Commitment to Equality Promotes Trust and Growth: Protiviti Celebrates Pride Month

By Steven Stachowicz, Managing Director
Risk and Compliance




As we progress through June, which is traditionally pride month for the lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual (LGBT+) community, I want to take a moment to reflect on Protiviti’s commitment to the LGBT+ community and our employees, and share my thoughts on the value of diversity, and my experience as an out and proud executive within our firm.

At Protiviti, we know that diversity of ideas and experiences is essential to fulfilling our promises to our people and developing and maintaining a truly global, collaborative and diverse workforce. We strive to deliver an exceptional experience to our people, our clients and our communities. We know that we are stronger because of our inclusive work environment, where employees see one another’s uniqueness as assets and strengths. Stephen Covey, in his best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, noted that valuing and respecting differences is “the essence of synergy,” because diverse individuals working together can bring their individual experience to the table, build on each other’s strengths, and produce far better results than they could individually. Diversity of thought is critical to the professional development of our people, the creativity, innovation and value we bring to our clients in the marketplace, and the way we engage with our communities as a responsible corporate citizen.

We work hard every day to be an inclusive organization, and so we are very proud that our parent company, Robert Half International, received a perfect score of 100 on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI is a national benchmarking survey and reports on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT+ workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. The CEI criteria reflect leading policies, benefits and practices for the LGBT+ workforce and their families. These criteria are based on the notion of parity rather than prescription, and the CEI helps us know if we are achieving our goals to address the needs of the LGBT+ communities.

From an organizational standpoint, support is key to building a community. By promoting an environment of inclusion, all employees are respected and valued as demonstrated by equal access to opportunity and advancement reflected in our policies and programs. Our ProPride employee network group began in 2014 in the U.S., and now includes nearly 200 employees globally. This group, under the leadership of Philip Maziarz, Patrick Luong and Belton Flournoy, has made a tangible difference in promoting awareness within our organization and providing support to our LGBT+ employees and allies in their professional development through networking and mentoring. This outreach extends to Protiviti’s recruiting efforts, our community service through participation in AIDS Walks, and so much more.

Organizations that embrace inclusivity and diversity realize positive economic impacts. This should be common sense – people who feel comfortable within their companies tend to stay longer (reducing attrition rates), demonstrate increased productivity, and have less difficulty finding valuable mentorship and social networks. Research bears out this truth; these factors stimulate growth within organizations while reinforcing the fundamental principle – treat people the way you would want to be treated.

As a new Managing Director, I look back on my career with Protiviti and am thankful for all of the support that I have received over the years. I have grown in this organization “in my own skin,” as my authentic self, within my project teams and management teams, at my clients’ locations, social events, holiday parties, baseball games and in my day-to-day interactions with my leadership team and colleagues. I was recently engaged and married and am taking steps to form my own family, and the continued outpouring of congratulations and support has been and continues to be humbling.  I am closer to my coworkers and clients because of this, and have not once felt anything other than a strong sense of belonging.

However, it isn’t enough that I am grateful for the support I’ve received.  I believe it is important that I give back – that we give back. That we support others and truly listen to them and encourage them to be authentic in all aspects of their lives. That we work to promote awareness and understanding that we are all different, yet equally worthy of opportunities. That we actively recognize and value differences and diversity. That we communicate to the broader LGBT+ community, including among our peers, employees and clients, how we can support them, and why earning the CEI recognition is valuable to us and to them.

In other words, we must continue to be agents of change.

I am proud that Protiviti’s core values and vision embrace diversity and inclusion, and am proud to be a part of the firm.

From all of my LGBT+ colleagues and allies at Protiviti, happy pride month!

Manufacturers Must Focus on Workforce Planning to Accelerate Digital Transformation Efforts

By Sharon Lindstrom, Managing Director
Manufacturing and Distribution Industry Leader




Global manufacturing has been expanding, new orders are up, and the sector is experiencing an uptick in job growth. Even U.S. manufacturing appears to be on the rebound; in March, the industry posted its strongest two-month advance in three years. Leading the way in output were manufacturers of fabricated metals, machinery and plastics, paper, and rubber production.

Despite this growth, employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector remains far below the heights seen during the latter half of the 20th century. Technology advancements are a factor, of course. Some of the manufacturing segments mentioned above are among those that have been greatly expanding their use of robotics to enhance productivity, for instance.

While robotics, artificial intelligence and other advancements are making manufacturing companies less reliant on human workers for certain tasks, they are also creating new jobs that require specialized skills. Robotics engineers, big data analysts, 3D printing specialists and cybersecurity experts are just some examples of new positions in the modern manufacturing workforce. Many companies are also now seeking workers to help “teach” robots how to collaborate safely and effectively on the factory floor.

