Virtual Roundtable: Leaders Talk Talent

6 September 2021

On first September we hosted a Leaders Talk Talent Roundtable with Talent Acquisition professionals from Moderna, FinancialForce, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group and MassTLC. We discussed the impact of the pandemic and what it’s brought for talent acquisition including how these employers had to adapt their talent strategy. We also shared some tips for post pandemic talent attraction, how to balance the pressure of filling roles with DEI goals and initiatives, how to scale successfully in 2022 and how to compete for in demand candidates.

Our speakers included:

April Eldred – Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Moderna

Kathy Erickson – Head of Global Talent Acquisition, FinancialForce

Shelley Jeffcoat – Director of Employer Brand, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group

Tom Hopcroft – President and CEO, Mass Technology Leadership Council

Jody Robie – SVP North America and Shareholder, Talent Works

You can gain access to the recording here. And, if you’re in a hurry, we’ve created a downloadable PDF with our top five key takeaways from the session.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Hi everybody. For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Jody Robie. I’m a shareholder with Talent Works and we are a global firm headquartered in the UK. I manage the North American side of business here out of Boston. But for those of you don’t know us, we’re actually focused on helping companies recruit the best talent. And we have teams with employer branding experience, digital marketing and outsourced and RPO recruiting. But most importantly for today in my role, I’ve had the pleasure of working and interacting with many folks and everyone on this top-notch panel today. And I really am excited to share their insights and have an interactive conversation. Certainly want to be able to answer some questions. We’ll have a couple of panels. And I think this group won’t be afraid to speak about what they’re struggling with every day.

As far as introductions, I’d like to start with April. So April Eldred leads global talent acquisition at Moderna. She’s been with the company since 2017. HR background spans about 20 years from life sciences, tech and consumer goods. And her area of expertise are primarily in the high-growth expansion, executive search, and employer branding, all which has kept her very busy at Moderna. And she has been instrumental in the impressive growth, hiring hundreds of new employees in the last 18 months. And she is actually just a few miles away from me here in Massachusetts. So thank you April.

Next we’re going to hop on over to Colorado, to Kathy Erickson, the head of global talent acquisition for FinancialForce. Kathy has been recruiting and leading teams virtually all from Colorado for over 20 years and working with the likes of names like VMware, Cloudera and Pure Storage. She’s very passionate about building and leading teams for high growth while driving engagement and performance. And Kathy, thank you so much for joining. I think both Kathy and April also are in the exciting world of also expansion into Europe. And we’ll talk a little bit about that because I think this anywhere work is going to fit into anywhere that we’re trying to hire the right people.

Next we have Shelley Jeffcoat who’s the director of employer brand for LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group. She is the owner of the group strategy and execution of the employer brand and EVP for the group and it’s eight corporate brands. And Shelley works really closely with multidisciplinary teams. So pretty much she’s in a meeting with everybody, I think. So human resources, marketing, communications, talent acquisition, talent development, and talent rewards, as well as the C-suite to really make sure that brand narrative stays consistent and working for the organizational transformation. And really with that focus on employer values, culture and leadership effectiveness. And Shelley is coming from Alpharetta, Georgia.

And last but not least, Tom. Tom Hopcroft is the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, the MassTLC. They’re the largest non-profit non-partisan technology association in New England. Passionate about the future of technology, talent and also social justice in Massachusetts, He’s previously served on the board of directors for the Technology Councils of North America. And that association represents over 22,000 companies across North America. And is also is on the advisory board for Tech Connection, which is a diversity recruitment platform that really connects innovative companies to talent.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

So first of all, thank you all very, very much for joining today. It’s going to be an exciting conversation. And before we jump in, I am going to have Tom give us a little bit of a high profile view of what he’s hearing from some of the New England companies around talent strategies and challenges. And I thought it would be helpful to just set the stage. We were talking before we went live that there was a season of webinars and that season is starting to come back. So, I think what we really want to do today is focus not so much on the past, but really talk about what’s happening now and moving forward.

It’s candidates market, and it’s not limited to the tech industry. So everybody on this call, as far as even looking at healthcare, mental health, restaurants, bus drivers, you name it, it’s really an unique situation that all industries are feeling this pain at the same time. And there just are not enough of the right people to fit the roles, job scripts that we have today. But there are things that we can do and we can work. And part of why I’ve asked many of the folks here today is because they’ve all found different ways to test and try and pilot. And I think that’s going to be a theme we’re going to hear through today.

We’re still working through the unknown of COVID-19 and the DELTA effect. And I think we all had plans of September things will get back to normal, back to school, and it’s not quite that way. And so all the plans and all the work that had been done over the summer suddenly has been put aside because we’re struggling with new challenges. Employees need to be vaccinated? Do we promote that? Do we not promote that?

