What, Exactly, Does It Mean To Be ‘People-Centric?’

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‘You can get invited to a party, but still not feel like you belong there, and so fostering that sense of belonging is critically important for a people-centric culture,’ says Julie Law, chief people officer at Rocket Software.

A robust DEI policy is critical to creating a “people-first” culture, according to Julie Law, chief people officer at Rocket Software, an enterprise software provider based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

And creating a healthy culture where everyone feels they belong is how to inspire a “growth mindset,” she says. Law spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about the importance of an organization’s values, the role of digital transformation and how to build connections among remote employees.

What does it mean to have a people-centric culture and how is this something you go about creating?

The key to creating a people-centric culture is promoting an established set of values across the organization that leads to behaviors you want to amplify and bring to life on a day-to-day basis. Values act as guideposts for how employees behave, perform and interact with colleagues.

At Rocket Software, our core values are empathy, humanity, trust and love. When we think about the experiences of our team members, we want to make sure that everyone can be their authentic selves when they come to work.

We also want to celebrate differences within our workplace. Everyone comes with their own unique experiences and profiles, and it’s crucial that we make sure they feel like they belong. When people talk about DEI, the “I” is about inclusion. You can get invited to a party, but still not feel like you belong there, and so fostering that sense of belonging is critically important for a people-centric culture.

How do you prioritize DEI at Rocket Software?

DEI has always been a priority at Rocket Software, but we officially formalized our efforts in 2020 by establishing our program “RIDE”—aka Rocket Inclusion Diversity and Equity. The focus is on creating an environment where diversity is celebrated and respected, people are valued for their unique contributions and where each employee feels a sense of belonging.

We’ve found that when employees feel safe to show up as their authentic selves, they are more innovative and more engaged—creating a better place to work. Our RIDE program strives to empower employees to be innovative and creative without barriers, and our RIDE Ambassadors help engage the broader organization in talking about diversity, equity and inclusion.

Listening and learning about others’ lived experiences enables us to all grow together to develop greater understating and appreciation of our colleagues’ unique differences and perspectives. We believe that DEI and a growth mindset are intertwined and rely on each other to create a thriving workforce.

Hiring and retaining diverse talent in an inclusive and equitable manner is smart business, but it must be balanced with an environment of belonging where everyone feels valued for their contributions and has access to opportunities for growth and advancement.

Rocket Software partners with various colleges and organizations who engage talent from diverse backgrounds when hiring. Rocket Software also has Women Leaders in Technology group, an online forum that creates an environment for all gender expressions to discuss and promote inclusion in the modern workplace.

Rocket Software’s WLIT Community welcomes customers, partners and employees to join the online forum and the ongoing conversations to lead, mentor and champion women now and for generations to come.

How can HR departments handle the digital transformation so many industries are seeing, while keeping the career growth of their employees top of mind?

In a leadership role, it’s crucial to maintain an understanding of what your employees need and want. Many people worried that Covid-19 would be a standstill for a lot of organizations because remote work was such a foreign concept. But in due course, we adapted and have adopted this new style of work quite successfully.

Technology has played a big role in this. We’ve identified opportunities for automation to make our lives easier and reduce the friction of operational processes, streamlining work across the company. It’s all about finding the right digital tools and technologies so that every employee feels included, irrespective of if they are in the office or working from home.

Video conferencing tools allow our team to still achieve that face time that so many feel is important for forming connections. Rocket Software is committed to a work environment that caters to a remote workforce. We encourage our team to work wherever is most productive for them, and where they feel their career growth is most supported.

How does hybrid/remote work influence your corporate initiatives?

We’re a global company and in some geographies it’s very common and still preferred to come into the office. Wherever our employees work, we want to make sure they have a positive experience.

We still try to build that sense of community and that connective tissue across our organization, so we put on social events and find ways to bring people together with intention. For example, we recently had a big team-building session in Vilnius, Lithuania. We want to be thoughtful in the moments that we bring people together and make it worth their time.

We also implement several online communities for our team, as well as anyone interested in our mission, to stay connected and involved. Rocket.Build is a hackathon open to not just the Rocket Software team, but our entire network of customers, partners and students. It’s an opportunity to solve problems, develop solutions and work in teams.

Women Leaders in Tech group hosts a quarterly “Coffee Talk” where we host some of the most influential women in the industry to talk about their success, barriers, and share advice. These types of engagements are the extra step that are crucial in building comradery and inclusion across a remote company.

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