Eric Thomas

Genesys Chief DEI Officer Eric Thomas

Eric ThomasTalent Partner

How do you create attainable, measurable, and sustainable diversity goals? Eric Thomas is the Global Chief Diversity Officer of Genesys, a global market leader offering customer experience solutions, and manages its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We hear why, and how, Eric uses data to provide useful and meaningful insights that help him not only drive his way forward but pivot when needed. Eric explains how to create a space for employees to have open conversations, and the measures to put in place to make sure their voices are heard. We begin to understand the importance of strategic conversations, how to promote systemic changes, and create plans for inclusive sustainability. Join us to start to understand how to ensure that you are focused on the right initiatives, recognize companies’ window-dressing attempts, and be an inclusive leader.

Episode Transcript

[INTRODUCTION]

 

[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontline’s modern recruitment.

 

[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions, where are they willing to take risks, and what it looks like when they fail.

 

[0:00:22.7] RS: No-holds-barred, completely off-the-cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VP of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

 

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the training and got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

 

[0:00:39.7] MALE: Talent acquisition, it’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization, you get to work with the C-Suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between and everybody knows you.

 

[0:00:53.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk Talent to Me.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[0:00:58.9] RS: Here with me today on Talk Talent to Me is the chief diversity equity and inclusion officer over at Genesys, Eric Thomas. Eric, welcome to the podcast, I’m so glad to have you here.

 

[0:01:08.7] ET: Thanks Rob, thanks for having me man, I’m excited to be here.

 

[0:01:11.4] RS: Me as well. Loads to go into. First, could you maybe set some context by sharing a little bit about the company Genesys and then we’ll get into your role as well?

 

[0:01:21.1] ET: Yeah. So Genesys is a global market leader, global market leader, and customer experience solutions. We have one of the broadest set platforms for servicing B2B customers when it comes to enabling their contact center solutions and their contacts and their capabilities. I think we have over 70 billion different transactions that traverse our platform daily. So market leader in the customer experience space.

 

[0:01:47.7] RS: Got it and then what is the Erik Thomas of it all? Would you mind walking us through your career a little bit and how you wound up here at Genesys?

 

[0:01:53.8] ET: Yeah, so I’ve been in Genesys for right at four and a half years. I spent the last two decades leading IT and consulting professional services teams. Served in a number of different leadership roles but mostly around that space, customer-facing, leading property loss, organizations, building our teams and enterprise capabilities and I came to Genesys to lead our global delivery organizations within our professional services team and within two years in, I received a nod to become the company’s first global chief diversity officer and that’s the role I’m in today.

 

[0:02:29.4] RS: Sounds like it was kind of a big career pivot, right?

 

[0:02:31.7] ET: You noticed, huh?

 

[0:02:33.7] RS: You’ve done so well at this function that they’re like, “Hey, you’re so good at this job Eric, what if you did something completely different?” Firstly, what made you decide that that was the right decision for you and your career?

 

[0:02:43.1] ET: Yeah. Well, so first of all, I’ve always been a champion of diversity work long before I even understood that this was a well-established global practice, right? Serving as executive sponsors for ERGs, launching ERGs at different companies, and even representing various companies at diversity recruitment fairs, focused on the efforts of increasing the amount of black and brown professionals in the companies.

 

But Genesys, like a number of companies that’s somewhat two and a half, almost two and a half years ago responding to the aftermath of the murder and launching of George Floyd, decided to take a more elevated and intentional approach towards diversity, equity and inclusion. At the time, Genesys being a 30 year company, our new CEO Tony Bates, I think he was roughly about less than two years into his post and my conversations with him, he was always as intent to have the diversity office.

 

One of the first things he did when he came to the company is instantiate empathy as a core part of our corporate values and I think, well, I know from conversations with him that the incident with George Floyd and the aftermath and so it was the catalyst for accelerating the establishment of a DEI office and we went through a number of gyrations of the company, responding to and dealing with the aftermath like a number of companies.

 

It was like a playbook that everybody whipped out at the time. You heard statements being made, in Genesys, we were also among them, probably one of the first to make a statement in solidarity with the black community basically just speaking out against hate and racism and general.