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

I had a conversation with a company in Florida who has a 50, 60% remote workforce. And she said she was going to have mandatory getting a vaccine. And the reason why is 30% of her workforce is out right now. So it’s challenges that we’ve never seen before coming at the same time. I think the biggest challenge that I think somewhat snuck up for us was the attrition. We all had hold in place plans with the exception of, I think April, who I was talking to March and April of 2020. Those hold in place plans had a backlog of all the requisitions and roles that we’ve been working on in 2019, the beginning of 2020. And we had to put a hold. That hold got released right at the same time that employees had just had enough in some cases.

So this additional 25% attrition, even for best places to work, even for happy employed companies and happy employed employees really surprised us. So now you’re adding on top of the challenges that we already were expecting. And it’s not that people were really always looking, but it’s very difficult to be sitting in your living room and saying no to the offer of a lifetime where you don’t need to leave your living room. And I think this is something that we’re all aware of, but what we really are going to focus on today is how are we doing some things about it? And these organizations that we have today are really doing some innovative work. We’re going to touch upon DEI hiring. This is nothing new for anyone on this call, but certainly the emphasis and the attention at the C-suite and below is really adding into the equation of you can’t just do what you used to be doing for hiring.

So my last point is employer branding, also put on hold where folks said, “Well, I’m just going to wait and see, because we have this great EVP message, but we want to make sure it’s relevant.” And now it’s 18 months later and people still need to know, hey, why do I want to work for you today? So that agility, even if it is here’s the brand of today is really important. And I think as we hear from the panel and hopefully from you, we’ll come back with some good findings at the end of today. And Tom, if I can throw it over to you, I think it would be helpful to get your perspective of what you’re seeing for a couple of minutes, please.

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC:

Great. Well, thank you, Jody for having me and certainly for pulling together such a Rockstar panel to talk about such an important topic. As Jody said, I’m Tom Hopcroft. I run MassTLC and hopefully I can bring a perspective across the tech industry here in Massachusetts and New England which is probably representative of what is being seen in other tech hubs around the country. I regularly speak with many CEOs and we conduct a lot of research for our State of the Tech Economy, and other reports. So the good news here in Massachusetts is that talent is by far the number one reason that companies choose to locate here in the state. The bad news of course is that it’s also the… our inability to hire enough of it is the greatest constraint to growth that our executives report year after year.

As we look, the pandemic has put greater pressure on the talent demand side of the equation. One of the silver linings of the pandemic as I like to say, it’s the greatest technology adoption event of all times. My seven year old and 80 my plus year old grandparents are all online Zooming and learning things from my seven year old about how Zoom works and stuff that you couldn’t have imagined before this. When we look though at the companies, it’s accelerating a trend towards every company being a tech or tech enabled company.

In Massachusetts, we have about 350,000 jobs in the tech sector and about 150,000 of those are technical jobs and the other 200,000 are not. But when we look across all of the other sectors here in Massachusetts, there’s another 100,000 people who are being employed in technical occupation that are outside of the sector. So the pandemic is accelerating this demand for tech workers, both inside and outside of the sector. The pandemic has also demonstrated that tech workers can work and be productive working from anywhere. And so this is great. It means our tech companies can source and hire talent from outside the region. And we see lots of companies who are hiring people that they’re not in any way proximity to any of their offices. And so it opens up this whole pool of talent, but it also means that the local companies are now competing even more than ever globally for that top talent.

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC

So these supply and demand pressure, it’s visible in our labor markets. Our media and tech wage is about $97,700. It’s about 72% higher than the overall state median. And it puts Massachusetts at rank number three for tech wages after California and Washington. So it gives you a sense of how competitive it is right now. Interestingly, overall Massachusetts is also number three after New York and DC for professional services and financial and other kinds of jobs. It’s a time of change. We have the great resignation as Jody alluded to. We hear a lot of conflicting media reports. Even our political leaders, our secretary of housing and economic development here Mike Kennealy has expressed concerns about the impact that remote is going to have on our housing markets. But from where I sit, the fundamentals of our ecosystem are strong. We have a strong industry, strong schools. Talent remains a core constraints. But it’s an indicator of a strong economy.

