Key Takeaways from Caldwell’s 2022 Board and CEO Conference - Maryann Bruce
From the Great Resignation to the Great Retention: Talent Defense, a Look Inwards at What Companies Face in Fighting the War on Talent
It was a pleasure and honor to be a panelist at Caldwell’s 2022 Board and CEO Conference discussing From the Great Resignation to the Great Retention: Talent Defense, a Look Inwards at What Companies Face in Fighting the War on Talent. The panel was moderated by Jay Millen, Managing Partner, Board & CEO Practice, Caldwell. My esteemed co-panelists were Nicole Strait, Chief of Organizational Strategy, Norwest Equity Partners, and Lee Quintas, Lieutenant General, US Army, Retired, LA Quintas, LLC.
Oversight of company culture including human capital management is a growing priority in today’s boardrooms. Boards of directors are actively engaged in conversations about how best to articulate a company’s culture and its purpose to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.
I’d like to share some of the highlights from my contribution to the discussion.
What do we mean by company culture? Culture is the sum of a company’s values, principles, and standards that inform and influence employee behaviors, actions, and decision-making. It defines how it feels to work at a company, how employees behave, what employees believe in, how work is performed, and what performance and behaviors are recognized and rewarded.
Visionary boards seek to understand and assess the health of a company’s culture. They not only talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to upholding the company’s culture and values because, in today’s highly competitive world, culture is the company’s distinguishing strength. It’s your differentiator and your brand.
A few key questions boards should be asking the executive leadership team about the company’s culture are:
· Do we have a culture of inclusion and belonging?
· Do we have a culture that values differences?
· Do we have a speak-up culture meaning employees are emboldened to communicate challenges and problems to leaders without fear of retribution?
· How do our external stakeholders, including our customers, investors, suppliers, business partners, community leaders, and regulators perceive our reputation and culture?
· How is our code of conduct and ethics communicated, monitored, and enforced?
Of course, any CEO can stand up and say we have a strong culture, but how executives weave that culture into every facet of the business is essential.
CEOs should treat culture like any other business objective: develop a plan, identify the people responsible for driving it, provide appropriate human and financial resources, and establish metrics for measuring success.
While the CEO & Board are responsible for setting the tone at the top, many boards recognize that they must also understand the “mood in the middle” and the “buzz at the bottom”.
At Amalgamated Bank, prior to COVID, our board regularly met and interacted with the executive and senior leadership teams and those employees designated as high performers/high potentials, both formally and informally.
This gives the board a chance to see how the organization is truly living and breathing the company’s values and observe the company’s culture deeper down in the organization.
Why is a focus on culture so important? Research shows that companies with closely aligned cultures and strategies outperform their peers by three to one.
Regarding talent management, Amalgamated Bank recently changed the name and charter of our Compensation Committee. Our new name is the Compensation and Human Resources Committee because it better reflects that talent is the lifeblood of the bank and our most important asset.
We know that our employees are the basis for the bank’s long-term success. They are the ones who serve our customers and local communities and ensure alignment with our mission of making the world most just, compassionate, and sustainable, develop products and services, make strategic decisions, manage risks, determine our investments, allocate capital, and drive innovation.
Our reconstituted committee looks at hiring practices and DEI. We consider workforce representation from minority groups, view pay equity, and focus on talent and leadership development.
Leading effectively in a decentralized remote environment requires different skill sets. For example, because employees can no longer see each other in person, excellent oral communication skills take on heightened importance and are critical to attracting and retaining employees. Has your leadership team provided additional training? Have they m encouraged a new communication philosophy of what I refer to as “more tongues, less thumbs”?
The Amalgamated Bank board also reviews our annual employee surveys, turnover stats, time in a role before promotion analysis, and employee satisfaction scores to see how engaged people are beyond the CEO and her direct reports.
And when it comes to DEI, the board leads by example. We have 12 board members, of which five are women, three are black, and one is a member of the LBGTQ+ community.
Maryann Bruce - Independent Board Director, Dynamic and Collaborative Leader
Independent Board Director, Dynamic and Corporate Leader
Maryann Bruce - Independent Director, Chair of Risk, Member Executive & CSR and Audit Committees…
Since my first corporate board role in 2010, I have served on more than a dozen boards as a valuable contributor to the…