How DEIB conversations are integral to a successful workplace

Doug Segers

Head of Original Content at Cornerstone OnDemand

Amid the social and economic disruptions of the past 20-plus months, a key theme has surfaced — the importance of belonging in the workplace.

Work is a major social structure for a lot of people. And many of them look to their careers for purpose, not just a paycheck. Through their work, they search for connection, community and belonging.

Creating that sense of belonging at work is critically important to building a workplace that works for everyone.

It encourages collaboration, mitigates exclusion and values individuality as a way to drive outcomes. Research shows that fostering belonging at work plays a fundamental role in employee engagement, which corresponds to greater on-the-job effort, more intent to stay and higher employee performance.

But in order to make work a place that works for everyone, we need to recognize that our colleagues have life and work experiences that are different from our own. And that by working to understand the social issues that create the need for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategies, education and commitment, we can engage in meaningful conversations that make work better for everyone.

Communicating about DEIB isn't just a social skill; it's a professional skill.

But there are barriers to engaging in DEIB conversations

As important as DEIB conversation skills are, it can be difficult to engage in these discussions.

It’s a challenge to understand when, where and how to do it because, if we’re being completely honest, we often hide parts of ourselves at work. We may even censor ourselves to avoid "rocking the boat" or saying the wrong thing. Some organizations may even institute policies to ban these conversations outside of formal employee education protocols.

But ignoring or avoiding these conversations won’t change the fact that social and political change and uncertainty affect people across their lives and can introduce distraction, disruption and division into the workplace. 

And while DEIB training can and does help, it’s often reactive and compliance-focused, lacking tactical approaches for engaging in these conversations and initiating change.

There is no perfect playbook for engaging in DEIB conversations but providing a model to guide people can certainly help. And it’s what our latest Cornerstone Originals learning series, A Seat at the Table, is designed to do.

Using authentic people and conversations to model uncomfortable DEIB conversations

A Seat at the Table
offers an innovative approach to DEIB training.

Across eight courses, the series features unscripted, meaningful conversations about important DEIB topics, such as how to talk about pronouns, racial discrimination, depression, and more. 

Here’s what makes A Seat at the Table different from the typical DEIB training experience:

  • It uses an unscripted format with real people — not actors — sharing their experiences and perspectives
  • It explicitly demonstrates how workplaces bring together people of different backgrounds and perspectives
  • It shows both the telling and listening that's necessary to appreciate the diversity of experiences in the workplace

Through watching onscreen conversations, learners can better understand these social issues and why they're present at work. And to help put their learning into practice, each episode is accompanied by supplemental materials for managers full of tips to lead these conversations and create more inclusive environments.

Take a look at this trailer for the A Seat at the Table series:

Framing DEIB learning around a conversation is empowering

By learning what DEIB and topics related to it mean to real people, we can better understand the critical roles we play in fostering DEIB in our workplace.

Yes, talking about these issues can often be uncomfortable and weighted with emotional associations, but they're necessary to ensure we're truly creating a work experience that works for everyone.

It’s not about bringing people together to disagree. It’s about nurturing human connections that foster more inclusive behaviors. Engaging in these conversations is a professional skill. One that you can help your people develop.

Let us know how we can help

A Seat at the Table can demonstrate your actionable commitment to DEIB and to creating a safe space for employees to bring their true selves to work.

Because this learning content centers on developing competency in holding these conversations, A Seat at the Table is most impactful when incorporated with other DEIB training, like our four Cornerstone Content Anytime subscriptions:

  • Professional Skills
  • Leadership & Management
  • Compliance
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

If you’re interested in learning more about A Seat at the Table and how our broader content offerings can support your people and organizational goals, reach out. We’d love to discuss how we can help.