And the entrepreneurs that we work with, they love times like this because change creates opportunity for innovation. I’m looking forward to hearing what our panelists are, where they’re experimenting, where they’re innovating. It should be really interesting. And I’ll just close by stating one of the obvious things about tech, which is that we’re not a very diverse sector. I know we’ll get into that a little bit later. But with the great resignation impacting a third to half of all tech workers, it strikes me there’s some opportunity here to refresh tech organizations with more diverse workforce. So I’ll be interested to hear what our panel has to say about that as well. But with that, I’ll hand it back over to you, Jody, and look forward to the discussion.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Yeah. I mean, thanks, Tom. And I think you’re getting lots of nods as we hear from the panel. I echo what you’ve talked about. And I think I’m going to actually put it to April first because being here in Massachusetts and obviously there was a time, not that long ago that people didn’t know who Moderna was. So I think I’m going to have April and then go to Kathy on this one. I think in reflection of what you’re hearing from Tom, what have you been seeing and what have you been doing? And let’s dig into some of the things that you’ve been doing to make an impact.

April Eldred, Moderna:

Sure. So first of all, it’s great to be here so thanks for the invite and it’s great to be part of this panel. It has been a really unique challenge at Moderna, as you can imagine. The past year and a half have been a time of extraordinary growth. I mean, we ended 2019 with 800 employees. We’ll end 2021 with 3000 and we’ll go from one country to 13 countries. We’re already in 13 countries. So the need for us to scale quickly in a pandemic has been a really unbelievable challenge for us. The biggest challenge being twofold. One, to echo what Tom was saying, the need for digital competency and digital skillset is really high at Moderna. We consider ourselves a tech company just as much as a biotech company. You can’t sequence and create a vaccine and get it to the government in 42 days, if you don’t have really great technology supporting that innovation.

So being able to not only uncover people who have innovative new digital skill sets, but then attract them into biotech outside of the tech sector is a really interesting proposition. So that’s been a real challenge for us. Let alone being able to articulate our culture virtually. And Moderna has a really palpable culture and it’s hard to translate that when you’re looking in a Zoom screen. So we’ve tried to do different campaigns and different work internally to make sure we’re articulating our culture in a way that differentiates us when we do have opportunities to speak with people via video. And there’s plenty of other challenges, but I would say those are the two that we really feel the most right now.

Jody Robie, Talent Works

Great. Yeah. Thanks. And Kathy, you’re at the earlier stages and maybe just a minute or two explaining FinancialForce, because I don’t know if everyone’s familiar with them and same question for you.

Kathy Erickson, FinancialForce

Yes, thank you, Jody. So FinancialForce, our name was given to us and suggested to us by Salesforce. So we are a SaaS company that works off of the CRM Salesforce. So we do the ERP and we have the number one PSA product to come off of that platform. The company has been around a while. However, we are in a brand new phase of that we are acting very much like a startup. So the board has given us the go-ahead to really go and accelerate. So we’re excited to be able to move forward. We are in the place of 750 employees and I don’t think 3000 is next year, thank goodness. But growing rapidly.

You were asking about some of the biggest challenges? So, I think ours is, I think you alluded to, number one nobody was expecting the attrition. There was large discussions at the beginning of the year as far as what should the TA capacity look like and what do we think the attrition will be? So that has proven to be difficult to get the net as far as the net hires up while you’re still doing so much of the work. So that’s really there and then really growing and really helping the managers to understand the new landscape. So we are in some smaller markets in the UK and in Spain. And so discussing it and having them get comfortable with what does the new flexibility look like?

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Great. And I think in a Shelley from your standpoint, you’re in a little bit of a different situation. So those of us who are a certain age remember LexisNexis well. And I think having had the pleasure of doing some of the brand work a few years back, I’m assuming the brand narrative has shifted a bit because suddenly it looks pretty good to be an established business surviving through. So talk to us a little bit about how you’ve been working with the TA folks on some of the messaging piece for challenges.

Shelley Jeffcoat, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group:

Absolutely. So thanks for having me, and I’m very proud to be among this panel. So I’m with LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group. As Jody alluded, a lot of folks get us confused. Here’s one of our situations. We are a member of the RELX family of brands. But Risk Solutions Group itself has eight brands that are part of our network. So that was problem number one. In 2020, we not only launched our employer brand, but we also renamed and had to relaunch again. A lot of the issues that we had was just trying to establish and communicate what our values and cultures are across all of our eight brands. Again, not just eight brands, but among that, we have multiple business segments and they carry a personality of their own.

So that was important to us because we need to make sure that our employees were fully aware of who we say we are. And at the end of the day, from a talent acquisition perspective trying to compete for talent, we needed to be able to communicate that to those candidates. So we did a lot of work and I’ll hit a little bit as we go a bit further into our conversation around branding. But a lot of the tools and resources and all the efforts that we’ve put externally and internally to really define who we are is at the foundation of everything that we’ve been able to do over the past year, and we’ve done it successfully. I’m really proud of all the work that our leaders have done here.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

That’s great. And Tom, just to come back to you. You’ve been in many, many conversations virtually with folks on your board, members that are just looking for answers. Is there anything else that you feel is a challenge that’s coming up that we haven’t talked about? And then I want to really get into some of the examples of what we’ve been able to do to be successful.

