Chela-Gage

Reformation SVP Talent, Diversity, Equity & Belonging Chéla Gage

Chéla Gage Senior Vice President Talent, Diversity, Equity, & Belonging

Chéla Gage is the Senior Vice President of Reformation, a climate-positive and sustainability-focused fashion company. Chéla explains how her personal history shapes her role in recruitment and how she connects it to her passion for diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and belonging. I ask questions about her different career paths, how to scale up and scale down, and why she views managing talent acquisition as an agnostic career experience. Chéla explains her idea of how to create a company with attributes and values that a diverse workforce can be a part of and why this relates to differentiated EVPs.

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, VPs of global talent, CHROs and everyone in between.

 

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the training, I 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]

 

[0:00:59.6] RS: Here with me today on Talk Talent to Me is the senior vice president of talent DE&I and Belonging over at Reformation Chela Gage. Chela, welcome to the podcast, I’m so pleased you’re here with me today.

 

[0:01:09.9] CG: Thanks Rob, thank you for having me.

 

[0:01:12.6] RS: There’s so much for us to go into. You have quite a big job and you have such an interesting background as well. So before we get to that, let’s sum up Reformation, shall we? Would you mind sharing a little bit of the company and then we can get into who you are and what you do over there?

 

[0:01:26.5] CG: Yes. Reformation is a clothing apparel company. We are in the fashion industry and those who know us know that our focus is sustainability. So while we’re in fashion, we’re not fast fashion. Our goal is to be climate positive by 2025.

 

So what that means is that we’re adding to the environment, not taking away from the environment and everything we do focuses on our mission and goals is all around climate sustainability, our clothes, our supply chain, our vendors, the way that we do business, the way that we interact outside of our four walls, using our expertise to do all that we can to support people and our environment.

 

[0:02:12.7] RS: Fantastic and then, and I think probably, a lot of our, a lot of our listeners will be familiar with who Reformation is, kind of a known brand but thank you for the sustainability background, I didn’t know that piece of it. So I’m glad you shared that and then what about your job? How would you kind of characterize your role over there?

 

[0:02:28.9] CG: My role is responsible for all of recruiting as well as our culture within diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So I’ve been with the company for just six months now. It feels like I just started yesterday it’s been a whirlwind but my role focuses on making sure that we bring in the best and the brightest talent and then that we have a culture and environment in which that talent can thrive.

 

[0:02:55.9] RS: Got it. Now, so it’s been six months, feels like no time at all. What did you, well I guess, first of all, what brought you to Reformation? What made you kind of decide this was the move for you?

 

[0:03:07.7] CG: I have been in the talent acquisition space for over 20 years and within that 20 years, it’s been primarily on the talent acquisition and recruiting but the last three to four years, my experience has broaden itself out to diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging. Now, if you’re in TA, you always have a piece of DE&I in what you do but my last four years of really focusing on creating programs initiatives, process to make sure underrepresented populations feel welcome and belonging in corporations.

 

What I realised on the DE&I space is, it’s a long-term game and one of the things that I love about reformation is our focus on sustainability and climate is also a long-term game and I thought, “Hey, if a company that is this focused on people and environment, then what can I do on diversity, equity and inclusion and talent?” and it has proven itself to be exactly better than what I thought it would be. I have the ability to create instead of follow. My skill set is utilized at every moment and I love that about the company that I work for now.

 

[0:04:35.6] RS: Fantastic and I’m so curious to hear more about your journey because people come to these sorts of roles in all sorts of different ways. I just did an episode with the chief diversity officer over at Genesys and he had a completely different, like, he was basically running logistics in like fulfillment for the company for a long time before he pivoted into diversity. 

 

It’s not dissimilar in the talent side of things. A lot of people will wind up in this space kind of by accident. How did you wind up on your married journey into talent?

 

[0:05:09.2] CG: It wasn’t by accident and so my background over 20 years of HR, all within talent acquisition and DE&I. You know, I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, born and raised. Well, born in Connecticut, raised in Savannah, Georgia and at any point you get me around anyone with an accent and that southern girl comes out but I was…

 

[0:05:35.5] RS: It steps right back?

