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DEI tips for transforming your mobility program

And we've also muted everyone's lines to reduce background noise during our session. Today we will be conducting some polling questions. So when the time comes to respond to a poll, the questions will be displayed on the right-hand panel of your screen. You may need to expand the panels to see the question.

And also during our webinar, if you have any questions you would like to ask our panelists, you can submit those to the Q&A panel. You should also see that on the right-hand side of your screen. You can submit them at any time. But we'll be answering them at the end.

And then following this session, we'll be putting together a summary of the discussion. And we'll send that out via email along with a recording of the webinar. And now I'll go ahead and turn it over to our host, Christina Swank, to get us started.

Thanks, Colleen. Hi there. I'm Christina Swank. I am the regional sales manager here at U.S. Bank for the Upper Midwest. I want to take a moment and thank you all for attending. It's so great to see so many of you in attendance.

Welcome to our second installment of our 2021 webinar series, DEI Tips for Transforming Your Mobility Program. I did want to take a second and let you know if you did register for a gift, if you have not received it as of yet, do not worry. You should have those no later than the end of next week. We had a few go out this week, so be on the lookout for those. OK. And with that, I'm going to go ahead and introduce our speakers for today.

First up, we have Anne Marie Trepkowski with Mercer. Anne Marie is a Senior Associate in Mercer's career practice, focusing on mobility. She has worked in mobility for over 15 years in relocation management and consulting. She is cochair of the Chicago Women at Mercer Business Resource Group and served as a subcommittee member of Mercer's Chicago office Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Thank you, Anne Marie, for joining us.

And then we also have Valencia Culbreath. Valencia is the Global Head Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Graebel. Valencia joined Graebel in 2007 and now leads company-wide efforts and training of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, Valencia chairs Graebel's global DEI council. Leveraging her extensive account management experience and global mobility, Valencia support current clients and prospects in developing more accessible and inclusive employee experiences.

Valencia holds the Certified Relocation Professional and Global Mobility Specialist designations from the Worldwide ERC and is a member of the Worldwide ERC Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Action Task Force. Valencia is a thought leader and is frequently called upon as a DEI expert in the mobility sector, speaking on topics of bias, equality, accessibility, and inclusivity. She is an executive board member for her local school district foundation, ensuring access and opportunity for every student. She also serves as an advisor to the school district's goal of inclusive excellence. Thank you for joining us, Valencia.

And now on to our moderator, John Sculley. John has received many accolades from Worldwide ERC. I'll go through a few. He has received the Meritorious Service Award, the Distinguished Service Award, the Certified and Senior Certified Relocation Professional designation, and the President's Award for his work on the National Task Force on Mobility Procurement. Thanks to for leading us today, John. And I'm going to go ahead and kick it over to you.

Well, it's indeed a pleasure to be back with you all today. And right at the outset, I would like to thank U.S. Bank for providing such a forum on a very timely subject matter. And with the esteemed panel we have today, I think we'll be able to bring a lot to our audience here.

I think a good place for us to start would be to establish some foundation around the whole concept of DEI. And if I can, I would like to turn to Valencia to give us a high-level or layperson's interpretation of what DEI really means in the current climate.

All right. Can you hear me OK?

Now I can.

OK, great. Thanks, John. And I'd be happy to. So thinking about even the past few years, companies are really recognizing both, I would say, not only the need to have these conversations within this space, but to take actions. So we're looking at it really now to understand, what is DEI? How do they represent it? And how do they present internally and to the world?

So I think it's a wonderful idea to-- let's first define it so we are all speaking the same language. And we all have common ground here. So I will start with diversity. And diversity is truly the every-- the every race, the age, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, et cetera. I could go on. It's the invisible and the invisible characteristics, experiences, and qualities that make us different from each other.

I like to use the room analogy. And so diversity asks, who's in the room? And so when you're thinking about your spaces and your teams and your leaders, who is present? And who is missing? Diversity in space allows for those multiple perspectives and ideas. And that's just good for business, not only for outcomes, but for added creativity and innovation because we all bring something different and valuable to the table.