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC:

Obviously talent acquisition and culture and retention is a top area. Brand visibility for the organizations is closely linked to that. Of course, people have to understand who you are to want to come there. And I will say we bring together the CHROs and the CMOs and a bunch of other roles. And there isn’t a playbook for this. That’s a consistent theme, is people are experimenting, they’re trying things, they’re seeing what works. And there’s a lot of sharing and collaboration that goes on certainly within our peer groups, I’m sure across the world and the sector. So I think those are two of the big areas. And it’s not like here are the answers. It’s a journey and we’re figuring it out as we go.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

I think one of the questions that I get asked often is, what do you recommend for me to explain to the business what we need to do? April, maybe just to start with you. I think that I’ve had a chance to see how you’ve been able to influence the business and explain, but I think for the folks attending today, what are a couple of concrete ways that you’ve been able to explain, we’re just not going to post these jobs and fill. So how do you help position that? Because I think that that’s really important as TA leaders and business leaders is you need to come with the information and it’s not just saying my recruiters can’t fill the roles.

April Eldred, Moderna:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s been interesting. Our situation is a little bit different in that we’re growing the company so quickly. And so we know as a business that the traditional ways of recruiting just aren’t going to get us to where we need to go. We need to elevate in some way. So the way that my team and I have been able to do it really is around looking at the market and looking at talent data in the market and showing if we’re going to make a billion vaccines, we’re going to need this many manufacturing professionals, and guess what? We can’t build people. There’s only so many people in the world with that skillset.

So I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time just showing the external market data of where are the talent, what are the skillsets? Where do they live? Who’s our competition? What is our competition offering? And then how do we leverage that data to then create a plan to differentiate? So for instance, whether or not we’re giving sign-on bonuses for manufacturing and quality, whether or not we’re giving differentiated relocation packages for folks that we normally wouldn’t give before. And getting in front of that talent using the data, getting in front of that right talent set aggressively and in different multiple ways to get in contact has been extremely effective. But you got to bring the business along with you, you got to show them the data, you’ve got to show them the plan, and then you have to show them the results of the plan and how you’re pivoting if the results aren’t what you expected them to be.

Jody Robie, Talent Works

And I think that comes back to this digitization of the good old days of like, we’re just going to do a beautiful EVP and lovely website and call it a day or over. So you need to be able to measure, you need to be able to share the data. And even when we do digital campaigns, even if something is not successful right away, there’s data there. So if we can see, hey, we’re reaching the right types of folks, they’re landing on a page and they’re not progressing, that tells me, is there a perception issue? Is there, oh, by the way, yes. We laid off a hundred people in this city three years ago. Well, that’s still going on. People don’t want to come and how do we get that messaging across? Kathy, from your end, what are some of the things that you’ve been able… and I know you’ve been in the midst of this actually of being able to explain. So tell me a little bit about one or two things that you can give for advice.

Kathy Erickson, FinancialForce

Yes. I mean, I think as far as where we’re going, the advice that we’re really looking at is, again, we are telling them what we are hearing over and over again. We look at the declines. When you have the offer declines. You’ve gotten to that final end and you’re there and then we lose them. So that is something to look at, and really to take that messaging back as to why. Those I think are a lot of the learnings of where you take them and you have to listen and really be open to what is the answer? Was it something where the process was too long? So yes, we’ve had that. Was it that we weren’t competitive enough in either options or salary? What did that look like? So I think those are the biggest pieces is to really listen to the market. So yes, looking at the data, really trying to keep up to date with what I’m hearing with my peers and others around, but also then listening to what we continually hear is the feedback from the market.

Shelley Jeffcoat, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group:

Yeah. Full agreement. And then I think another area that showed up for us is how we’re looking at the talent pool internally. So a lot of the work traditionally is done externally trying to find candidates, but what is the plan? What is the strategy to look at our internal mobility or internal advancement. And that was also part of our retention strategy to be quite honest. If we know that the market is saturated with more jobs and talent, then let’s start looking at our internal talent to see how we can use that to our advantage. So that was something else. But before you could even do that, you had to be clear about, again, who you are as an employer. And using that as our corporate differentiator to help us actually retain the talent that we were potentially going to be losing to wonderful companies like we have on the panel today.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

I think the challenging thing especially for those of you who are on that HR LT, and there’s been so many major HR issues, that to me has been one of the biggest challenges is that the people strategy, I think now the reality is it’s affecting businesses. If you can’t get enough people to ship out a vaccine, if you can’t launch a new product, suddenly there’s a new understanding of that. But I think if you are just trying to focus on safety, or if you’re in an organization that has a lot of people in person, and you’ve had folks pre vaccine, or even not being vaccinated, it’s just overwhelming. And we’re putting a lot of pressure on our HR teams, our employees to just assume that they remember how good it is.

