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Talent Strategy — The Weakest Link in HR Strategies

Do you want to take your talent strategy to the next level? Today we’ll cover how to Retain Top Talent. Read on!!

Key piece of your talent strategy —How to retain top talent

Sometimes, attracting top talent is not the hardest part of the talent equation. It is retaining talent that keeps heads of HR up at night. As a matter of fact, how to retain top talent (particularly women and diverse employees) has become a highly competitive sport. Even more so with the Millennial Generation, known for needing to be valued.

Read about the 10 Successful Tactics for Motivating Millennials at Work.

We had a chance to talk to Arturo Poiré, Vice President & Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson, the giant technology company. (Full disclosure, he is, with Mariela Dabbah, the co-author of The Latino Advantage in the Workplace, and the voice of Arturo’s Corner in Dabbah’s Find Your Inner Red Shoes.) Prior to his position in Ericson, Poiré was the Global Head of Talent Management at Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Arturo Poire, VP and Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson

Arturo Poire, VP and Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson-
Co-Author of The Latino Advantage in the Workplace

As many of its competitors, Ericson recently released its diversity data and committed to setting up recruitment goals for increasing the number of women and minority hires. In the last couple of years they have ramped up their diversity and inclusion efforts. They have been involved with initiatives to increase women in operations and decision-making positions such as Battle of the Numbers and Women Up.

Do you have an answer to the million dollar question, How to retain top talent? And more specifically, women and diverse talent?

There is no single answer to this question. Organizations need a whole range of supporting systems in place to make them an attractive employer. In research conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Revisited 2010) they describe what motivates highly-qualified women as high-quality colleagues: job security, being able to be themselves, flexible working, collaborating with others, giving back to the community, recognition and compensation. An organization that focuses on these areas coupled with development at all levels, agile career paths, sponsoring and mentoring, and a culture that embraces differences is off to a good start.

Talent Strategy Advice

What is the best talent strategy advice to attract women to male-dominated professions and industries?

Organizations need to work harder at not only getting women interested in male-dominated industries but also getting young girls interested from an early age. Talent acquisition and talent management functions need to work together and align on talent strategy to enable processes, initiatives, programs and offerings to complement each other. Talent acquisition needs to focus on establishing long-term communication and engagement with diverse talent communities, high schools and universities, while talent management focuses on retaining and developing diverse talent.

Many opinions about male-dominated professions and industries are quite outdated. Focusing on what a career within a specific field may actually look like and what opportunities it may offer is just as important as shedding light on specific initiatives, activities or offerings targeted towards female potential employees.

Align your talent acquisition and management functions with the overall talent strategy. And make sure all HR roles remain aware of their own biases.

My advice to women – Performance will always be key to a successful career no matter the industry. Show interest in many areas and broaden your competence every chance you get. Do not be afraid to step in to bigger roles and stretch assignments. Seek roles where you develop a customer focus. Make sure you have career and development plans in place. Get yourself a mentor or a sponsor. If you are not satisfied with the situation where you work, raise your voice and if you have ideas of how things should work differently – bring them forward. Build your network, both internally and externally. We can only change things if we all strive to improve and find solutions for the future.

Always focus on performance and show your interest in a diversity of areas. | Inspirational quote about performance

Always focus on performance and show your interest in a diversity of areas.

What is an effective way to get your entire organization behind your diversity and inclusion talent strategy?

Engaging the entire organization in a culture of constructive dialog around diversity, inclusion and talent is a first step. In many cases, progress is hindered by lack of awareness, by the inability to challenge unwritten rules, or by the culture of the organization itself. Organizations need to engage individuals at all level to get buy-in, not only on talent strategy but also in its implementation.

Commitment from top executives is also important to confirm that diversity and inclusion is recognized as business-critical and a must for retaining talent.

How do you get past the idea that the moment you actively try to diversify your talent, you are not getting the best people for the job?

Every time we talk about diverse talent, this is linked to not hiring the best person for the job. We need to move away from this bias that women or ethnic minorities, if selected for a job, are not the best talent. I believe competence always comes first. We (organizations) need the best talent regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

In order to continue to stay competitive, organizations need to further diversify their workforce. A diverse team is better for business; it delivers better results, more creative solutions, connects better and easier to the world around us, and has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

How to retain top talent when its quality is questioned

For all the talk about retaining talent, we keep hearing stories about high- achieving diverse employees leaving companies after having been passed over for promotions. How do you integrate the overall talent strategy with specific tactics for retaining talent?

An organization needs to define its vision, mission and talent strategy as a starting point. We must agree on what we are trying to achieve and the ways to do it. Once this has been defined, an action plan or specific tactics can be defined for an integrated approach.

An important aspect to remember when talking about retaining talent is not only focus on how to “fix” the “diverse talent” but rather to look at it from two perspectives. The talent (and all aspects connected of supporting and building talent) and the hiring managers, recruiters and decision-makers (and their mindset, approach and potential prejudice.)

Are we truly unbiased when working with our talent pools, nominating employees for assessments, appointing to key positions and strategic projects? Are we honestly an equal opportunity employer?

