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How to Support Global Diversity in the Workplace

Listen to Loren Pofahl, Director of Global Recruitment at LanguageLine Solutions, lead by Moderator, Jeanne Achille, speak about supporting global diversity within the workplace and provide insights on 1) The importance of workplace flexibility to attract and retain top talent, 2) How to turn a new leaf for global diversity, and 3) Key factors in building out your entire end-to-end HR process team.

 

Bennett Sung

hello everyone this is Bennett Sung again from I’m head of brand marketing here at AllyO welcome to our fifth episode of our webpage our leadership webcast featuring Loren Pofahl from LanguageLine Solutions Just before we get started I wanted to certainly cover a few housekeeping items first and foremost this session is being recorded and all participants will be on mute however we do welcome you to you participate through Q&A by asking questions through your GoToWebinar panel in addition to the GoToWebinar panel questions we actually have added a handout for you to download it’s actually a special offer for attendees to participate in the AI for HR certification class that we’re offering and we’ll talk a little bit more about that a little later but again welcome everyone to today’s webcast for those that are not familiar with AllyO I wanted to certainly you know talk to you that AllyO is an AI powered HR communications platform we support a variety of clients including LanguageLine Solutions from everything from recruiting automation to employee experience so think of us as a HR communications platform to engage both your candidates and your and we really kind of have built a very trust factor over the past since 2015 when we started the organization we’ve garnered many awards most recently as Top Product of the Year from HR Executive Magazine and as you see from our customers we are working with some great brands here including LanguageLine Solutions, FedEx, Cheesecake Factory, Brinker and such so again we look forward to spending time with you to to really celebrate Loren’s career as the Head of Global Talent Acquisition at LanguageLine and as I mentioned before we do have a special certification AI for HR training curriculum that you earn eight recertification credits from SHRM and or HCI this is brought to you by our wonderful partner in FutureWorkplace again it is an awesome opportunity for you to really begin to understand the implications of how AI would really be functioning in the HR space itself so feel free to take advantage of this and the next course starts in January 20th of 2020 before we get started and introduce the panelists let’s go ahead I would love to kind of walk through and go through a poll here to get a sense of what our folks are wanting to improve in their recruiting most this year and obviously we’re pretty much at the end of the year let’s think about how we want to improve recruiting in 2020 as well so we’ll bring up some options here and if they’re willing to spend some time to select the area that they would like to most improve in 2020 and we’ll see what the results are great I think we have the majority of everyone that one little last minute person just click on something let’s go ahead like the majority of everyone who attended on the GoTo Webinar to vote so let’s close the polling let’s share results and get some feedback from Jeanne and Loren so we see here that retention actually candidate experience that recorded the most votes from the from the attendees of 57% quickly followed by retention and then time to higher Jeanne any reaction 

Jeanne Achille

you know this is the second time we’re running this poll in recent weeks where candidate experience is off the charts and I think that’s fascinating as we turn into 2020 because earlier in 2019 it was all about retention and and clearly now companies are more concerned about the candidate experience which I would tie to more more recs being opened and and you know an uptick in recruiting so I think that’s very exciting 

Bennett Sung

Loren how about yourself wondering what is your reaction to you to what attendees are looking to improve for the rest of the year and 2020

Loren Pofahl

well I think that you know where I come from here at LanguageLine Solutions our focus has really always been on candidate experience right you want to through the use of technology you want to have technology that’s easy for them to use and you want to have quick turnaround on response so I’m not surprised I would say that retention has also been coming kind of coming up in our priority as you know with the right job market and attracting candidates and trying to keep them interested in the company so I’m not too surprised by those two being the the top two selections 

Bennett Sung 

okay excellent so let’s go ahead and get this party started here so we wanted to officially introduce today’s presenters obviously our special guest Loren Pofahl from LanguageLine he serves as the Head of Global Talent Acquisition and then  our moderator Jeanne Achille from The Devon Group I’m gonna hand it over to you Jeanne 

