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DE&I Recruitment Practices & Policy Review

Case Study

DE&I Recruitment Practices & Policy Review

Overview

Conscient Strategies was engaged by a health care policy organization to establish their five year strategy.   From the onset, it was critical to this organization to ensure that they included diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as the lens through which all work would be done.  During the development phase, we leveraged a DEI lens to evaluate strategic opportunities and embed DEI concepts into decision-making. 

With an increased emphasis on DEI, Conscient Strategies adapted the DEI lens concept and worked with our client to apply a catered lens to both their internal operations and external programmatic work. Through those efforts, we drafted an updated equity principle, crafted an organizational equity lens, developed a process and tool to track equity lens usage over time, and integrated DEI goals into the organization’s 2020 objectives and key results (OKR) framework. Specifically, one of the main areas where we applied this lens was to embed DEI into efforts to attract, recruit, hire, and retain talent.

Working hand in hand with the executive team, Conscient Strategies applied the DEI lens to each component of the pipeline creation cycle. Included in each of these areas was the creation of the following framework and deliverables that the client can reference and utilize as they enhance their talent acquisition.

 

What We Did & Results

Working hand in hand with the executive team, we applied the DEI lens to each component of the pipeline creation cycle. Included in each of these areas was the creation of the following framework and deliverables that the client can reference and utilize as they enhance their talent acquisition.

 In each area, it was important to create the baseline of where this organization currently operated and align with their desire for a more diverse and inclusive work environment. 

 The recruitment practices involve four interlinking gears, recognizing that actions at each gear affect all of the others:

Attract Talent

Of key importance in attracting talent is reflecting the commitment of the company to DEI principles and actions. We worked with the team to develop a DEI business case, ensuring that everyone understood the value of a diverse team and was excited to proceed. DEI was already part of the values of the organization, and we worked to improve the language and make the value more visible on the website. We established recruitment goals and job description best practices so that everyone within the organization was executing against the same standards and to ensure that wording and job requirements optimized inclusivity.  In order to attract a more diverse talent pool, we identified target communities that were rooted in DEI principles and could identify and refer potential candidates.

Recruit Talent

The processes the organization had for recruiting were evaluated and an overhaul of their processes was conducted.  We undertook a review of the interview process, sourcing, and outreach.  It was discovered that there was a limited scope for each of these.   We expanded the locations where this organization sourced talent.  Importantly, we worked with the team to establish relationships with organizations who could refer individuals, expand the locations where they typically posted announcements, and expand the audience who would be interested or hear about the opportunities. We also updated all job descriptions to ensure that they met best practices.

Hire

Recommendations and an implementation plan were created to advance the direction for hiring decisions. Specific criteria were established for interviewing candidates, and the team worked to broaden identification of experiences that would be relevant. We also established an Applicant Tracking System to track demographics of applicants.

Retain

Retention is heavily influenced by a sense of inclusion and belonging. A survey highlighted some of the issues that currently existed across different groups of employees. We conducted two all staff, virtual retreats to explore concerns and potential opportunities. Recommendations ranged from specific tactics, such as always sending slides and agenda ahead of meetings to accommodate staff with visual and other access impairments, to broader issues such as staff development efforts, performance management, and ongoing feedback. In order to ensure that DEI principles were integrated into all operations, we developed an Equity Lens. The purpose of the Equity Lens was to provide a framework to evaluate decisions and actions that result in more equitable outcomes. Decisions and activities are being filtered through the Equity Lens for all aspects of the organization – from recruitment and hiring practices, to operations processes, vendor selection, partnership efforts, and programmatic work.

The recruitment effort resulted in two new senior hires, bringing much needed diversity to the leadership team. Equally important to the immediate success, the organization has adopted new processes that will enable them to continue to act on their commitment to DEI. By including retention as a key step in the hiring and recruitment process, the organization is also establishing a virtuous circle.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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6 + 4 =

Social Innovation at Scale

Case Study

Social Innovation at Scale

 Overview

The CEO of a Washington DC-based social innovation nonprofit engaged Conscient Strategies to help them develop an organizational strategy. The organization had been the cusp of shuttering their doors when they received a series of small grants followed by a $25 million investment that launched the CEO and her team into a period of rapid growth and scale.