 

[0:05:37.7] CG: It comes right back.

 

[0:05:39.9] RS: I love that, it’s my favorite thing when people have accents like that that they can like slide back into. It sometimes happens after like a cocktail or two but more than that it’s usually like, you just need to be around the kind of, you know, the people from that same place.

 

[0:05:55.0] CG: They bring it home, it’s just awesome. I love it. I often have to say…

 

[0:05:59.0] RS: I wish I could get it…

 

[0:05:58.4] CG: I often have to say, “I promise, I’m not mocking.”

 

[0:06:03.0] RS: I’m one of you, I swear. I really want so badly to get it out of you today but I won’t do you the insult of a fake southern accent.

 

[0:06:10.9] CG: No, I won’t fall for it but while I was in Savannah, I was raised in foster care and so within the last 10 years of my youth from age seven to 17, I lived in 12 homes and four group homes. Now, what that does is yes, it creates a lot of change and I can – I thrive in change. I can pivot and move at the drop of a dime.

 

I hate black trash bags because I never had a real suitcase. I either used a black trash bag or my backpack. So I hate the thought of black trash bags today but it also, what I know is that employment changes lives and I’ve seen so many people who come out of foster care or who come out of traumatic situations and enter into adulthood without the ability to fend for themselves.

 

So for me, when I started my career, I said it wasn’t by accident but that’s not necessarily true. I thought I was going to be an international lawyer. So my time at Florida State was spent on international law and after graduating, I ended up in HR I think most people usually say ended up in HR but I fell within talent acquisition and I’ve been here for 20 years.

 

After graduating, I owned my own executive search firm for a while and that was an experience and one of the things that I loved about owning my firm was, I can pick and choose whom to do business with and I can also determine what type of experience I want at my candidates and my hiring managers to have. 

 

I often go back to the time of me owning my search firm, even today, for the, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this?” and I remember I taken on a search for a friend because this was for a nonprofit organization and if you’ve owned your own search firm, you know nonprofit is not really where the money is.

 

I was doing high tech but I took the search on for a friend and it was for a bishop in Oakland, California and this was before LinkedIn. This was during the times when I had to interview candidates at cafes or really dig for talent and so the individual that we hired was from the community and when I went to go get my check, this was before Zel or PayPal or any of the ways that we can immediately get paid today. 

 

I had to wait for the check to be printed and I went to pick it up and he said, “You have no idea how you’ve changed our company or how you’ve changed my organization.” I didn’t realize that I needed someone who spoke Spanish and I didn’t think about the fact that my community around me was changing but she has added so much to our organization and he didn’t say this in front of her. 

 

He just, you know, he was telling me his experience and I’m walking out the door and she stops me and thanks me, telling me and we didn’t talk about this during the interview process but that she had just come out of a very traumatic relationship and was raising four children on her own and I had just gotten her visa status and so I think about that talent acquisition that’s truly the bridge that takes an organization from where they are to where they really want to be. 

 

Sometimes, it’s the TA expert that knows or can guide them where they want to be. So I ended my executive search firm years after that but I wanted to go in-house and when I went in-house, I had this whole different appreciation for in-house recruiting and it allowed me to really see holistically an organization because I was able to see the sexy roles and the non-sexy roles, right? 

 

You get to see the sales, the revenue impacting and then you get to see the GNA, and then when you look at the entire organization as a TA expert, holistically, you’re able to really help an organization to get from where they are and too where they want to be. When I went in-house, I went from high tech to automotive to aerospace, and now, I’m in fashion.

 

So when people ask me, “How have you do done so many industries?” I really think that TA is industry agnostic. Like we can go into many different places – now, fashion is hard, I will say. Recruiting aerospace engineers is a much different experience than recruiting for fashion or design or creative. 

 

But it is really hard but the skillset of matching talent, of helping a manager determine needs and atlases, of creating processes for an organization to thrive, being strategic about where to place talent, all of that is industry agnostic. So I hope I answer the question of my background, I probably went a little bit longer than needed.