And so I do think Shelley, that’s an important point. And one of the things that I’ve been saying to organizations is don’t take for granted that your current employee base remembers and knows what’s going on. So balance without pushing them into something else. So it’s not mandatory training or let’s have fun with the virtual meeting. That’s seen its course. I think that the virtual holiday parties last year. But don’t take for granted that it’s not a good time to make sure your ambassadors are involved, that you’re sharing good information. One of the things that we’ve done as a business, Talent Works, and we did it, but we started doing it more formally once the shutdown happened was we do our Friday call. It’s the end of the day UK. Unfortunately it’s only 11 o’clock for us so everyone’s ready with their glass of wine. And those of us in the states get to nap the rest of Friday, but it’s a great way to just get a sense of what good is happening.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

So even if you’ve had a challenging rough week, and I do feel like that needs to get translated throughout the organization, even to those passive candidates, because those passive candidates are going to hear about it. I want to switch gears for a minute and talk a little bit about, we know there’s demand and supply issues. We know that there’s not enough people. But Tom, I’m going to take your point, which I think is absolutely true. When there’s not enough of the same types of people that we normally hire, there’s an opportunity to educate and also push and pursue those hiring managers to be a bit more flexible.

And certainly what’s happened in the last year plus about the exposure and really the DEI movement, I think has moved that to a next level. So I want to get some perspective. And Tom, I know you’ve had quite a bit of work with organizations to maybe share. And we get asked often to work on outsource recruiting and diversity hires. I get that question all the time and say do you do that? Can you do that? And I say, we have no problem doing that. The success is tied to you as the organization. So how are you managing your hiring managers to accept a candidate that’s a little bit different? How are you tying this in to even performance evaluations and bonuses? But I know that Tom you’ve been working on this quite a bit, so why don’t you kick us off with some of your thoughts there?

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC:

Yeah. Well, we certainly have a tale of two economies here in Massachusetts. I mean, tech is a largely white and male sector and it pays more than twice the state average. So there is a major disconnect and it’s at all levels of the pipeline. But I think going back to something Shelley said around brand. I think that it starts with what do you stand for as an organization? And are you walking that walk? Are you making the commitment from the boardroom and the C-suite all the way on down through the organization? We’ve definitely seen a C change in the last year in terms of, it’s always been a nice to have the CEOs and the chief diversity officers at CSR talking about the importance of a more diverse workforce. But when the rubber hits the road in HR, we have to fill a hundred roles yesterday and it’s a bit of a challenge.

We’ve seen about a hundred companies have signed on to a tech compact for social justice that we put together. And it’s not just about signing a pledge, but it’s really making commitments to really do things within your organizations. It requires a CEO or executive to buy in at the top and to sign on and so on and so forth. So there’s a whole bunch of stuff we’re involved in. We run a bootcamp for women, tech leaders of color and LGBTQ tech leaders to help bring more diversity into the tech board and work on the composition issues at that level. And the way you get in is that the executives nominate you in, your CEO or someone else. We’ve had over 200 people nominated into that program in the last couple of years.

So I’m starting to see companies taking it more seriously, but there are significant challenges that go all the way back to our investment in education and a lot of structural issues in the community. And I can talk about some of the organizations and stuff that didn’t work there as well, but I’ll pause here to say that I think the lights have been turned on, or someone actually gave me this analogy of the tide went out and the rocks that were there all along are now much more visible.

Shelley Jeffcoat, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group:

Yeah. Absolutely. So I usually start when I hear these types of questions and I say, are your DEI goals and initiatives achievable for talent acquisition? And what I mean is if your goal is to hire say 10% more diverse sales professional, there needs to be a clearly articulated DEI strategy to go along with that. So for hiring managers and TA, looking at expanding your recruiting channels to access diverse talent pools, or maybe it’s reviewing your interviewing practices or making sure that employees have some level of transparency to those roles so that they could help drive the employee referral program.

In our case, all of these actions are in place. So I love that Tom mentioned signing on to some of these corporate driven or business driven partnerships to support the DNI. But all of these actions for us, including a strong partnership with our DNI inclusion council and our employee resource group or what we’ve been doing to make sure that we’re working to achieve our goals and achieve those outcomes, making sure that we’re also clearly defining again, this is who we are and this is what it means to be successful here. And then going after maybe those niche talent pools to attract different candidates.

