Maribeth: At Bright Horizons, we have approximately 32,000 global employees. And we've been changing the way that employees and families work for over 30 years. More than 1,300 top employers trust us for proven solutions that support employees, advance careers, and maximize performance.
And what we offer to our clients, we offer to our employees, as well — such as on-site child care that amplifies our culture, back-up care to help handle disruptions and child care gaps, like we've seen over the past 10 months, and education programs that build critical skills that we're going to talk a little bit more about today. We do believe that our service offerings help our employees achieve more, and particularly for women employees and leaders.
Today, I'm thrilled to be here with two Joshes, Josh Bersin, and Josh Bronstein. Josh Bronstein is one of our clients from Bank of America, and Michelle is another client of ours from ViacomCBS. Collectively, we're looking forward to talking with you today about ways in which we can reskill and retain our changing workforce.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the employee-employer relationship, leading businesses to have to rethink how they support and develop their employees. When COVID first hit, innovation soared. Organizations were divided between those who had the skilled, knowledgeable workforces and could react — and those who didn't. The example that I keep thinking about is just a year ago, if somebody had said, "TV newscasters and weather people are going to work from home," we all would have gone, "Hmm, how are they going to do that?" Guess what? They started working from home. They innovated and quickly adapted to be able to provide services very differently.
The divide between leaders and laggards is unmistakable and growing. And this shift has forced several realizations. First, that our people are our decisive competitive advantage, that they can only power our organizations if we support and empower them. And that employees need a wider range of supports than ever before.
This leads us to some important questions that we're going to talk about today:
- As HR leaders, how can we create resilient organizations and employees able to adapt quickly to a radically changing business environment and future challenges?
- And what are the varied aspects of resilience? And how do we address them?
- We're also going to look at what new practices we need to implement. Which employees need to be fully engaged in their work and, at the same time, reskill for changing workforce needs? And what role can increasing access to education for employees play in this?
Josh, what are the one or two biggest changes you've seen over the last 12 months? And how are businesses and your organization, specifically, responding to these?
Josh Bersin: There have been a lot of changes this year — the pandemic, working from home, transforming your business, going to market in a new way, addressing customer needs in a very, very different way.
But the biggest thing, to me, that I've learned, and I've connected with HR people pretty much the whole year, is how quickly human beings do respond and how resilient people really are when they're given the right tools. Who would have guessed that we would be running our companies so effectively from home so quickly?
But on the other hand, the HR and human issues have become bigger than ever. Resilience is all about well-being, and rest, and productivity, and focus, and having a sense of purpose, and having what we call human-centered leadership. And what I hear over and over again from the HR people that I talk to is, "All right, we got Zoom hooked up, we have our people online, we're having meetings, we're having..." But people are tired, they're not sure what to do with their time, their kids are under stress, they need education at home.
I mean, those sort of human issues have come up, you know, stronger than ever this year. And I think leaders and HR people have become even more empathetic and even more focused on the people side of the business, which has obviously been wonderful for us in the HR profession. So that would be the one thing that I would just remind everybody of this year, is that it is more about sort of culture and people issues than ever before.
Maribeth: Thank you, Josh, and truly agree with that. Michelle, can you share with us your thoughts?
Michelle: Sure. On top of the pandemic, we had a merger that we were going through. So the change was really, really big for us this year. Probably the biggest was going almost fully remote, and as you said to have, news broadcasts out of people's home for a time, and weather people, and the technology side of it.
But we sawthe most challenge supporting employees as they tried to navigate it all in their households. We see a lot of things coming up with the families, they were schooling young children at home, their college kids were coming home, they were working from home. And we did have a lot of programs in place to support them. Andall of our vendors just stepped up to be able to help. But the flexibility that we saw when you're in everybody's homes, from managers, of course, HR was just so compassionate and made it work. And who would have thought, a year later, now we're fully remote.
Another area, though, that came to light that was a little bit harder to support were the employees who were either living alone or caring for someone, people dealing with serious illness at that time, where they couldn't be in-person with those that they loved and were caring for. And that was a challenge, trying to find ways to help them. And we did - we called out to partners all over the place and came together to help them. But those are really the human issues that came up.