 

[0:12:03.0] RS: No, no, that was perfect and thank you for sharing the story of the Oakland Bishop and the outcome of that because I feel like people in the talent space who have decided to stick around often have a story like that somewhere that made them realize this is more than somewhere that you wanted to just end up, right? 

 

That this is a deliberate thing that’s really fulfilling and on those random rainy Tuesdays when you are like, “Why am I doing this?” you remember moments like that, right?

 

[0:12:36.9] CG: Exactly. 

 

[0:12:37.6] RS: You said it the best, like, employment changes lives, absolutely it does. There’s no other way around it and I really want to hear more of those stories. I’m going to be a little meta right now and speak directly to the listener but if anyone within the sound of my voice has a story like that, I would so love to hear it and maybe I can strip off some details and make it anonymous and I’d love to read it on the show.

 

Because I think, those are really important to remember because those are where you have the opportunity as you said Chela, to be really impactful. It’s the difference between someone who is just an order-taker filling seat, versus someone who is consultative. Like, when the client got back to you and said, “I didn’t realize I needed someone who was a Spanish speaker and didn’t realize my community was changing around me.”

 

You were probably able to see through that a little bit and understand a little more about what the needs of the role were than even the person asking you for it and that’s the same with any hiring manager, right? They think about it when they come to you with the role and you think about it all the time, right? So you have this opportunity to be more of a partner and a leader in that conversation. I think the most effective talent pros do that.

 

[0:13:42.0] CG: Yes and I trust that most people, most recruiters want to do the best for their managers and their candidates and it takes that piece of active listening and that piece of vulnerability and it really takes empathy to sit in the seat or stand in the shoes of your hiring manager and trying to figure out, “Okay, what are exactly are they saying and what are they not saying?” and trying to get the talent, the right talent, the right processes, the right whatever’s necessary, to fill their needs. I hope that you get more stories, I can’t wait to listen in to all the stories that are sent your way.

 

[0:14:22.5] RS: I hope so, I hope there’s a deluge of them. That would be my dream, would be to spend like the first three or four minutes of every episode, just like going to the mail bag and reading episodes of when listeners were like truly, made a life changing placement, lifechanging for the person they placed I mean because you just like, you never know what someone’s going through and how much a steady check means to them.

 

Like in your experience of living through foster care and being able to buy luggage and then no longer, with all your belongings in a garbage bag, like even just taking that pressure off of your neck like and that’s so, so immense and recruiters do have the opportunity to do that. Like, every day, frankly.

 

[0:15:01.8] CG: I love it.

 

[0:15:02.1] RS: So I hope we get to hear more of that and I’m also glad you shared about your agency and your time spent as an entrepreneur because I do recommend everyone to do that, have a little dalliance with self-employment and entrepreneurship particularly in talent. I think you learn a lot about yourself and it will change your perspective on employment but at any rate, I’m curious why you went from that to working in-house? What about your own motivations for your career changed?

 

[0:15:26.1] CG: Yeah, our firm Engage Search Group, we did well but as a business owner and a new mom, I needed to prioritize my time. I had also moved from Atlanta to California and building new clientele took a little bit more effort than I could expense at that time. Additionally, RPO companies were just getting hot and I found a role with RPO that allowed the flexibility that I needed but it allowed me the ability to keep up in talent acquisition. 

 

I didn’t get rusty and I didn’t have to build my own business. I was able to have that flexibility and work for so many companies within RPO. I think I worked for seven or eight different companies and when you do that, you realize how companies treat or how they triage, how they work with talent acquisition and it gives you this wealth of experience that you get to take to your next gig or to any other company.

 

But that was one of the reasons why I chose RPO and was comfortable letting go of my business was the flexibility and being a new mom.

 

[0:16:46.6] RS: Yeah, motivations change, right? And their sense of security, you might interface with different kinds of people, getting better benefits, you know, 401K matching, all of these things that it changes you, your own life changes. So that’s just like, what I remind people who are maybe scared to take the leap.

