It’s a wrap on day two of TriNet PeopleForce. Attendees heard the critical role small and medium size businesses (SMBs) play in addressing systemic discrimination, and more importantly, how to take action. Also, a panel of distinguished doctor’s looked at frameworks for safely returning to the workplace, a Princeton University professor discussed the heightened focus on workplace inequality, and much more.
And now here are some of today’s highlights:
Former Attorney General Eric Holder and NBC Legal Correspondent Cynthia McFadden kicked off the day with a look at where we as a country stand with respect to race and discrimination. AG Holder believes SMBs play a critical role in addressing systemic discrimination, and those that pave the way will ultimately be more competitive.
The two panelists say it’s necessary to have awkward conversations about race relations, the resources out there and the desires we have to make sure that employees are treated fairly, which might require a different look at the way in which we do things.
One piece of advice they offered for smaller companies is to partner together for training as a cost-effective means to understand the biases we all carry and how it impacts the decisions we make in the hiring process.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, the glues of our communities. When people in small businesses put their hands on the arc of the moral universe and pull it towards justice, they will do better by their companies and our nation. What we have seen over time is that this country has always responded to the challenges that it has faced, whether overseas wars, domestic disturbances or great economic dislocation.” – Eric Holder
With the winds of change upon us, businesses have realized the importance of DE&I and employed these initiatives across their organizations. Our live polls taken during the virtual conference show that 53% of those that participated in polling agree that their company has implemented DE&I training and 63% feel comfortable openly talking about race at work. 58% of our attendees think diversity fares stronger than ever amongst all other company initiatives.
A diverse workforce creates a conducive environment for growth, encourages innovation and celebrates differences. It is imperative for businesses today to embrace diversity and promote inclusion, these were the lessons from our next panel. TriNet’s Vice President of Talent Management and Diversity, Cathy Manginelli moderated the discussion with Nina Montee Karp, founder and SVP strategy and brand development Happiest Baby, Lesley Slaton Brown, chief diversity office Hewlett-Packard and Ralph Clark president and CEO Shotspotter on how SMBs leaders play a pivotal role in creating an inclusive and diverse workforce.
Ralph emphasizes that “embracing people so they can show up as their whole selves in a work environment is really critical, if you’re going to get the full participation and engagement of your employees.”
Equity is about fair treatment. It is about access. It’s about opportunity. It is also about the work we need to do to eliminate the barriers that exist that prevent people from fully participating according to Lesley.
Michael Mendenhall, SVP CMO and CCO TriNet moderated a very engaging discussion on the real challenge of maintaining the workplace culture when everything has been turned on its head. He was joined by Rebecca Kantar, founder and CEO Imbellus and David Heath, CEO and co-founder Bombas as they highlighted how remote working environment, changed work schedules and social distancing have reinvented the way we think about company culture.
With so many forces in motion and change being inevitable and the only constant, the only factor that leaders have control over is how they treat their people according to David. He reiterated that it was crucial to treat people as people first and as employees second in order to create a people first culture.
And it doesn’t really stop there. Rebecca shared some valuable insights into how the culture of transparency had evolved at Imbellus. “We have always instilled a culture of deep empathy. Can you place yourself in an employee’s role and understand their discipline enough to anticipate not just what they say but what they really mean? For us, this seeking of truth is really just making sure that whomever is in charge of facilitating these inter-disciplinary meetings drives people all the way toward having a consensus,” added Rebecca on the importance of culture.
Company culture is an important aspect that helps SMBs attract potential employees and helps retain their top talent. During COVID businesses have also had to consider the impact of a remote workforce on the workplace culture. Responses from our live polling seem optimistic. 48% of participants believe that company culture is holding up during COVID while 77% reiterated that ‘mission’ is important to the company culture.
NBC’s Chief Medical Correspondent, John Torres, moderated a provocative session on what the next pandemic will look like and if there’s an end in sight for COVID-19. Dr. Ryan McGarry, Emergency Medicine Physician and of Netflix’s Pandemic and Code Black was joined by Dr. Srya Madad, an American pathogen preparedness expert and infectious disease epidemiologist.
Their take? Pandemics & epidemics are going to continue to happen. While we live in an age where we have modern medicine, better sanitation, better treatments, better vaccines, better public healthcare services, we're still very much prone to significant disasters when it comes to infectious diseases because they are not only happening faster and more, but they're also getting harder to treat, and are very hard to detect oftentimes.
Digital transformation is one of the first budget line items cut because it’s intangible. “It’s not in front of you. But, boy, we are seeing now that we are really paying a hefty price for that, and so I would just hope that in the long game, we really start to take preparedness seriously, whether it is for pandemics, global warming… all of these things that we know are part of our reality now.” – Dr. Ryan McGarry
Eddie Glaude Jr., a James S. McDonnell distinguished professor and Chair of African American Studies at Princeton University, sat down with TriNet’s Michael Mendenhall for a frank discussion on the history of workplace inequality, why it’s changing and how we can all be positive agents of that change.
Mr. Glaude rejects the idea that racial equality is a philanthropic enterprise. “You will not be able to compete in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse. The value gap undergirds the wealth gap, the achievement gap, and the empathy gap.”
He concluded his session with a piece of advice: “SMB’s – be bold. Be courageous, risk your imaginations so that we can live in an America that actually lives up to its promise. That we can finally put to bed the ugliness that is tried to snuff the life out of this republic since it was born. Be bold. Be imaginative. Be courageous… help us build a new America!”
As businesses across the country face a global health crisis it is more important than ever before to understand the health care trends. The topics under discussion for our next panel were ever rising medical cost trends, impact of COVID-19 and healthcare costs for 2021 and more. The panel was moderated by Ed Griese, SVP Insurance Services TriNet and joined by guest speakers Dr. Kaveh Safavi, senior managing director Global Health Practice Accenture, Arthur M. Southam, executive vice president health plan operations and chief growth officer, Kaiser Permanente. The discussion focused on different models available to businesses as well as the potential impact of presidential elections on our health care system.
To wrap up the day, Samantha Wellington, SVP, chief legal officer and secretary, TriNet and Alex Warren SVP customer experience TriNet, sat down to go over key risks and compliance areas businesses face today. They discussed how to go beyond being compliant to thinking about these issues more critically and strategically in order to get out in front of the regulation and create competitive advantage.
We are looking forward to a jam-packed day three to wrap up our inaugural event. Attendees will begin the day with an exclusive and candid conversation with former U.S. President George W. Bush on his time in the Oval Office and the challenges facing our country and businesses.
Also hear how SMB leaders from Birkenstock, Atairos and re:3D reimagined their business for success when the pandemic hit, listen to a former Public Health Commissioner’s take on how to correct the inefficiencies of our healthcare system, and more.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to sign up for this action packed day of great insights and tips for your business. See you there!
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