Estee Lauder CFO Advocates Diverse In-House Experiences
We’ve long espoused the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Typically we talk about this in terms of developing workforce diversity with respect to racial, national, religious, gender, sexuality, etc., diversity. One of the benefits of this diversity is that your workforce will bring in a wide array of cultural experiences. This provides a range of perspectives for decision making and problem solving as well as a broad understanding of a wide range of cultures and viewpoints.
But diversity doesn’t just come from our upbringing and heritage. There is also value in promoting a diversity of workplace experiences. This is the approach advocated by Tracey Travis, CFO of Estee Lauder who had a relatively circuitous route to her role as the top financial executive of the makeup giant. As Ezequiel Minaya writes in an article for the Wall Street Journal, the “former General Motors Co. engineer ran plants, distribution centers, and sales teams for PepsiCo Inc. before leading the finance team of Ralph Lauren Corp. and rising to the post of senior vice president of finance at L Brands Inc., parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. Along the way, she delved into IT, compliance, investor relations, corporate and brand strategy and helped turn around struggling divisions.”
Travis has pushed for a program that gives her staff exposure to a variety of areas of finance and strategy. Minaya writes that assignments in different business units throughout Estee Lauder typically last six to eight months and focus on projects that aim to occupy roughly 40 percent of a participant’s time and, if the project is completed successfully, the participant may have the option to switch positions.
Diversity can come in many forms. While we have long advocated for a diversity of backgrounds broadly within a company’s workforce, there’s also much to be said for encouraging a diversity of experiences within a company. Exposure to different units of the business gives participants in such programs a more holistic appreciation of the organization and a range of perspectives to bring with them throughout their careers with the company.
For the benefit of your bottom line: be inclusive!
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