 

The other element was he saw companies having conversations, opening up the workplace to have conversations that had been in the past taboo and just kind of leaning in on allowing employees to process what they were dealing with in creating that space for them to do that and I was asked to be a part of the team, the triage team that was preparing for those and then that part, I also was getting to learn a little bit more about Tony and his philosophy towards the work.

 

And then, like a lot of companies, if you didn’t have a DEI office, we launch a DEI office and it was to the course of those activities and my involvement and a lot of the work that I was asked to take on the privilege of coming to company’s first chief diversity officer and here we are, somewhat two and a half years later, in really, really moving the needle on a number of fronts. 

 

[0:05:06.7] RS: So you found yourself in this position where you had your “day job” in air quotes and then you are also doing this work in addition to your day job, right? Heavily involved in specific ERGs and in the work of diversity and representation, et cetera.

 

[0:05:21.6] ET: Exactly.

 

[0:05:21.9] RS: When it became time for you to say, “Okay, what if this was my main function, what if this was my main role, the work I’ve been doing in addition to my regularly scheduled job?” right? I’m curious about those conversations you had, leading up to accepting that role. Did you have any sense of skepticism maybe or at least pushback to say, “Hey, if I’m going to take this on and be successful, I’m going to need XYZ?”

 

[0:05:44.8] ET: I did. There were multiple conversations that were happening leading up to the conversation to take the role. It was a conversation that I had with our leadership team. As you said, setting the expectations on understanding what our approach would be. There were conversations with my wife on understanding what this may mean for our family and those such of things but there were conversations in my head, quite frankly, Rob, where I’m trying to figure out, “Is this something I want to do personally?”

 

You spent over two decades building a career and a brand, successfully running a business line. So it’s actually leading PNL in organizations, which you don’t see a lot of us affording those opportunities and to pivot away from that and to focus on something that’s more culturally related that’s not driving direct revenue and bottom line to the company, yeah, there was some hesitation, right? 

 

But I think ultimately, the opportunity to leave a legacy of something more than just what had been doing, which was chasing cash and delivering on revenue and EBITDA and those types of things, while that is extremely, extremely important, the opportunity personally for me to have my legacy to be beyond that was really the tipping point for me to say, “Yes, I’ll take on this responsibility.” Internally, the commitment was there. It was there. 

 

When you look at how companies define good DEI, if you ask other chief diversity officers things like making sure you have a leader that is empowered to get things done in a company, that you have a budget, that you have a staff, that you have commitment and engagement from other leaders, these are the hallmarks of good DEI and these were the commitments that I was providing at the onset of accepting my role and quite frankly, what I’ve seen from our leadership.

 

[0:07:35.8] RS: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I did want to spend a little time just hearing from you, how people can assess an organization for those commitments and understand if they mean it, when they say they’re committed to having a meaningful DENI campaign or office because it is like somewhat topical from like a PR perspective to say, “Oh, we are committed to this” that is a progressive thing to do, that is the external signals, provide that incentive for business leaders.

 

There is a difference between doing that, listening to those signals and actually making a meaningful investment, would you agree?

 

[0:08:10.0] ET: I would agree. I would definitely agree and I think that one of the ways to measure, why I believe and what I’ve seen, is to measure the difference between what folk in the industry called window dressing versus a real commitment is to look at the diversity of the leadership team.

 

One of the things I do now is and I know a lot of folks do this, they evaluate companies by looking at the diversity of their board. They look at the diversity of their leadership team and if you look at Genesys, Tony Bates I think in the first two years of his leadership post, the diversity of our executive management team, it went from I think it was one female leader on the team to four and not just leading marketing and those types efforts but leading sales, leading business units. 

 

Our board members, Tony was the catalyst for bringing in and they are helping to diversify our board leaders now, we have I think, 33% of our board collectively identify as a member of an underrepresented population as we work before, it wasn’t necessarily the case and so to me, those were identifiers of individuals who walk the talk and I think those are some of the indicators that you look for first at different companies if you’re trying to differentiate between what people are saying and what they’re doing.