Maribeth: Thank you, Michelle. And, Josh Bronstein.
Josh Bronstein: Thank you for having me on the panel. It is a very, very similar story here at Bank of America. Supporting our teammates — first, from a health, and safety, and wellness perspective. We brought more than 185,000 teammates — right off the bat — back to their homes to work from home. Similar to your point, Josh, we saw people doing work at home that we didn't think before we ever would, whether that's trading, or contact centers, etc. And so absolutely agree with that.
The other challenge, or the bigger challenge, is sustaining the culture of agility, right? Everybody kind of jumped up right away to be agile right off the bat. But this has been a lot longer than anyone initially anticipated, or most at least initially anticipated. And later on for us, our role in the Paycheck Protection Program and supporting small businesses, particularly in the United States. Just a tremendous amount of resources to support all of that work.
We've redeployed nearly 30,000 teammates over the past year alone, which has required quite a bit of rescaling, of course, to be agile and meet the needs of our customers in a much faster way than we ever would have anticipated. The team has done just a tremendous job in doing so. But it's been a long year, and sustaining that culture of agility while supporting teammates' wellness, including emotional wellness, has been an ongoing focus of ours and certainly part of the portfolio of challenges that the team has risen to support over the past year.
Maribeth: We want to allow employees the space to focus fully on their work and to learn new skills at the same time. We've seen how skillsets and being able to reskill our workforce have been so important over the past months and happened so quickly. It's already a lot to ask. We have employees, as you all have said, who are stressed and working very hard, now talking to them about reskilling. Outside of providing early access to education, what other supports do we need to provide to employees to help them achieve all of this? And how are you thinking about this? How are you thinking more broadly about the support for your employees?
Michelle: The key is that employees know they're available, and then they can actually use them. A lot of that comes up for us with the time. Time is everybody's issue. So we put in some policies to help with that this year. In August, we put in the six weeks' paid caregiver leave. Although, we don't expect utilization to be too high on it, as soon as that policy was communicated, we got feedback, they just have the peace of mind, "If I ever need it, it's there." And certainly, this year was a year that people needed it more than they have in the past. So the six weeks' paid leave was really special.
We also put in programs helping to support families. So things like virtual learning, parenting support programs. We ran some fun programs where we had day camp...virtual day camps for kids and got just, you know, such great feedback for those. So although you had to be in the home with your kid, of course, having them do something online that was engaging and fun for them, offered by the company, was really, really helpful.
And we're also making sure that everybody is aware of all the benefits and programs we have. Because a lot of those special benefits that we've done over the years that people may have used one-off and didn't know as much about became so important this year, especially around emotional health and well-being, and those in children's emotional health.
My team does monthly benefits and resources webinars. And they're one of the most attended events for our employees. It's our team, it started out informal, we used our own Zoom account. And the first one we did, we didn't realize we didn't have the license big enough for everybody to join. Now they've become really great, where we take 45 minutes to an hour to review benefits of programs and policies broken down in 10-minute segments. We go over quick hits, like, "Oh, don't forget, you have this for this." And we're seeing the utilization of our programs go up. And we're just getting great feedback from employees.
One employee said, "I'm so glad I made the time to attend this webinar with you because I learned about all the benefits that are going to give me time back." And it was like a great return on investment where the investment is your time. Those have been great for employees. We've kept them going, and we'll keep them going way after COVID.
Josh Bronstein: Similarly, we launched something called the Academy for Families, where we turned some of our learning resources and partnership with Degreed externally to our families, where we gave accounts to children of our teammates to be able to log in and access some of those resources. We've had thousands of people take advantage of that. As well as from a child care perspective, you know, we've supported our teammates very flexibly in partnership with Bright Horizons and done tremendous investment there. And emotional wellness in partnership with Thrive.
