CHRO Action Recording with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield's Christi Karandikar - 11/06/20



In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time. 

On i4cp’s November 6, 2020 CHRO/HR Strategy Action series call, HR leaders from a wide range of organizations were joined by special guest Christi Karandikar, EVP of HR at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a global developer and operator of flagship destinations, headquartered in Paris, France, and with a portfolio valued at over $70 billion. She was interviewed by i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin, with key topics covered including:

  • The acquisition of Westfield included the need to bring together the best of the two organization's cultures.
  • Clearly this is a time of "business as unusual." There needs to be intentional focus on how to be together while not being together.
  • Focus is very much needed on mental health, avoiding burnout, taking time for yourself, etc. Karandikar noted they have reevaluated meeting best practices around video use, frequency, and finding ways for some to meet in-person (e.g., leveraging an outdoor rooftop area).
  • The organization is very focused on diversity and inclusion, as they (similar to their industry) have historically been very white-male dominated in terms of leadership roles. One approach Karandikar said they are committed to is sponsoring women and people of color who do not have previous experience in the role they are seeking. They are also setting new targets for unconscious bias training, but also a more comprehensive program for all employees, and a special program for senior leaders as well. They have also launched new business resource groups related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Strategic scenario planning was important at URW early and throughout the pandemic. Working with a partner, Karandikar said they looked at four possible futures: gradual recovery, fits and starts, perfect storm, and a great correction. For each, they developed "bold, no-regret moves" they would make in response, e.g., optimizing their use of physical spaces and their use of data, how work and decision making gets done, how they support employees, what testing practices are needed, and much more. This allowed them to be far more proactive instead of reactive, as the pandemic went in its various directions.

In addition to this recording, please see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.




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