I think it just comes down to just looking at things in a different way than the way we probably have. For recruiters, and I’ll confess, I used to be a recruiter back in the day, and there’s not a time I don’t think that recruiters are looking at the talent pool and saying, “Well, I need to hire someone who looks like X and not working towards a quota, they’re working towards a talent.” So it’s just making sure that we’re really clear as an organization. Again, we’re articulating what that DEI strategy is, and then making sure that we’re arming our TA teams to be able to access those pools. So that’s just what I wanted to share.

April Eldred, Moderna:

Yeah, sure. So diversity, it’s been interesting. So there’s been a couple of things. One is, we’re in a remote work environment, candidates can’t come into the office building and walk down the hall and say, “I feel like I belong here.” I see people that represent me, whatever that might be. So we have to do more work to make sure our interview panels represent our workforce, our employment advertising and media represent our workforce. And that we take the time, which is the hardest part. We take the time to make sure we’re cultivating candidates’ slates that represent the workforce we are and the workforce that we want to be. So from a recruiting perspective, those are some of the real challenges that we face.

I think where Moderna has done a really amazing job is that diversity is not just core to hiring and core to our employees. It’s core to how we actually operate as a business. So diversity in clinical trials, diversity in supplier base, diversity in outsourced partners. That commitment has to be the red thread that goes through everything we do. So it would be disingenuous of us to say, “Oh my gosh, we celebrate belonging, inclusion and diversity,” if we didn’t do that at every touchpoint within the company. So I say that because I feel pretty strongly that it’s not just about hiring diverse talent, it’s about having a diverse ecosystem that supports diversity across all parts of the business.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Yeah. I agree. And Kathy, I’m thinking back to some of your previous employers, like VMware and some of the conversations years ago. So I know you’ve been on both sides of the fence as far as trying to move the business along. Anything else you think is important to add?

Kathy Erickson, Financial Force:

Yeah. And I think it’s just echoing, April, what she said about trying to go forward with this. And I think that the big thing that we’re looking at also is when you do have those measuring the diverse panels, measuring do we have a diverse candidate slate? And if we don’t, I want to know why. I want to know the justification, because then you can get to the bottom of that. Is it the speed with which we work? So you can really start to say why. And so you can go attack that root problem. Is it a bias? I think that is the great thing about FinancialForce. I can get on the calls with the hiring manager, the recruiter can alert me and say, “Look, I think there’s a bias here. And let’s go talk about it.” And have it be open to say, “Where is that? Are you saying this because they answered a certain way? And well, let’s talk about that.”

And I think that’s the big thing and really making the recruiters talent advisors so that they can really go back to when they’re working with the hiring managers to say, “Something feels funny here. So why are you basing this decision just to say no?” And I think those are the pieces is to really get in is to take that recruiter and to make sure they’re not just being an order-taker and saying, yes and no, but really listening to that and then going back to them and pushing back in a way that’s being heard.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Agreed. Yeah. No, that’s great. So we’re starting to get a couple of questions here. But before we get into the questions, one thing I want to make sure we get to is we’re in this last 15, 20 minutes is, what’s one thing you can share that’s working? And if it’s something that you’ve been able to do that seems to be effective. Maybe you tried it out. April, I’m going to actually pick on you a bit on this one, because you just did a virtual open house in the middle of the summer, which we had air quotes around it. So I think that would be helpful because I think people are just afraid. And nothing’s free. So there’s some investment. So maybe you can talk about a couple of the things that have been working during this period.

April Eldred, Moderna:

Yeah, sure. So the virtual event, the air quotes has been a great success. So just to set the stage, we have more roles than there are people to fill them. We have employees in our manufacturing and quality organizations that are feverishly working to solve for the pandemic. So the workload is high. The hours are long right now. People are just committed to the mission of solving for the pandemic. So when you have hiring managers that need to hire dozens, if not hundreds of people who have no bandwidth for interviewing, how do you solve for that problem? And so we partnered with a vendor for a very small cost, relatively speaking, to procure an online digital virtual event platform.

And this allowed us to take what would have been maybe a round robin interviewing event onsite, normally, and put it all online digital with a keynote speaker, with branding and virtual interview rooms. And so it allowed us very efficiently to push through, we just did this a couple of weeks ago, over 80 interviews in one day, and then push those, not only assess those candidates, we also do a pre hire or pre-interview artificial intelligence based assessment. So we had that data. We put them through the digital virtual event and then the hiring decisions are made that night post event. But the candidates get to learn about us. They get to hear people speak as part of the event, and it just looks very polished and pulled together. But at the end of the day, it allowed us to push through a massive volume that we never would’ve been able to do either in-person or just through trying to set up a series of WebEx or Zoom interviews which are clunky and technology gets in the way. This was one seamless platform for the entire evening.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Yeah. Great. And Tom, I’m going to go to you. What are you hearing that folks have had some success with or you can even say for yourself, but running an association that lifeblood was in-person events. How have you managed because I think that’s very equitable about what we’re trying to do that gets the right people connected?