Being an equal opportunity employer may not necessarily mean offering male/female/homosexual/disabled candidates exactly the same benefit and compensation packages – it is about creating the same opportunities for advancement and success. That could mean offering a single father a daycare solution or someone who is visually impaired the best-in-class tools. But the question remains: are we offering equal opportunities to let everybody explore their full potential?

How to retain top talent when organizational practices get in the way

What organizational practices are contributing to unconscious bias? What are companies doing to review the processes they have in place to mitigate potential biases towards women and diverse talent?

Talent strategy: Engaging the entire organization about diversity talent strategy is a critical first step

Engaging the entire organization about diversity talent strategy is a critical first step

Talent management must be a role model when it comes to scrutinizing their own behavior and how it impacts others. As the professionals in talent management and HR are the people who maintain the organization’s culture, we must pay extra attention when defining, describing and phrasing behaviors and characteristics that are required and identified as desired in a candidate.

We may unconsciously be confirming stereotypes, cementing behaviors in leadership and performance, when designing incentive schemes and defining recruitment criteria. As an example, we can look at mobility where we tend to use confirmation bias in the belief that men are, generally speaking, more mobile than their female counterparts. In the same manner, we align mobility with leadership and also promotional opportunities, which ultimately creates a bias against women.

Sufficient awareness of unconscious bias will enable organizations to review and question processes and definitions of leadership. It will also provide the opportunity for the business to discuss potential biases when key processes are being implemented, such as performance management and at calibration when key decisions about people are being made. Only education and constant awareness will help mitigate biases, as this is something that is always present as part of human decision-making.

Read About The RSM Step Up Plus -- A Year-Round Empowerment Program
A sustainable, measurable way to attract, engage and promote your talent.

A sustainable, measurable way to attract, engage and promote your talent.

Integrated Talent Management that Fuels Female Leadership

It’s no longer an option. If you want to be a leader in your line of business, you must have an integrated talent management strategy in place. We talked with Marcelo Fumasoni, VP and Head of Human Resources of Latin America and Canada for Novartis who shared his experiences on corporate social responsibility and integrated talent management with us.

We have reached a point where disregarding 50% of the talent pool is inadmissible. It’s no longer an ethical or moral issue. It’s a business imperative. With a fiercely competitive global economy where women influence 80% of the purchasing decisions, organizations are forced to seriously look at the lack of female leadership at senior levels.

If you are serious about corporate social responsibility, you need to begin by evaluating your own talent management strategy. Do you have policies in place that enable your employees to shape a career path that fits their priorities? Can women and men take time off to parent their young children or care for a sick relative without needing to leave their jobs?

Do you have policies that support employees career paths? If you are serious about corporate social responsibility, you need to begin by evaluating your own talent management strategy.

Do you have policies that support employees career paths? If you are serious about corporate social responsibility, you need to begin by evaluating your own talent management strategy.

In a brilliant article, Judy Shen-Filerman, principal and founder of Dreambridge Partners, points out that many women opt out of their jobs not because they don’t want the jobs but because their companies don’t make it possible for them to keep those jobs when personal priorities change. Is your company one of them?

What does it take to retain top female leaders?

It’s sad that in 2014 we have to explain the need for organizations to develop policies that adjust to women’s realities. But if you really want to promote and retain female leadership, you must rethink your policies, business, and corporate social responsibility strategic goals. You’ll have to reframe the way in which you measure performance and reward achievement, and you will have to build a flexible culture that embraces your employees changing priorities.

It’s now more important than ever to set in place an integrated talent management for female leadership strategy.

Novartis, a large corporation with integrated talent management strategies that brings results

Marcelo Fumasoni supporting the Red Shoe Movement

Marcelo Fumasoni supporting the Red Shoe Movement

Some companies have had integrated talent management for female leadership strategies in place for a long time. Take Novartis, for example – a large pharmaceutical corporation that for over six years has directed specific efforts to attracting, engaging and developing female leadership.

In a recent conversation with Marcelo Fumasoni, VP and Head of Human Resources of Latin America and Canada, we had a chance to learn how the company is handling talent management to increase female leadership and the great results they are obtaining.

When it comes to female leadership, what are some of the challenges you face as the Head of HR in Latin America for a large corporation?

The challenge is to create an open, transparent and trusting environment where we can have career conversations with no preconceived notions on either side.

When it comes to Latin America and Canada, our challenge is to offer an attractive career proposition. For that we take into consideration family and dual career planning. The challenge is to have the ability to create roles for employees to acquire new capabilities that don’t entail moving at a time when it’s inconvenient for the employee to move.

Novartis is an organization that has been working in a permanent evolution mode regarding its own Diversity and Inclusion strategy. A key driver of a more inclusive environment has been to establish clear parameters to improve our female pipeline bench strength. You can’t leverage diversity without inclusion in the workplace and workforce!

How does Novartis handle talent management for female leadership in the region?