All of that is a really important foundation before we even talk about skill-building. Because over the past year, people, first and foremost, needed to be safe and have the opportunity to, you know, have some of the other very important issues taken care of so that they could focus on their work. And then their work was changing very quickly, right? And so, you know, as we think about skilling and reskilling, what we've learned over the past year is really the importance of the foundational skills that cut across.
It's very easy to look at large organizations like ours by line of business or product offering. We've long been on a journey to think more horizontally about the foundational skills that will enable our teammates to move through their careers and move through the company. The past year has absolutely accelerated that focus on a skills-based versus line-of-business-based approach to learning and career development to facilitate that pull-through.
Skills like credit, sales, customer service, management, doubling down on our manager training. We had more than 91% of our managers in the past take manager training, it's long been a part of our culture. But now we’re really focusing on the critical skills that managers need right now to support our teammates and deliver some of the great benefits and promise of our company and that employee value proposition to our teammates. The big shift here is accelerating the horizontal approach to skills-based learning and career development that the past year has absolutely enabled us to do.Reskilling is not a new problem. But, as Josh said, there's this idea that's really important to think about, of a T-shaped career, where you have deep skills in some area, whatever domain you work in, then you have adjacent skills across the top in other areas. And these — what I call power skills, or behavioral skills, or management skills, or leadership skills — really came out strong this year.
Because the technical skills are relatively easy to get. You can sort of go online and get somebody to help you with them. But learning how to work in teams, learning how to lead people, learning how to listen, learning how to give people flexibility to be clear, to prioritize, have really been important this year. Those are the things that have made organizations succeed.
The interesting thing on that topic, when you look at the demand for different types of skills by age, is that young people are even more hungry for the management and behavioral and soft skills than they are for the technical skills. A lot of young people grew up in high school writing code and using tools. So that stuff comes easy to them, but they don't know how to work in a team, or manage a team, or deal with conflict. This has been a big year of soft skills and power skills in just about every company I've talked to.
Maribeth: AWhat steps can businesses take to help employees understand what skills will be important for their career development? And what options do we provide?
Josh Bersin: There's a massive industry of tools and information to help you do this. But what Bank of America does, is build what I call the “capability academy approach.” There are these business capabilities that are critical to each company, and they're not the same at every company. You have to agree and really talk about what those are. Then once you know what these sort of big areas of capability are, then there's all sorts of tools, like Degreed and other tools, that will essentially find and crowdsource content around those capabilities.
The word “academy,” which is the way Bank of America thinks about it, is actually a good idea. Because an academy is not a library of courses, it is a place you go to learn, that has content, and people, and mentors, and projects, and assignments, and assessments, and third-party people. And so that's what I would encourage people to do, is not just to go buying a bunch of courses and throwing them out there, and saying, "All right, you guys, here's a bunch of stuff, go take what you need." That doesn't necessarily solve the problem.
Maribeth: And I can share one example from Bright Horizons. We realized that there was a need for people to be educated in the early education field.since the amount of individuals coming out of that field was limiting. And so we started the Horizons Teacher Degree Program through our Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions, we provide free education and take all the concerns out of it. We pay for the books, we pay for the admin fees, everything. That's a game-changer for our employees.
Josh Bersin: It's a good point. One more thing I'll just add, it isn't the same in every company. You go to Dow Chemical, and it's all about safety. You go to Semex, and it's all about the supply chain. I mean, not every company needs the same critical skills. And so this is where you get to add a lot of value as an HR professional in deciding where to focus.
Michelle: The talent acquisition team on our side has been hard at work on that. I would say, the merger really brought us an opportunity to re-evaluate all of our programs. Flexibility was the theme that we came out with, in terms of supporting education and career development. Those are really some of the programs that we put in. We wound up expanding Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions, expanding the dollar amounts that we covered, but in addition to dollar amounts, it was also adding different certificates and specialty learning. So it wasn't just degree-focused, where our previous program was very much focused on degrees. We put a lot of flexibility into that program and have had a lot of good feedback so far on it. And I'd say flexibility all around came out of the pandemic and last year with working from home. Whether that's leadership manager styles, everything, a little more flexible and being a little more open with our programs.
