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Reshaping Talent - Expert Conversations

COVID-19 Insights September 25, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many of us performed our jobs. Meanwhile, events surrounding racial injustice put a spotlight on how businesses prioritized having a diverse and inclusive workforce. There was no playbook on how to manage these events of 2020, but companies still need to hire and retain talent. So what will recruitment and retention look like in this new environment? 

On our latest episode of The Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations, host Eric Boles spoke with three experts about how reshaping talent. Our panelists for the discussion were: 

  • Jaclyn Jensen, Associate Professor and Director, MS in Human Resources Program, DePaul University

  • Shannon Costigan, Head of Leadership, BMO

  • Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan, Managing Director, North American Commercial Professional Development, BMO

  • Eric Boles, CEO and Founder, The Game Changers, Inc, Expert Conversations Host


Following is a summary of their discussion. 

Biggest Challenges Prior to 2020

There’s no question that 2020 has forced changes in how companies recruit and retain top talent. But organizations faced several challenges prior to this year. As Schlott-Rouzan noted, there was "a talent war before COVID.” Retention was a big issue, one that manifested itself in several ways. 

“Not only did we see potentially women in midcareer still leaving the workforce and how we should manage that, and I think that tied to some of the things that we were doing in terms of thinking about how we were managing talent overall,” Schlott-Rouzan said. “We have multiple generations [in the workforce], and having a purpose in your work was really important. So from a retention standpoint, we really needed to focus on that piece of it. .” 

Noting that organizations were recruiting in a tight labor market prior to 2020, Jensen said organizations had to be thoughtful and intentional about communicating their company brand. “The job seekers really had their pick at that time, and I think that this continues to be really critical, especially as job seekers are still looking to find opportunities where their values ultimately align with the organization’s values as well,” she said. 

Equality and Inclusion 

The increased focus on racial justice has brought the issues of inclusion and representation to the fore in corporate America. How should leaders communicate? A commitment to an inclusive environment and how can they start to live that commitment? For Costigan, it should start at the very top. 

"I can't emphasize enough how leadership matters in this area,” she said. “Our employees want to know what our commitment is and how we're going to live up to that commitment with actions. And this really starts at the top.” 

Noting BMO’s recent announcement of its five-year plan to meet diversity and representation goals, Costigan pointed out the program started with the CEO publicly communicating how the organization planned to address inequality. From there, she said, it has to trickle down through all levels of the organization.  

"These are tough conversations,” Costigan said. “We need to be open to education and we need to be open to hearing things that we may not have been aware of.” 

Jensen adds that this requires a willingness for people to question their own beliefs, values and biases that may be preventing them from making decisions that are aligned with an organization that values and prioritizes equity.  

“I think it's important for people to take a hard look in the mirror and appreciate things that have existed in your background that have given you different privileges than your colleagues, and how that ultimately impacts the way that you interact with others, and your willingness to have those courageous conversations in a really open way,” she said. “I think until individuals are willing to do that, any efforts around training, or even hard looks at systemic barriers, are not going to come to their full potential. Because it really does require everyone to say, What's in it for me? What do I need to do to make sure that how I treat others is really at the top of mind when it comes to fairness and inclusion and thinking about how we need to collaborate with others in order to be really effective? Our ability to do that rests wholly on our willingness to be open to having these kinds of conversations.” 

Focus on Soft Skills  

Given all the challenges relating to working remotely and fostering a more inclusive environment, organizations are putting more emphasis on soft skills—for both employees and managers. As Schlott-Rouzan pointed out, when people leave a job, it’s because of their managers about 90% of the time, not the employer.  

“So we were really focused on at the top of the house and how they were managing their folks on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “We were promoting people into manager roles, but not necessarily giving them the tools and the things that they needed to effectively manage their teams. In terms of the real skills— and I think this applies to both the leadership level all the way to our frontline employees—looking at things like communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork. Those are the high social skills that are not going to be replaced by AI that we're going to need going forward no matter what our future work might look like.” 