Jeanne Achille 

thank you so much Bennett you know I’m always so excited to do these webinars with you because first and foremost I meet some very interesting people you have the greatest customers so Lauren welcome to our Wednesday wisdom series and I’m gonna just take a few moments to give you a shameless plug here you are based in the glorious town of Monterey California I think we all are a bit envious about that and I think LanguageLine is a company that is recruiting for a real really wide variety of positions some I found when I was going through your open jobs some of them I would expect from any company you know project coordinators and a workday administrator you know pretty straightforward but boy oh boy you are recruiting translators for some language requirements that that honestly I’ve never even heard of one was I think it was Chuukese which is a Micronesian language I don’t even know how you find candidates who are able to to you know speak the language and do that kind of work so I’m I want to I want to talk a bit about how you’re sourcing candidates how you are providing that candidate experience but mainly would like to learn about your own career journey and it’s been it’s a fascinating one it started in Minnesota on a farm take us back there 

Loren Pofahl

oh boy so you know it was interesting I saw I saw Bennett’s intro where it talked about each company’s a snowflake and I thought it was actually a plug for Minnesota as we head into the holidays right it’s cold as always so yeah I did definitely grow up on a farm it was a hog and green farm in the country in Minnesota a family farm that goes back to the mid 1850s actually and from there went to a small college in Iowa called Luther College and studied went to study mathematics I wanted to be a teacher I’ve had a great mathematics teacher in high school and you know from a graduating class of 40 kids so I got a lot of special attention but went to that College majoring in math and then got into computer science and got into understanding technology and got really interested in that and ended up with a double major and coming out of college at the time there were a lot of great career opportunities in in the computer area and technology and so I started working for an aerospace company in Chicago working in programming a payroll system and just really fell in love with HR actually even though I was in technology and realized somewhere along the way that I liked people more than I liked machines and so ultimately transitioned into the HR realm after implementing an HR system for that company in Chicago and then moved to the west coast I worked for several years at Williams-Sonoma probably one of the premier kitchen brands in the country and worked there in their HR department in many different roles but including HR systems and from there went on to work for a construction company for several years then went back to retail working for a hardware chain and then ultimately landing here at LanguageLine Solutions which is a totally different industry a totally different type of candidate and a total different need for how the employees experience things so it’s been a great journey it’s been a really different journey from having all those different kinds of industries but it’s shown me the the similarities and the differences that occur within HR and technology across different industries shown me the the similarities and the differences that occur within HR and technology across different industries you know 

Jeanne Achille

wow you know so I mean just the story you painted initially about the farm in Minnesota and now all these twists and turns and I have to share with everyone that one of my guilty pleasures is wandering around William Sonoma I’m not sure I can afford to outfit my kitchen with all of that but boy it is one beautiful place you know along the way Lorne you’ve actually implemented many of the categories leading enterprise software solutions you know I remember you mentioning Lawson, Ulti Pro and Workday and I’m not gonna ask you which one was your favorite but as you look at you know that type of enterprise implementation what factors did you consider when you were making your technology investment and then of course all the change management that goes along with that 

Loren Pofahl

yeah really really good question actually so obviously one of the major factors that we looked at was client support because you know you could have the most wonderful system but if your client support isn’t there if the company doesn’t provide you with quick responses when you run into problems especially if you’re implementing payroll you have situations that need almost immediate attention so client support was probably our major factor obviously our ally everybody talks about ROI you can’t get budget to implement an HR system or in HCM unless you can prove that there’s there’s a definite return on investment but also the cost to implement like beyond so ROI just from the long term strategy but also the cost of implementation up front kind of understanding what that initial cost is going to be in an initial outlay of resources and then when you get on the back end of it it’s really about user experience because kind of back to what everybody said regarding candidate experience you want the users of the system to have a really good experience so you want user experience both within the company to be easy to go well you want employees to be able to use the system through self-service manager sees the system through self-service and you also want anyone who is going to be going through like the APS portion of it recruiting portion of it to have a great experience from a candidate perspective so and then the other thing too is you know you want to look at what is what are what are the technologies or software systems that are really cutting edge what are some of those things that are you don’t want to implement something that’s really not on the forefront and not looking to the future of what’s coming down the road into in regard to the needs of functionality so so that’s how that’s how that’s kind of what we what we looked at in in most of those situations

Jeanne Achille

that’s a tall order you know I remember when when we spoke previously you had mentioned your Six Sigma certification why did you decide that was important in your career 