Maribeth: That's great. And look, it's all about retaining. What are we doing to retain our employees? I think a lot of us look at this work from home, or living at work, or whatever we're doing right now. That also, if we're not providing the supports our employees need, they will easily leave. And the landscape has just changed. We just hired our head of talent acquisition — I've never met her, she lives in Ohio. The whole talent landscape is changing in that regard.I think the more we can provide educational opportunities, reskilling opportunities, to our employees, the better chance of retention we have. Any further comments on this?
Josh Bronstein: I would just mention, you referenced the new hire question. And I think this is a really important cultural one right now because there's just such an incumbent advantage for those who know each other. When companies have been hiring and have been growing over the past couple of months, especially, and as we look at kind of whatever return to normal, whatever that ends up looking like for folks, you know, it's going to be quite a moment, as we consider that incumbent advantage for those who have never met each other, implications on diversity and inclusion for those who maybe took some time away in this moment,
It's really important not just to look backwards, but to look forwards at this very interesting inflection point as we see the vaccine taking hold. What will the future look like? And how do we make sure that when we get back, we brought forward some of these lessons, but that the values of inclusion continue to carry forward?
Maribeth: Diversity and inclusion is becoming an increasingly important objectiveI'd love to talk a little bit with you guys about what role can L&D, can HR, and education benefits play in this space?
T We have long been on the diversity and inclusion journey and championing both diversity and inclusion. Our CEO, Brian Moynihan, has long chaired the Global Diversity and Inclusion Council at Bank of America. Accountability absolutely starts at the top. And our business leaders are accountable for continuing to drive diversity and inclusion in their organizations. From a diversity perspective, thinking about representation, ensuring that we look like the world that we live in; as well as inclusion, ensuring that we have a culture of inclusion and that folks feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work.
We drive that accountability through public disclosure. So we publish the "Human Capital Management Report," which keeps us accountable to being a great place to work, where we very much disclose the progress we're making and the opportunities that we continue to have, as well as all of the activities that we do from an inclusion perspective. We also hold our leaders accountable to a diversity and inclusion index in our engagement survey to ensure that the teammates that, you know, they lead are responding favorably, and where there aren't, that we dig into that feedback and address it. That's some of the internal work.
Externally, we have committed a billion dollars to racial and social justice, focused on education, housing, skilling, and reskilling. And continue to hire folks from low- and moderate-income communities. Back in 2018, committed to hire 10,000 teammates from low- and moderate-income communities, largely communities of color, over a five-year period. We met that commitment within three years. Organizations need to focus on hiring, skilling, reskilling, and then pull-through once folks get into the organization to continue to drive diversity and a culture of inclusion.
Michelle: It's been a focus and priority for us for a long time, too. With the civil unrest over the summer, on top of the pandemic and everything going on it just felt like there was no relief since last March. So we did a lot of different things with some of our providers and emotional health programs that we hadWe did these open forums on Zoom that employees could just kind of jump in and talk about it. And I was a little nervous about it because we put it out wide, and everybody could go on and say what they wanted. But I was so impressed with the thoughtful conversation that our employees were having with each other. And they were talking about tough questions about how they should react, and what was appropriate, and guilt, and other things. That wound up being something that, I think, we'll move forward with.
We were working with people in different countries to try to bring a little bit of inclusion in, where we're having small groups that used to do vacations and tours, actually do tours of their own countries for us. And so it's a way to support, like, small business, but also to bring awareness into the homes of people and have them interact with just people in all different cultures and activities. So that’s something that we're getting some good feedback on also.
Josh Bersin: What Josh was talking about at Bank of America is sort of the role model of how to think of this. What doesn't work is hiring a head of DEI and assigning that person the responsibility for leading the effort. That does not work. It's a very hard job on them, and it rarely moves the needle. The diversity and inclusion and equity issue has to be a business issue, not an HR issue.
And what we found in the research were the two things that really made a big difference. One is that the company goes to market in an inclusive and fair way to customers, to supply chain partners, to the markets. For Bank of America to locate branches in underdeveloped communities and do banking business with families that don't have a lot of money and so forth, that is, I'm sure, part of Bank of America's credo. All the great companies that are highly diverse think that way.