And so as you're looking at diversity, asking, who's in the room, equity is the next initial. So while it's a very basic definition, people often get confused on what it actually means or what we're talking about in this space. And I want to hone in on equity is not equality. Equity speaks to the fair treatment and access, opportunity, and advancement for all identities, specifically within this space.

And so while diversity would ask, who's in the room, equity responds, who's trying to get into the room but can't? So understanding that giving everyone the same thing sounds nice. Not everyone needs the same things to be successful to gain access.

So I always say, in our pursuit of equity, one has to really identify what those barriers are and then intentionally eliminate those barriers so that everyone has full participation. And they have access to full participation. So the systemic barriers and the hurdles that end up popping up really get in the way and continue to push, I would say, our marginalized and underrepresented employees to the margins.

So I always say, take a moment to think about the formal and informal practices or policies around how things are done in your office or in your company or amongst your teams. Is it equitable? Or is equal? And if you can't think of anything right off the top of your head, I'd like to offer a personal example around my two kiddos.

So like I said, I have two kids. I love them both equally. But I do not treat them equally. They are completely different kiddos and need different structures and supports to be successful humans inside my home and outside in the world. So giving them the same tools to navigate life and their education journey wouldn't lend to the same outcome. So when you think about equity in that scenario, I give them what they need to be successful.

And then lastly, we have inclusion. So while diversity says or asks, who's in the room, and equity responds, who's trying to get in the room that can't, inclusion really looks that, has everyone's ideas been heard? So inclusion is where you have that true sense of belonging where you are able to have those meaningful contributions that are not only encouraged, but respected.

It's being seen. It's being heard. And it's being valued for the diverse identity and also those divergent perspectives. So we have to be intentional. We have to have those thoughtful behaviors that don't always happen naturally.

And I would offer that inclusive leaders need to encourage inclusion in all spaces. It doesn't come naturally, which is why resources and positions like mine exist. But it's very critical to team and overall company success.

I'd also like to offer that you have employees that feel included. They are generally happier employees. And when you have happier employees, you generally have more engaged employees. If they're more engaged, they're more productive.

And on the flip side, you have exactly the opposite. And when you have those unhappy employees who are disengaged, less productive, they are more likely to leave. So the culture of your team and community or company, I would say, has to explicitly embrace inclusion where everyone can show up as their authentic self. So that's how I would like to explain how we use diversity, equity, and inclusion and what we're talking about as we utilize those words as we go forward in our talk today.

Excellent. Thank you, Valencia. I think that gives us a really useful framework for everything else we'll try to address over the course of the day. At this point, I'd like to turn the tables on our audience a little bit, though, and put up the first of our several polling questions of the audience. And Colleen, if you would bring that one forward now, we'll get our first polling question started.

Not sure if we're having a technical issue there or not. In the meantime, let me suggest that we turn to Anne Marie. And Anne Marie, you approach this whole realm of DEI with a little different set of responsibilities. Can you tell me a bit about the work you're doing at Mercer in this whole arena?

Sure. Thanks, John. So first of all, hi, everyone. Happy to be here today. So I did want to share that the experience that I have had around incorporating initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion from a mobility perspective is really, how can mobility support the organization's initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

And so from my perspective, Mercer does a lot of consulting in the mobility space. And so we certainly have gotten these questions and had discussions with clients in this space as they look to transform their mobility program or they look to update their policies. And so these are topics and conversations that come up quite a bit. And so it's something that I thought about a lot. And it's very meaningful to me. And so I'm certainly happy to be here today and share my perspective.

Thank you for that. I see that in the meantime, we've gotten some results back on our polling question. And what we were asking-- should be visible to all of you-- was whether or not your respective companies conduct training on DEI.

And as you see, in our findings, we have 91% that are already active in this arena and another 6% that are considering it. So it certainly has a lot of momentum for where the corporate world is going. And that's certainly encouraging to see. And I think it speaks to the timeliness of what we've asked you to address with us today.

Now, as I thought about our topic for today, it seemed to me that Americans have always valued the ideals of fair play and land of opportunity. But neither one of those has really ever been fully actualized in the business world. And it seems to me that DEI may, in a way, be sort of a more evolved or contemporary expression of these ideals of fair play and land of opportunity that we've always held up high but not necessarily fulfilled.

