No subject was off limits at Profile’s first-ever virtual roundtable event on Tuesday, June 16. Leading the small roundtable of ten HR executives was Eric Hutcherson, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at the NBA.
The topic at the center of the conversation: how the economic crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement is reshaping the workplace. All three are causing organizations across North America to rethink how they operate and how they care for their employees.
“The reality is that the new employee value proposition is not the prestige of your company or the name or the size or the footprint or even what they pay,” Hutcherson said. “It is, do I believe in this place? Do I believe in these people? Is my work good work?
“It’s really important that we as HR professionals decide, what’s my place in history when it’s all said and done—post-COVID, post-economic crisis, post-racial crisis?” he continued. “What will my legacy be? And what will my place in history be?”
Daisy Auger-Dominguez, chief people officer at Vice Media Group, tells the company’s white leaders that this struggle is exactly what’s supposed to happen. “You’re supposed to feel really uncomfortable right now,” Auger-Dominguez said. “Just sit in it because all of these stories coming forth are things that your people have been harboring for a long time.”
QEP Resources’ Lauren Baer brought up the challenge of furthering diversity and inclusion at smaller organizations. “To really further those efforts when you’re not hiring and also internally to have those authentic conversations that we need to have and some of our employees are demanding to have, it’s difficult,” said Baer, vice president of HR and community investments at QEP.
“I often see organizations stand in place because they don’t have more [diversity],” Hutcherson responded. “I would challenge you to not stand in place just because you don’t have more. Because more will come when you show a commitment.”
Kristi Reinholz noted the importance of transformation—especially in times of crisis. “Our situation is that the only thing you can control right now is how you treat people, how you treat each other,” said Reinholz, who is the senior vice president of HR for the Americas and Asia at Coty Inc. “That’s what they’re going to remember, whether they stay with the company, exit, or are currently dealing with a really tough situation personally. That’s what we’re responsible for.”
With the three crises coming to a head in the same moment, employees are finding the voice that they’ve been wanting to use, said Lorna Hagen. “One of the things I spend a lot of time thinking about is how the makeup of an executive team is going to change to have to adapt to the new conditions,” said the chief people officer at iHeartMedia. “I think that a lot of great things are going to come from this.”
The discussion, which was extended an extra thirty minutes to allow for nuanced conversation, provided the HR leaders a place to air their current struggles to affect change at their respective companies. This is the start of a series of conversations Profile will create with HR professionals and for HR professionals to help learn from each other and manage through the crisis.
“It gives you a sense of community and commonality to know we’re all in this together,” Hutcherson said. “We’re all facing the same challenges. We all have some of the same issues we’re struggling with. I’m proud of this group because, not only are you dealing with it head on, but you’re dealing with it openly. That’s a really important thing to do.”