There's a telco that had a DEI program, it was okay. And one of the heads of operations said, "I got an idea. When we locate a cell tower, we make the person whose building we put that tower on rich because we give them a huge lease. They get $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 a month just for giving us a little spot to put a cell phone tower. Why don't we look for underprivileged owners and locations to put those towers?" I mean, what a great idea.
That is something with real opportunities. The second thing that Michelle said is listening. It turned out, when you look at all of these practices of DEI training, unconscious bias, recruiting, all that, and the one that correlated the best with really highly diverse and inclusive companies was listening. It's letting the employees speak up and tell you what's on their mind because we don't know, it's hard to predict. And this summer was a perfect example. So I think it's a really wonderful topic to talk about. It's not a solved problem, but I think a lot of companies are really putting a lot of energy into it this year.
Maribeth: Thank you, Josh. And, Michelle, and the other Josh, great points. I love that example, can we just think outside the box and sometimes what a great idea something simple can be. The other thing is, it's not one person. DE&I needs to be throughout the business. It needs to be something that everyone in that company owns and believes in and understands.
Josh Bersin: One more thing on that topic I just want to bring up since most people on the line are HR people. We have this global capability assessment we're rolling out for HR, where people are, evaluating their capabilities in different domains. The lowest-rated capability amongst thousands of HR people is DEI. Many HR people do not feel comfortable with the topic because it's an intimidating topic.I think it's an opportunity for everybody in HR to read books about it, get involved in the program, participate in it; it's something we can all do little pieces on here.
Maribeth: Absolutely. And to the points made. And listen, and don't be afraid to say that you're afraid. We did Race in America calls all summer similar to what you did. We were shocked at the response. By the end of the summer thousands of our employees had joined. We're continuing to do them now in different populations of employees. But the call is all about listening and the power in hearing others' stories is just amazing. So yes, I think we have a long way to go in this. But sometimes it's just stepping back. Josh, I think that study is fascinating and we'd love to hear and learn more about that. What do you believe from an L&D and education perspective, we can also make a difference in the DE&I space?
Josh Bronstein: If HR people struggle with it, imagine the managers, right? We have 20,000 managers. And so the very first module of this year's round of manager training is being a diversity and inclusion champion. Not just speaking about the importance of the business case, but actually giving them the tools to challenge, whether it's the unconscious bias, whether it's the decision on a hire, whether it's the decision on a promotion, to think about the organization design a different way to get to a different outcome.It's not just about speaking to people, but it's about providing them the tools and thinking about this globally, by the way, because inclusion is a global issue, but plays out differently in different regions and countries.
We have a role to play in that from learning and development. We have an inclusion learning team, who focuses on bringing a lot of that to life for folks, as well as some of the courageous conversations, similar to the Viacom example, where we've had 165,000 teammates over the past year alone engage in 220 conversations.We have 210,000 employees, so a huge amount of our workforce has actually shown up to engage in some of these courageous conversations.
Learning, development, diversity, and inclusion play a huge role, but I couldn't agree more with Josh's point: it's got to start with the business. We are facilitators on this, we can help challenge, we can help provide the tools, but we need the leaders to drive their accountability. And we need them to show up and drive some of these discussions, as well as take some of these actions.
Josh Bersin: One of the most valuable ways to learn is a developmental assignment or a job rotation. Many of us get those opportunities, many people don't. That's a great place to discriminate,where we give it to the person we like the most because they're high-potential employees, and this person isn't. Trying to equalize and enable more people, the opportunity to take new assignments and try new things will create incredibly vibrant new careers for people. And those should be done in an inclusive way, too.
Maribeth: Right. Absolutely. We used to say 60, 30, 10. Sixty percent is experience, 30% is exposure, exposure to other development opportunities, and then education, some kind of formal education. I want to ask the panel each a question, and then we're going to open it up for questions from our audience. What one key takeaway would you like to leave with our audience today? Michelle, we'll start with you.