 

You can always come back, right? You can always go get a job again, don’t be scared and it’s a valuable experience. So you decided it was time to go in-house, you’ve had a bunch of roles and I think, unfortunately, we maybe went too fast forward over some of them because I want to make sure we talk about what you’re working on right now.

 

But you land in Reformation about six months ago. You had this experience running talent and having senior roles in talent, a huge company, Reformation a little smaller. What was the difference for you going from a large enterprise company down to Reformation’s just under a thousand, I think? Like, 800 people?

 

[0:17:39.3] CG: Exactly

 

[0:17:40.7] RS: So I’m curious what… I should probably ask a specific question rather than be like, was that hard? No, here’s my question. What did you find works at the huge scale, at the enterprise scale that was able to also work at the smaller scale?

 

[0:17:54.6] CG: Our profession in TA is one that’s primarily reactive and many of us as TA leaders and experts are always on a conquest to become more proactive and more strategic. Walking into Ref, I knew I couldn’t create like a mentoring program or immediately develop ERGs that would help with recruiting but I could develop processes that allowed the team and the company to be proactive about recruiting. 

 

One of the initiatives that we’re looking at for 2023 is an intern program and I think any company of any size can find a way to bring in entry level talent and create pathways of converting that talent to full-time hires. I think it’s probably too soon for a large concerted effort around ERGs, I love ERGs for both diversity and for talent acquisition but we’re too small to do that today.

 

[0:18:49.5] RS: Yeah, at what stage does it makes sense? I guess you like, do you do surveys and figure out if you have enough people where like if there’s two people, it’s not an employer resource group, right? Although maybe, I don’t know. How do you know when it’s time for some of those larger scale processes?

 

[0:19:03.8] CG: That’s a good question. You listen to the community and you pay attention to the actions and the activities that they are engaging with or that they are engaged with and on and what I look forward to is seeing because right now at Reformation, we have a culture committee and that culture committee consist of DE&I from every race affinity. 

 

We activate different months, so we focus on AAPI black heritage, Hispanic heritage, LGBTQ+ but that’s just one committee of less than 25 people. I look forward to the day when that 25 people start branching out and creating different initiatives outside of those months and when that happens, then that tells me, “Okay, the organization is ready for an ERG.”

 

What I love about the DE&I space is that there is so many initiatives that you can create but you have to pay attention to, “Is it time for us to do this now or do I know that this is what success looks like and I can get there eventually?” and that’s one of the things that I love about my experience.

 

So after I went RPO, I worked for Nissan North America and during that time, I led global teams from Poland, Japan, Singapore, Canada and what it showed me is that talent acquisition is you know, kind of standard wherever you are. Every company has their prose and cons on how they engage with the TA team but the structure of it, the ability to be proactive once we can really get strategic and proactive, then we really add value to the organization and from Nissan I created a hybrid type of team. 

 

So my entrepreneurial background allowed me to take that risk and want to jump, head-in to create a talent acquisition center of expertise that didn’t exist before. We were primarily outsourced through RPO, so I had this phenomenal experience of using my RPO in-house to now manage an RPO and then my experience with creating a talent recruiting team to now create a talent recruiting team for Nissan and creating that COE, and I love that experience, it allowed me to bridge everything that I had worked for and bridge that together and then from Nissan, Pratt & Whitney called and asked, “Hey, you’ve done this over here at Nissan, can you do the same thing here?” 

 

It was at a larger scale and that was 3,000 hires a year and it was working again with an RPO and this time, instead of creating a hybrid team, I was able to create a fully in-house team. So we stopped our RPO business and brought the recruiting team in-house and what that showed me is it’s always nice to point the finger and I always say in talent acquisition, you have to have a backbone because sometimes, organizations hire managers.

 

They will throw you under the bus and then they will roll that bus back and roll over you again because it is always easy to point the finger on, “I don’t have the right person” or “I don’t have the person yet” or “It’s taking too long to find the right person” and so I was able to take all of those learnings as far as what success looks like with a large organization, what quality of hire looks like, what time to feel looks like and bring that over to Reformation. 

