Day 2 of Collective Create, the conference for bold HR and benefits leaders, was filled with engaging speakers, collaboration opportunities, and some great surprises. From Jonathan Van Ness’s experiences advocating for LGBTQ rights to Sally Welborn’s experiences managing benefits at Walmart, there were tons of opportunities to learn, collaborate, and grow. Even if you couldn’t make it today, we took notes to fill you in on some of the highlights.
- Diversity and inclusion need to be more than just initiatives.
Diversity and inclusion were front and center on day 2 of Collective Create. First up was a panel with Kaye Foster, Netflix’s Johnny Martinez, and Uber’s Brittany Cowing, where they discussed the importance of having both diversity and inclusion efforts at your organization. “Diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being invited to dance,” Johnny explained.
Our keynote speaker Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” later reiterated that point, saying that while it feels like people are talking about diversity and inclusion more than ever, it’s always been important—and we need to make sure we’re doing things for the right reasons. It’s about building a culture of diversity and inclusion, Brittany pointed out, and not just launching an initiative because you feel like you should. For something to truly be effective, Jonathan said, you need to make sure you and your people are doing the right thing behind closed doors and not just when people are watching.
- It’s important to build a culture of care.
Much like with inclusion efforts, when it comes to some of today’s most pressing workforce health concerns—behavioral health, in particular—it all comes back to the culture you’ve fostered. Both Live Nation’s Suzanne Usaj and Red Bull’s Andrea Lessard discussed how they’ve made a conscious effort to connect employees with wellness programs through volunteer-based ambassador programs. “Ultimately, everyone wants to connect,” Suzanne explained, “and you need to create the opportunity to do that.”
Beyond connection, Suzanne and Andrea discussed the importance of encouraging self care. At Live Nation, that means preparing employees for intense projects by offering suggestions but ultimately empowering them to make their own choices. At Red Bull, that means making behavioral health a normal part of office culture—but also giving employees the privacy they need.
- Embrace the unfamiliar if you want to make big change.
Several of our speakers shared the message that, if you want to have a material impact on your workforce’s health and benefits, you’re going to have to embrace the unfamiliar. “Do something you feel a bit of a quiver in your stomach about doing,” our keynote speaker Sally Welborn, former SVP of Global Benefits at Walmart, said, “Take a risk.”
Kaye shared that she’s encouraging employers to look at new frontiers when it comes to finding talent: previously-incarcerated individuals and veterans have many skills to offer employers, even when there may be other investments you need to make to enable new populations to be part of your workforce. And for Andrea, she experimented with new ways to get employees engaged with their benefits, trying social media marketing. It felt a little strange at first, she acknowledged, but it ultimately led to higher engagement with behavioral health and addiction management programs.
- We’re all going to make mistakes. Learn from them.
Sally has undoubtedly had a tremendously positive impact through the benefits she’s championed for employees—but she’s the first to admit that she has also made mistakes. As an early advocate of consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), she feels partially responsible for the current proliferation of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) that have had negative impacts on care access. It’s that experience, though, that has led to Sally’s determination to be a voice for change in healthcare.
Beyond that, it’s critical for us to share our successes and failures with our colleagues, Sally said. If you’re testing new benefits, share the results with your fellow HR and benefits professionals—even if things don’t go according to plan. When everyone starts to share learnings, we can all learn together—and, ultimately, create a better healthcare system for everyone.
Thanks to everyone who joined us at Collective Create. Sign up for news and updates to make sure you get information on next year’s Collective Create as soon as it’s available.