Demographic Trends, Succession Challenges Creating New Risks

Demand and competition for workers with advanced technical and specialized skills, such as programming, analytics and problem-solving, will only increase as manufacturers accelerate their efforts to automate and digitize. Skilled production roles, such as machinists and technicians, will also remain difficult to fill. And as manufacturers seek to recruit, train and retain qualified talent for both new and more traditional roles, two demographic trends are challenging those efforts:

  • Baby boomer retirements: These workers are leaving the manufacturing workforce in greater numbers and taking decades of hard-to-replace knowledge and skills with them. (Pension freezing and the decline in other retirement offerings have helped to hasten the exit for many.) Even though a lot of the expertise baby boomer workers possess will not be relevant in the next wave of the Industrial Revolution, companies will still suffer from losing people who have a deep understanding of the business and industry that can only be learned over time.
  • The new generation’s lack of interest in manufacturing jobs: Many millennials simply cannot visualize a career path in an industry that they associate with monotonous assembly lines, low-paying and less-skilled jobs, and lack of innovation. Some leading companies are working hard to change the millennial mindset about manufacturing. They’re using high-tech and high-touch approaches to showcase just how rewarding manufacturing careers can be — and that talented, tech-minded millennial workers are, in fact, eager to work in the industry. GE’s multimillion-dollar campaign to rebrand itself as a 21st century “digital industrial” company is one well-known initiative. However, these efforts alone cannot solve a labor problem decades in the making.

To be sure, new business models, changing demographics and the persistent supply-and-demand problem in the hiring market contribute to the high number of open jobs in manufacturing and widening talent gaps in many companies. Manufacturers must also recognize how their own workforce planning practices can exacerbate these problems. Lack of attention to succession planning is a prime example.

In fact, many manufacturers have already started to realize that minimizing — or completely overlooking — the importance of succession planning in the past is creating risk for them today as well as for the future. Industry executives who took part in the latest Executive Perspectives on Top Risks Survey from Protiviti and North Carolina State University’s ERM Initiative cited the following as a top risk for their businesses in 2017: Our organization’s succession challenges and the ability to attract and retain top talent may limit our ability to achieve operational targets.

Learning From the Past

As manufacturers seek to modernize their operations so they can compete in Industry 4.0, they face the risk of not being able to meet their objectives due to a shortage of skilled labor. Now is the time for companies to acknowledge potential missteps in workforce planning and adopt leading practices. If they don’t, they risk not being able to align the talent they need to succeed in an Internet of Things world.

Manufacturers should move swiftly to preserve remaining institutional knowledge by establishing mentoring programs that pair baby boomer employees with both Generation X and millennial workers. Identify areas in the organization where succession planning is critical, and create formal programs with milestones and performance measurements. Provide internships that will allow students to learn firsthand about career opportunities in modern manufacturing, and help the company position itself as an employer of choice with up-and-coming talent.

Also, be sure to promote these initiatives internally and externally. Study how peers in the industry — and in other sectors facing serious talent shortages like IT and healthcare — use outlets such as social media to shine a light on their culture, workforce and operations. Showing that the company actively invests in the development of its workforce and values its talent can help the organization retain existing employees with valuable skills sets and experience, as well as improve its chances of recruiting the highly skilled professionals it needs to succeed in the future.

Managing Your Organization’s Culture During Rapid Growth

Charles Soranno - MD New Jersey

By Charles Soranno, Managing Director
Financial Reporting Compliance and Internal Audit



Early in December 2016, I had the pleasure of leading an in-depth webinar exploring how fast-growing companies can prepare for challenges related to changes in their culture and talent requirements, particularly when ramping up for an IPO or following one.

I was joined by Carmela Krantz, Vice President of Human Resource at WideOrbit; Danielle Soucek, Director of Insight Product at Equilar; and Michael Waxman-Lenz, CFO at Undertone. Together, we provided analysis and guidance on how to create the right team, scale for growth, benchmark against peers and competitors, and develop a public company mindset.

As companies implement their growth plans in the new year, it’s worth revisiting a few of the big ideas that emerged from the event.

Building the Right Team – Recognize the Influences
An organization’s ownership structure, its industry dynamics, and whether it has a domestic or global presence shape its culture and need for certain skillsets. Challenges typically emerge when companies bring in new investors, prepare to launch an IPO, add locations, or significantly expand their employee base.

Ownership has a tremendous impact on what the right team looks like, for example. A closely held startup may not have formal financial reporting requirements, but as it attracts institutional capital or registers for a public offering, more specialization and structure is required as expectations and demands change. Institutional investors likely will be less forgiving of reporting errors than founders working in a close-knit setting, and companies that execute their IPOs have to meet strict Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory, compliance and reporting requirements. Will free-thinking, entrepreneurial-oriented individuals who were involved in virtually all aspects of a startup’s early development be able to not just perform, but thrive, in this more regimented operating environment?