The company was growing significantly in terms of revenue and team size but had not scaled its organizational structure or processes to match that growth. At the same time, key leaders were preparing to transition out of the organization, leaving significant leadership and skill gaps in their wake. Conscient Strategies worked with the organization to conduct leadership and organizational assessments. Then, in partnership with the CEO and board, implemented a multi-faceted project focused on leadership transition and development, organizational stabilization, operational support for rapid growth, and strategy development.

Assessment

Conscient Strategies launched the engagement by conducting a multifaceted leadership and organizational assessment. The assessment analyzed past experience, current context, and future opportunities in light of the mission, programmatic approaches, structure, competing organizational cultures, leadership capabilities, team dynamics, and practical realities that shape day-to-day decision making.

What we discovered

The assessment revealed that the organization lacked the systems and infrastructure to support growth, suffered from extreme leadership gaps (both in terms of sufficient staffing and capabilities of existing leaders), and that the strain of rapid scale had pushed the CEO and global team into a place of extreme unhealth and ineffectiveness. Without a clear organizational identity, objectives, or strategy, the global leadership team was spread thin and wasting significant resources on inefficient decision-making and processes. Additionally, we identified a set of root issues with the finance function and operations teams that posed a significant risk to the organization’s success and sustainability.

Conscient Strategies worked with the organization to conduct leadership and organizational assessments. Then, in partnership with the CEO and board, implemented a multi-faceted project focused on leadership transition and development, organizational stabilization, operational support for rapid growth, and strategy development.

What we did

Out of this assessment, we engaged the CEO and her direct reports through leadership development and advisory services to drive necessary organizational restructuring and position the team for strategic growth. We also provided embedded operational support to help the Board and CEO stabilize the organization, with a particular focus on the finance functions and infrastructure. We:

Established priorities and developed a roadmap to stabilize the organization

Guided the CEO and board through significant leadership transition and helped identify, hire, and onboard senior leaders

Integrated improved leadership behaviors and aligned the organizational expectations and behaviors of the global team in service of the mission, values, and strategic objectives

Designed and helped implement a new organizational structure

Developed a new organizational identity including vision, mission, values, goals, and strategy

Results

As a result of the engagement, the CEO significantly increased her leadership capabilities, particularly in the area of communication, vision-casting, decision-making, outcome-driven accountability, and prioritization. The organization has stabilized from a leadership and financial perspective. Today it has a full leadership team in place, is aligned around a new vision and strategy direction, and successfully secured additional funding in line with that strategy. We continue to provide ongoing advisory support for the CEO as she implements the strategy.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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9 + 8 =

Organizational Assessment & Restructure for FinTech Start-up

Case Study

Organizational Assessment & Restructure for FinTech Start-up

Overview

Conscient Strategies was referred by an angel investor to advise and coach the CEO of a FinTech Payments start-up. The start-up was looking to do a Series A raise and struggling with its organizational structure, strategic focus, and clarity of leadership which was all slowing its launch of new products key their growth strategy. The CEO engaged us to perform an organizational assessment and provide strategic advisory and leadership coaching services to help them achieve their growth objectives.

Assessment

We began by conducting a needs assessment to evaluate the organization’s leadership and organizational structure. The assessment focused on operational alignment with strategy, effectiveness of and gaps in the current organizational structure, and areas for leadership growth.

What We Discovered

The assessment revealed three key gaps, each a significant risk to the organization’s success: 

  1. Gap between existing organizational structure and the one needed to reach the strategic goals
  2. Lack of operations capability and capacity to launch new products
  3. Need for leadership coaching and a sounding board for the CEO

What We Did

Following the assessment, we provided advisory services to the operations team to develop new reporting and processes. We also advised the CEO and Head of Product to improve alignment on strategic objectives and accountability in their achievement. We then worked alongside the CEO to identify key gaps in the organizational structure and what skills were needed to fill the open positions. Through leadership coaching the CEO was able to gain clarity of vision, improve strategic decision making, and drive the company forward more quickly.

With improvements provided by Conscient Strategies, sales increased 5-15% month on month over the course of the multi-year engagement.

