Innovation… adaptability… learning agility… These skills and abilities are required for success in a global economy. So why does the pipeline often come up...

by Tracy Edmonds

Director, HR Metrics and Analytics
WellPoint, Inc.

Innovation… adaptability… learning agility… These skills and abilities are required for success in a global economy. So why does the pipeline often come up short on the talent we so desperately need? It frequently lacks the diversity of thought, experience, and leadership style that help propel a company forward. What causes this gap? How do we fill the pipeline with diverse talent so we are prepared to lead in this new environment?

As a leader, I know that bridging the gap and filling the leadership pipeline is an accountability that I share with my peers. Leaders have a responsibility to identify talent and align it in ways that drive continued company success. To do this most successfully requires a culture of inclusion and a focus on career management.

“Leaders have a responsibility to identify talent and align it in ways that drive continued company success.”

What does a culture of inclusion look like when we’re talking about the talent pipeline? It’s not enough to say we have a good mix of diversity in our workforce or in our leadership ranks. We have to develop talent in a way that recognizes and highlights an individual’s unique skills and abilities. We have to give stretch assignments and take risks with diverse talent. We have to rethink what success looks like, focusing on skills that are critical in today’s world, and not on those of the past nor of those exhibited by past incumbents. It’s a matter of genuinely knowing your talent and proactively leveraging the value of diversity. It’s about overcoming risk aversion and making an investment in talent that may not look, think, or lead like the talent of the past. That’s how difficult problems get solved. That’s how breakthroughs occur.

As an associate who is racially diverse, I know that getting into the talent pipeline requires accountability on my part as well. Aspiring leaders are responsible for managing their careers and making the most of their opportunities. That starts with self-awareness—knowing what makes you unique and what value you can bring to the company. Aspiring leaders have to know what is happening within a company, understand the company’s strategy, and be aware of the challenges and opportunities in the marketplace. The next step is to align personal career goals with the company’s goals. Associate resource groups are particularly valuable for career management and the talent pipeline. They offer opportunities for networking, leadership, exposure to senior leaders, and development programs and workshops aimed at the needs of their constituencies.

Can your company afford for its pipeline to come up short? If not, ask yourself: Are you managing your talent in an inclusive way? Are you creating a culture that inspires your future leaders to step forward and proactively manage their careers? Don’t miss the breakthrough opportunity that diversity of thought, experience, and leadership can bring.

Tracy Edmonds

Tracy Edmonds

Director, HR Metrics and Analytics
WellPoint, Inc.

Tracy Edmonds is director of HR metrics & analytics for WellPoint. She leads a team that’s responsible for providing meaningful insights about the workforce in order to drive business outcomes. She is also co-chair of WellPoint’s African American associate resource group, and is passionate about diversity and inclusion.

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