In the following interview, ADP‘s Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Staffing, Tara Amaral, discusses how the payroll services firm invests in talent development, succession planning and diversity in order to empower both employees and the communities they serve.
When Carlos Rodriguez took over as the CEO last November, he referred to ADP’s many growth opportunities and his excitement to build upon the momentum and success set in place by his predecessor, Gary Butler. How is your team, within the HR functionality, working to develop these opportunities and build that momentum?
There has been a huge focus on talent development and succession planning. There are plans in place to make sure we are thoughtfully looking at career development, and at growing the talent we have. We give individuals the tools to learn on the job as well as outside the job.
With the growing concern about the impending skills gap in the nation’s workforce, many companies have taken the initiative to fill that gap and reskill within their own organizations. Does ADP have any initiatives in place to reskill your current or potential employees for future growth?
There’s a huge culture of learning at ADP. Through our knowledge programs, we encourage associates to go back and develop the skills that are in line with the discipline of their jobs. We also encourage people to help the individuals on their teams through things like peer coaching, and we leverage our associate resource group to do professional coaching. We have a very renowned learning organization with an online skillset of programs our employees can take, and we also have leadership development programs at all levels of the organization. It’s pretty robust.
It’s well-documented that technology skills are among the most in demand right now. So what is ADP doing to recruit this segment in the workforce?
Mike Capone, our CIO, is passionate about this. We’re looking to work more closely with universities to make sure we’re in tune with the skills people are coming out of school with. We also have strategic partnerships, such as our partnership with Women in Technology International, where we sponsor some of their chapter events so we can actively talk about the opportunities at ADP. We do similar things with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) forums, as well, in addition to other things.
Building a diverse workforce is obviously close to your heart and a huge initiative for you. Can you talk a little bit about how ADP promotes diversity within the organization?
First, we don’t just think of it as diversity. We say “diversity and inclusion.” We’re made up of 54,000 people—just over 20,000 outside the U.S. – and we’re working on cross-functional teams, so everyone is working with a diverse work team almost every single day. We also try to make sure we’re reflective of the communities we serve. We want to make sure we’re staying true to our clients. We also often take part in visiting economic groups or business diversity councils and inclusion councils. We’re a small staff, but we really empower our leaders to participate in business-driven activities that help the community as well.
ADP is a big advocate for using mobile technology, specifically to engage with your employees – you’ve even developed an application for that purpose. Can you talk a little bit about how mobile technology improves employee engagement and how you’re utilizing it?
We see mobile technology as a great way to stay in tune. From a recruiting standpoint, we use all facets of social media. We also use an internet portal that is available for associates when they work outside of the office. Close to 6,000 associates across the U.S. work virtually, so we have a variety of tools and technology on mobile and desktop devices to keep everybody engaged and collaborative.
In addition to technical skills, what soft skills do you believe are most important to ADP’s success?
We have a big affinity towards building relationships. We think it’s very important that people are authentic. This is a culture where everyone works, so you need to be credible, reliable and trustful; and you have to learn that from other people. So, we put a lot of time and energy into building those relationships.
What advice do you have for other industry leaders as they seek to grow their organizations?
I think the one thing is, you have to prepare your leadership pipeline. You can only grow as well as your leadership team is equipped to grow. How do you continue to develop people so that you are ready for the growth and can sustain the growth? We spend a lot of time on management development and leadership development in anticipation of growth.