Three Talent Oversight Misconceptions: Highlights From the 2022 NACD Summit

By Natalie Heavren


Talent Oversight Online Article

Amid the Great Resignation and the trend of “quiet quitting,” it has become clear that boards are paying more attention to talent recruitment and retention of company leaders. The oversight of talent management can be complicated, but boards need to be informed of trends and understand some common misconceptions.

At NACD’s 2022 Summit, Shellye Archambeau, director at Verizon, Okta, and Roper Technologies; Samuel Bright, chief product and experience officer at Upwork and director on the board of TIAA; and David Rodriguez, NACD.DC, director, American Woodmark and former chief resources officer at Marriott International discussed these topics at a panel moderated by Jeannie Diefenderfer, NACD.DC, director, Digital Bridge and NACD New Jersey Chapter as well as CEO, Center for Higher Ambition Leadership. The shared the common misconceptions about talent oversight that boards need to better understand.

Misconception #1: Finding Diverse Talent With the Right Skill Sets for Companies Is Too Hard and Not Under the Board’s Purview

It does not matter where the company is located, diverse talent can be found and creative solutions can be employed. Companies can hire remote workers from across the country—or even around the world—because as Archambeau highlighted, it is very rare in the current landscape to have a company in one geographical area. She specifically mentioned a company that she was on the board of that was based in Seattle, a less diverse city, and that the company chose to set up corporate capabilities in more diverse locations.

Bright also highlighted that by targeting job posts as remote, but within a location, for example, “Remote (Atlanta),” companies can target and tap into a different talent pool without having a physical office in that location. This opens companies up to “talent pools that would never consider applying to a company that is not based there and doesn’t have the same degree of brand knowledge or brand equity.” He added, “So there are ways to be surgical about the roles that could be located elsewhere, that would tap into a different [segment] of the population.”

A key point that Archambeau noted was that a lot of things in life are hard and a lot of things in business are hard but “don’t accept that excuse” in reference to why diverse talent could not be found.

She later added: “This strategy, human capital strategy, talent management is part and parcel to the overall strategy. It’s not something kind of nice to have on the side. It has to be integrated.”

Misconception #2: Diversity Is a One Size Fits All Definition

While an Americanized view of diversity is often brought forward in boards, companies like Marriott International, operate in different countries. Rodriguez highlighted the need for companies to build culture of diversity not just built on how those in the United States view it.

“If you want to make progress in the US on inclusion, then I think we need to build a culture of inclusion that can work anywhere in the world and be open to differences that people bring to the workplace,” he said.

Misconception #3: As the World Shifts Back From the Height of COVID-19, the Balance of Power Will Swing Back Toward Employers

Throughout the pandemic and in a technology-driven marketplace employees realized the power they had to get out and get another job, Rodriguez pointed out. He also added that in the job search process, prospective employees know a lot more about their prospective employers than the employers know about them.

“[There’s] this notion that as unemployment goes up that the balance of power will swing to the employer—and that is a fool’s belief,” he said.

Archambeau offered a different perspective and believes that as the economy gets worse, retention levels will improve and things on the surface will look better.

“When you look under the surface, what you’re going to find, you’re going to end up with a really to mediocre team because the top talent, the skills that are in high demand, they are going to retain all that power, they’re not losing it,” she said.

One of the topics that was heavily discussed was the return to the office and Rodriguez noted that even if you force employees back into the office every day, while they may comply the company may not be winning over their hearts and minds.

“I think it’s so important for boards to really ensure that they’re getting the data to be able to assess the quality of a company culture and the trajectory of the human capital,” Rodriguez said.

Understanding these misconceptions can help directors improve board oversight of talent, which is critical today with the rapidly changing workforce.

Natalie Heavren is assistant editor of Directorship magazine