In the context of the pandemic, those types of soft skills among managers became crucial as face-to-face contact disappeared. To use a sports metaphor, you take care of the players by taking care of the coach. 

"So much of leadership is about caring for your people, and people didn't know how to do that in a virtual way,” Costigan said. “So if you can't pop by someone's desk or take someone out for coffee in the way that you used to, how do you be empathetic? How do you show your employees that you value them not only for the work that they do, but for the person that they are? So we really had to go back to some of those fundamentals and ensure that not only were we teaching people about how to use the technology, but how do you also go back to the fundamentals of checking in with your employees, asking how their day was?” 

Evaluating Talent in the Future 

While it’s difficult to predict what hard skills will be required for the jobs of the future, it’s clear that given changes to both the workplace and the workforce, evaluating talent will also evolve. That starts with how hiring managers look at resumes.  

"Oftentimes in the recruiting process, if you notice an employment gap on someone's resume, it raises questions about their level of competence and fit,” Jensen said. "I think that that has the deep potential to overlook candidates who have found themselves perhaps laid off or furloughed, as we're seeing right now happen in the marketplace. It overlooks qualified candidates like working parents that have taken time off from work to care for and support their family.  

“And it also supposes that there is one path to success, and that is a linear path where you show progressively consistent experiences of increasing responsibility,” Jensen continued. “I think we can all look for examples within our organizations where we can see incredibly talented employees that haven't followed that path. So thinking about that in the context of providing access and opportunity to a wider group of individuals, part of it starts with rethinking how we evaluate candidate experience.” 

For Schlott-Rouzan, it’s a matter of knowing which skills can be taught if an individual possesses other skills that an organization needs. “If we’re looking at finance and accounting majors, those technical skills that they already have walking in, but those are very teachable,” she said. “But those other skills— communication, critical thinking, problem-solving—are not, so how can we expand our review process and our screening process and look for those skills that frankly are harder to teach in the classroom.” 

While Costigan noted that what the workforce of the future will look like will evolve over time, she listed three qualities that employers will need to adopt moving forward.  

“We're going have to be more human,” she said. “Two, we need to be more flexible, whether that's a global workforce, whether it's having adaptability in a virtual environment for people who are working in an office or a branch. And the third element is it really needs to be purpose-driven. The pandemic has caused people to pause and reflect on what's and most important to them in their personal lives. I would assure you that many people have also done the same thing for their employment. So as we look at talent moving forward, how do we help them get purpose-filled jobs?” 


Listen to full playback of this discussion.

Subscribe to BMO COVID-19 Insights for a podcast of select reports, conference calls and insights.


About Expert Conversations

In this series we unpack how 2020 has changed the way we live and work forever. We’ll compare pre-2020, what we’ve learned throughout 2020 and where these leaders think 2021 will take us. We’ll reflect on seven broad topics, to help you prepare for and successfully establish a future-ready organization.


Catch up on episodes you missed or join us for our future episodes: 

The Rise of Virtual Learning July 29, 2020

Keeping a Pulse on Your People  August 14, 2020

Workplace Transformation  August 26, 2020

How the Democratic Process Will Change September 9, 2020

Reshaping Talent September 23, 2020

How Everyday Life Has Changed October 7, 2020

How 2020 Will Shape a Generation October 21, 2020


TRANSCRIPT

Eric Boles: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations. I'm your host, Eric Boles. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the impact on how businesses manage talent was felt almost immediately. Some companies were forced to make job cuts, others furlough employees, and workers who didn't need to be in a physical location to do their job, work remotely full-time. Meanwhile, events surrounding racial injustice put a spotlight on how businesses prioritize having a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Eric Boles: There was no playbook on how to manage these events of 2020, but my guests today has spent years setting talent strategies, creating training programs, and researching best practices for reshaping talent. Jaclyn Jensen is an Associate Professor at DePaul University and is Director of the Human Resources Masters Program. Shannon Costigan is the Head of Leadership at BMO, and Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan is the Managing Director of North American Commercial Professional Development at BMO.