So now that corporations are actively looking at this, what is the potential benefit to a company from reaching these ideals? And are there strategic advantages to be gained from a better approach to DEI? Let me put that up to either Valencia or to Anne Marie, whichever one of you would like to run with that.

Sure. I'll take that, John. Thanks. So I would emphasize what Valencia described earlier. And she touched upon how when DEI is at its best within an organization, employees are more engaged. And she mentioned that employee engagement or higher employee engagement leads to higher productivity. And there's a number of studies out there that support this. And it's a commonly accepted statistic within human resources.

And so when DEI is supporting higher employee engagement, which is leading to higher productivity, what we're seeing there is that DEI is really a business imperative. And so anything that's going to support the company's financial bottom line is really going to be a business imperative. And so politics aside and even morality aside, it's a business need. And so I think that that's important for everyone to understand.

I would also add that here at Mercer, we, every year, publish a global talent trends survey. And our 2021 survey was recently released. And the number one talent trend for 2021 in the US is to make progress on DEI. And so 58% of organizations are already currently creating committees around weaving components of DEI into every component of HR.

And so I think what that means for mobility professionals is that if you're not already actively incorporating steps to be supportive of your organization's initiatives around DEI within the mobility space, I think it's coming down the pipeline. So you'll likely be asked to do so if you're not already doing so at this time.

Very good. I think that one of the challenges we face is that we all see recruitment as a vanguard for building this more diverse workforce. But expanded recruitment really also requires expanding the watershed area within which we are sourcing candidates. And when we look to hire more diverse candidates, it may create some unanticipated strains on past practice for location and mobility programs in terms of eligibility rules or even the financial adequacy of the benefits that we provide.

For all we know, it may even expose some unconscious biases in the cultural norms or the language used in policies and programs or even the level of services offered. What can mobility managers be doing to line their mobility programs and services more consistently and supportively for recruitment with DEI goals in mind? Maybe, Valencia, you'd like to take a shot at that.

Yeah, absolutely. I'll kick us off. Mobility is really uniquely positioned to tell a story from their perspective and in that space. And I'd also say, my first tip is get comfortable being uncomfortable. So Anne Marie and I have both gone through this question in particular, me through a workshop last year. And Anne Marie's written about this as well. So we've got a lot of alignment in some of the things that we think are most important. But I am happy to get us kicked off.

And so I'd like to start out with data and looking at what the metrics and the data is telling you. And so I've always told mobility managers, understand where you are today in order to create kind of the ground-level look of what you're doing and what are the demographics of the company. So if you're understanding your demographics within the company, the data from the mobility perspective should be fairly representative of what the organization looks like.

But what we come to find out when we start comparing the data from the company and data from who gets to go on these assignments and get these opportunities is that there are specific demographics that are very much overrepresented or underrepresented in the data. So I think that allows for a baseline of where you are today. And then you can start tracking to where you want to go forward. And it's a great story that you can tell when you have data to back you up to share with your leaders and business partners.

The next thing I would add is around policy. I would recommend that everyone is doing a review of policy, policy language, looking for where pronouns are used and how relationships are identified.

Years ago, we would always see "he," "his," and "him" and then for a spouse as well. And that message, I think, was very clear to who qualifies and who gets access to those types of opportunities. So it's really important to look for those types of things and looking for any sort of biased language, gendered language that would exclude specific or many, I would say, identities or demographics.

The other one from a benefit perspective-- you think about spousal assistance. Not everybody has a spouse. Not everybody gets to be recognized as a spouse depending on what country you're coming from and what country you're moving to. So some of those other things just to be thoughtful and mindful about, I think, is important, seeing people even move to just either "domestic partner" or even adding that as an addition to.

Yeah. So I would add as well that there is also something to be said-- as we talk about policy and look at policy benefits, there's a number of things that can be done in order to include policy benefits that are more inclusive of sending a more diversified workforce out on assignments. I think it's important to understand that a lot of mobility policy has been written with more of a traditional family in mind.

And even at a bare minimum, when we think about 2021, a modern family can really be anything. And in its basic sense, a modern family is often a dual-income household. So both spouses or partners are working. And it's becoming harder and harder to send employees out on assignments and, at the same time, asking their spouse or partner to give up their career or to give up that secondary income.