 

[0:09:24.3] RS: I love that you use window dressing to describe a non-commitment because when you said that, I was just immediately thinking in more examples. One that I’ll share quickly is that a friend of mine, woman in tech and she goes to a large company and she’s interviewing for a software engineering role.

 

There is six people in the interview panel and four of them are women and she’s like, “Okay and hey, I wasn’t born yesterday like this is peculiar” and so she gets kind of towards the end of the process and she’s like, “Hey, so I met with mostly women, so is your engineering team 80% female or did I meet with every single woman you have employed on the tech team?”

 

They were not ready for that action, you know? But that is an example of window dressing. It’s a tricky one because you want to show the person, the candidate that, “Hey, someone who looks like you can succeed here” but at the same time that’s just ingenuous to make them believe that the whole team looks a certain way.

 

So I like that you share those examples of investment and when there are people in leadership positions as reliable indicators that there’s a meaningful commitment being made. Could you share some other examples of window dressing so people know what to look for?

 

[0:10:26.0] ET: Oh window dressing. Well, I have to be careful here. So I’ll answer it this way, every company is going to take a different approach at how they work to instantiate diversity, equity, and inclusion within their environment, right? And to be fair, companies of different sizes will take different approaches.

 

If you got a very small company with only a few hundred employees, you can get good DEI work done without a diversity officer because you may not be able to afford a diversity officer. I see companies form counsels and they have leaders across the company that come together and form those counsels and those counsels are driving a commitment to the work.

 

They’ve got goals that they’re instantiating across the business, and they’ve got a commitment from different business leaders who get it done. Some companies may not be able to afford a fully staffed group but if you’ve got an individual that is in a key role and is empowered to really drive and get things done with a budget, it can galvanize the workforce around the efforts, that’s another approach to the companies are taking. 

 

I think window dressing is when you don’t have any of that that I just described but you got a lot of good marketing on your website but you can’t point to any real material gains that you’re making either in representation or even in employee sentiment but you do a really, really good job with the marketing. That’s where I see you want to be careful.

 

[0:11:50.2] RS: Right, right. Like, the impossibly diverse stock photo, it looks like the cafeteria, the United Nations is like, “Okay, I don’t think that’s what’s actually going on at your company.” So it would just be anything that’s presented as a DENI campaign or initiative outside of what you had outlined earlier in terms of the things that represent a meaningful investment.

 

[0:12:11.1] ET: I’ll tell you what we’re doing that tells the world that we have a committed effort to this. Over the last couple of years, people have talked about the great reshuffle or the great resignation, right? Call it what you want, it has forced us and it’s forcing a lot of companies to reimagine how you source, how you recruit, and how you retain talent, diverse talent.

 

Because folks want to know and for the longest time it was an employee’s market and they were choosing where they wanted to go and I received a number of inbound from incoming employees basically saying it was our illustrated commitment, what they could see to this work that was one of the key differentiators between them accepting and come to Genesys versus a competitive offer.

 

A number of inbounds, right? And I think that’s part of an illustration, the commitment but also it shows how DEI is a true key business imperative and it’s not a nice to have and companies that are treating it like a nice to have or that are actually taking the window dressing approach, then you’re short changing yourself.

 

[0:13:21.1] RS: Okay, yeah, I’m glad you outlined that because I want people who care about this to be able to see through smoke and mirrors and to identify a company that is actually doing meaningful work so that they can go somewhere that they can succeed and also take part in the work that they are passionate about.

 

So thank you for outlining that. I wanted to talk also about your approach to your role specifically because when I speak to diversity leaders, typically they have a background on the recruiting side and the talent people ops, et cetera and you do not have that. So what do you think you bring to the role based on your background that is maybe different than your typical diversity leader who came through the talent operation?

 

[0:13:59.1] ET: Yeah. One, I have an operational background, one that has fueled me to lead with data and make data-driven decisions, right? Whether you’re making a decision to launch a new product or launch into a new vertical and take your product into a new space, whether you’re making a decision as to whether to do this bill or not. Is it a healthy deal, does it fit the portfolio, and does it support the ambitions of the PNL? 