Eric Boles: Thank you all for joining me today. We're going to jump right into it and I'm going to begin with a question that allows us to look at hindsight. This first question is going to be for all three of you. And question number one is this, prior to 2020, what was the biggest challenge businesses were facing when it came to talent? And Shannon, I'm going to begin that with you.

Shannon Costigan: Great, thanks so much, Eric. Prior to 2020, the financial services industry, as well as many other industries, we're facing an evolving workforce. An evolving workforce and the never-ending changes from technology that were evolving our clients and employees expectations. And so where that meant we were focused was on a few areas. One being mindful of our maturing and aging workforce and the retirement quarter that was upon us, making sure that we had the right amount of talent and top talent to fill those roles. Also being aware of the gig economy. So many experts these days do not want full time jobs. They want to share their expertise in a way that works for them and their lifestyle.

Shannon Costigan: And so what that meant for us here at BMO was that we were focused on up-skilling and re-skilling. The world economic forum told us that 54% of employees would up-skill by 2025. I'm sure with the pandemic, those numbers have gone up. And so what we were able to do at BMO was focus on building platforms that would help us rescale Up-skill all of our employees. Whether it was through our BMOU, our university that allowed people to do training anywhere at any time, and also creating specialized programs that had skillsets for the future, whether that be digital analytics, FinTech. Capabilities that we saw were out in the future.

Eric Boles: Thank you so much for that, Shannon. Jennifer, how about yourself?

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: Building off of Shannon's comments, and certainly we're being ... benefited from a lot of the programming that Shannon talked about in terms of upscaling and rescaling, bringing it more to the line of business. Attracting talent to the business was a challenge because if the worked before COVID, and then when you were bringing people in the retention piece, I think was still something that was really important for us to manage. Not only did we see potentially women in mid-career still leaving the workforce and how we should manage that. And I think that tied to some of the things that we were doing in terms of thinking about how we were managing talent overall.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: And I still think there was some threat and it was getting a little stale in terms of a topic, but the millennials, what does it mean to have the millennials in the workforce? But we did have multiple generations. And having meaningful work and having a purpose in your work was really important. So from a retention standpoint, we really needed to focus on that piece of it. So tying it, I guess, to the brand and our brand, what did we stand for? What's the value proposition of working at BMO? So I think those were the things I think that were pre COVID, top of mind from a recruiting and retention standpoint.

Eric Boles: Thanks for that, Jennifer. Jaclyn, how about you?

Jaclyn Jensen: Thanks Eric. And if I could just build on the points that Shannon and Jennifer have raised, and re-emphasize this idea that prior to 2020, we were talking about recruiting talent in a tight labor market. It was really a buyer's market. And so organizations had to be really thoughtful and really intentional about communicating their employer brand because the job seekers really had their pick at that time. And I think that this continues to be really critical, especially as job seekers are still looking to find opportunities where their values ultimately aligned with [inaudible 00:05:20] values as well.

Eric Boles: No, even from my experience, oriented on the outside looking in, whether it's executive coaching or doing training from an outsider's perspective, even during my time playing football, it was constantly emphasized that there's one ability, which is to recognize talent. There's another ability, which is how to develop that talent. And so I think that leads into this next question I have. And Jennifer, I'm going to direct this one specifically to you. And that question is, when you were your employees, what were some of the skills that required the most attention? So that's part one. And part two of that same question is, how did this differ from executives and frontline employees?

