If you’re a company seeking information products that inform increasingly important business metrics like your impact on the environment, you might well go to the researchers at S&P Global. That’s not only because its 22,000 staff have the expertise; it’s also because they have an explicit purpose statement: S&P Global’s work needs to accelerate progress in the world by providing intelligence essential for companies, governments and individuals to “make decisions with conviction.” In this episode, we find out what that looks like from the inside, with the company’s Global Head of Talent and Leadership, Rachel Fichter.
Growing skepticism of “talent” as a key HR term
S&P Global is one of a number of organizations that has started to de-emphasize the term ‘talent:’ internal conversations suggest it can be dehumanizing and elitist to categorize colleagues this way, stressing skills and knowledge over the person as a whole. We also learn how Fichter and her colleagues think increased use of data is really the only fair way to structure high-potential (HiPo) employee programs.
From HR to People
That’s not the only way HR is getting changed-up at this S&P Global. Across all functions, new projects now adopt agile methodologies, with people coming together in teams for specific purposes. That means that lots of things are different—including a complete reimagining of the performance review process, ‘Thrive’ (COVID-inspired, but now looking permanent). Also out, too, is talk of HR at all—it’s now about People: the organization even has an identified Head of Culture.
Where training fits in a context of rapid HR evolution
Rachel explains how S&P has never had a centralized L&D function at her company. But now, a mix of decentralized and centralized work, as well as input from corporate communications, public affairs, and branding has led to a dialog across the whole organization. Its outcomes include new benefits like a six weeks global care leave, but also greater company commitment to training, such as a raise from $5,000 to $20,000 for tuition reimbursement a year, among other measures.
S&P Global has consciously embraced purpose. But it knows this is a journey: Fichter acknowledges potential obstacles like complacency, and the danger of organizational drift. The answer, she suggests: keep tapping into people’s energy. Also important: being willing to experiment, and trying to scale purpose-driven change quickly.
“Learning used to be one small team’s responsibility,” she tells us. “But in the same way purpose is the whole organisation’s, we’re trying to make development accessible for everyone, not just a few any more.”
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