Results

Through our engagement, our efforts resulted improved organizational alignment, increased operations capability, significant growth in the CEO’s leadership capabilities, and a restructured management team. The new management team:

Hired 2 new key executives to fill gaps in to revised organizational structure

Developed OKRs to ensure accountability and the organizations alignment with strategic priorities

With these improvements, the company sales increased 5-15% month on month over the course of our multi-year engagement. They not only decreased the time it took to take a product to market, they got back on track for their target product development plan, launched two new products in the first year of the engagement, and successfully raised Series A capital. We have continued our engagement into a third year acting as an advisor to the CEO and board as they pursue a Series B raise.

Did you know?

Our team provides post-transaction planning and support that keeps your investment on track.

From 100-Day Plans to integration support and beyond, we’re here throughout the deal cycle to ensure successful mergers and high value exits.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

7 + 8 =

National Law Firm Culture Assessment

Case Study

National Law Firm Culture Assessment

Overview

Conscient Strategies was engaged by a national law firm with fourteen offices nationwide. Over a three-year period of time, a West Coast office had approximately tripled in size. This growth presented challenges with regards to a deterioration of alignment between the headquarter offices in New York and the office on the West Coast. This included both a vacuum of leadership to address problems as they arose in the West Coast office as well as specific issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The firm reached out to Conscient Strategies as a step towards proactively addressing these issues.

Assessment

We began by undertaking a rapid assessment of the state of the office.  Simultaneously, we worked with firm leadership to understand the desired culture of the firm.

 Through the engagement, we utilized the Conscient Strategies framework, which is built around three key manifestations of culture:

  • Shared beliefs and values
  • Actions and behaviors
  • Physical and space indicators

Within this framework, the Conscient Strategies team focused on a number of elements of particular relevance to the firm, including employee perceptions by specific demographic considerations. We analyzed the information by various employee segments to identify any key differentiators – for example, by position, by gender, by ethnic group, and by years at the firm among other considerations.

 

Conscient Strategies analyzed the information by various employee segments to identify any key differentiators – for example, by position, by gender, by ethnic group, and by years at the firm among other considerations.

 

What We Discovered

The assessment and our analysis revealed the following themes:

Tensions between employee segments

We identified issues within the team on how both lawyers and staff were treated based on gender.  There was a perception that there were only one or two “offenders” on the team, yet our assessment concluded that none of the women working in the West Coast office had a sense of psychological safety in the work place. 

Promotions and partner track

This was a key consideration for many in the West Coast team. Our analysis found that the policies and procedures for advancement did not line up with the perception of what needed to be done to grow within the firm.  There was also a tremendous amount of confusion around how feedback was given and to what end.  As a result, there was considerable discontent surrounding advancement decisions taken by the firm.

Leadership capacity

Partners in the West Coast office, like many law offices in the United States, promote based on the business brought into the firm. However, few of the partners in the West Coast office had consistent or strong leadership capacity to drive the office in a continued direction of growth. 

The assessment also revealed gaps in the client’s national business strategy, operational systems and processes, and business development.

What We Did and Results

At the conclusion of this project, we provided the firm’s leadership with an analysis of the situation in the West Coast office and a list of recommendations to begin shifting misaligned behaviors. Based on our deep listening, observations, and analyses, we developed a plan to create the desired changes and address some of the toxic behaviors noted in the West Coast office. This included considerations such as business strategy, operating structure, filling leadership gaps, and disciplinary tactics to increasingly bridge the gaps that existed between the East and West Coast teams.  

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

11 + 2 =

Acquisition & Merger Integration: Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

Case Study

Acquisition & Merger Integration:
Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

The Challenge

Conscient Strategies was charged with navigating the merger of two international member organizations. Although they shared a common mission, the organizations were distinctly different and neither was properly positioned to deliver on the evolving needs of its members. As such, the end goal was not just a successful merger, but an emergence as a re-positioned, unified entity.

Key Objectives

  To establish a single, new culture that respected the cultures of the original organizations while serving the vision of the merged organization

  To redefine membership services to increase the relevancy within a changing marketplace

  To reverse declining financial situations

  To manage expectations of highly involved boards

Hurdles for Leadership, Board, and Staff

Letting go of “what is” typically encounters resistance and creates stress among staff. In this organization, staff and management were challenged to re-imagine services and positioning. Nothing was exempt from analysis and “We’ve always done it that way” was not a reason to continue what was.