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: I don't know if I'm going to answer your question part one or part two, but I think I'm going to answer your question. First and foremost, we knew that ... and I think this is unknown to a lot of people, but that 95% percent of the time when people leave a job, it's because of their managers, not because of their employer. So we were really focused on, at the top of the house, at the top of the totem pole, the managers and how they were managing their folks on a day-to-day basis. We have great leadership programming. We were promoting people into manager roles that were great promotions, but not necessarily giving them the tools and the things that they needed to effectively manage their teams. So that was, I think, a critical piece of what we were doing.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: And I think back to Shannon's point about upscaling. Coaching on performance, how do they do that? Something Eric, that you're very familiar with. Have feedback and coaching, even how to create inclusive environment. These things were not necessarily things that people had naturally. So we were really looking at that as a place where we needed to spend more time and effort. But in terms of the real skills. And I think this applies to both the leadership level, all the way to our frontline employees. Looking at things like communication, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork. Those are the skills that whether we are ... There's high social skills, they're high value skills, they're not going to be replaced by AI or anything that's machine oriented, that we're going to need going forward no matter what our future of work might look like.

Eric Boles: I love when you go into the Jennifer, and I'm going to also ask if Jaclyn or Shannon want to add anything to that because what's called soft skills is really hard to do. And so in very practical ways, in the ways you just got through describing, Jennifer, I'd love to hear what Jaclyn or Shannon in reference to that, what some of the focus of that training was on. Just get your thoughts as well. So Jaclyn, if you don't mind chiming in, and we can close it with Shannon.

Jaclyn Jensen: Sure. I think that this is so critical. And I see this both in a university setting, but in practice as well. You can have the most technically capable employees, but if they lack the ability to communicate effectively, persuade others, think critically, and make those points of view to people who don't possess that same technical expertise, that's a big issue. And so I couldn't agree more with the point raised about the criticality of these soft skills and how they are for employees to really think about for their competitiveness in the marketplace.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Jaclyn. How about you, Shannon?

Shannon Costigan: When I think about the training that we launched, so much of it was about reminding people of the core skills of leadership. And so much of leadership is about caring for your people. And people didn't know how to do that in a virtual way. So if you can't pop by someone's desk or take someone out for a coffee in the way that you used to, how do you be empathetic? How do you show your employees that you value them? Not only for the work that they do, but for the person that they are.

Shannon Costigan: And so we really had to dial back and go back to some of those fundamentals and ensure that not only were we teaching people about how to use the technology, how to connect on MS Teams, but how do you also go back to the fundamentals of checking in with your employees, asking how their day was? We're now in people's homes. And so the connectivity between who people are as employees and who they are as people, they're together. And so there's no choice other than to treat people as full human beings. And so just getting back to the basics of treating people as humans was really where we focused.

Eric Boles: I really like not only the points you all are making, but it transitions to this next question. But before we leave at Jennifer, there was something you said that I'm going to coin this phrase. I will give you credit the first time. But after that, it will be completely my own. Where you talk about how well ... The way to protect talent is to actually enhance their managers and their management skills. You take care of the player by taking care of the coach. I just, I love that, the simplicity of that, but there's a lot to that. And so I really appreciate that.

Eric Boles: This next question I have is in relationship to where we're at right now. So as the pandemic hit, and many employees had to work from home, what kind of additional training was needed? And Shannon, I'm going to come back to you because I believe you were answering some of that just a little bit ago. If you don't mind continue on that, that'd be great.

Shannon Costigan: Yeah, Eric, the first thing is, is I really want to thank all the leaders out there for what they did to set people up during the pandemic. It really took leaders leaning in and helping set their employees up for success. We completely shifted the way we interact and partner as an organization here at BMO. We went from 5,000 employees working remotely to 30,000, and that involved three [inaudible 00:11:51] components of training.