Michelle: Do what you can, where you can. There are so many small but meaningful things. I used to try to pitch everything, and I'd be disappointed when it didn't go through. But then if you take little pieces of itlike, our caregiving leave, if you can't do six weeks, you do two weeks. And the other thing I would say, really listen to people. What I miss about not being in the office is I don't get those elevator conversations when people who would see me and be like, "Hey, Michelle, I have this going on." I've gotten so many ideas, and we've made programs and policies, from those conversations. Listen to people when they come in hot, too. Just listening and getting through it to really address what the needs are of the employees.
Josh Bersin: One thing that we can learn from this pandemic, working at home, being on Zoom is to trust people. You're not going to see people all day, you're not going to be in the office, you're not going to know what they're doing. And you know, they got their kids, and they got the guy at the door, or the phone went out, or whatever. It's amazing how many companies have maintained their productivity and grown during this pandemic because they've trusted people to work from home and do amazing things without direct supervision around the corner. So that's been a lesson we've all learned.
Josh Bronstein: I'd say planning for the long term, but thinking about the medium term. Going back to where I started with this culture of agility, I've been intrigued by companies who have come out with statements that we're work-from-home forever, as we think about what we're seeing in the news now about the vaccine. I think we all know, the future won't look like the past. But I don't think any of us have a crystal ball, either. Staying agile, without, being declarative too soon. I think we've all learned, as the world moves so quickly, and we all needed to move quickly.
I think about some of those foundational skills that I talked about earlier, that's planning for...we know that will be important no matter what, but there's a lot of uncertainty as well.Planning long term, but also thinking about the medium term, what we know, how to respond, and how to be agile. There are a lot of lessons in that from the past 12 months.
Maribeth: Absolutely.I would add, that as HR professionals, I've always felt as though it's our responsibility to be the barometers and to be those who are holding the posture within companies. And so in very trying times and times like the past year, that we've just had to stay steady, and to look for solutions, and not be afraid, to what Michelle said, to bring them up. And that at the end of the day, it really is about listening.
How do you recommend aligning preference to work remotely with manager preference to be in person? So how do you recommend aligning the employee's preference to work remotely when the manager's preference, again, is for them to be in the office?
Josh Bronstein: It comes down to the guardrails. The guiding principles, and then the judgment against those guiding principles. Those guiding principles need to be objective. They need to be role-based. In large companies, it's unrealistic to expect a one-size-fits-all. You know, companies like ours and many other large companies have lots of different roles, lots of different backgrounds, locations, geographies, cultural expectations, within lines of business, client needs. It comes back to an objective set of guardrails that are principle-based, and then kind of role-based assessment against that, and then manager judgment as kind of the third rung of that. I wouldn't start with the manager's judgment, I'd kind of start with the Gestalt and work your way down.
Maribeth: And I don't want to put you on the spot with this one. But does Bank of America have new working guardrails? Are they defining it differently for employees?
Josh Bronstein: We have been very clear on the fact that long term, we see ourselves as an in-person culture, we think a lot of those in-person relationships are important. Of course, we have a large part of our workforce that are in financial centers — they've been working the whole time in person, facing off with our customers. And so we had some that were closed, we've scaled down, we've scaled up, but we've been going all along to make sure that we were supporting the financial needs of our customers. It’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all model — it's absolutely varied based on the role, as well as the situation and individual geography. We have had those guardrails for the past year, of course, and we continue to evolve those guardrails as the situation changes in a given geography or set of roles. So I think we will continue to see that evolution versus a kind of single posture.
Maribeth: At Bright Horizons, we are working from home. However, we have frontline employees who are working in centers, they are supporting first responders and other companies that are open now, such as pharmaceuticals. I've heard a lot of talk from other CHROs about this divide between people who have to be out in the workplace and people who are working from home, and how are we going to manage that?
While we've always said working from home was a privilege. COVID has changed that only because it's made it more “have to,” but it will be interesting, moving forward, how we begin to look at that and how that changes. Michelle, how about for ViacomCBS?