And as Valencia mentioned, the response to this has been that spousal support. And it's probably the number one policy element that people talk about when they talk about policy elements in terms of DEI. And what's interesting as well is that spousal support is not a prevalently provided policy element. It's getting there. It certainly is.

If you look back about 10 years, it was probably around 15% of organizations who were providing spousal support as a standard policy benefit within their long-term assignment policy. Now it's more like 45%. So it certainly is gaining traction, which is great and certainly very supportive of a more modern family. But I would say that a lot of organizations don't want to stop there.

And so what else can be done? Probably one of the largest questions we get around DEI within the mobility space is, how can we support more women in going out on assignment? Women currently make up about 20% of global assignments, which means that 80%, or the vast majority, of global assignments are men.

And so as organizations have tackled that issue and said, OK, well, how can we support more women going out on assignment, some organizations have said, you know what? We're going to provide daycare differentials. Or we're going to provide a general family allowance. Or we're going to support immigration for a grandparent or perhaps a nanny in the case where someone might be a single parent.

And so I would recommend and say, as you do your policy review or you do your next benchmarking, it is good, of course-- and I do this all day long. It's good to benchmark from a prevalent practice perspective as a foundation, but then also incorporate discussions around, well, what else can our program do to be more supportive? What else can be provided to our workforce, our more diversified workforce as they go out on assignment?

And I think, John, one of the questions that was submitted in advance was around exception management. And one of the tips we have there is around the extent to which exceptions are requested and, subsequently, approved or perhaps not approved.

All of that should be tracked so that, perhaps, on a yearly basis, when you review your exceptions, you can take a look and say, OK, it looks like we have consistently received this particular exception request. And we've consistently approved it because there's good, justifiable reason for it. Now, it's not prevalent practice. And so it's not part of our policy. But it does make good sense to include it as part of a policy going forward.

Those are some excellent examples of situational needs that companies might find themselves needing to address. So thank you for citing those. I'd like to, at this point, try to do two things at once. On the one hand, we have another polling question that we'd like to ask of you. So those of you in the audience, please take the time to read this over and answer it.

And while we're doing that, I'd like to ask Colleen if we have an additional question from the audience that we might ask the panel to address while the polling is going on. Do we have a audience question that we can tee up?

Sure. I think this might tie nicely into what Anne Marie was just mentioning. Some people have asked if there are any specific tools or programs, perhaps, off the shelf that could be used or any recommendations for resources that you've used to tap into to get some of these benchmarks. So just where can people go to look for resources and information?

Yeah, so that's a really good question. I think that this question can be very broad in nature. And so depending on the type of support that someone might be looking for, I think that a lot of organizations these days are offering unconscious bias training, which I think is a really good training for everyone to attend.

I would also say, certainly in the mobility space-- not to promote consulting services-- but you're always welcome to get consulting services around support you may need in transforming your mobility program. There are certainly other resources out there around culture training or diversity and inclusion training. So there is lots of resources.

And certainly, depending on what the specific context of that question might be, I think anybody is certainly welcome to reach out to Valencia and myself. And knowing the context around that question, we might be able to point to you in a more specific direction.

Yeah. Thanks, Anne Marie. I would absolutely agree with all that you shared. And with a bit more context, I'd love to be able to give more support for that question.

Thank you for those. As you can see, our polling has resulted in a pretty interesting scatter of approaches that companies are applying or even experimenting with at this stage about how the mobility program is really supportive of these DEI initiatives. The most prevalent is that of flexible eligibility, looking at the definition of those who can participate in the mobility program more broadly and more inclusively. Certainly an encouraging sign there. And policies and documents, or really the hard tangibles of programs and services, are also getting some good scrutiny.

The other initiatives are pretty scattered right now-- 7%, 7%, 11%. So I think what that indicates to me is companies are feeling their way into this arena and recognizing that it's a broad front that has to be addressed. And not all of it can be accomplished at one time. But the first and key thing is flexibility around eligibility, making sure that the doors are open to a more diverse panel of candidate. Thank you for conducting that polling, Colleen. That was very helpful.