Shannon Costigan: The first was connectivity and collaboration. So setting people up on Teams, making sure that people understood the technology and had the capabilities to operate effectively. The second was really caring for your employees and identifying that as a bucket of work, making sure that our employees health was looked after as well as their mental health. And so partnering with organizations like the Center for Addiction and Mental Health here in Canada, and making sure that we were able to help people understand how you deal with the stress and anxiety that the pandemic caused. And then the third was really our leadership fundamental. [inaudible 00:12:34] to what do leaders need now? They needed information on how do you communicate, how do you deal with change, how do you help people deliver in a more outcomes based way, rather than a process based way? And we were fortunate at BMO that we had already invested in a mobile platform. So we were allowed to roll out bite-size learning pieces on those three buckets and get them into our leader's hands and our employee's hands really quickly.

Eric Boles: Wow. Thanks, Shannon, for that. Wow. Jennifer, if you don't mind continuing on that as well.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: Sure, sure. I mean, I think the first reaction was really triage. Like, "Oh, jeez, what did we just get ourselves into here? We all now are sitting at home, trying to navigate how to get through the day." A zoom call back then it was an anomaly. And now I've got five a day. And so getting really comfortable being on camera was interesting. But really it was, I mean, to Shannon's point, at first it was just making sure everyone could connect. Whether it was with our clients, whether it was with each other, was in fact rolling out a very large PPP program. Over 5 billion in loans to 20,000 customers. You couldn't do that without navigating the technology. So I think there was a lot of triage upfront.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: And even triage on wellness, because people were anxious. And normally you have that ability to walk by someone's desk and just talk about what you might be feeling anxious about. You didn't have that. So we actually created platforms for people to connect. So it wasn't really training, but it was more about pulling people together, whether it was to vent or share best practices. There were a lot of resources. We had a response hub at BMO that had all of these resources that people could draw from. It was driving managers to those resources so they could use them with their people. And the empathy had to be there because people were going through a lot of challenging times. I think then you had to balance empathy with business continuity.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: So even today, I think we're managing, what is the business continuity look like whilst still keeping all of those things in mind? So, we've had to shift to our training. Our priorities haven't changed, they just may be some of them originally that we had a top of the list, have moved down. But virtual selling, virtual meetings, change management, a little bit more short bites because people can't sit in a classroom on a virtual environment all day long. So I think that fatigue we're managing.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: But it is business as usual, and we're trying to flip most of our courses to a virtual platform for a longer term. And in fact, using this as an opportunity, because frankly, with our geographic spread, we never really did anything virtually from a classroom standpoint, at least in my world. I think in some cases at an enterprise level, there might have been because people didn't like it, frankly, as much. So a lot of our in-person classrooms have now shifted to a virtual classroom and frankly, that's the opportunity in this. We know it might reduce travel costs and there might be some efficiencies to be gained by what we're experiencing now from a business continuity standpoint.

Eric Boles: Yeah. And Jennifer, I love that too because obviously my world's changed being a person who did everything live or in person. But what we've been able to discover through the process is all the greater opportunities. There's a level of engagement. Even the collapsing, the distance between senior leadership and more on the junior side. And I say that for one particular client I have who's in the financial services industry as well. There were VP and above level meetings that many of those who were directors weren't really exposed to, and they've now changed it and was like, "If we can add more people, not only saving on costs, but a real alignment of information."

Eric Boles: Now people are a lot more up on because they're in on it. And so it was just neat how they have taken a situation that, in some cases, it's somewhat challenging, and found new opportunities where the communication can be even clearer. I just love all the stuff you guys have been ahead of the curve in terms of doing.

Eric Boles: That transitions us to a question, and Jaclyn, I'm going to begin this question with you, and that question is, how do you onboard new employees, whether established workers, new graduates, or interns in a virtual setting to set them up for success?

Jaclyn Jensen: Eric, that's a great question. And it gives the opportunity to thread together some of the points that have been raised already, which really speak to people's desire to connect with their colleagues. And especially in a virtual environment. As Jennifer and Shannon have raised, there's not the casual pop by someone's office anymore to grab a coffee or to check in casually about things. And I think that that is so important in virtual work. And the research on the effectiveness of virtual teams is really clear on this point that, yes, we're in a heads down, get stuff done environment, but don't let that get in the way of using the opportunity in a virtual team to build in the space, to really give the team members the opportunity to know one another, and really work on building some of those genuine connections.