 

So that now while we grow, I’ve seen success at a grand scale and I can help create that success for us at Ref. 

 

[0:23:20.6] RS: When you decided it was time to create the center of excellence and by that you mean bringing the talent function more in-house, right? Like sort of weaning off of the external RPO. What made you decide that was time for that kind of move? 

 

[0:23:36.4] CG: So there were, I think there were three major indicators. One was we had regardless of who you spoke with, it was a large organization of 40,000 employees, 3,000 hires, every hiring manager had a different experience and we couldn’t control that experience as the company. We were utilizing RPO but it was getting too difficult. Additionally, we had a great employee value proposition as a company at Pratt & Whitney of why I work for Pratt but our recruiters weren’t able to really live that EVP and experience that proposition. 

 

So the reason of why work for Pratt was getting diluted and then it became a look at what costs is and for us, we were able to save over the course of a period of time millions of dollars by bringing it in-house instead of using RPO and I believe RPO is great for different levels of organizations. Sometimes it’s great when you’re small and you are ramping up and sometimes it’s great when you’re large and you need a portion of your business to be RPO but I think it takes a talent expert to listen to the organization and find out what’s necessary and then adjust and adapt. 

 

Now, I am lucky that I had a leader who was like, “Yeah, let’s go for it” because one of the scariest things of doing an internal recruitment team is most companies aren’t recruiting firms. Now, if you are a recruiting firm, you know all of the ins and outs of hiring talent, you know how many recruiters to go after but I was working for, our company, we made engines not recruiters and so to have the support of an organization that said, “Not only will we support you going in-house but we will be your partners in making sure that this is successful” that was the only reason why it won and I am glad to say that it is still going today. 

 

[0:25:55.9] RS: That’s fantastic, you had a legacy there and it wasn’t as trivial as like, “Okay, we’re just going to ramp down the RPO and ramp up and hire some more recruiters.” Like some companies have a mix of both, right? Where it’s like, “Oh, well for some roles it makes sense to have the RPO but somebody keep to our recruiters. We’ll just make sure that now it is all internal” and also the scale was very large, right?

 

If you had been relying on an agency at your startup, you know, you ramp that down and you may only need to make one or two hires to make up for that missing pipeline, right? 

 

[0:26:28.0] CG: Right. 

 

[0:26:29.0] RS: At a larger company, you’re replacing probably dozens of individual recruiters that maybe have been working on the account for all of those roles. So was it a gradual process of like slowing down the RPO while ramping up or was it like a “this switch on, this switch off” kind of situation? 

 

[0:26:46.0] CG: Well, I was strategically planning it for months before we actually hit the switch or notified our RPO. We did have a few months where it was ramping up the team because we had to hire between 30 to 50 recruiters and then roll down RPO. Now, I’m lucky we worked with Randstad Sourceright at the time and I had a great relationship with them and I had given them enough notice to say, “Hey, we still need you.” 

 

“I still appreciate you but for what we’re going towards, this level of expertise or this skill right now that you provide for us is no longer necessary.” So that partnership allowed us to kind of for a while, we had both at once and then we had to fully let go of RPO.

 

[0:27:39.3] RS: Got it. So you slowly ramped up 30 to 50 you said? 

 

[0:27:42.8] CG: Yes, it’s a lot. 

 

[0:27:45.5] RS: So is this like – yeah, no kidding. Where did you start or were like the first, you know, dominos of that line up? 

 

[0:27:51.7] CG: Yes, isn’t that fun? So it was fun, it was chaotic, it was nerve wrecking to think of whose going to be the first hire but we actually went with our tech talent first because we realized that’s where a lot of our budget was being spent not only on RPO but external agency. So we went tech first but then we strategically hire coordinators because we couldn’t let the candidate experience drop. 

 

That was one thing that was super important to me. Our hiring managers knew what we were doing and they agreed to be partners with us throughout. So they knew that there was going to be an adjustment but I didn’t want our candidates to feel that we weren’t experts, that we didn’t have their backs, that we were less than what we are. So we started with our coordinators first and then we kind of built out the team after that. 