With that, I'd like to go on to another question for our panel. And we've talked a little bit about equity today. But it strikes me that a key element in workplace equity is really the investment in talent development because that's what generates the future leadership pool and, ultimately, equitable succession planning.

Now, at a lot of companies, mobility is just that kind of talent investment. People regarded as high potentials are often given developmental assignments and chances to accumulate executive skills and experiences that will really qualify them for the leadership pool down the road. Are there ways that you can see companies using mobility to accelerate development and to increase diversity in the assignee pool or just that sort of future leadership development? Is that an open strategy that companies could take on?

Sure. So one of the things I was as well going to mention-- and it ties in nicely here, too-- is where mobility sits within the organization. So I know there's a number of mobility programs that sit within rewards or sometimes within HR operations. And I think in the last probably 10 to 20 years, there's been a large trend within mobility to move from a more transactional component of HR to a more strategic component of HR.

And as I've worked with different organizations who have set out with this endeavor in mind, what they have found is that sometimes it does make a lot of sense. And I 100% agree for mobility to align with talent acquisition or talent management because I think that really does support mobility playing a more strategic role within human resources.

I think when you're able to be proactive within mobility, it's such a great strategic component of talent development because, certainly, mobility opportunities provide anyone and everyone with an opportunity to develop their skills and to really develop their career as well. And so when I think of mobility as partnered with talent management, what I think of is I see mobility as playing a more strategic role in the candidate selection process. I see mobility as having greater visibility into the talent pool that talent management is managing and looking out for.

And as you mentioned before, John, around recruitment doing their due diligence to recruit a more diversified workforce, this workforce is going to end up in that talent pool. And then mobility has a strategic role to play in connecting that talent pool with the right opportunities. And so oftentimes, this could certainly be within organizations that have a formal talent development mobility program.

Or even in the case that mobility is happening for the purposes of fulfilling a business need, there's also that secondary component of talent development happening at the same time. And so I just see that it just makes so much sense for mobility to align with talent management in order to be that strategic partner in connecting a diversified workforce to more opportunities so that eventually we'll get to a point where as a more diversified workforce has had opportunities, they're able to get into those leadership positions within the organization, which will lead to a really diversified leadership group, which is I think one of every organization's goals at this time.

I would also just call out specifically around having-- or the importance of having a formal business case approval process. I love a good business case approval process. I think that it really does underline the company's initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

And a formal business case approval process is really going to be that tool in that organization that allows the company to truly look at, who is their talent pool? Who's in the pipeline? Who needs an opportunity? Who is qualified, and then truly vet to the point where they get the right candidate for the assignment.

I think everyone on this call can 100% agree that mobility is so expensive. And it's a large financial investment on the part of the organization. A standard three-year assignment can cost upwards of a million dollars. And so if any organization is going to be making that level of financial investment, they really need to be assured that they've got the right candidate going out of assignment.

Whereas I think in the past-- or it probably still happens today as well. I'm sure it does. Sometimes someone has a mobility opportunity because they're a friend of a friend. Or everybody's favorite situation happens, and somebody gets sent out on assignment. Mobility is not even aware. And then they're told after the fact. So that's never a good situation when we're talking about the type of financial investment on the part of a company that we are.

And so a strong formal business case approval process is going to be fair. It's going to be equitable. It's going to be inclusive. And so that totally underpins every initiative around DEI that the organization then will have. And it has the added benefit of providing the organization with the assurance that their financial investment is being made into the right candidate.

Excellent point. And as we've often heard companies chasing the elusive ROI butterfly around international assignments, now there is really one more thumb on the scale that says, here's a potential benefit to this move that justifies the possible expense that's there. One other thing that strikes me is that I've so often heard over the years from mobility professionals in a corporate setting that even though mobility really deserves and should have a place at the table in HR strategy, it's often instead been relegated to more of an implementer role, the fact that they'll follow on rather than the HR and staffing strategy level that it might warrant.

It strikes me that this whole initiative around DEI might be a banner that mobility could pick up and lead to the point that mobility people will finally earn that justifiable seat at the HR strategy table. Do you see this being that kind of opportunity for the mobility people particularly?