Coming together as one organization required guidance and cooperation at every level. We worked with executives to align their financial management practices and leadership styles. The two Boards needed to reconcile governance and level of involvement with the organization. At the staff level, employees needed to embrace new social and professional relationships while developing and adjusting to new processes. Employees all along the hierarchy needed to feel empowered to experiment, to fail, to innovate, and to succeed.

Managing risk and financial outcomes was crucial to the success of the merger. We helped leaders develop a single view of acceptable risk and rationalize finances to reflect common definitions and time frames.

What We Accomplished

established a unified vision

  • Redefined the positioning of the organization to be a center of innovation in the market
  • Utilized benchmarking and brainstorming to model and establish new ways of tackling issues and getting ideas flowing

defined & integrated a new culture

  • Transitioned culture to focus on innovation, collaboration, and responsibility
  • Infused new culture into behaviors and actions
  • Developed and implemented processes that reflected the new culture

restructured

  • Defined new roles, responsibilities, and positions
  • Led the search for a new CEO who would align with the new vision
  • Established a new Board and governance structure

improved finances

  • Repositioned the organization to drive greater revenues
  • Revised the service portfolio to optimize both the top and bottom lines

Where Are They Now?

“Today, much of the core structure that guides our organization is the result of the foundational work led by Conscient Strategies. We are most grateful for their insights, their consulting support, and their sophisticated understanding of systems.”

“The team at Conscient Strategies was instrumental in helping guide the merger process of our two predecessor associations, while also leading the vision and culture development for our fledgling new entity.

From the mechanics of the merger process to the countless administrative details to the planning process for our new structure, the Conscient Strategies team shared their attention to detail, along with their ability to navigate and support change.”

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

3 + 4 =

Retaining Women as Partners

Case Study

Retaining Women as Partners

The Challenge

A professional services firm was concerned about high turnover among women resulting in under-representation of women at the executive level and potential claims of discrimination. Senior Partners believed that they were taking sufficient steps to overcome equity concerns and did not believe there was bias or discrimination in the firm.

What We Did

We began by sitting down with senior management to understand their perspectives and confirm the general hypotheses. We did a complete human resource data review including departures and promotions and projections based on current trajectory. In addition, extensive interviews with both current and former female employees were conducted.

What We Discovered

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners. The growth in women partners were much smaller increments than originally expected. The documented and generally accepted reasons for women departing centered around family concerns. In fact, we learned that most of the more senior women who left joined other firms. They did not believe they were well positioned to become part of the executive team. What was most striking was that high performing women were not given the opportunity to work on the higher profile clients.

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners.

 

Implementation & Execution

Plans were developed to reevaluate how individuals were assigned to projects.

Mentoring and coaching

Mentoring and coaching was established for both male and female employees.

succession Planning

Succession planning was strengthened and integrated to this project as it
had been a separate initiative before this engagement was completed.

defined indicators

Leading indicators were established to ensure we optimized tracking.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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9 + 7 =

Partnership Alignment & Sale

Case Study

Partnership Alignment & Preparation for Sale

Overview

Conscient Strategies assisted the founders/owners in a partnership that had experienced rapid growth to reevaluate their alignment and their objectives resulting in preparing the company for sale. With annual revenues catapulting overnight from $800K to $11M, the two partners struggled to manage the increased workload and scale their team effectively. Resentment grew as one partner assumed significantly more responsibility than did the other. As the relationship between the partners deteriorated, the culture of the firm suffered, and the future of the company was put at risk.

Assessment

We leveraged our proprietary leadership and culture assessments to evaluate the capabilities of both leaders, the cultural factors at play in the growing company, and the dynamics underpinning the organization’s challenges.

What we discovered

The assessment identified three critical gaps that were driving significant risk for the business:

  • Tension between the two partner’s approaches to running and working at the firm
  • The lack of a defined culture and values that were tied to strategic objectives
  • The need to determine the optimal path forward

What we did

In order to address these issues, we provided a combination of leadership advisory services, executive coaching, and targeted facilitation to identify a set of strategic objectives the company and for their partnership.

We began by facilitating group sessions with both partners to identify goals of the firm and understand how far the divide was between the two partners. We also held individual sessions with the partners and with each member of the team to further understand the culture and to identify any opportunities to reconcile the tensions that were disrupting the success of the firm. The Conscient Strategies’ team drew on its deep business acumen and extensive experience dealing with cultural considerations as well as on its expertise in executive coaching and facilitation.