Jaclyn Jensen: Those are critical for people being able to feel like they can trust each other and know the strengths of their teammates, but also have open conversations about what your goals are about being a member of that team and what you really want to get out of this experience. And so I think that that's really essential, especially when we're in virtual work. And then just basic things like, "Let's talk about our availability and when I'm reachable and when I'm not, and how I prefer to communicate." Those simple things, the team basically getting to set their own rules of operation. That expectation setting and communication is so critical because it allows people to share what they expect, but also what others can expect of them.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Jaclyn. Jennifer, do you have maybe some [inaudible 00:18:48] examples you all have done there at BMO?

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: Well, we've been onboarding virtually all summer because we had all our interns come in. Well, come in virtually. But we actually had in about a week had 29 plus employees coming into the bank. And these are individuals that's their first job. So it's never more important. There's a little history that we're building for these young, new employees. So, certainly to Jaclyn's point, there's making them feel welcome. So the first and foremost is we try to do some sort of welcome package, just so they feel that the BMO brand, so they feel part of an organization. We really are careful about managing tech hiccups, because if you don't have your computer and your tech set up now, it's basically your lifeline has gone to your job.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: Where before they could still walk in the office and see people, now you better get that computer set up quickly. So we're really trying to be better about that. And to Jaclyn's point, replacing those impromptu engagements that would happen. We're really trying to be planful about making sure people are coming in virtually to conversations with people that maybe they normally would have met. So really creating a little bit more scheduling around that.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: And another thing we've been doing with our interns and will be doing with our new associates coming in, is giving them buddies. Somebody that when you normally could just ask someone really quickly, like you had a desk a couple of places over, where do I go to get, or who do I call for? We are assigning buddies so that there's someone they feel really comfortable with that they can engage with to make sure that they have a resource to navigate our organization quickly and early.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: So those are some of the thing, tactical things, we're doing to make sure that our people feel like a warm hug when they still come in, as opposed to this cold computer that they're staring at.

Eric Boles: I got you, I got you.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: We're [inaudible 00:20:53] distance hugs, right?

Eric Boles: Hey, we're kind of closing in time, so I'm going to ask this question of ... this question here, and I'm going to ask Shannon and Jaclyn to answer it, and I know we can go longer on the answer, but I'm going to ask you to keep this really concise. But here's the question. As racial inequality and civil unrest has come to the forefront, how should leaders communicate a commitment to an inclusive environment? And how can they start to live that commitment? So, Shannon, I want to begin with you,

Shannon Costigan: Eric, as the head of leadership, I can't emphasize enough how the leadership matters [inaudible 00:21:33]. Our employees want to know what our commitment is and how we're going to live up to that commitment with actions. And this really starts at the top. So from BMO, creating an inclusive environment is part of our DNA. We have just actually launched a brand new commitment to zero barriers to inclusion in 2025. And that's about reducing systematic barriers to access growth and advancement, as well as making sure that we create a culture of belonging.

Shannon Costigan: But when we talk about starting at the top, this really had to start with our CEO. So our CEO was very public in committing what our organization was going to do to make sure that we had a racial equity in our [inaudible 00:22:28] and in our workforce. And then all of our leaders have also leaned in. We've been engaging in listening sessions with our employees. And I want to emphasize to everyone, these are tough conversations. We need to be open to education, and we need to be open to hearing things that we may not have been aware of.

Shannon Costigan: And lastly, we need to have an action plan. And so as some examples, as part of our action plan at BMO, we've committed to refreshing our development programs for the company. And so we're launching in Canada, a new indigenous program. And for the whole company, we are launching a new racial equity program that we've created in conjunction with our Black Professionals Network. We've also made sure that as part of our strategy that we have [inaudible 00:23:23] workforce representation goals, that we've talked about, how we're going to eliminate racial injustice and support our communities.