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Lessons from Convergence: How to drive content engagement


Lessons from Convergence: How to drive content engagement

For two days, Cornerstone's global customer community virtually gathered to participate in sessions focused on turning change into opportunities for everyone at Cornerstone Convergence. Under the theme of "Meet the Moment," Convergence provided HR and talent leaders the opportunity to connect with peers, thought leaders and the Cornerstone team to share strategic insights, lessons learned and success stories on creating inspired, aligned and successful workforces. One of the terrific sessions on the conference agenda centered on how to strategically align your learning and content strategies to create meaningful development experiences. In the session, Good to great: Six strategies for driving content engagement, adoption & impact, Tom Cush, manager of the Cornerstone Content Experience team, and Jarrad Skinner, learning experience designer with Cornerstone, revealed a few strategies for developing and executing successful content initiatives that drive business impact. Here are some of the strategies outlined in their session: Start with a goal tied to a pain Before you roll out new training, identify pain points in your company that you believe content can solve. If you're struggling, think back to why your organization invested in content. Then set goals to ease that pain. For example, let's say your company bought content because of low employee retention. You've seen teams are missing deadlines and employee surveys suggest people are unclear on what skills they need to advance. You can set a few specific goals to target these pains, such as improving employee survey results about career growth, increasing internal employee promotions by the end of the year, and increasing employee retention by a certain date. Get stakeholders involved As you roll out the training content, get stakeholders involved in the process. "Getting stakeholders on board and making sure they know how your goals align with bigger goals in your organization is a good start," says Skinner. "Getting stakeholders involved in the promotion of training content is great! Can they send an email talking about the content and what they hope people will learn and achieve with it?" A simple action like this shows that stakeholders support the initiative. Target learners and managers Managers and individual contributors are the main targets of training rollouts. With the right support, managers can be the key to change in an organization. One way to support them is by holding enablement sessions to help them understand content offerings and how to use Cornerstone content. If you can help them understand how this training benefits their teams as well as them personally, managers will be more invested in the training and can help their direct reports get invested too. Launch ongoing initiatives Launching an ongoing initiative can reinforce the importance of the training content. For example, you can post training reminders in newsletters or recap important learnings points in blog posts. The Cornerstone Activation Materials go along with some of the content that includes training launch templates, reminders, posters and flyers, team discussion guides and more that you can roll out over time to reinforce training courses. Tie content to events In addition to regularly promoting content, you can align training to certain events. You can try rolling out goal-setting training just before your company's performance review cycle or assigning change management training after announcing organization changes. You don't have to restrict these rollouts to just internal events; look at the annual calendar and get creative. Like how October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Maybe assign training about mental health at work throughout the month. Making training timely and relevant can help make it more impactful. Track your success How can you make sure your rollout plan is actually working? You can set goals to see if your plan is making an impact on your organization, such as month-over-month usage, total content views, and more. "Beyond that, you should look back to the goals you set before launching your program," says Cush. "How are you progressing towards these goals? Do the goals need adjusting? Has your success towards these goals reduced the pain points identified? Also of this information is gold when you're presenting your content program to stakeholders within your organization." A great content strategy requires great content Cornerstone offers learning content that works for everyone. Our content is innovative, fresh and constantly evolving to keep your employees engaged as they learn so you can build a culture that sparks curiosity, growth and impact. For example, our latest Cornerstone Originals content series, A Seat at the Table, takes an innovative approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) training. Across eight episodes, the series features unscripted, meaningful conversations about important DEIB topics, such as how to talk about pronouns, racial discrimination, depression, and more. Watch the A Seat at the Table trailer here: If you’re interested in learning more about A Seat at the Table and how our strategic content offerings can support your people and organizational goals, reach out. We’d be happy to connect with you about your organization’s unique needs.

