Shatter the ‘Sameness’ Barrier
BY JENNIFER D. JACKSON
PepsiCo has a long history of fostering
diversity in its workforce. Pamela Culpepper, vice president of human resources for
PepsiCo Chicago, outlined some of the
initiatives at the Association Forum Diversity Summit in May 2007. Recently,
Culpepper spoke with FORUM about some
of those initiatives and how those same
lessons can be applied to associations.
FORUM: You were a speaker at last year’s
Forum Diversity Summit, and discussed
PepsiCo’s long history of fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion. Can
you give us a synopsis of those efforts?
Culpepper: PepsiCo’s philosophy has
matured over time from having some significant “firsts.” PepsiCo was the first to
grant a franchise to a minority family, first
to include minorities in advertising and
first to promote a black man to vice president in the sales organization. We have
been very aggressive at building representation and creating an inclusive environment. A part of building a successful
workforce is attracting and retaining the
best and the brightest, which includes various generations, ethnicities and genders.
We believe that our future depends on
having a workforce that mirrors the consumer base and is a formidable foe in the
war for fewer qualified candidates.
Our track record has been double digit
growth in representation of both women
and people of color.
FORUM: You have mentioned two PepsiCo
goals: 1) Shaping PepsiCo to look like the
customer base we serve and 2) Creating
an inclusive environment. How are you
going about reaching those goals?
Culpepper: Our workforce demographics
should be as diverse as our products.
Also, our employee base should represent our consumer base. We have chips
that have a region-specific Asian flare;
we’re also developing products that cross
generational lines of appeal. Both of
these examples require that we employ
people from schools, industries and from
diverse experiences that we have not
thought about previously. It means stepping outside of the normal ways of
attracting and recruiting individuals in
search of diversity. The fact that we are
more likely now than ever before to have
up to four generations on one team
really brings home the urgency and reality of having an inclusive environment.
We realized the need for a workforce that
has a variety of experiences and environments. The productivity and innovation
of our business depends on it.
FORUM: At the summit, you mentioned
that “diversity is easy, inclusion is hard.”
Please explain that statement.
Culpepper: An inclusive environment is
actually counter to how we’ve been successful in the past. Our past successes
included cookie-cutter methods for accomplishments, meaning doing things the
same way and getting the same results.
Also, if results have been good, why
tamper with the methods? However, we
believe that the only way diversity can be
sustained is by facilitating an inclusive
environment; a workplace that promotes a
feeling of being valued and being a part of
the organization. The “sameness” barrier
proves over time to be a hindrance to innovation and breakthrough problem solving
as the world changes. We also realized that
increasing representation without teaching
managers how to relate to new experiences, new ways of accomplishing results
and new generational thinking would result
in losing both good managers and new
hires as fast as we get them on board.
What makes inclusion hard is that it is
behavioral and is rooted in authenticity.
You can’t create an artificial inclusive environment — people know when their point
of view or their experiences count. People
know when their manager has their best
interest at heart and values their differences. So, not only is it hard to teach but
ensuring sincerity is almost impossible.
Therefore, managers must be equipped
with the information needed to both assist
in retention and successful operation.
FORUM: Tell us about “The PepsiCo Career
Growth Model,” including employee satisfaction surveys (Are you planning to stay?
Will you recommend us to a friend?) and the
50/50 weighting on performance (50 percent people, 50 percent work objectives).
Culpepper: This model is the result of a
desire to determine what it takes to
develop a workforce that operates successfully. The PepsiCo Career Growth
Model defines the most important behaviors and attributes that PepsiCo employees must demonstrate to effectively
progress in their careers. There are many
factors included in this model. One is a
proven track record of business and people results. In evaluating an employee’s
performance, 50 percent is based on how
well they get the job done and 50 percent
is based on how they treat our people in
the process; it is an equal assessment of
character and competence. It is important
to evaluate an employee’s character and
integrity as well as their successes.
FORUM: What can associations and other
nonprofit organizations learn about diversity from PepsiCo.?