 

It’s not much different in a DENI space at least for me. The data is key in providing insights and the understanding of where you may have challenges in the company, where you may have challenges with representation, with how various systems that are used to administer the employee experience, maybe they’re not being administered in such an equitable fashion.

 

With understanding employee sentiment and how employees feel about their ability to show up to work and be their best selves and be their authentic selves and how they feel about fairness and do they have a fair shot just like any other employee of achieving their own career aspirations.

 

The data tells you all of that and I take a very data-driven approach at helping to not just create and drive our strategic framework but to pivot when times are required to pivot. To set our goals, to understand what good looks like, define it upfront and know how we drive towards that success but also to prioritize and to make sure they were focused on the right initiatives, right?

 

So I think that’s one of the biggest differences. One of the conversations I have with other DEI leaders that are traditional practitioners and again, I want to be careful because they bring a level of seasoning and experience to the work that I’m still catching up on but their approach seems to be more on the feel-good side, right? 

 

Are we the type of place where we’re doing the things like having strategic conversations and employees feel at the level of inclusion and belonging and then the sentiment of showing up to be their best selves? That’s important, that’s extremely important but I don’t know that I see often that they’re driving initiatives that is systemic changing. 

 

That is going to change how a company recruit, how we promote, how we develop talent to make sure that it’s done in a more equitable fashion and I think the ability to operationalize various strategies to the business and not just within HR but across the business is another key different approach that I think I’ve seen that I take and maybe some traditional leaders who may come from in HR background or DEI background. 

 

It’s just the, this is an operational experience of being able to take a framework and operationalize it across the business and then quite frankly, to be able to see what business leaders see and how to connect with business leaders and help them understand the advantages that this has within their respective areas of achieving their own business outcomes.

 

[0:16:56.4] RS: What would be the feel good campaign where you look at it and you’re like, “Okay, that’s maybe important however I think there’s a bigger picture here.” Like, where can people think bigger?

 

[0:17:06.6] ET: We saw over the last two and a half years, this increased focus on diversity work. I referenced it to George Floyd’s murder earlier in the podcast, it’s a catalyst for a lot of this and even with this work had been around for three or four decades, you saw an increased focus, companies that are hiring more and more CBOs. 

 

What I don’t think we have yet is a collective effort of body that comes together across the industries to set standards, to define what good DEI looks like so that you don’t just have your own self to benchmark against.

 

Today, you set goals within your companies and you say “Hey, we want to achieve X amount of representation of women and then we want to get to our X amount of a level of employee engagement with the work” or however and whatever metrics you’re defining, you’re typically benchmarking against your own self and your own progress but there aren’t any real standards across the industry like you have in technology, right? 

 

If we go from 4G to 5G, you know, there are telephony standards that say how you do this and that there’s a whole ecosystem built around it. How you develop software, DevOps models, and those types of things, there’s a whole ecosystem built around that. 

 

We’ve yet to progress to that and my concern if I am forward-looking about the AI is that there is enough organized opposition that has also awakened over the last couple of years that is looking to make sure that this work does not progress collectively. In the US, we have a potential change in the judiciary that’s probably going to happen in the next week. 

 

That’s what all of our polls and forecasting and that can have a significant impact on how DEI leaders and companies approach this work in terms of the different handcuffs that they have to face with how to get things done and I think by having that collective standards team working on a unified front is a much better way to approach how you manage that organized opposition versus we’re all trying to fight it individually within our respective companies. 

 

[0:19:04.2] RS: So do you think that the incremental change where, “Okay, we’re X percent better than we were last quarter internally” you think that is small potatoes? 

 

[0:19:13.6] ET: I think that because of the nature of the work and how different it is approached from one company to the next, I think any gain is a good gain, right? I think any gain is a good gain. What I’d like to see, is the type of gains that we would see on a financial front, yes. Now, I’ll tell you this, at Genesys, we’ve seen something of those types of gains in the last two years or so that we’ve been at this work. 

 

We have doubled the representation of black professionals among our leadership ranks in the company, doubled, right? We look at women in leadership, and we have seen a double-digit that they go somewhere around 12 or 13% increase in female leadership representation and defining leadership as director and above. We have a number of tailwinds that supported those types of gains as a company and that’s great for us. 

