Diversity & Inclusion Action Recording: How F5 Networks Brings to Life a Culture of Inclusion - 9/15/20

On i4cp’s weekly D&I Action Call September 15th, Mary Fairchild, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion at F5, spoke with i4cp Chief Diversity Officer Board Chair Jacqui Robertson.

Fairchild, who also co-leads i4cp’s new Diversity & Inclusion Exchange group, described strategies her firm is using to navigate the pandemic effectively. She also spoke about her D&I team’s use of predictive analytics and shared a forecasting model template with call attendees.

 Key Ideas Shared Today:

  1. Try a Zoom out day. Before the pandemic began and expanded organizations’ use of Zoom meetings, F5 created the concept of Zoom out day. Once each quarter, the company asks employees to disconnect from their daily work routines and, instead, work on a project about which they are passionate. This could be taking a training class the employee had been putting off or some special project waiting for time to explore more fully.

    “There is no accountability to this,” Fairchild explains. “Employees aren’t expected to turn in any report or product. It’s just a day to Zoom out in the way you need to do to be effective at your job.”
  2. Tap into the Whisper Network for employee sentiment insights. Measuring employee inclusion can be challenging, Fairchild says, and work remains to be done to make it more effective. At F5, a planned inclusion survey and an existing item on belonging in the company’s employee engagement survey are two methods currently used.

    Fairchild recommends ensuring that data is being viewed at the appropriate level (vs in the aggregate) to ensure that the “important stories” are being surfaced. She advises using employee resource groups (ERGs) – which are called Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs) at F5 – to capture the Whisper Network.

    Fairchild says the term comes from the MeToo movement and refers to what people know, but may not necessarily be expressing aloud – instead, whispering to each other.
    “I think people feel comfortable whispering to their EIG leaders about what’s happening in the organization,” she says. “That’s an important part of the employee listening system.” She adds that she considers those group leaders to be her partners in D&I and has regular conversations with them to learn what they are hearing from employees.
  3. Find internal partners with data science expertise. Predicting and forecasting are data capabilities expected of other parts of organizations and should also be expected of D&I, says Fairchild. Using analytics to see around the corner and be able to accurately assess the impact and outcomes produced by strategies to combat racial inequity require data expertise.

    Lacking data science professionals in her own function, Fairchild reached out to F5’s marketing department and found a team of data scientists willing to contribute time and effort to create a forecasting model. Seeking such internal expertise in organizations not only empowers the D&I function to gain analytical capabilities, but also enables the participating experts to contribute their skills to D&I in a meaningful way.
  4. A forecasting model. Fairchild shared the minimum viable product forecasting model her organization is using (it is included and explained in the recording of today’s call). The three-part model encompasses data-gathering, data input, and scenarios. Recommending a 3-year timeframe for data, Fairchild says some of the information examined includes headcount, hires, and terminations filtered by gender, country, ethnicity, organizational level and function.

    Forecasting Model Template Directions

    • Gather your data!
      • 3 Years is what I recommend
      • Monthly Close Headcount, Hires, Terminations (and movement if you want to be thorough)
      • MUST include the information you want to filter by (Gender, Country, Ethnicity, Level, and/or Function)
      • Gather data on one-time events (layoffs, acquisitions, mergers, etc)
    • Input Your Data
      • Enter the total number of headcount, terms, and hires into the gray areas
      • Filter to the "Target" you are wanting to model for (function, country, gender, etc)
      • Enter the total number of headcount, terms, and hires into the gray areas                     
      • Remove the one-time events from the growth calculations manually (if an acquisition took place on a specific month, reduce that from the calculation of % increase but don't remove it from the headcount in the next month)
    • Scenarios
      • The first table will give you an average run rate
      • Enter in a scenario of increased headcount to see the results

    The intent of this model is to guide and understand various scenarios using historical. It is not intended to set targets.   Use at your own risk and share with others if you make improvements.

Also on the call: 

  • An instant poll asked call attendees: Does your organization have a long-term plan to deal with racial equity that is designed to maintain momentum once current social unrest is no longer in the news cycle?
    • Top answers to the select-all-that-apply question:
      • We are still devising our long-range plans – 49%
      • Yes, our initiatives grew post-George Floyd, but are designed to sustainably make systemic change – 432%
      • Yes, we consider racial equity a business imperative – 22%
  • i4cp research data provided examples of internal and external long-range actions organizations reported making since the death of George Floyd.
  • Discussions included such topics as leaders’ accountability for D&I progress, psychological safety, and measuring the efficacy of inclusion actions taken.

Access a recording of the full D&I Action Call on i4cp’s Employer Resource Center.

Read here