who stressed the importance of networking and intentionally investing in relationships with peers. Networking can be terrifying. I promise, you are not alone in not knowing where to start. It’s hard to connect in a sea of 18,000 people. Luckily, SHRM makes it a little easier by creating spaces where you can intentionally connect with others – such as the Networking & Virtual Experience Orientation, the SHRM Certification lounge, the Smart Stage and more. (If you’re attending virtually, check out the virtual Networking Peer Group Ideas Swap.) Everyone wants to connect and belong. Be intentional about those connections. The conference feels a whole lot smaller when you see a familiar face or two.
If you’re on LinkedIn, Instagram and/or Twitter, follow the hashtags: #SHRM22 #CauseTheEffect and #SHRM22Influencer. Engage with the author(s) by responding and sharing. There just may be an opportunity to connect in person with the folks you “meet” online!
The SHRM Annual Conference is an opportunity to grow your community, challenge your assumptions and mindsets, and leverage the knowledge and expertise to Cause the Effect in your workplace. I always say that our industry begins and ends with people. You never know what insights you’ll gain from others’ experiences and wisdom, or what friendships develop from a common interest. One of the most powerful tools in your HR toolbox is your network. Networking isn’t about exchanging business cards. It’s about intentionally building relationships.
There is still time to register for the conference experience that works best for you (in-person or virtual). Check out the SHRM22 Annual Conference website for a list of speakers, concurrent sessions, pre-conference sessions and networking events. Save $100 off new, full SHRM22 conference registrations* thru May 20th using the code SHRM22_INFLUENCER.
*This offer is exclusive for the full SHRM22 Annual Conference & Expo–in person or virtual– and is not applicable to Day Passes, special rates or other promotions. Promo code SHRM22_INFLUENCER must be used at the point of checkout. Offer expires 5/20/2022 at 11:59 PM ET. Offer not valid on previous orders and cannot be combined with other discount offers.
Inspiration. Bravery. Passion. Advocacy. Activism. Charity.
These are a few words that come to mind when I think of Ms. Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.” At almost 95 years young, she owned the stage at #SHRM21 in Las Vegas and had the audience gripped by her stories about growing up in Texas and her dream of Juneteenth being celebrated as a national holiday. On June 17, 2021, that dream was realized as she watched President Biden sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, commemorating June 19, 1865, the day that Union forces arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation that President Lincoln had issued on January 1, 1962, over two years prior.
She greeted the audience with an enthusiastic, “Hello, young people! And you are young people if you’re not 95!”
Ms. Opal Lee shared how in 1939, when she was about 12 years old, her parents bought a house in a mostly white neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. A mob of 500 destroyed that house. Her parents sent her and her siblings to stay with friends a few blocks away, and her parents left “under the cover of darkness.” That was on June 19th, a day that was a big deal in Marshall, Texas – as big as Christmas, she described, with fairs and parades and food (“and food and food”)! But it wasn’t a big deal in Fort Worth. She was surprised as she got older how most of the country had never heard of Juneteenth, and how it became her passion to make Juneteenth a national celebration. She was often asked, “Isn’t July 4th the day we celebrate freedom?” She would say in return, “My ancestors weren’t free on no 4th of July!” She feels that freedom should be celebrated from June 19 to July 4 because “none of us are free until we’re all free.”
Ms. Opal Lee has worked for over six decades – as a babysitter, teacher, school counselor. Even after she retired, she continued to work, starting a food bank that serves over 500 people. She’s seen drastic changes over the 60 years she has worked, but she has also seen older people brushed aside because people think they’re too old to work. Why would anyone work beyond retirement age? “Because we still have knowledge and ideas to contribute. Work brings us dignity and purpose, and it keeps us sharp.”
She acknowledged being in a room full of HR professionals, and humorously declared, “I am an HR Trifecta: I’m a woman. I’m Black. And I’m old.” She passionately articulated how diversity and inclusion is about making sure that everyone finds a place and a voice in companies where people can reach their full potential regardless of where they started in life.
After thousands of attendees returned to their homes and places of business, after the conference stage has been disassembled and stored away for the next big event, Ms. Opal Lee's words still ring: “If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.”
She challenged each of us to take what we have learned back to our workplaces. “Please don’t let what happened here in Vegas stay in Vegas!”
As Ms. Opal Lee pointed out, we’ve come a long way. But we have a long way yet to go. “Change is possible if we just hold the course.”
#SHRM21 #SHRM21Influencer #SHRMNMTE #Juneteenth