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Crowdsourcing Change

By Cat Kennedy, Senior Director of Organizational Development, The HEINEKEN Company

Cat Kennedy, Senior Director of Organizational Development, The HEINEKEN Company

We are a family owned company, globally we’re 80K+ passionate people strong & serve Heineken® in 192 countries around the globe, as well as- we are the world’s most international brewer! Here in the USA, we are an importer of the premium brands that you enjoy (responsibly); Heineken®, Dos Equis, Tecate and many more. 

We’re a purpose driven & values orientated company with our employee’s engagement at the center of all that we do.  Part of our people priorities in 2018, was to harness the motivation from our employees to move our Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) agenda forwards. We thought long & hard about how we might go about it and landed on a change approach which was built from the ground up.

"We were able to develop a change plan which drove not only an innovative strategy & direction but reinforced that we’d listened & acted on what our employee’s shared with us "

Start where you are

We started with understanding the basics. Our current state. Wrapping our heads around the data points we had at hand and began to look for gaps & insights that might help us shape our I&D approach. From there, we performed some benchmarking - we talked with organizations who were within our network already, where there was no conflict in sharing information.  We found everyone keen & proud to share the work they were doing in this space - it gave us a good barometer of what was achievable & where to aim.  Finally, we wanted to conduct a diagnostic with our employees - we wanted to begin the conversation with them to understand how they thought & felt about I&D and where they felt it was important that we focused first. 

Use what you have

We absolutely considered surveys & focus groups. They felt a little closed, subjective & a bit “samey”.  We wanted to hear our employees’ voices so, we embarked on having a fully transparent conversation with everybody in the organization using a tool called WAGGL.  There were two main reasons for this, one; our employees could be a part of the solution & two; it created an expectation that we would act on their input.  If you’re going to ask the question, you better do something with the response…

WAGGL is a next generation engagement tool that enables organizations to listen – and crowdsource input around the most important issues in the business. Wait!  What?  HR is crowdsourcing change…? YES we are!  This was an innovative & courageous approach for us to take - different, social, open & fully transparent – and yes, a little unknown (read: risky for some).

It’s a tool that enables us to take a pulse & ask our people a question (or a set of questions) and for everyone to see each other’s responses – in real-time.  People are then asked to vote on each other’s responses, and determine for themselves which ones resonate the most.  It’s fully transparent, intuitive & feels very authentic to people.  It’s also hyper accessible, pushed out via text message, accessible on a mobile device, desktop and via our internal social media channels.

Within the first 24hrs, we had over a third of the organization engaged in the conversation - after a few days we had clear trends on where our employees wanted us to focus programming first, which became the core pillars of our I&D Strategy and the starting point for our change plan. The three strategic pillars were;

•  People – understanding the make-up of our organization and bringing the I&D agenda to all types of diversity
•  Community – building internal & external communities to learn from each other
•  Culture – consciously creating an inclusive place to work. 

It created momentum that we could capitalize on. We were able to quickly form a coalition of passionate people who wanted to be a part of building something.  We utilized that group to make sense of the WAGGL responses - resulting in a change plan & a strategy.

Do what you can

Being able to have an authentic & transparent conversation with our people also drove an increased interest/demand in continuing to work this way.  One of the milestones in our Community pillar was the creation of an Inclusion & Diversity Council, a body of representative employee’s to communicate the agenda (because I&D’s not just a HR thing).  In a step to avoid having the usual suspects, we also ran a blind self-nomination process to identify our council members.  Based on the merit of responding to two simple questions, about what you’d bring to the table & why this agenda is so important to you, we were able to identify 8 members to form our council – their pseudonyms were announced on WorkPlace (Facebook @ work), which is how we ultimately identified our panel of people. The response from our employee’s was superb – this felt open to everyone, on a level playing field, different, social & real time.

Be brave

We were able to develop a change plan which drove not only an innovative strategy & direction but reinforced that we’d listened & acted on what our employee’s shared with us. This was about so much more than what we did or why we did it.  It was about how we did it - the momentum & buy in we harnessed within the organization was the key to driving a seismic shift in the conversation.

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