By Barbara Frankel
Human-resources experts often say that an employee’s first 90 days will determine whether he or she stays at the company—and whether he or she is successful. On-boarding, which means making an employee familiar and comfortable with the corporate culture, in recent years has emerged as crucial to that success.
How important is diversity to on-boarding? Three DiversityInc Top 50 companies with strong recruitment numbers say it’s crucial. KPMG (No. 21), BASF (No. 26) and TD Bank (No. 45) tell us how they factor diversity and inclusion into on-boarding for all employees, how they use employee resource groups to help, and how they assess success.
BASF: D&I For All New Hires
All three companies—and almost all of the DiversityInc Top 50—include a diversity-and-inclusion emphasis as part of their overall on boarding for every new hire.
Bernadette Palumbo, Director, Talent Acquisition, University Relations and Workforce Planning at BASF, explains that the company has a standard one-day on-boarding for every new hire, regardless of position or which site he or she is at. “The vision here is that all of our employees should have the same experience on their first day,” she says.
All new employees also are given an on-boarding buddy, who helps that person get the lay of the land, including “silly” questions like “Who will I eat lunch with?” or “How do I get my computer to work?” While race and ethnicity isn’t specifically factored into the buddy system, employee-resource groups are included and often supply buddies.
The resource groups are also part of the “Welcome to BASF program,” with Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Rossman and Talent Acquisition and Diversity Leader Tammy Nunn-Haynie conducting sessions on the importance of diversity and inclusion and BASF’s values. These sessions are held at the company’s Florham Park, N.J., headquarters and are open to all employees, with their business unit footing the travel costs for those who can attend from remote sites. They include information on the value of employee resource groups and encourage new hires to sign up.
“It’s a good way to personally engage people and to explain that anyone can join a resource group. We had an employee say, ‘I didn’t know I was eligible for the Hispanic group because I thought you had to be Hispanic,’” Rossman says.
BASF also holds an evening reception for new hires, with leaders of the employee resource groups present as well. “It also benefits the ERG leaders as they get more visibility and broaden their impact,” Rossman says.
KPMG: Emphasis on Employee Resource Groups
At KPMG, the formal one-and-a-half-day on-boarding program for all new hires includes diversity and inclusion being positioned as key to the firm’s culture, says Tori Farmer, National Director, Office of Diversity.
A one-hour, web-based training emphasizes inclusion and is required to be completed by all new employees within their first 60 days.
Employee resource groups are also involved in on-boarding, with new employees receiving a message from Kathy Hannan, National Managing Partner, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility, inviting them to join the groups. In addition, employee-resource-group leaders present at local events promoting the benefits of membership and at the annual new–hire/promotions celebration the firm holds, emphasizing “diverse individuals who have recently been promoted.”
TD Bank: Traditions That Work
TD Bank offers new hires a one-day training called Traditions, a facilitator-led experience to show employees the culture and values, including the diversity-and-inclusion strategy.
“Our employees are the secret salt,” says Chris Ainsworth, Senior Vice President, Head of Talent and Organizational Development. Ainsworth only joined TD Bank last December, so he knows the new-hire experience first-hand. “The culture is exactly as it’s been represented during the interview process,” he says.
“We are revamping Traditions right now to make it even more extraordinary and we know it is really important to see how diversity plays out here in your early days.”
All new employees also go through a one-hour, web-based diversity-awareness training and new people managers have a half day of in-person, facilitator-led training.
Linda Verba, Executive Vice President, Retail Operations & Service Strategies and Chair of the Diversity Leadership Team, notes that the people-manager training, about six months old, offers lesson plans and learning modules. “Any company is only as good as its worst communicator,” she says, adding that it’s important that new hires and new managers understand the priority of diversity and inclusion to business goals.
TD doesn’t single out people from underrepresented groups during on-boarding. “It’s sometimes difficult to get new employees, particularly people with disabilities, LGBT people or people who are multiracial, to actually self-identify. There is a greater risk of alienating people,” Verba says. She notes that a pin telling LGBT employees they can be “safe” to come out during LGBT Pride Month has been introduced at TD Bank.
Assessing On-Boarding Success
Of course, engagement and retention are the ultimate barometers, but so are employee-resource-group membership, employee productivity and promotion rates of people from underrepresented groups.
At BASF, at the end of a new hire’s first 30 days, staff members have a conversation to see how it is going. After 90 days, new hires take a survey on on-boarding and how reflective it was of company values. One-on-one reviews also are held, and at 18 months another review, including performance and career management, occurs.
KPMG also has a new-hire survey asking if the employee has joined a resource group or is interested in joining one. If there’s interest, the survey goes to the National Diversity Office and then is routed to the local chapters.
“New hires say they have found the networking to be most influential in helping them successfully acclimate to the firm,” Farmer says.