What we learned at Cornerstone Convergence 2021


What we learned at Cornerstone Convergence 2021

In case you missed it — last week, Cornerstone brought together thousands of HR professionals and industry luminaries for the all-virtual 2021 Cornerstone Convergence conference. Under the theme of "Meet the Moment," Convergence provided HR and talent leaders the opportunity to connect with peers, thought leaders and the Cornerstone team to share strategic insights, lessons learned and success stories on creating inspired, aligned and successful workforces. Kicking off Convergence with a story of perseverance International speaker, broadcaster and Convergence master of ceremonies David Meade kicked the conference off with the story of Australian farmer Cliff Young, who, in 1983, ran an ultra-marathon from Sydney to Melbourne (544 miles). With no rulebook to follow or trainer to consult, Young started this grueling race in steel-toed boots and overalls and didn't stop running for five days, even though the best practice was to rest every six hours. Cliff won the race — beating the competition by 10 hours and arriving two full two days earlier than the record. "He saw a challenge and decided to run toward it," Meade said. "Our people feel the same. It's our job to make sure they're equipped and enabled." It was a great way to emphasize the strategic role talent leaders play In helping organizations and people achieve extraordinary success together. Here are some ways sessions across the two-day conference reinforced this message. Empowering people and teams to meet the future, ready In the Day One opening keynote, Cornerstone leaders shared how the power of personal development can help us all thrive in the "never normal again" workplace. CEO Phil Saunders expressed how Cornerstone's new purpose (and brand) reflects our unwavering focus to blaze trails in learning and talent innovation to help our customers and their people meet the future, ready. “It’s more than a logo change,” he said. “We're Introducing a new system of work born out of our passion for people and innovation as we strive to make this lasting positive impact starting at work." Cornerstone Chief Product Officer Ajay Awatramani then touched on how the advancements the company is delivering — like our latest innovation, Cornerstone Xplor — make the work experience more accessible, more productive and more rewarding for our customers and their people. People need a broad range of learning opportunities and soft skills to achieve breakthroughs and growth, which means learning content needs to be the best. To meet this need, Chief Strategy Officer Heidi Spirgi shared how Cornerstone is advancing new ground with learning content designed for today's modern skills-forward workforce. See the post Helping employees evolve through change Several sessions focused on how self-directed learning can help employees grow in new ways that keep pace with an ever-changing workplace. In their Day Two keynote session, A matter of perspective: Tackling top trending industry topics, Vincent Belliveau, chief international officer, and Summer Salomonsen, VP of content product at Cornerstone, shared how HR leaders can help employees reimagine and embrace new ways of work. “We’re seeing an upward trend focused on teaching employees to lead projects, influence without authority and to work well across teams. These skills represent the new currency in a changing workplace. We invite you to consider using technology to support greater autonomy and a shared sense of collective purpose for your people to meet the future ready with agility,” Salomensen said. That’s especially important, said Sunita Khatri, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft Viva, during today's "hybrid paradox" — where employees crave more in-person collaboration alongside flexible, remote options. In The intersection of technology, culture and employee well-being, Khatri explored the value of a digital platform that streamlines and simplifies, rather than siloes, the employee experience. The American Bankers Association (ABA) saw firsthand the benefits of using a connected platform to create a digital experience for employees. In the session Delivering compliance virtually with the Connect learning experience, presenters shared how the association leveraged Cornerstone Learning to create a remote model that maintained a connected, immersive employee experience. Learners were so happy with the program that ABA plans to keep it in place permanently. An innovative workforce grows from an equitable, inclusive experience To truly unlock employee potential, everyone must be comfortable bringing their unique background and skills into the workplace. But today, a majority of workers “cover” their identity for fear of being discriminated against. To prepare for the future, organizations must prioritize people goals (like purpose and inclusivity) to reach business goals (like innovation and productivity). The premier of Cornerstone’s latest content series, A Seat at the Table, showcased how learning content can help create an environment where employees bring their "whole self" to work without fear or anxiety. A Seat at the Table features unscripted, meaningful conversations about important DEI topics, such as how to talk about pronouns or racial discrimination. During the Championing Diversity Customer Roundtable, representatives from Cornerstone customers Johnson & Johnson, IYF and Wells Fargo echoed the need for strong learning content around DEIB. In addition to providing localized learning through Cornerstone, leadership accountability is key to driving true equity and inclusivity. Echoing that sentiment, Chris Geschickter, head of human resources at Johnstone Supply and Robbie Perkins, director