Shannon Costigan: And so one of the ways we've been able to do that is through making [inaudible 00:23:37] actively working on these issues. So in Chicago, we've donated $10 million to the mayor's economic development plan with United Ways Neighborhood Network. And in Canada, we've donated $10 million to the United Way in greater Toronto. This is about taking actions that stand in alignment with our values, and our leaders need to do that, our employees are looking for it, and I would encourage everyone who's in a leadership position to make sure that you're clear with your employees what your commitments are and what your actions are.

Eric Boles: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jaclyn, would you like to add to that?

Jaclyn Jensen: Yeah. Shannon, I'm so glad to hear you talk about the importance of leadership and taking value driven action. I can't agree with you more strongly. I think this also requires a willingness for people to look within and sometimes take a hard look in the mirror about their own beliefs and values and perhaps stereotypes and biases that they may hold that prevent them from making decisions that are aligned with an organization that values and prioritizes equity. And I think it's important for people to take a hard look in the mirror and appreciate things that have existed in your background that have given you different privileges than your colleagues and how that ultimately impacts the way that you interact with others and your willingness to have those courageous conversations in a really open way.

Jaclyn Jensen: And I think until individuals are willing to do that, any efforts around training or even hard looks at systemic barriers are not going to come to their full potential because it really does require everyone to say, "What's in it for me? What do I need to do to make sure that how I treat others is really at the top of mind when it comes to fairness and inclusion?" And thinking about how we need to collaborate with others in order to be really effective, our ability to do that rests wholly on our willingness to be open to having these kinds of conversations.

Eric Boles: Got you. Guys, thank you for both of you sharing that. There's one little ... What I always prefer to encourage leaders with is that diversity inclusion also can lead to such an incredible competitive advantage in terms of just ... It's not just because it's a nice thing to do. We multiply our intelligence when it comes together. Our awareness, what we're capable of doing. So it's almost a performance improvement initiative, not just something to do because there's outside pressure. So I love both of your answers. Thank you so much for that.

Eric Boles: I am going to jump us ahead, and the question I'm going to ask, this is the first one, because it's a little different. I asked you to give me quick answers for this, but how does the way, especially in this new reality we're living in, does the way managers look at resumes need to change? And so Jaclyn that first question's for you, and then I'm going to go to Jennifer.

Jaclyn Jensen: Sure. That's a great question because I think it requires us to rethink the way that we have historically looked at talent. And for example, oftentimes in the recruiting process, if you notice an employment gap on someone's resume, it raises questions about their level of competence and fit. And I think that that has the deep potential to overlook the candidates who have found themselves perhaps laid off or furloughed, as we're seeing right now happen in the marketplace. It overlooks qualified candidates like working parents that have taken time off from work to care for and support their family. And it also supposes that there is one path to success, and that is a linear path where you show progressively consistent experiences of increasing responsibility. And I think we can all look to examples within our organizations where we can see incredibly talented employees that haven't followed that path. And so I think thinking about that in the context of providing access and opportunity to a wider group of individuals, part of it starts with rethinking how we evaluate candidate experience.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Jaclyn. And Jennifer.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: I would say we're thinking more about the skills you can teach versus the skills you need. I think to Jaclyn's point, we were very narrow, I think a much narrower box, than we needed to, particularly for our intake programs that I manage. So it's looking a little differently at... We were looking at, let's say, finance and accounting majors. Those technical skills that they already have walking in. But well, those are very teachable, but those other skills, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, are not. So how can we expand our review process and our screening process to look for those skills that, frankly, are harder to teach in the classroom.