 

[0:28:47.7] RS: Got it. Okay, maybe I glazed over this but you mentioned that you just kind of had the support to do it, which we probably shouldn’t take for granted here in the conversation. I can see why, I can see how leadership might be like, “Sure Chela, I will concede that it would be better to have it in-house” however, is the juice worth the squeeze? Is it worth all of the time like your time, you know, as a leader and the perceived cost? 

 

The potential time it is going to take to get back there, et cetera. You know, like it’s just not worth it but you received that support. Did you have to kind of make some big presentation and come with data or was it more about like, “Hey, this is where the RPO is deficient” like you’re laughing? I assume that means yes. How did you get the sign-off? 

 

[0:29:34.8] CG: You know, I love life because I feel like everything happens for a reason and in my career, every experience has led me to any success that I’ve had. When I worked at Nissan automotive one of the – I learned a lot at Nissan and I love the people that are there and a lot of people are still there but one of the biggest things that I learned was how to do a PowerPoint presentation. 

 

[0:30:03.5] RS: Forever grateful. 

 

[0:30:04.8] CG: I am forever grateful for that and because what I learned was the WIFM, what’s in it for me, right? As TA experts, we always, you know how to sell a candidate. You are selling a candidate based off of the needs of the hiring manager, right? So I was selling an idea or giving an organization an opportunity to do something different but I just preached back to them what they had said to me. 

 

We need a better time to hire, more qualified, ready candidates. We need to minimize our spend. Now luckily, the organization and I hope this doesn’t sound too braggadocious, if that’s a word, but they had me and so I had had this RPO experience of working for eight different companies and so I had seen different ways that organizations treat TA. I had seen different ways that TA is set up for organizations. 

 

Then I had this entrepreneurial background, where I knew what a PNL looked like, I knew what the cost savings would be over a period of years and was able to communicate that back and when you are just talking about overall business, it just made sense for us at that time. 

 

[0:31:27.4] RS: So you were able to position it as, “Hey, this is the solution to every express talent goal we have” essentially? 

 

[0:31:32.7] CG: Pretty much and we did that. Now, there were some things that I was hesitant on. I was nervous about our intern experience, would we be able to be as fast as RPO with our coordinators? I was nervous about our time to fill at the beginning because it was going to be a bit clunky but we went in and with honesty, truth, integrity, we communicated what the goal was. We communicated when we had pitfalls. 

 

I communicated when things weren’t going the way that I thought they should go and then that communication, it really helped us bridge any gaps as well as keep the ball going. 

 

[0:32:22.7] RS: Got it, okay. So was there any sort of drop off? Like I imagine that handing off the baton wasn’t perfectly seamless and smooth than they think. Like what went wrong? 

 

[0:32:36.0] CG: Oh Rob, actually, so when we decided to go internal, it was January of 2020 and what went wrong was COVID. COVID happened in March of 2020 right when we were doing the hand off between RPO and internal and at that time, a lot of businesses and we were one, we needed to strategically consider what roles we were hiring and what roles we wanted to pause on. 

 

So I always within TA, you know that forecasting is always an issue but this was forecasting in a way that during a pandemic that we had no idea what was going to be the outcome. My team was hiring at the same time that the organization was considering layoffs and so while it was a, lack of a professional term, hot mess for a minute because COVID just kind of you know, it took us all by surprise, it did allow my team to have a voice. 

 

We were able to say, “In order to be a well-supported and well-running machine, we still needed to hire that between 30 to 50 recruiters.” Of course, we took that 50 down to 30 or I think we landed probably closer to somewhere in the 20s but the organization still stood behind the fact that we were going to provide a better experience at less expense than what we were doing before. 

 

Additionally, we wanted to create an employee value proposition that spoke to differentiated populations and we wanted to own that experience. So the organization understood we took a hit in the beginning but the long-term plan was better in the end. 