 

But the ecosystem, the larger ecosystem around us needs to be able to experience those similar types of gains, and not every company experiences the types of tailwinds that we had and types of growth that we’ve seen that would enable something like that, and now that we’re facing maximum economic head wins, how we have to adjust, that we had to be a bit more surgical with our approach to still trying to make gains. 

 

I don’t know that we’ll see the big gains that we have seen before. I think we’ll still see gains but that’s the point I am trying to make about having a more collective force to make sure that there are standards and there’s an approach that says how do you fight and manage and ensure that the work itself is shored up as a true strategic business imperative and that leaders understand and see that the way they look at other areas in the business like technology and product management and those types of things. 

 

[0:20:59.9] RS: When you speak about opposition to DEI efforts, it is not always as clear cut as pitchforks and torches and people in the street, right? It happens in these nuanced ways that the untrained ear might completely miss. What does it typically sound like when you hear it in the workplace? In the boardroom or from leadership or when you get a sense that someone is maybe not a hundred percent on board with your mission, how can you tune into that? 

 

[0:21:26.1] ET: You’ll hear people ask the question, “Do we really have an issue here with that?” right? If we were approaching a certain initiative like a sponsorship program to promote women in leadership and to create promotion of velocity among women, “Well, do we really have a problem when women get promoted?” you’ll hear that, right? When it’s budget negotiation time and we talk about having a proper allocation of funds toward the work. 

 

Folks will ask, “Well, what about the ROI? Is there a return on this investment?” right? Those are the types of questions that you hear as an indicator there that folks either don’t quite understand what we’re doing or they’re just not supportive of it and I think for me, I go back to what I said earlier about the data, the data is my suitcase business case. If I got to whip out the business case every time to justify launching this initiative or to answer the questions, “Do we really have a problem here with this?” 

 

[0:22:24.5] RS: You say yes and then you show them your spreadsheet. 

 

[0:22:27.1] ET: Yeah, our numbers tell us we do. Eric is not telling you these issues, our numbers tell us we do and I think that’s where the data becomes really, really important in helping with managing some of the more subtle as you put it opposition. 

 

[0:22:40.0] RS: I see. Yeah, it all comes back to that. I heard this quote I can’t remember where, I wish I could attribute it but it was, “If there’s data, let’s go with the data. If we’re going with opinions, let’s go with mine” but the point they had – 

 

[0:22:50.1] ET: I like it. 

 

[0:22:51.0] RS: This is not coming from Eric Thomas, it’s being delivered by him but this is a reality in our organization and I do wonder, you know, in what scenario or in what capacity you say you indulge those objections and you say, “Yeah, here’s the data” or you kind of indulge it in good faith, right? You give some of the benefits of the doubt like, “Okay, maybe they are just trying to cross their T’s and dot their I’s like they would for any business campaign” right? 

 

For anything this company does, they want to be skeptical and cautious about things before they jump on board. 

 

[0:23:19.3] ET: I think you have to provide folks those charitable assumptions because you don’t know what they’re thinking, you don’t know what’s in their mind. If they’re not coming right out and tell you, they just don’t believe. Now, some people come right out and say, “I’m not going to support this” “This is not something I believe belongs in the workplace” and I think that’s the reality that our companies face. 

 

I mean, if you think about how polarized our society is, you can expect that your workforce is immune to that, right? I think we have been fortunate at Genesys to where our company values and our corporate culture lends towards inclusive practices and is driven from the top down and it creates a pathway for the work to be done even in the face of either subtle opposition or outright opposition because at the end of the day we’ve said this is a part of our identity and who we are. 

 

Empathy is a cornerstone of what we do, leading and creating inclusive environments is how we want to show up each and every day towards each other and quite frankly, with our customers, right? Because empathy is at the cornerstone of our business model as well. So for us, I think it gives us a differentiated advantage at how we approach the work. 

 

[0:24:37.8] RS: Right, once it’s a top-down sort of cultural value, that’s the one move checkmate. It’s good to have your data but at the end of the day, it’s like, “Look, we’ve made this commitment” like the deal has been made, this is who we are and there is sort of a shape up, or ship out for people not jumping on board, right? 