Scale for Growth
Maintaining robust and consistent communications and formal communication protocols (especially for public companies) between an organization’s leaders and its workforce – even to the point of “over communicating” – is perhaps the most important strategy human resources (HR) can promote when employment rosters are expanding by the dozens each month. Letting employees know how they fulfill a company’s mission during times of rapid change keeps them plugged-in, motivated and contributing to desired business outcomes.

Staying ahead of the recruiting battle is another critical step HR can take. Human resource managers and recruiters must work closely with the C-suite to better understand the dynamics of the growing company and the mindset – not just skillset – required to make new hires successful. Also, by keeping employees informed of open positions and using referral incentives, HR can make all employees recruiters. This strategy can help fill jobs more quickly and often nets candidates of a certain caliber that have a higher chance for success.

Benchmark Growth
Compensation practices change dramatically after a company prepares for and ultimately completes an IPO, typically moving from less structured to more formal, documented programs designed to secure and retain talent. The scrutiny, by the SEC and others, of publicly available post-IPO executive compensation data requires organizations to balance shareholder interests with rewarding executives fairly.

One of the best ways to strike that balance begins with defining the talent market by selecting a peer group survey or collecting proxy data, or by combining both methods. Many companies utilize compensation consultants that can provide the data. Often, the advisors also understand how less tangible factors, such as management philosophy and individual performance, may influence pay packages.

Get a Head Start
While an IPO may be the last thought on the minds of executives running rapidly growing companies, especially early-stage companies, operating as if an transaction is imminent can make organizations more attractive and valuable when investors begin to take interest. Steps companies can take in that direction include developing a solid IT and finance infrastructure, assembling superb finance and operations teams, establishing excellent corporate governance, and developing a public company mindset among employees.

Of these initiatives, developing sustainable and scalable IT infrastructure and strong finance and accounting teams are among the most critical. However, infrastructure also encompasses making sure a company’s organizational chart is balanced and determining whether special technical or general needs should be outsourced. Organizations also need to be aware of pitfalls that could derail the development of a transaction-ready public company mentality. Underestimating the effort required not just before, but also after the IPO, is chief among them.

Learn More
Rapidly growing companies face a number of challenges as they transition from freewheeling entrepreneurial startups to more structured, efficient and mature operations. By preparing for headwinds associated with changing cultures, they can put themselves in a better position for success. Listen to the recorded webinar for a deeper dive into the ideas discussed here.

Engaging the New Workforce: Talking to Millennials

Rick ChildsBy Richard Childs, Managing Director
Policy, Strategy and Communications




Millennials, the ascendant demographic group of people who came of age in the early 2000s, will soon surpass baby boomers as the majority of the global workforce. This is not a trivial fact for employers. Without overstating a generational difference, it’s safe to say that millennials interact with information differently from previous generations. To connect with these workers more effectively, organizations need to take a generation-appropriate approach to communication.

We recently published our views on millennial-friendly communication in a white paper, Millennial Communication 101, to help organizations understand who this new workforce is and what forces have influenced the way millennials learn and communicate. Our recommendations apply to everyday communication, as well as the design of educational and training materials for the workplace.

As the first digitally native generation, millennials are quick to embrace and master technology. Multitasking is second nature, and it is not unusual for them to be working on three to five screens at a time, shifting attention from task to task, every eight seconds on average, and alternating between business and personal communication.

Having been immersed in a ceaseless flow of information and stimuli since birth, millennials have become adept at skimming, dipping deeper into the data stream for more information only when something captures their imagination. Raised to process information newsfeed-style, they are more likely to engage with communications that are entertaining and visually oriented.

This is particularly relevant for on-the-job training. Whereas long training sessions requiring sustained attention may work for older workers, millennials absorb information best if it is presented in short, easy-to-digest modules drawn from relatable work-life experiences. Microlearning — the use of short two- and three-minute monthly videos, instead of a single long annual training session — can have a significant positive effect on retention.

Posters and other printed educational materials can help raise awareness, but for that information to be retained and applied, it will need to be presented and reinforced in a variety of formats over time, preferably in digital form. Video voiceovers work best when they are energetic, and ideally of the same generation. Animated objects and characters — particularly youthful ones — can create a greater visual memory than static illustrations or photos.

As a social generation, millennials prioritize their personal image. Tapping into this personal brand identity and its potential for increased or decreased social status among peers is often the best way to communicate about consequences — say, of opening a phishing email containing a virus, or being careless with client data.

For many employers, especially those with long-standing corporate culture, undertaking such shifts may seem like an imposition or even assault on traditional corporate values. However, we believe that streamlining corporate communications to meet millennial needs is an opportunity, as statistics show that these changes are enabling employers to revitalize their workplace culture and create stronger employee relations overall.

How does is your organization engaging with millennials? We are interested in your experiences — let us know in the comments. You can download the white paper here.