Today we meet with HR Business Partner Andreina Orta who coordinates the HR efforts in Diversity and Inclusion at SAS EMEA. As an HR Professional with more than 10 years’ experience in recruiting, human resources, talent acquisition and performance management, Andreina has worked with Tech giant SAS for the last 7 years, based in Madrid. Andreina shares with us some learnings and insights that she gained during her career in Human Resources.
What is your experience as an HR Business Partner?
I started my journey as an HRBP at SAS. In this role I have had the opportunity to be involved in all of the processes related to talent management: recruitment, learning and development, engagement, career planning, performance review, etc. Previously I worked as a recruiter at a headhunting consulting company specialised in sales and marketing profiles as well as leadership and talent consulting projects.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in your role as an HR Business Partner?
The biggest challenge I can think of is the position of an HRBP itself: as someone sitting between the employee and the company, with an advisory role that must have a good understanding not only of HR processes but also of the business and the culture. Thinking about a more specific challenge, it has been leading the Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce for the region of EMEA, that requires a lot of time, efforts, analysis, investigation, and persuasion skills.
How did you overcome some of the challenges regarding getting leadership buy-in on diversity and inclusion?
Our D&I efforts at EMEA level are still at an initial stage, so some challenges are yet to be faced. However, SAS is a global organisation with a very horizontal way of working. We are organised in teams across the world, from India to Japan or the US, and the management of cultural differences have always been a part of our daily relationship with our colleagues. At SAS we thrive in diversity, from a business and from a human perspective and that is something that our organisation has always put focus on, and this is a plus that we think can facilitate our way in getting leadership buy-in. Also we have strong support from our HQ, that provide many resources to support our D&I strategy, and most important, SAS is part of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, where we as a company pledge to advance diversity and inclusion in our workplace. It is a public commitment made by a coalition of more than 850 CEOs of the world’s leading companies where they agree to take action to foster an environment where diverse experiences and perspectives are welcomed . When we think about challenges to overcome in getting the leadership buy-in I think it is important to first focus on creating awareness through showing data coming from well-known top companies that have demonstrated the value of diversity and inclusion for the business, and also showing results about our own workforce analysis in terms of diversity and inclusion and its connection with our talent management strategy: attrition rate, employer branding, recruitment strategy, etc.
When you worked for Tech companies, what was the workforce diversity index like?
The pattern observed in the Tech industry has probably a lot to do with the sector itself: STEM careers are still a male dominated field of studies. Even though we manage to find a better balance in the entry level positions and in senior positions, there is a drop of female talent in middle management roles. This is why we are working on leveraging the female talent within the company through initiatives like the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), a strong community of SAS employees who empower, encourage and inspire women to pursue excellence in their careers and fulfilment in their personal lives. The members of this network act as ambassadors for SAS and STEM careers, sharing time and expertise to develop leadership capabilities among female employees, expand their professional networks, showcase thought leaders and attract women to careers in science and technology.
What are the top tips you’d like to share with HR Professionals working in the Technology industry?
For a diversity and inclusion project to be successful, it is critical to count on full support from the leadership team. Also the HR team should be sufficiently aware of its importance to be able to spread the voice and become real advocates. To accomplish the former, relevant diversity and inclusion training is very important, as the topic is sensitive and requires a lot of reflection. Employees should be also involved if we are looking forward to embedding diversity and inclusion into the company’s culture. The recruitment strategy should not only focus on the immediate results of building a diverse talent pipeline for the ongoing recruitment process, but also should go to the earlier stages: schools and universities, creating interest in STEM careers in women and people of diverse backgrounds.
What are the biggest lessons you have learnt in your career as an HR Professional?
In terms of diversity and inclusion, the challenge it’s not only about attracting diverse talent, but it is also, and this is far more important, being able to integrate and retain this talent, understanding that diversity itself does not ensure inclusion. For an inclusive environment to be in place, proactive efforts should be done at the top levels and cascaded down for the rest of employees with management responsibilities.
Why do you think that diversity and inclusion are so important to the success of HR Professionals in the current climate? Well, we live in a multicultural connected world, migration flows are impacting our communities, we need to work in more international environments, managers need to lead multigenerational teams; consumers as well as candidates are demanding to connect with companies that share philanthropic values, that sponsor green initiatives to reduce their environmental impact, and that embrace diversity. Apart from being profitable, companies are demanded to show commitment to society, and the environment, they’re challenged to be more responsible and to be agents of change. During Covid-19, managers make sure they created a “we-feeling” despite the distance, and that they empathise and support their teams in the work life balance challenges that remote work brings. Many employees are facing big challenges in this new situation, minding their children while working online, and this requires inclusive leadership skills. HR professionals should adapt to these new challenges and make sure to incorporate this into their talent strategy and this is all related to take diversity and inclusion as an important pillar of the HR processes.
About Andreina and SAS
How we can help
At Inspired Human, we help companies place diversity and inclusion at the top of their leadership team’s agenda. We can help get real commitment to tangible change on diversity and inclusion in your organisation. Book your free hour-long consultation today.