 

[0:24:52.8] ET: Well, not only have we made the commitment Rob, we actually carry our DEI goals on our corporate scorecard and it’s on that corporate scorecard where we measure things like annual reoccurring revenue, profitability, bookings. We record it out to the analyst, we record it out to the board. We share it on our all-hands call with our employees. Our diversity goals are now part of that scorecard. 

 

Having that type of support creates a pathway for you to get things done even in the face of subtle opposition. 

 

[0:25:26.4] RS: Yeah, I think you mentioned earlier that accountability was another one of those key signals that a company is taking this seriously, right? Like say you don’t hit your goals, does someone have to answer to that? Is this actually being measured and reported on? So I am curious, I’m glad to hear that this has made its way onto your corporate scorecards but what are some of the goals and targets you set? How are you measuring success here? 

 

[0:25:46.6] ET: So I’ll give you three quantifiable measurements, right? We’ve set goals to increase the representation of women globally in various race and ethnic groups in the US and we measure and track the progress of those goals on a quarterly basis and those are what gets recorded as part of that corporate scorecard. We measure retention, we look at it in a disaggregated way to understand do we have potential challenges with various demographics. 

 

Are women leading at a certain pace outpacing men or black professionals or brown professionals leaving at a pace different than white professionals? And we look for where we have disparities and where we can take action on drive and parity there because I think that is a signal of the employee experience and then lastly, we also measure the employee experience itself.

 

We institute our methodology that we call the inclusion index and what we do is we take the data that comes back for our employee surveys. We do one annual, one major, one annually and then we do a post-survey kind of quarterly, which is continuing to take a pulse on the employee sentiment around employees and the matters that are important to our workforce. We take the feedback we get from the employees and break them out into different views. 

 

Again, disaggregate the view so we see how women are responding to the same questions individually or collectively versus black professionals, Hispanic professionals, and so on, so that the dominant majority of the workforce is suitable and doesn’t drown out the minority, right? And to understand are women have a different experience, employee experience at Genesys than the majority of our workforce, and what actions we need to take there. So those three ways, they’re three quantifiable ways that we measure our diversity work. 

 

[0:27:40.0] RS: Yeah, that is maybe basic stats analysis but it bears repeating this point that you have to slice and dice your data and segment out it a little bit because otherwise, you’re not hearing from the people who you’re trying to increase representation for, right? As you said, they get drowned out, so that’s an important call out. 

 

Could you maybe share an example of responses to the survey where you’re like, “Okay, this is not where we want to be, let’s improve it.” Would you share like where you wanted to improve and how you went about improving it? 

 

[0:28:06.3] ET: Yeah, so when we launched the inclusion index, it was in year one around generally. The first time it was actually into applaud in methodology to the survey results and what we saw was that black professionals in the US by double digit that they go some 15% of the – a 15% gap between how they felt they could show up and be their authentic selves at work when indexed against any other group that was sharing with us how they felt as well. 

 

We could even look at it by a business group to see if there is any one particular business group that is having more of an impact on this collective view or not and with having that, we were able to leverage our black employee resource group. We got them engaged with some focus group conversations. You know, it is a little difficult, you can’t just go ask all the black employees of the company to participate in a focus group. 

 

So what we try to do is be methodical about saying, “Hey, let’s leverage our employee resource group” right? And get them involved and engaged in this process and kind of use them as a representative sample of the voice, right? And took the learnings from those, and incorporate them back in some of the education that we had provided for our leader to and quite frankly, one of those was a catalyst for launching will be called inclusive leadership. 

 

Helping define all people managers how to lead inclusive environments and how to be an inclusive leader. Tactics like hey, if you’re on a Zoom call and you know someone who may be a bit of an introvert, make sure you’re making room for every voice to be heard in the call and if they are not comfortable speaking out, that’s okay since you made room for that, right? So teaching them those types of practical things on how you show up as a more inclusive leader. 

 

We saw that gap quotes in the second year, when we ran the numbers we brought it within two points of solo parity and our goal is to drive priority across all the groups. 