Loren Pofahl

you know I’ve started really early working for an aerospace company where it’s absolutely critical to to produce products that are reliable and trustworthy and you know when you’re building aircraft engines you there cannot be any room for flaw and so the company was really big into Six Sigma the process and the approach and so I learned early on kind of how you can take that and not only apply it to manufacturing processes but you can also you can also apply it to HR processes or any processes in a company and so what it has done for me and is specifically here at LanguageLine is that it allowed us to take our existing applicant tracking process and review it and figure out where the inefficiencies were in that process and take it from we reduce the number of steps that we have to do to get a person from application to actually onboard in the system by 30% so we were able to go through and say where were some of these steps in this process that are not value-added you know are we doing things that are really just pushing paper or we’re doing things that are just really kind of a tangent to the critical process we’re trying to get done or are we doing things that are really going to irritate the so that’s what Six Sigma allows us kind of mapping something out and trying to figure out where the inefficiencies are and taking those out on putting in better things the other part of it is is just that continuous improvement is that even though you’ve established a process it doesn’t it may not last forever right things change business needs to change so it’s important to do quarterly or semi-annually use of the process and then possibly implement changes that are needed to meet new business requirements so it’s been a great tool pretty much throughout my career 

Jeanne Achille

yeah I think that journey mapping is something that so many organizations just feel they can rush through that and and yet whether it’s on the candidate side or the customer experience it’s such an important part of a successful implementation yeah absolutely you know I want to go back to something I heard you say earlier about having a great teacher who inspired you when when you were a student and and I think you have also been fortunate enough to have some great managers in the workplace let’s talk about mentoring for a moment how does that play into your to your you know your day to day activities 

Loren Pofahl

yeah so I had along the way I had my first manager at the aerospace company in Chicago was probably the best mentor I’ve ever had she was professional she just knew when she was in the room when she was in a meeting you just had this  confident air about her but she was still approachable and and being a person reporting to her knew and knew in the work world she really helped me understand what it took to be successful what you know being personable being approachable listening having good listening skills being collaborative and it just I learned so much from her and so along the way I’ve really tried to emulate a lot of what she taught me and I actually worked for her for the first eight years of my career and so what it’s led me to do and I would say my greatest joy now and where I’m at in my career is helping my team develop their skills so I just I love the opportunity to spend time with people who are becoming new managers or new leaders within the organization and sit down and talk to them about the challenges that they’re having or that the the roadblocks are running into maybe it’s employee you know there’s employee issues that they’re running into or there may be personality challenges where somebody’s receiving information a different way than you’d think they would be because of a personality difference and so helping them understand how everybody comes to the table with a different set of experiences from the past and a different view on what needs to happen and what needs to how to get things done so um I’ve had the the pleasure even just here at LanguageLine I have three people on my team that I’ve promoted into leadership positions and it’s been a lot of fun and it’s also been challenging because LanguageLine is a global company so I have all three of them work remotely so it’s been interesting to develop their skills from a very remote location one is in Chicago, one is in the Dominican Republic and one is in Costa Rica so that is something that I had not experienced in the past of building somebody skills and mentoring them from a great distance and in fact not even seeing them right not even meeting them per se 

Jeanne Achille

that’s very interesting I and I think we’re going to see more and more of that as the composition of the workforce changes and these intense talent shortages continue

Loren Pofahl

yes agreed 

Jeanne Achille

now I’m curious given language lines diverse line of business I would imagine that diversity is very important to your recruiting program I remember you and I talking about how you know many organizations are perhaps recruiting in one country when we look at recruiting in the United States you know we enjoy certain socio-economic pleasures yet when you are recruiting globally there are times when you might be reaching into countries that have very different sensibilities and different economic structures tell me about the diversity in your recruiting program and how are you attracting diversity candidates plus creating that welcoming environment for people who might be I think I had mentioned Micronesia earlier you know they they might be in a country that none of us have had the pleasure of visiting