of IT, Commonwealth of Kentucky — personnel cabinet, shared their stories in Drive high performance and retention with smart talent management. They discussed the importance of ensuring your talent strategy reinforces your organization's core values. "Be clear on exactly what you mean by connecting people to purpose," said Perkins. Geschickter added, “As you work with senior management to drive your company culture, be creative and lean into Cornerstone technology to support the company culture you are looking to build.” Skills and learning drive the employee experience – and power career growth Skill building is foundational to a future ready workplace. And delivering the right learning content at the right time with the right modality is integral to effective learning and skill building. In Good to great: Six strategies for driving content engagement, adoption & impact, Cornerstone’s Tom Cush and Jarrad Skinner shared actionable tips for creating a content strategy with measurable impact. Make career mobility a reality for your people Meredith Wellard from Deutsche Post DHL and Julia Maria Carvalho from Alstom also emphasized the importance of giving employees transparency around mobility and career aspirations. It’s a two-way relationship, they said in Delivering skills-first careers powered by AI. If employees provide organizations with data about their capabilities, interests and goals, organizations can and should help them develop new skills to drive their careers forward. Personalize the learning experience for greater impact Kraft Heinz’s Ownerversity is another success story of HR technology’s ability to transform learning experiences and create a sense of belonging for employees. Through its strategic implementation of Cornerstone Learning, which the company calls Ownerversity, Kraft Heinz tripled its population of regular learners — and employees responded positively to the company’s investment in their development. As session speaker, Lan Tran, head of L&D governance, technology and operations at Kraft Heinz shared, the company's strategy centered on helping employees understand that learning and development opportunities were easily accessible and beneficial to their personal development and career growth. "We all know learning is important, but sharing why a particular course is impactful to an employee helps them see the value." Celebrating RAVE-worthy customer achievements Convergence also provides an opportunity to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our global customer community through the annual Cornerstone RAVE Awards. Learn more about the 2021 award winners — like Deutsche Post DHL, SWIFT, Wells Fargo, and more — and the standout ways they are innovating with Cornerstone solutions. Two big lessons put the future of work in perspective Ultimately, employees, managers, HR leaders and executives are all on a journey to Meet the Moment together. At Convergence, we were lucky enough to hear from two distinguished speakers — and hear their wisdom not just about the future of work but of our world. “Success is not an individual journey; it’s a group activity.” – Dan Levy Closing out Day One of the conference, it was amazing to have Award-winning actor, writer, director and producer Dan Levy share his journey of using creativity to overcome obstacles and Meet the Moment. As the creator and showrunner of the series Schitt’s Creek, Levy was able to bring his years of experience in the entertainment industry to shape his approach of being a leader for the cast and crew and uniting the team around a mission and purpose. “I try to always be aware of how necessary the group is to the process. It goes back to making sure the people who show up to work every day feel welcomed, inspired and like they are a part of something.” It’s a great lesson in what inclusive leadership is all about. “It’s really important that we constantly educate ourselves and continue learning.” – Malala Yousafzai And after an incredible two days of learning, networking and sharing experiences and insights, Day Two of the conference closed out with a powerful message about the impact of education. It was an honor to hear Pakistani education activist, co-founder of the Malaya Fund and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai share her story of personal resilience and collective purpose in driving global education for girls everywhere. See the post The hard truth Yousafzai shared: 130 million girls around the world are still without education. When asked what organizations can do to make sure everyone can learn, grow and lead, Yousafzai has this to say: “We must remind ourselves that we are not living in a perfect world and there’s still a fight for equality. You could be denied rights just because of your skin color, background, the language you speak. We need to invest in initiatives that focus on equality, but you also need to invest in education. It is crucial that we focus on girls’ education because women are half the population, and if we hold them back, we cannot succeed. We need to ensure that everyone is included in the right to education. I would really encourage all organizations to support girls through quality education.” See the post Thank you for Meeting the Moment with us at Convergence! While Convergence took place virtually this year, we hope that the conference provided you an opportunity to connect and learn from each other, to be inspired by other change-makers, and of course, to hear directly from the customer-focused Cornerstone team that you work with every day. Thank you to our presenters, partners and global customer community for joining us at Convergence 2021 to network, share and learn together. We look forward to our next opportunity to connect with you!