“Conscient Strategies has allowed our ownership team to recognize where our strengths lay and to develop a path towards alleviating many of the tensions that had been building over a two-year period of time. They helped us recognize that although we continued to expand rapidly, we had not changed the way we were working. Their professionalism, ability to facilitate and identify strengths and weaknesses both individually and as a company enabled us and our team to grow at a time when doing so was paramount.”

Results

Through the engagement, Conscient Strategies:

Enabled the two partners to agree on a common vision of the current situation.

Defined a path forward that involved selling the firm.

Assisted the partners and the firm to prepare for sale and acquisition.

Helped the dominant partner to position himself with the acquiring company.

Did you know?

Our team provides planning and support to ensure successful acquisitions and high value exits.

From 100-Day Plans to integration support and beyond, we’re here throughout the deal cycle.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

11 + 6 =

Rebuilding Culture After CEO Dismissal

Case Study

Rebuilding Culture After CEO Dismissal

The Challenge

The CEO was terminated by the board following advice from legal counsel. When we arrived, the work environment was dysfunctional as a result of the actions of the terminated CEO. Distrust and suspicion remained. The board and a recently hired COO was concerned about reenergizing a relatively young staff and bringing the organization back to productivity.

What We Did

After conducting an employee engagement assessment, we held a companywide gathering. We conducted “truth & reconciliation” type meetings to allow the opportunity for grievances to be heard and responses given. We also acknowledged the point of transition and described the vision forward to drive the organization to greater success. Bringing everyone into the nature of the change process set the expectation that the road ahead will be bumpy, yet there is a clear path out of the turmoil. We worked with the board on their role, decisions and interactions with the staff to ensure that all parties were aligned with the actions necessary to stabilize the organization.

What We Discovered

The board demonstrated inconsistent behavior and oversight driving some of the instability surrounding the leadership transition. The organization was structured such that outside stakeholders beholden to the founders often drove much of the negativity. Staff were either not allowed to rise to their position or promoted prematurely, creating an environment where no one trusted the others on the team, including a clear “us vs them” divide between senior leadership and the staff.

Conscient Strategies discovered that staff were either not allowed to rise to their position or promoted prematurely—creating an environment where team members didn’t trust and support one another.

 

Implementation & Execution

Our recommendations and actions spanned a number of areas:

board management

We worked with the board to clearly define their role of a board and appropriate interactions with the operating team.

reset vision

We helped to reset the vision of the organization as a whole and understand their
importance to realizing that vision.

coaching

We coached specific employees to mature some of the behaviors that were exhibited by the team

organization restructuring

We restructured the programmatic responsibilities, processes and clarified professional accountabilities to optimize the productivity of the team as a whole.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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4 + 9 =

Toxic Work Environment

Case Study

Rebuilding a Toxic Work Environment

The Challenge

The CEO of a professional services firm was concerned that revenues had plateaued and that the firm was experiencing high employee turnover.

What We Did

Our first step involved extensive discussions with the CEO to understand his perspectives and objectives for the firm. We then reviewed the financials and conducted in-depth interviews with a broad sample of employees. These steps led us to conduct a preliminary market and competitive assessment.

What We Discovered

The primary driver of both the stalled financial performance and the high employee turnover was a hostile work environment. Many staff were high quality, and they quickly determined that the culture of the firm and the toxic personalities at the executive level were not to their liking.

Implementation & Execution

Over an 18 month period, our recommendations and actions spanned a number of areas:

Executive Coaching

We instituted intensive executive coaching for the CEO and select staff.

Planning

We modified meeting agendas and schedules to ensure that everyone understood the what, for what and so what of each meeting.

Culture Shift

We led the team in defining the desired corporate culture and put in place actions to make that culture come alive.

Staff Repositioning

As appropriate, staff were repositioned, and in a few instances counseled out.

Empower Employees

Changed processes and approval requirements to appropriately empower staff, and helped reset staff priorities to balance both immediate and long-term revenue generating opportunities.

Restructured Strategy

We restructured the firm strategy to reflect the changes in the market and competitive environments.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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15 + 1 =

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