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC:

Yeah. April, I thought that your experience was really interesting. And it mirrors very much what we’ve done with our career fairs. We’ve moved to an online virtual platform where people come together, our members can take people into their breakout rooms and have the conversations and so on and so forth. So that’s been something we’ve been able to do with our members to help in that area. We’re also inside the association world thing, I guess, but moving from our members posting job listings on our site to be able to just scrape all the job listings directly so that it just removes that friction in the middle there. I think the pivot from the in-person world, there was so much that we did that was from this giant festival with thousands of people and companies exhibiting their culture and things to all the other… we’re all about access and exposure and bringing people together. And so I think platforms like that are really interesting and they’ve worked so far for us.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

We have a couple of questions and this one just came in from Terry, which is an interesting one. Are internal candidates looking to make an internal move, more competitive and desirable than external candidates? Are you finding that companies value their talent more now since the current market or the current employee is viewed as expendable? And I think that’s an interesting perception. So Kathy, why don’t you take that one?

Kathy Erickson, FinancialForce:

Yeah. So I would say that we do not view them as expendable. Not at all. We are really looking at internal moves all over the place. So Jody, when you and I have been working together and talking and looking at, where do we want to go? We were first looking at what are the positions that we want to fill internally? And then what does that then left to say, “Yes, we can go and fill these externally.” So that’s a big piece.

The other piece is really beginning to look at really trying to get the word out for the internal market. And if they don’t get the job we have to then go to the candidate and I think this is one of the big learnings and just say, “You are valued. And I commit to you that here’s what I’m going to do.” And I think there’s a lot of trainings we’re doing a lot of. All hiring manager trainings they have to go through, it’s called the Lead program and they have to have all these different trainings and we’re mandating it by the end of the year until we get through, so we can have these conversations, so we can have the difficult conversations or the fun conversations, really of what those pieces are.

So if we are, because we’re going into this, we want to have an event. Whether it’s an RPO, whether it’s an exit event, that’s where we’re driving to, and we need somebody who’s been there and done that. And we don’t have that internally. We need to make sure that those conversations with those people internally are happening because no, people are not expendable.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

I think one of the things that has come up and we have a question on it too is, it seems like it is a culture of acceptance when it comes to outsourcing. And I’ll come back to, when we think back to 10, 15 years ago companies started to outsource benefits and organizations were horrified. That’s the most important thing. How could you possibly have a stranger come and do your benefits for your employees? I mean, I don’t know anyone who does it themselves.

So I think when we talk about the supply and demand of the hours in the day and the fact that there might be blips of hiring right now that people don’t want to be in a situation when they have to lay off recruiters again. It’s also really hard to find recruiters right now, or even with branding initiatives and marketing teams like Shelley, there’s only so much you can do internally. I think that’s the question I get asked often is, how do you say I need some help without worrying about the fact that someone’s going to think you can’t do your job? And are you seeing that culture of getting additional help is here?

Shelley Jeffcoat, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group:

Yeah. So getting additional help, I mean, that’s a battle because for me, it’s always about the quality of help that you’re getting anyway. It’s not just about the numbers. But I want to hit on something and I saw someone dropped this question in the room, going back to employer brand and going back to internal hiring. So the way we’ve done employer brand at our company is, it has to be our EVP is involved in every single part of the employee experience. What does that mean? It means that all of our teams, so total rewards, how we recognize and reward employees, our values are tied to that, performance management our values are tied to that.

So, Kathy raised a point also about hiring managers, and for us within DNI, being inclusive is part of our values. Well, we hold managers accountable for that. And that bleeds into the interview process. All of those things, the way that we launched our EVP is more comprehensive. There’s a lot of companies that are just throwing wonderful, beautiful content out. That looks great but that’s just not going to get you what you need to. The brand is just the look and feel. The EVP and the values, that’s the foundation of your organization.

So it’s not as simple. And as I say this, I realize we’re sharing our experiences having gone through the pain of making this happen successfully. So over 2020, we hired over 1300 people. Year to date in 2021, we’ve hired over 1500 people. So there is talent available. It’s just, you have to be targeted and focused and honest and authentic in the way that you’re either attracting or you’re telling your stories. And again, it still goes back to if you want to find good people, referring still works and making sure that your employees are comfortable with the story you’re telling. We’ve provided health and wellness training and manager training, and we’re involved in future and all of those things. So you got to be able to arm your people to also tell that story.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

Yeah. And I think what I would say, the word that comes to mind is just having agility and flexibility from everything that you’ve all said, whether it’s being able to go in and say, “Look, this was plan A, here’s plan B, plan C. We still have a lot of hiring. We weren’t expecting this leader to resign and now we’ve got to add that.” So the plans need to change and we need to be fluid and move with that. I think all of you on this call have been brave enough to say, “Look, we don’t know. It’s a different world right now. We really don’t know.” Will people want to do a virtual open house in July? I don’t know. Will an organization that’s not used to RPO be comfortable in RPO in a different country? We got to try it because we have no other option.