Loren Pofahl

yes I mean that’s a it’s a very challenging process so as you can imagine everyone you know you talk about people come from their own experiences and they come from what they’ve lived and they bring it with them right we always we all bring our own luggage with us I won’t say baggage I’ll say luggage as we travel the journey of life and it’s important as a talent acquisition professional to you have a sensitivity to to where people are coming from so that you can connect with them so that you can understand how they’re going to fit within your organization obviously for us we recruit for more than 240 different languages now granted of the 240 language is just not 240 unique cultures because a lot of you know there are languages that overlap each other but there are definite differences of culture and experience and approach to life that come from many of the different cultures that that support those languages so for us it’s we as a team a talent acquisition team we spend a lot of time talking about cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness so it’s talking about you know how people from a certain part of the world what’s important to them for some people and I’ll just give an example I won’t i won’t specify the the culture but it may be a nomadic culture so if it’s a nomadic culture they may have a different sense of time so if you try to talk to them and and talk about specifics of you need to be on time for this we need to have the set schedule this sort of thing if they’re a nomadic culture they may not have that correlation just from the experience that they’ve had because it’s just not part of how they live their everyday lives so it’s being sensitive to those parts of a culture that are so unique and and and having the ability to work with that to somehow fit it within the confines of what we would expect from a from an interpretation company where we have set schedules or we have set expectations and so it’s been really fascinating I think to be able to do that one of the things that we do I have a team of more than 30 recruiters that there are when we have languages that have a high need we will have specific recruiters who may have a familiarity with that culture or with that language and so we do have some in language recruiting but then you know for 240 languages we obviously cannot have 240 recruiters so there is that opportunity for some of the recruiters to learn about different cultures and so we do things within the group what we call them stretch assignments and so if the Japanese recruiter she may recruit a lot for Japanese but then we will have her do a quote-unquote stretch assignment and do recruiting for say Punjabi because obviously an Indian language is very different from a Japanese or Asian East Asian language and the cultures are different so it gives the recruiters an opportunity to have exposure to different cultures as well so it’s it’s definitely a challenge every day to figure out how to how to meld all those cultures into one country or at one company I should say

Jeanne Achille

you know but I have to applaud this commitment to cultural diversity because I think we see it more from the other direction usually where we’re you know whatever the headquarters is tends to want to impose almost like this you know you kind of smoothing peanut butter across a piece of bread like everyone’s got to be part of you know whatever this mantra is with little consideration or in some cases sadly no consideration for the the significant differences in culture that that if you don’t respect you’re not enabling people to do their best work so kudos kudos to you guys it sounds like you’ve cracked the code on this one

Loren Pofahl

well I did we’re definitely doing well with it so I’ll put it in there I don’t know that there’s a magic solution to it but I think we’ve done about as well as we can do and yeah and we definitely don’t rest on our laurels I mean we I’m always asking is there anything else we can do to improve how were you know go again it goes back to candidate experience and and that candidate experience extends to once the person is an employee and is with us that that experience needs to be one where you can retain them as well so it all comes together 

Jeanne Achille

yeah now that is so important you know I want to I want to pick your brain a bit about AllyO I’d love to know how their technology has made a difference to you and your global recruiting team 

Loren Pofahl

well you know I’m not going to give Bennett too many kudos but I will say that AllyO has actually been a great solution for us I will be honest as you can imagine with as many openings as we have we have about right now we have about 160 open requisitions for different languages we get and one of them of course being Spanish which is our number one language we get thousands upon thousands of applications and so it had been when I started here they had a they had a backlog of about six months worth of applications that we weren’t even looking at and we had openings for different positions but basically candidates were becoming quote unquote stale and so we went and we went with AllyO you know we went through a process of evaluating them and doing a pilot program and once we got them in place we made use of them to help us pre-screen our candidates so when candidates apply through our HCM system we send their information basic information to AllyO and then AllyO does a quick pre screen for us with the candidate and for us specifically we do an actual English language proficiency test a written English language proficiency test probably not useful for everybody but for us is very useful and we use that as a qualifier as to whether or not the candidate will move forward in the process and then once the candidate passes that proficiency test we then have the automated setup of interviews right so we have our pool of 30 recruiters three or more and we have AllyO set up the interviews for us so right up front the most important things are touching the candidate immediately right so the candidate applies and within 24 hours AllyO has reached out to them and so that candidate feels valued right up front and so that was critically important to us as I said we had these stale candidates who had applied six or seven months ago and never heard from us and what you know what what do you think their image was of us as a company probably not that great but now we’re doing it within 24 hours they’re getting direct feedback back and forth and if you know if all goes well they’re getting an interview within the next three to five days and so it is dramatically increased our flow of candidates through the process it’s allowed us to quickly disposition candidates who don’t meet our minimum qualifications and I have to say it’s been a tremendous asset for us just yeah getting us through that 