Jennifer Schlott-Rouzan: And the other thing we found is that by having such a narrow box, we were really not recruiting for the diverse workforce we were looking for. Using finance and accounting majors as an example, there weren't a high proportion of students that were Black looking at finance and accounting as their major. So just thinking about it all a little bit differently, we were very narrow on GPA and potentially schools they went to, because of that's where we recruited. So being a little bit more open to talent spotting in different and unique ways, and being a little bit more open-minded, and then looking at, again, those skills that we think we could teach versus what we think is a requirement walking in.

Eric Boles: And Jennifer, that answer leads right into the closing question I have for you guys, which is, what is your future view on how we look at talent in 2020 and beyond? I think this transitions well into that question. So Shannon, I'm going to begin that question with you.

Shannon Costigan: Great, thanks, Eric. I think this is an answer that will evolve with time. I don't think we have all of the information yet on what our workforce will look like in the future, but I can tell you three things. We're going to have to be more human as we work in one [inaudible 00:30:06]. And two, we need to be more flexible, whether that's a global workforce, whether it's having adaptability in a virtual environment, or for people who are working in an office, or a branch, or a location, what that looks like for them. And the third element, I would say, is it really needs to be purpose driven. And this is where at BMO, we're so proud of our purpose, and the pandemic has caused people to pause and reflect on what's been most important to them in their personal lives. I would assume and assure you that many people have also done the same thing for their employment. So as we look at talent moving forward, how do we help them get purpose filled jobs and really at BMO, that's about making a real difference in people's lives.

Eric Boles: Thank you, thank you. And Jaclyn, I end this with you if you don't mind answering that question as well.

Jaclyn Jensen: Yeah. I am going to echo what Shannon said about the critical necessity of flexibility and adaptability, and the past six months have shown us the tremendous value of doing just that, because it signals that we are supportive of the people that we rely on most to do their best work under continually changing circumstances. And I think that that ultimately is enhanced with leaders who, as Shannon and Jennifer have said, are really doing so from the perspective of empathy, leading from the heart and not just the pocket book.

Eric Boles: Yeah. Yeah. One of the things in closing, when we talk about the qualities that you're looking for talent, and you all mentioned flexibility and adaptation, not only in the individual talent, but even organizationally. It's the same approach you all are taking where you're very clear about what you want to do, why you want to do it, so your purpose is solid. But you are all being extremely flexible on the method you're using because that is changing every day. And so they always say those companies who continuously learn, continue to figure out ways to keep earning, right. You're a learner, you're earners. So I want to thank every single one of you for your contribution. Thank you, Jaclyn, thank you, Shannon, thank you, Jennifer, so much for your expertise. I want to remind the audience that was with us, too don't forget to join us on October 7th at 12 o'clock Eastern, 11 o'clock central, that's AM, for our next conversation where we will discuss how our everyday lives have changed in 2020. Thank you all so much for joining us today.

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PART 1

Keeping a Pulse on Your People – Expert Conversations

July 29, 2020

Every level of an organization is working in a different environment than before, whether working remotely or on the frontlines, to ensure you&rs...


PART 2

The Rise of Virtual Learning – Expert Conversations

August 14, 2020

  For years, schools and businesses have been migrating to more eLearning. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, schools closed and businesses c...


PART 3

Workplace Transformation - Expert Conversations

August 31, 2020

  The workplaces that many people had to leave in March 2020 will probably never look the same as they did in February. Organizations of al...


PART 4

How the Democratic Process Will Change - Expert Conversations

September 11, 2020

One thing is clear: this election season is like nothing we’ve ever seen. We’ve already had virtual presidential nominating conventio...


PART 6

How Everyday Life Has Changed - Expert Conversations

October 13, 2020

  The pandemic has altered just about every aspect of our lives: how we interact with people, how we work, how we shop and how we...


PART 7

How 2020 Will Shape a Generation - Expert Conversations

October 28, 2020

  As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, we witnessed the rapid adoption of technologies, some old and some new, but many of which were desig...