I would 100% agree with that. Because from conversations I gathered, mobility has often felt isolated, exactly what you said when it comes to having more strategic responsibilities. But I really, truly feel that mobility has such a huge opportunity to really pull back the curtain. And when you're talking about generating future leaders and how assignments have become and are most often looked at as that stepping stone or creating pathways towards leadership, it is imperative that mobility is at the table in helping to support in that process.

And earlier, I wanted to also add another thing that I would recommend. And this, I think, leads into this space as well. For those companies out there that have a diversity, equity, and inclusion function or resource or a dedicated lead, et cetera, I think it's hugely important that you have some sort of alignment and, I would say, a cross-pollination in working with those leaders and understanding the depth of what the goals are for the company and how you can both partner so that that is layered into mobility.

Because at every company, the goals are going to look different. And the goals are going to be different depending on where you are as well. So with that, I would also offer that education is huge. I heard we talked a little bit about training earlier.

But I want to be mindful that when we're looking to educate, it can't be a one and done. We hear about specific trainings and that sort of thing. I prefer to call it education versus training. Training feels like a one-time thing. Education is something that is ongoing because we all need to continue to learn and do better in this space.

So essentially, if we continue to perpetuate what is typical today-- and Anne Marie kind of hit on this, what the traditional assignee and family looks like-- we won't be able to move the needle. And so when we're looking at our hires, we have to be intentional about getting that diverse talent in the door before we can even begin supporting the process to develop.

So that's where I think the data tracking is going to be huge to look at where you are, who's missing comparison to your company's data. Who's overrepresented? Who's underrepresented? I don't want to necessarily tell every mobility manager out there to be the squeaky wheel. I would suggest that they illuminate what they have right in front of them. Otherwise, we end up in this space of nothing has happened because nothing was said.

Thank you. Great comment, both. I think we're back to the point where we might try a double initiative here and go to our next polling question. And as we did before, let's also ask Colleen to tee up another audience-generated question, if we might, and have the panel speak to that as well. Our polling question is up. So please look to answer that. And Colleen, do you have an audience question for our panel as well?

Sure. One second here. So I think there seems to be some curiosity around how to measure DEI impact. I know that was mentioned a little bit. But I think might be helpful to talk a little bit more about how to measure the impact DEI might have on global mobility. And what does success look like in that space?

And I can tee this one off. And when I think about that question-- so how to measure diversity and inclusion impact global mobility makes-- it's really going to start with tracking that data. You have to understand where you're at. And when we think about representation, that also matters.

And if you look at a company-- and I would say, for example, if you have a company-- and let's say it's primarily female. But then you look at your mobility assignments and your leadership, and it's male-dominant. Then what does that say about the program and who has access and opportunity?

This is not something that gets changed overnight. This is a marathon, not a sprint. As I like to say, it is a journey. And it takes time to make change and to support those shifts. But it's really starting with the data, I would say, and then looking at your policies, making sure that you haven't excluded anyone and that you can see that you have different identities getting access to take opportunities and then that pathway towards leadership.

Thank you for those comments. Do you want to add something?

You know, I did. I just wanted to add as well that a lot of times when we talk about DEI and we talk about who's responsible, it's everybody. Valencia and I have talked about this a lot. DEI is everyone's responsibility. So everyone has a role to play.

And so I think about mobility playing their role in that strategic capacity in supporting DEI initiatives. But I also think about talent management as they look to improve talent retention. And we have to think about recruitment as they do their due diligence in recruiting a more diversified workforce. You want to make sure that that diversified workforce does stay with the organization and are provided career development opportunities and feel supported within the organization and have opportunities to diversify and move up within their career with the organization.

And so I think when everything is-- when everyone's playing their part and everyone is supporting those initiatives, then I think at the end of the day, it might be hard to pinpoint the impact specifically that mobility played. But I think that you certainly-- and again, like Valencia said, it's not going to be an overnight thing. But as you continue on this journey, you can start to look at career pathing.

Maybe right now, maybe the problem within the organization is that diverse employees tend to leave after a certain number of years. And so maybe as you continue your journey, you look at our rates of talent retention among diverse employees improving over time. And how many of those employees were given a mobility opportunity and still stayed with the organization?