Jeanne Achille 

that’s pretty impressive you know I I don’t know I’m gonna put you on the spot but you know we’ve heard across the board that companies feel AllyO is potentially the best hire they’ve ever made so like maybe we could say that here I’m certainly hearing a lot of positives so that’s great

Loren Pofahl

yeah well it’s definitely been an investment well made definitely yeah 

Jeanne Achille

you know I know that our audience would like to ask some questions so I just want to make sure that everyone knows that there is a chatbot box excuse me chat box over on the right-hand side of your screen where you can type in a question I do see one question has come through but of course I haven’t I have a few more questions for you as well Lauren but but one question that I want to make sure I’m addressing on a timely basis one of our attendees has asked if you can share some techniques for attracting Hispanic candidates

Loren Pofahl

techniques… well I will tell you this number one is referral program so our our number one source of candidates is our referral program we have a very nice referral program and we have in in-house we call it chatter so it’s the ability for our interpreters to chat amongst themselves and share information and so our talent acquisition team we actually share some time with the interpreters and talk about our referral program and so we get about a quarter of all of our hires through referral and and for Spanish it’s I would say it’s good it’s really good for the other languages because obviously if you find one Chuukese speaking person that Chuukese person probably knows a few other Chuukese people so speaking people but yeah referrals definitely and then the other thing is just obviously target we do a lot of targeting so we basically once we’ve figured out where the applications are our best areas to get candidates are our hires say it’s Texas or maybe it’s Phoenix or El Paso or things like that we’ve spend a lot of energy in those areas either doing career fairs or doing outreach or working with community organizations and that’s not just specific to Spanish speakers we do that with other groups as well with Mandarin and Cantonese speakers so we try to do a lot of community engagement so if there are interpreter associations and areas or there are you know the Polish Society in Chicago or the Burmese group in Buffalo New York I could you know I could pretty much go on and on we have a lot of outreach to these different social organizations and I find that to be real helpful we’ve also reached out to churches or to other you know more family-oriented groups so there’s there’s a lot of different ways 

Jeanne Achille

that’s really good advice you know I know you just mentioned a few that probably would not have jumped out at me intuitively so thank you for sharing that with our audience we are close to being out of time and I would love to ask our guest this one last question because their responses are so revealing so no pressure but if you were to dine let’s say you’re going to have lunch with three people and they could be people who have passed on or people who are alive who would your three choices be

Loren Pofahl

I would have to say President Obama would be one I think just his life experience I find fascinating his background his relationships with his parents I think there’s just a lot of intrigue and interest that would find in talking to him about that also Mother Theresa I think it would be fascinating to understand kind of her mindset as to why she did what she did how she you know how what drove her to do what she did and then finally Prince as a Minnesotan you know I just find him to be a very fascinating character just his again his childhood his parents his just everything it just his creativity and drive I just I I couldn’t be prouder to have him as a Minnesotan and I would love to have the opportunity that spend time with him 

Jeanne Achille

you know having lived in Minnesota for a short stint he was quite the quite the gem and I don’t think we saw all of the talents that he had to offer the world so what great choices and very interesting ones Loren so thank you thank you for sharing well this has been most illuminating I’ve definitely enjoyed our conversation and I hope you have too I think we should turn the floor back over to Bennett 

Bennett Sung

thank you so much Loren and Jeanne for a great dialogue and conversation and some great pieces of advice there I wanted to thank everybody the attendees for participating again we will be sending out a copy of the recording plus a transcript in addition do not forget to download the handout which is about our AI for HR certification class and we will see you in December on December 4th with another episode of our HR leadership webcasts so look forward for information coming soon thank you all so much appreciate it

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