 

[0:34:51.4] RS: Maybe this is my own naiveté about what an employer value prop is but I fear that it gets used in the way that company values are often used where it’s like decided upon once and then put on a laminated poster and then kind of forgotten and doesn’t really have an impact on the way that business is done and so for the EVP version of that is like, “Oh well, this is why it’s great to work here.” 

 

It will like make it’s way into phone screens in like a minor way or on job postings but surely, it needs to mean much more than that, particularly in the case as you aligned there where it can be applied to people with lots of different backgrounds. So would you first I guess correct my notion of what an EVP is and then explain how it can be used in a meaningful way and also used to speak to people from different backgrounds? 

 

[0:35:40.7] CG: Yeah, I believe – well, some of what you said is correct. I think some organizations do put verbiage up on words or put it on a poster and then it makes its way into a career page or job description and then that’s that. Some organizations do that today but that is not a true employee value prop. I believe an employee value proposition consists of proper change management. 

 

It tells an employee why you should work here, why continue to work here but it is lived. An employee value proposition comes from engagement surveys. It comes from focus groups, it comes from understanding the organization and it is lived through employee resource groups, through culture committees, through how you hire, through the candidate experience, through the onboarding experience. 

 

It is lived through your boomerangs. If you’re an organization that people leave and then they come back, that says something and I think when you are properly using your EVP, your employee value prop, then you’re speaking to all of those things. I believe that organizations should have differentiated EVPs and sometimes and I get into TA conversations with others and they’re like, “Why should it be differentiated?” 

 

If I am a black female, I work for an organization differently than a white male and the reason why I joined this organization is different than a white male and if I am LGBTQ+, the reason I joined an organization may be different than why veteran joined the organization but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all be at the same company. We can all experience the same values and the same attributions that make our company great. 

 

But we can also have a different experience while we are there and I think companies do well to create that differentiated employee value prop. What I love about TA is that we get to see it. We get to see why the veteran works there or why the LGBTQ+, why the black female, why the white male, we get to see how companies treat internal talent and that was one of the things that was really hard to get across the finish line with RPO for us. 

 

So that was why one of the biggest reasons why we decided, well, that and monetary spend but that was one of the biggest reasons why we decided to go internal and as I create the employee value prop for Reformation, what I’m excited about is that we are this growing organization that takes such a long-term strategy of climate change and climate positive. We have it in our supply chain. We consult, we lobby. 

 

We’re more than just a fashion, we’re more than just the jeans or the really nice dresses that we have and I love that people can join us. What I can’t wait for is years from now to see how those who self-identify as LGBTQ+, I can’t wait to see those numbers increase or those who identify as veterans or when those who choose not to self-disclose, when that number becomes lower than those who disclose like I can’t wait to see that because that means we are really living our employee value proposition. 

 

[0:39:41.1] RS: It sounds like you need an employee value proposition not just for every role but for every individual, right? Like everyone’s story is different. 

 

[0:39:49.7] CG: It is and we’re talking to recruiters, so recruiters know this from talking to hiring managers and from hiring different people, you know the different experiences of your internal talent and to be able to speak that to an external is such a value add. Like people often would laugh at me because I would say I’m in HR but not really in HR. I feel like TA is the part of HR that’s different and I would – I love TA for all that we bring to an organization and for the ways that we get to see the organization. 

 

[0:40:27.9] RS: Chela, I really could stand to hear more but we have blown past optimal podcast length here in the best way just because I really enjoyed speaking with you and hearing from you and we, you know, we had some notes of things we wanted to talk about, completely abandoned those. So I think I have to have you back on to talk about Reformation and all the awesome stuff you’re doing over there. 

 

I guess the EVP stuff is wrapped up in that but in general, I mean, there is just much more for us to go into. So we’ll have to plan on that but for now Chela, I would just say thank you so much for being here and doing the show with me. I’d love learning from you today. 

 

[0:41:00.9] CG: Oh Rob, this was fun. You made it very comfortable I forgot that we were recording at some parts. 

 

[0:41:08.6] RS: That’s the dream, that’s going to be a testimonial on my website. 

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:41:16.0] 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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