Michelle: We're in the same situation, where we have employees who have had to keep coming into the office, but the majority are working remotely. Being sensitive to that did come up early on, and we're very careful now how we communicate that. In terms of preference, we were not at all work-from-home before COVID. So I have seen managers that would have, when we've talked about it, never have thought of work-from-home or approved it. And I've seen changes this year. Our managers are actually going to become more flexible there.
This will also differ by the role. There are some remote, or hybrid, or have-to-be-in-the-office roles. But the preference would be like we've handled it in the past — it would really be, I think, they have application processes. And I think we will continue to support managers in giving them more flexibility to do what they think is right.
Josh Bersin: I spent seven years at a professional services firm where nobody had an office, and everyone was on road all the time, and it works fine. Most companies have realized this isn't the end of the world if somebody's on the other end of a video conference. What's really changed is there are certain industries that were so in-person, it was kind of ridiculous. Let me give you an example.
One of the largest hospitals in LA, the CHRO told me every Friday, she would spend four hours in traffic going to a meeting in Pasadena because she had to be at the meeting. And she never thought twice about it. And now they do it virtually, and it works fine. And she's saying, "Why didn't we do this before? Now we're doing it." So I think we've broken through this barrier that you have to be there all the time, or you're not working. And then there'll be new rules. But we're going to go back to the office. These guys that wrote these press releases that you're never going to come back to the office, they're going to burn those. That was a nice thing to say, but, you know, there's a lot of reasons why people meet face-to-face.
Maribeth: Right. But, Josh, do you agree that we will come back differently?
Josh Bersin: There'll be more flexibility. We'll pay attention to the “somebody” on the other side on the phone who we just ignored before because they weren't here. We'll be better at that. But even if it's as both of these companies said, I'm sure people are going to come back to the office with more flexibility.
The other thing I found when I was at the consulting firm, we got used to being all over the place, and being on video, and staying up in the middle of the night. There were times when the person running the project said, "I need you guys here this week, you’ve got to come." And everybody's like, "Okay, I get it. I'm coming."
Maribeth: Right. We will also find family support very differently, that that's going to provide more flexibility because people are going to work more flexibly. More support for those when they are working from home, but it's just a fun and changing world. One more question from the audience
"I'm part of a two-person team that's building our DE&I department from the ground up. Coming from a place of driving the business case for inclusion, how do you suggest leveraging education to accomplish this from the top down?"
Josh Bronstein: It's got to start with the business case, right? There's a lot of great research out there on the business case for diversity and inclusion. It's got to start with leaders who are making those business decisions, buying into it for all of the reasons that we've discussed. And then I think it also can kind of go bottoms-up around kind of the courageous conversations and some of the discussion that we had earlier about the listening and the education. And then I think it meets in the middle with managers, right?
I would recommend a three-pronged approach, if you will, of top-down, a business case to ensure that folks are hearing and understanding that business case. Bottoms-up and making sure that, you know, folks are feeling heard and included. And in the middle, drive accountability on the manager point. . Once you kind of get that baseline set, then it's about the measurement. And the measurement is counting heads... I've compared it to our inclusion index. Or some other way to ensure that you're seeing progress on the cultural front and providing that forum for folks to speak up when they're not so that leaders can address it. So again, I would go back to this idea of being a facilitator of the business action.
Maribeth: The last question is Bright Horizons-specific. "For the Bright Horizons tuition reimbursement, how do you address things over the federally allowable rate of $5,250?"
Our program keeps employees below that capso it’s not an issue. For some of our clients where we manage their education programs, we count anything over $5,250 as taxable income. But that was one of the things with our Horizons Teacher Degree Program that was a really important educational opportunity with no out-of-pocket cost to anybody.
I should have added it when we're talking about DE&I, it has truly helped us also in the DE&I space. Because we have over 2,000 employees now enrolled in the Horizons Program. There’s one story of a woman who never thought she'd have a college education and never thought there would be an opportunity for her – but that changed. I believe education brings equality, and that we need to continue on this course of skilling and reskilling our workforce.