And so I think that you can start to look at those pieces as they all play together and come together. But it does take time. And so I would say we certainly have emphasized the importance of data tracking because I think it's something that everybody can do tomorrow or even this afternoon after the call, which is great. But there's no quick fix or Band-Aid to improving or making progress on DEI. And so it really does take time.

That's a very powerful message there, I think, Anne Maria. This is not just about talent acquisition, the one-time securing of a diverse workforce. But it's really about the ongoing development of that workforce, leadership and otherwise, over time and the place that mobility can have in that. So that's a very powerful point. And I thank you for it.

We do have our results in from our polling question. And we were asking if our audience companies are actively pursuing a DEI initiative at this point. And I think it's a pleasant surprise to see that we've got a 96% positive response on this and another 4% that don't know.

And understood-- it's changing fast and certainly a very moving landscape right now. But I think that is a good indicator of the momentum toward serious corporate initiative around this whole subject matter and certainly heartening to those of us working on the front lines on this issue, as with our panelists are.

I think at this point, I would like to go to Colleen's collection of questions from our audience. And I also invite our audience, if you're not already asked a question, feel free to submit one at this time. And we will do our best to get at that as well in the time that's remaining for us here today. So your questions are most welcome. Colleen, do you have one teed up for us for our panel?

Yes, I do. We have a couple of questions. I will start with this one here that came in that asks, what are examples of diversified benefits companies are putting in place to address DEI in their programs?

So I can give a couple of examples of what I'm seeing. And what I'm seeing is that they're looking at more equitable opportunities, understanding the needs of the families, and similarly to what Anne Marie had said earlier about like a daycare differential.

So when you look at a set of policies, I've been asking folks to think about, who have they been designed to serve? And how has that demographic or that family changed? And can we not hold so tightly to a one size fits all and be a bit more flexible within the broader umbrella of benefits so that we can support the needs of anyone that should be able to take an assignment because they are either ready and have the skills and would be the best person? But they're not discounted or excluded because of, let's say, a family situation. So we're really looking at being flexible in that space.

Should I go ahead and-- John, do you want to go ahead and serve up the next question here?

Let's do that. If you have another for us, let's do that.

Sure do. So some questions around DEI committees within companies-- I know we talked a little bit about who's making decisions around DEI in organizations. And people would like to understand a little bit better maybe what these committees look like. And what kind of work do they do? And who's typically on them?

Sure. So yes, I think I did mention at the top our 2021 global talent trends survey that showed that 50% of organizations are creating committees within their organizations with the goal of weaving the DEI initiatives into each component of HR. So that's a good example of a number of organizations creating a committee to foster that incorporation of DEI initiatives no matter what area of HR you work in.

So I think it was also mentioned at the top of the call that I'm a subcommittee member of our Chicago office Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. And our focus is updating our recruiting processes. So we talked a lot about that as well today, how important that is. It is the foundation of this endeavor.

And so, yeah, there's a number of committees out there. You probably have different focuses depending on what the goals of the organization are or where they're at with their DEI progress. But those are just a couple of good examples to address that question.

And I think part of the other question was, who's part of those committee? Sometimes it can be anybody and everybody. I am working in mobility at Mercer. But for me, it means a lot to improve DEI. And so I raised my hand and said, I want to be a part of this committee. And so now I work as part of the committee.

So sometimes it is certain people, like if an organization does have a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion or a manager of DEI. They play a strategic role in a lot of those committees as well. So I guess all of that to be said, it could be very specific people or even anyone at all who raises their hand and says that they want to be a part of it.

I would absolutely agree with that as well, Anne Mario. And I would say it should be a diverse group of employees that are on these types of committees. And not just diversity in how we look and present, but in where we are in the organization, levels in the organization, where we sit across the globe as well.

We have within Graebel a global council with regionals specifically for the Americas, for EMEA, and for our APAC office or APAC area. And so it was important to have voices from all over the globe to offer perspective around the goals of what we want to be doing. And interestingly enough, we are looking at the whole hiring process, so recruiting as well.