And I think the ability to just see in the moment, because we’re all focused on it is a good thing. It’s a good thing for talent acquisition because it can’t be a line item that gets dropped off the board meetings because it’s pivotal to success right now. It’s not real estate right now, it is people and it is people strategy. And I think it’s such a great conversation. I do want to give everyone a chance to just take a minute or two of final thoughts if there’s something that didn’t come up naturally in the questions. So Tom, why don’t we start with you?

Tom Hopcroft, Mass TLC:

Sure. So I was thinking about what Shelley was saying about the brand and really having the culture throughout the organization. And within tech in particular, there are a lot of structural barriers to having a more diverse workforce. The investment community is one of the few communities that’s less diverse than the tech community. A lot of investors are sources of talent. If you’d go to your workers, there are a lot of white guys, and I know a lot of white guys and so on and so forth. So your intentionality and really building that from the top down throughout the whole organization, I think is critical or else, if you don’t really do that, then you’re just going to get more of the same people because you’re structurally tilted in that direction. So be intentional and go find the talent.

Shelley Jeffcoat, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group:

I was going to say, as TA leaders, I think it’s important that if you’re not involved, you should be involved in conversations around future of work. And I don’t mean return to the office. I mean, actual future of work. This is really important because if you’re going to build out the workforce for the next 10 years, you have to be at the seat at that table today to help provide some of the input. But there’s a lot of work that we’re doing. We call it the three Cs; connection, collaborate and culture. And all of those are helping to drive some of the way we’re building our people strategies to support our future of work. So really encouraging you guys to consider that if you haven’t, making sure that you have this conversation with your HR managers and also your business team leaders.

April Eldred, Moderna:

I guess the advice I would give to the folks listening in today and thanks for listening. Challenge your way of thinking. The way I thought about my talent acquisition strategy at Moderna is 180 degrees different than it is now. And I am pulling on levers that I never thought I would pull on. I never thought I’d be using multiple RPOs as a company, just wasn’t core to our philosophy, but we are. And I didn’t think I was going to be creating landing pages on the fly and doing campaigns within two weeks. I didn’t think I was going to need to do that, but we are. I didn’t think we would be getting really creative around non-employee resourcing. And how do we think about leveraging gig workers and leveraging the fact that we’re all remote for a period of time to solve for some of our needs, because we are more a face-to-face culture, but we are.

So, I would just say challenge your frame of thinking. I think this is a whole new world for talent acquisition. Post pandemic, the level of credibility that we have or the opportunity to have the level of credibility is massive. And the amount of data and insights that we have available to us post pandemic is a massive opportunity. So I think this is just the beginning of a new way of thinking about talent, acquisition strategies, and maybe challenging the status quo of it.

Kathy Erickson, FinancialForce:

That was really good, April. As we’re going through these strategies to really then empower our recruiters, empower them to know that they can have these conversations, that they can open up these pieces so that it goes down, if they’re working on the day-to-day with the candidates and really be intentional about that candidate experience because they want something. I think that the candidates are really speaking loudly as far as what they want. And I think when we talk about this challenge and what we’re doing is to begin to listen to them and we need to respond to what that looks like.

Jody Robie, Talent Works:

First of all, thank you all very much. And I think this was a really good discussion. We will be pulling together some follow up notes and thoughts, and we will send that out to participants. But I just want to close and say, look with challenges comes opportunity. And I think April summed that up nicely. There’s never been more attention on the dark arts of recruiting. So it’s a really exciting time. I spent the beginning of my career in television and moved over to HR and people were like, “Oh, why are you doing that?” Now it’s fascinating.

I’m at the hockey field, how’s the recruiting? You must be busy. So the average person that’s never cared about it, cares about it. So you do have an opportunity to find those passionate leaders and those passionate workers that are going to help you build out that plan Shelley, for the next five to 10 years. And I know how busy all of you are. So I cannot thank you enough for joining us today and really, really appreciate your thoughts and insights. And if anyone has other questions and we didn’t get to them, please feel free on LinkedIn or just through the email. And I’m sure the panellists agree as well. But have a great rest of the day. And for those of you dealing with back to school and other excitement this time of year, good luck with that. They’re leaving soon. So thanks very much. Bye-bye.

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