ID&E Listening Sessions

 

Claudia Mills

Director,
Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Altria Client Services

Part of us advancing our Inclusion & Diversity Aiming Points is truly understanding our employees and their experiences. We have these Aiming Points, and most people think that it's just a matter of making decisions and moving people into the right places, but it is more than that.

As a result of what was happening in the country in 2020, the listening sessions were first a space created for our Black employees to talk about what they were experiencing. We wanted to hear from them: How could Altria demonstrate its commitment to change? We started these listening sessions to really listen in order to truly respond in the moment. Who better to guide us than the employees themselves?

Listening sessions provide us with insights and recommendations. It's not a handful of people making and executing decisions that may or may not work; we are hearing from the employees directly as they share with us what they are missing and what actions they would like to see the company take in order to enhance their experience. I think there is a much higher success factor with employees being part of the solution.

In each session, we heard some of the challenges, strengths and the gaps in employee experiences. So far, we have conducted listening sessions with our Black, Hispanic and Asian American employees. Each cohort had about eight listening sessions with nine to 10 employees per cohort. Because the listening sessions aren't a representative sample size, we also sent out a survey and asked additional employees to rank and prioritize actions to understand what would make individuals feel most valued. In 2021, we continue our intersectional approach to gather insights from a variety of identities.

We combine our listening session insights with other insights using our data points like our Human Resource data. Our employee engagement survey gives us a feeling for a particular point in time, but alone, those pieces of data don't contextualize the experience. What I've learned is that you cannot depend on one piece of data, you need all pieces of the puzzle to understand deeply. Because the listening sessions aren't a representative sample size, we also sent out a survey and asked additional employees to rank and prioritize actions to understand what would make individuals feel most valued and believe that Altria is committed to change. It really does bring it all together. 

I feel we are listening to what employees say their experience is like and we are taking their recommendations and turning it into action. Employees feel heard. There is a sense of greater trust created and higher levels of optimism. I believe people feel satisfied, informed, and aware that progress is happening. Employees feel like they are helping to shape the future, they know we care for them, and that we are in this together.


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