 

[0:30:07.7] RS: When you think of this year of year goal setting, I am curious how you attack that because representation itself cannot only be the goal, right? Like there’s no upper range where you hit a number of representations and you decide we did it, we’re done, right? Let’s all go home, so Eric can resign in glory, his job is done. So in maybe thinking past the metrics of representation, what are some of the longer-term goals you expect to continue attacking as the years go by? 

 

[0:30:37.6] ET: Yeah, so I think at the onset of the call, I shared that we set out as a vision to build a sustainable set of practices, right? I think when you look at building out as we’ve gone starting from concept and now starting to put infrastructure in place, goals working towards the attainment of those goals, the ultimate measure is sustainability and then how do you define sustainability, right? 

 

If I set it as a goal to reach 50% representation of women in my workforce and I hit that 50%, I know you were dealing with retention, you are dealing with other types of factors that could impact that 50%. So the real attainment of not necessarily hitting that 50% like changing the systems that allowed you to get to that 50%, your recruitment process, your sense of belonging and how your culture that allows you to retain them. 

 

Then it becomes more of a factor of sustainability and not attainment because you’ve changed how you do things. You could change how you show up and I think that’s the key. It isn’t just about hitting that goal, it is the work that has to happen and the attainment of that goal and the work that goes into play that allows you to put in place a sustainable set of operating procedures that will help you never fall short of whatever that parity is that you are reaching or where that goal is and that’s worked for us. 

 

That’s kind of next steps for us, right? We’ve been going through an evolution of our data and our analytics, what to measure, how we’re measuring it and up to now, we have been measuring progress against the attainment of some of these goals. Now, we’re starting to look back and we’re trying to figure out how to measure the efficacy of the work, right? How effective am I actually changing, how I recruit, how I promote, how do I do succession planning? 

 

All these other things that we know systemically change and aided the attainment of those goals but that will keep you there and sustain those levels if that makes sense. 

 

[0:32:45.8] RS: Yeah, it absolutely does. Eric, before I let you go, I wanted to ask you to tie a nice little bow on this episode and bring us home here. For the folks out there listening who are on their talent teams and they want to make sure their company is meaningfully committed, what can people do in their own organizations to inch their way closer to some of these bigger long-term goals? 

 

[0:33:07.7] ET: It’s a good question. I would tell folks three things. First, if you are launching DEI as a practice or you’re trying to evolve your practices, take the time to understand and define what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean within the context of your environment because there is no one size that fits one company to the next. Take the time to listen, and do assessments with your employees. 

 

Let them tell you what’s important to them. We’re a global company, so what’s important to our employees in the US may not be as pervasive to our employees across the European landscape or the Asian Pacific landscape. Second, I would tell folk to give themselves permission to experiment. This work is highly, highly innovative and one of the key lessons I’ve learned in doing it here with Genesys is that you may start out down a certain path and hope to see certain results are and realize that that doesn’t work here. 

 

That may not be as important to the employees or that’s not being broadly embraced and that’s okay, right? Give yourself room to experiment, find the exit route and keep moving along to the next set of prioritized initiatives until you settle into something that you know works within your culture and then the last thing I would tell them, which probably should be the first thing quite honestly is make data and analytics your best friends, right? 

 

I mean, at the end of the day to the point you made earlier, either the data will tell you where to go or my opinion will tell you and it’s never based on anyone’s opinion because it is not sustainable. 

 

[0:34:38.4] RS: Eric, that is fantastic advice. Thank you for being here today and speaking with me. This has been a fantastic episode, I’m really pleased you took the time today. 

 

[0:34:45.7] ET: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, man, it was a lot of fun. 

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:34:51.2] RS: Talk Talent to Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired empowers connections by matching the world’s most innovative companies with ambitious tech and sales candidates. With Hired, candidates and the companies have visibility into salary offers, competing opportunities and job details. Hired’s unique offering includes customized assessments and salary bias alerts to help remove unconscious bias when hiring. By combining technology and human touch, our goal is to provide transparency in the recruiting process and empower each of our partners to employ their potential and keep their talent pipeline full. 

 

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