Jon talks to Charu Malhotra about ethics, D,E&I, keynotes, tech and more in this day two interview from the Paris show.
Charu Malhotra: I spent the last eight, nine years talking about and investigating how to build a much more inclusive ethical culture internally; there’s no point in having lots of brilliant attraction campaigns, attracting people into the organization, if then they receive and experience a culture that isn’t supportive.
So, one of the biggest themes that I’ve seen, wandering around this huge exhibition hall, there’s much focus on creating technology that will support D,E&I, and support removing bias from the process of recruiting and talent. So that’s been a big theme, I think, a massive change in what I’ve seen the last five, six years (this is my third time, at UNLEASH.
The other theme, which has been wonderful to see because as I said it’s been an area of my focus for nearly a decade is that whole culture piece, so I was privileged to see Erin Meyer talk this morning. I’m a word nerd and a bookworm. I’m a culture investigator. And to see Erin talk about not just the Netflix culture, but how you remove and incubate barriers for an innovative culture, not just in startups which is relatively easy to do, versus in a big company, has been another big theme.
Thirdly, there’s been a real theme on practitioners talking about how they failed fast, which I haven’t really seen as much. So I’ve been in a couple of sessions where they’ve gone, ‘these are my lessons learned. Here’s my tips, recommendations, don’t do this’, which has been really lovely to see.
Jon Kennard: That’s really interesting, what you said about Erin’s keynotes as well, I thought was fantastic. And she really brought the audience into what she was talking about, with a number of polls that were set up as ‘dilemmas’ across the keynote session.
And they were deliberately very…all of the answers were valid, essentially. It wasn’t like she’s trying to steer you into one answer or the other. Because it is tricky. The whole point is that she was saying that you can’t provide all these kind of absolute definitions of what your culture should be. You need to just signpost people to being the best they can and understanding that sometimes, it’s not quite as simple as that.
One of them that I really picked up on was the idea of someone who’s not doing great work. What do you do? Do you keep them on? Or do you get rid of them? And the audience was about a 50/50 split. And I think it was quite interesting to think that it plays into the conversation about skills now; I put my hand up saying you should keep them because my philosophy would be that maybe they could go somewhere else in the company; upskilling and reskilling of your existing workforce is something that a lot of people are talking about. I don’t know whether you agree with that?
CM: I think the dilemmas were a brilliant illustration of similar instances when you ask people how they’re going to vote. So I think there was a lot of voting in terms of ‘I want to be more innovative, I want to be more risky, I want to be bold’, so I’ll put my hand up.
I would have gone for that as well, the option of not getting rid of the candidate or the employee, but re-deploying them somewhere else. And I think that internal mobility is the only way forward for all of us in organizations where we’re screaming out for talent, we’ve got jobs are hard to fill. And yet, we’re not looking at the internal individuals with a lens of re-deploying, resetting, retraining, with an expectation that it might take a lot longer to retrain someone, but actually, isn’t it better to do that versus lose them, or try to hire someone in that doesn’t earn your business.
So I think there’s a perfect blend. But I believe there’s a massive, elegant tension in what Erin was talking about, which is we want to be that innovative, fail fast, bold culture. We all want a Reed Hastings at the top saying, ‘have freedom, no barriers’, but actually, it’s not current reality. So I actually think that something around having a really strong sense of who you are as an organization is key…
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