Human Resource Executives Talk Trends in Diversity, Inclusion at 2019 HR Insight Summit [Full Report]

HR executives from Cigna, Achievers, PNC Bank and more share actionable insights on Human Resources Programs fit for 2020.


Human Resources does more than recruiting and hiring employees. They truly care about the success, inclusion, and well-being of those workers in and out of the office. Those points were made clear at the HR Insight Summit in April 2019 in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Company Culture

“The talent is the heart of our organization,” said Keynote Speaker, Dr. Samuel Rindell of Cigna. During his presentation, he spoke about leadership, culture, and inspiring others to leave a legacy. “Culture is probably the hardest thing to change but if you can change it, it’s the most rewarding experience,” said Dr. Rindell.

“Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of those we serve.”

We began our summit talking about your challenges when it comes to culture. Kelly Johnson from The Marcus Buckingham Company, an ADP Company, led one of the roundtable discussions on “Organizational Culture.” The group discussed what tools and technology are working for a multigenerational workforce, and how to meet the needs of every employee. “70% of employee engagement is tied to the leader of the team,” said Johnson during her Breakfast Keynote presentation. Johnson touched on the importance of frequent check-in conversations and taking quick action. Both important Human Resource industry insights worth considering.

We also learned more on how technology can enhance company culture. A panel discussion including DK Bartley of Dentsu Aegis and Donna Verdisco of Hewlett Packard spoke about implementing technology saying “its no longer nice to have, it’s a must have!” They talked about flexibility in the office, using video conference software, and bridging the gap between leaders and employees to create a seamless work environment.

Full Keynote

Video poster

Watch the full keynote now, by Dr. Samuel Rindell, COO and Global Talent, Learning and Organizational Development Leader at Cigna.

Creating a Culture of Recognition

But how do you create a culture of recognition? One of our solution providers, Breanne Woodrow from Achievers, held a workshop on the topic. Her tips on how to build culture recognition included; recognizing employees frequently with and without rewards, focusing on achievement of goals, getting leadership involved, and making it inclusive and pervasive.

Recruiting and retaining the right employees was another key theme of the summit. Industry leaders spoke about what it takes to be competitive and attract top talent. “Recruitment and retention is actually a very big challenge for anyone in HR.”

We were talking about things like segmentation. How do you hire senior executives vs. someone who’s working at a shop floor in manufacturing? How do you retain talent? Questioned Shahbaz Alibaig from Esterline Technologies. He said another challenge is choosing the right technology. “What do I use for a job board and for an applicant tracking system for a candidate?” Alibaig said it is however important to invest in tools and technologies and educate users on how to use them.

Diversity & Inclusion

One empowering workshop discussed how showing inclusion can help recruit the right talent. Ashley T Brundage from PNC Bank held a session on diversity and inclusion. She spoke about her personal journey as a transgender woman and educated others about the LGBTQ+ community.

“Whatever the story is, whatever the narrative is, you need to marginalize communities up front and share their message because that’s how bias is broken down.”

She expressed that diversity programs internally and externally can help create an environment for inclusion and empower LGBTQ people to be a part of your organization. This discussion resonated with many participants including Kristen Magni, Vice President, Talent & Culture at Bozzuto. Magni said it got her to think about what’s on their job application and what boxes they are making people check.

“How are we preparing our employees who are not only working with each other but working with the public. How do we prepare them to respectfully address and be inclusive with individuals who don’t fit in to those traditional boxes. Making sure that they are creating sanctuary for everyone,” Magni said.

People Analytics

The last key theme discussed during the summit was People Analytics: measure, track, understand, predict. Peter Sursi from the FBI moderated one of the roundtable themes. Participants spoke about how to use predictive analytics to make educated decisions for performance, behaviors and trends. They also spoke about how metrics can add value to an organization by providing the information required to make the best decisions about talent.

After meeting 3 times to discuss these roundtable themes, moderators discussed what their groups need to implement change. During the closing panel it was expressed that many organizations are still searching for a solution for data integration. They expressed that they have a lot of data, but the part they need, is hard to find. They also expressed the need to find the right technology to enhance operations management. A system where everyone can get involved in the company that’s a seamless process.

Check out the upcoming HR Insight Summit events by GDS Group.