At Novartis we are continually fostering a culture  in the workplace that enables us to act inclusively and leverage our diversity efforts. If we can keep that ability in place, we are able to create value, engage employees, and generate the best outcomes for our patients and customers.

As a next step, we secure the implementation of policies that are in line with our talent management strategy. This means: maintain a gender balance at the moment of external hiring, equal participation in educational and leadership programs, have regular D&I internal forums where we can gather insights about how to improve the conditions in the workplace (for example, re-entry conditions after maternity, dual career planning), mentoring programs, etc.

Do you find that the double burden most women face is more or less of a problem for your employees in Latin America vs. the U.S? How does the double burden affect integrated talent management for female leadership strategies?

I understand where you are going with the question but Novartis we have been able to handle the development of an inclusive and nurturing environment no matter what country we are in. Therefore, it’s a bit difficult for me to remove myself from my reality.

I believe that the differences in both geographies could be minimized if the Talent Management, Learning and Development agenda are fully integrated and are a priority for the Executive Board of Directors.

Studies show that the fact that more women are graduating from college than men in itself won’t solve the gender parity problem at the executive level. What do you think organizations can do to move the needle faster? Any suggestions for effective strategies for integrated talent management to fuel female leadership?

Yes, I agree with these studies. Graduation alone does not change this. We need to ensure that the company recruits at the entry level on equal basis distribution of gender. When there’s an opening at the C-level, there should be inclusive recruiting actions so as many men as women are considered for the position. In addition, companies must have Human Resources policies in place to enable both genders to grow equally.

Marcelo Fumasoni on Integrated Talent Management Strategies and acceleration of women's growth within an organization

Marcelo Fumasoni on Integrated Talent Management Strategies and acceleration of women’s growth within an organization

Sometimes to accelerate (and to see results in the long run) you have to slow down. You have to build a career plan that is not the typical one. Life events and circumstances – for instance, the need for dual career and family planning – need to be taken into consideration in order to support career growth.

For example, an entry-level female employee could move at half the pace of a male just because of the family planning component. The recommendation will be to have a thorough plan from the beginning and to have a common agreement with the associate that the acceleration and career progression will be implemented at the right time for both parties.

Could you point out the most commonly-held biases against women that affect the opportunities they are offered in an organization?

Usually, the most commonly-held biases are that women are less mobile, and that they may not have the experience needed for the position at hand. At Novartis we have been constantly implementing D&I efforts for over six years and we make sure this does not happen.

One last question: What can women do to empower themselves and propel their careers?

Sometimes the most common self-imposed barriers arise from the most basic things. For example, a failure to capitalize on the opportunity to have an open conversation about mobility or timing to reach a new role could be a common derailer. That is why the culture component (trust, confidence, openness, focus on our patients and customers) is a key success factor.

My recommendation is for women to take more risks at the beginning of their corporate careers (expand roles, move to different geographies, get to know different business units, do the field work) in order to have a robust set of capabilities and experiences in place when the opportunities arise… And this actually applies both to men and women.

Corporate Social Responsibility | telecommuting statistics in the US

Corporate Social Responsibility | telecommuting statistics in the US

Integrated talent management for female leadership – strategies that work

We all know how hard it is to find great talent. Why risk losing it and incur the high cost of recruiting, training and acculturating new talent if you can come up with a solid integrated talent management for female leadership strategy?

Here are a few ideas you should consider:

  • Offer part-time, job-share or telecommuting options as an ongoing career path. This means maternity or paternity leave should be seen as a temporary choice within a career path and not as quitting a job to raise a family. Encourage your executives to take advantage of some of these options to set an example.
  • Keep in check the need for face time as a requirement for any job. Ensure that people (often women) who choose to work remotely are not penalized for doing so at bonus/promotion time.
  • With this in mind, ensure that you offer development opportunities for people who have chosen to work remotely and not only for those who come to the office.
  • Make sure that employees who are single have the flexibility to pursue passions outside the office. Oftentimes the integrated talent management for female leadership strategy only focuses on mothers trying to integrate work-life and leaves out single women.
  • Offer job-sharing alternatives so that two people are responsible for a function. These options, often implemented in admin positions, can easily be implemented in management positions as well and are ideal to encourage female leadership.
  • Offer daycare services within your organization to make it easier for new parents to return to work without worrying about leaving their young children at home. Encourage them to spend time with their kids during the day.
  • Invite women to exercise their female leadership style rather than expect them to fit within your organization’s more male-oriented leadership style. This means you should encourage and celebrate women’s tendencies to:
In a recent conversation with Marcelo Fumasoni, VP and Head of Human Resources of Latin America and Canada, we had a chance to learn how the company is handling integrated talent management to increase female leadership and the great results they are obtaining.

In a recent conversation with Marcelo Fumasoni, VP and Head of Human Resources of Latin America and Canada, we had a chance to learn how the company is handling integrated talent management to increase female leadership and the great results they are obtaining.

Celebrating women's differences and inspiring them to bring their authentic selves to work is the best way to retain your female leadership talent

Celebrating women’s differences and inspiring them to bring their authentic selves to work is the best way to retain your female leadership talent