How to build successful employee growth plans by focusing on tech-driven career mobility


How to build successful employee growth plans by focusing on tech-driven career mobility

Growth is a key factor built into how we measure success. But when we talk about growth, we're typically focused on profits, market share, headcount, etc. What tends to be near the bottom of the types of growth organizations place importance on is the growth of their people. As workers take stock of their career goals and revaluate their priorities, it’s clear that the opportunity for career advancement is non-negotiable. People are willing to leave their jobs if they don’t see opportunities to grow. So we've got a few tips you can use today to start reprioritizing employee growth and integrate it into how your organization measures its own success. How to build a successful employee growth plan What you need to do to create a successful employee growth plan that accelerates development and boosts retention may sound simple, but it gets much more complicated in its execution. You just need to connect people to the skills and learning opportunities that match their personal career aspirations and align with your organization's goals. This isn't anything new. It's a straightforward enough plan. But where organizations can drop the ball is when they assign people to similar linear growth paths that don't change with the employee's evolution. Careers aren't straight paths from A to B. They're winding journeys full of cul de sacs, backtracking and wrong turns. To truly deliver meaningful career development, organizations need a connected HR technology that knits together roles, skills, learning content and people and continuously adapts and grows with employees. Moving beyond linear growth paths Even before the Great Resignation began in earnest, a whole generation of workers had a reputation for being "job-hoppers." But that adjective isn't their fault. The benefits that existed to keep employees at an organization long-term aren't a priority at most organizations anymore. So the employees' organizational loyalty left with them. Looking at it now, all those cuts to benefits seem wildly counterintuitive. A new hire is always more expensive than promoting someone, and you're losing institutional knowledge and leadership when an experienced employee leaves. “A fulfilling career should enhance existing skills and build new skills, facilitate learning opportunities and allow for experiences that provide for support and growth now and in the future,” says one Cornerstone customer, a VP of learning at a Fortune 50 healthcare company. “If we can give every employee a clear view of the frontier ahead, our employees can grow and stay with us.” But for many employees, the frontier ahead isn't a straight line from junior to senior to VP. People want opportunities to step outside of their comfort zones, explore new areas of the organization, take on internal "gigs" to try out new skills or even scrap the whole plan and pivot to something new. “Companies that survive and thrive do everything they can to make work easier for people,” Global Industry Analyst Josh Bersin recently said at Cornerstone Convergence. “This means giving employees self-development and empowerment tools.” The 3 ingredients that drive modern career mobility To truly empower workers with the ability to do more than just climb a career ladder, organizations need to evaluate what kind of work employees have done in the past, understand what they’d like to do moving forward and, most importantly, provide the tools to facilitate career growth. 1) Access to open roles within your organization Workers need to be able to see what opportunities are available — whether in their department or not — in order to set realistic and achievable growth paths for themselves. Provide your people with clear insight into what open positions your organization has and the skills requirements are for those roles to help them envision a future that fits their personal growth goals. 2) Data on employees’ current and desired skills By 2025, 44% of the skills needed for workers to effectively do their jobs will have changed. Modern career mobility requires upskilling and reskilling for people to step into new roles and challenges. To effectively connect employees with opportunities to sharpen or build skills, organizations need a full picture of what skills they have and where gaps exist. 3) Learning content that matches growth goals “People need a broad range of learning opportunities and soft skills to achieve breakthroughs and growth,” says Heidi Spirgi, chief strategy and growth officer at Cornerstone. Providing personalized, self-directed learning content based on a skills profile and career development goals is essential for an employee growth journey rooted in building relevant, adaptable skills for the future. How tech powers the future of career mobility Typically, those three ingredients — skills, data and learning content — require your organization to have three separate solutions siloed off from one another. That put the legwork of mixing those ingredients into a personalized career journey on your already busy employees. Cornerstone Xplor does all that connecting (and more!) for you. As the new solution revolutionizing how organizations and their people learn, grow and evolve their skills, Cornerstone Xplor helps organizations identify the skills employees already have and need and connect those skills to tailored learning content and opportunities for career development. By offering employees realistic avenues for advancement and personalized development pathways to build necessary skills, Cornerstone Xplor can help provide the meaningful career development employees want and your organization needs. “We want to provide the best experience for our employees by making it simple and easy for them to gain the knowledge they need for the role they have and the roles they want at Fossil Group in the future,” says James Webb, VP, global people development, engagement, and communications at Fossil Group. “Cornerstone Xplor will create a real opportunity to enable easy and relevant learning, matched with personalized career mapping, that better aligns with how our people think about their own development and their long-term career aspirations at Fossil Group.” Organizational success hinges on career mobility and growth People want growth opportunities. If your organization isn't giving them what they need, they'll go somewhere else. And you'll be left trying to fill an open position without room for growth that no good candidates will want. But if you can build a connected technology experience that empowers people to achieve their personal advancement goals, you won't have that great candidate leaving in the first place. When organizations reimagine people and career development from straight lines to winding journeys, they can build an environment designed for collective growth and success where people want to work.

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