But it is a goal of the committees to continue to push to ensure that everything that we do that we're layering in diversity. We look to the committees to add perspective. They are helping to be change agents to improve the culture. They should be holding people like me accountable to the work that needs to be done to be done and just ensuring that diversity is considered in every strategic management initiative.

That's great. Thank you. We do have a couple more questions. One is around policies. I know we touched on that a little earlier. But it seems like that is a topic people are very interested in, looking specifically about how to be more strategic and building policies that impact DEI. It seems like we could maybe have a whole session just on this. But maybe if you each have one quick takeaway, perhaps, on strategic thinking for policies impacting DEI.

Sure. I think I did touch upon this. But I do think that it's so important as you set out to do any sort of policy review, policy design, policy benchmarking to bring other perspectives into the review, not just what is prevalent practice, not just what has been done in the past. Sometimes it's important to also think future-wise. What can we do to support the diversified workforce that we would like to be sending out in the future?

And so I think just having an open mind and even creating a key stakeholder committee around your policy review-- because I think so often that someone on the mobility team is tasked with it. And they're given the benchmarking data. And they're saying, update the policy.

But I think when you look to incorporate changes that will foster a more diversified workforce going on an assignment, it's important to have more than just one set of eyes on that review. And I think Valencia mentioned earlier-- and I 100% agree-- why not bring in your organization's manager or director of DEI and have them take a look at the policies? From an outsider's perspective, is there something else that they're seeing that they might suggest as you look to make updates to your policy?

Yeah. Thanks, Anne Marie. And when you think about doing those benchmarks, I love what you said about thinking about going future forward. Benchmarks are from our past. And what is market practice today?

So again, I would encourage folks to think about, who has market practice been designed to serve? And who is the demographic we need to be serving? So I think those are some things people have to be thinking about and then, yes, aligning with your D&I folks and having them at the table and in the room when you're having these conversations so that they can lend their talents and skills in support of what the DEI goals are of the organization, as well as to support in developing and working on policy.

Valencia, I love what you said there because I always think about benchmarking as the rearview mirror, not the headlights. It doesn't tell you where things are going. And I think as we enter into a more diverse workforce, it's very hard to anticipate what the individual personal needs of this more diverse population will be.

So whatever form relocation policy takes down the road, I can pretty much assure you it's going to go in the direction of greater flexibility and greater individual choice so that people are able to tailor the available resources to what the personal requirements or situations are rather than it being some predicted model that a corporation with [INAUDIBLE] might have prescribed for them. So I think flexibility will be the key going forward.

Yeah. And I would also just offer one last thing to all the mobility managers and leaders on the call. Really start making connections with other mobility managers and leaders who are also working in trying to move the needle in this space. This is not easily done in isolation. And it takes us all to make a change.

And I would just suggest that if there's any way possible, connect with others that are also doing this. Bounce ideas off of each other. But don't do it alone.

I think as we approach the end of our session today, I just want to express my gratitude to Valencia and Anne Marie. We could not have found more expert people on our subject matter for today. And we so much appreciate all the contributions you have made in planning and carrying out our session today. So I am very much grateful for that. Thank you for your time.

Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Yeah. Thank you for having us.

I can't agree more. Thanks, John. And thanks, Anne Marie and Valencia. It was a great session and so important. And thank you all for attending today.

Please be on the lookout for your recap. And a recording of a discussion should be out to you in the next week or so. So thank you so much. Have a great rest of your week.

Thank you, Christina. This concludes our call. And you may now hang up. 

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DEI tips for transforming your mobility program

Tags: Corporate culture
Published: April 22, 2021

The U.S. Bank Corporate Programs team continued its series of virtual advisory forums with a panelist session on March 24, 2021. The session defined what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is (and what it is now), and how organizations can benefit from embracing DEI policies. We also offered practical tips and recommendations, based on the successes of peer organizations, for aligning DEI with your mobility program. 


The session featured the following expert panel of presenters: 

  • John Sculley, Sculley Consulting
  • Valencia Culbreath, Global Head, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Graebel
  • Ann Marie Trepkowski, Senior Associate, Mercer Mobility

Click here for more resources to help you stay on top of mobility trends impacting your employees. 


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