Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Embedding Sustainability and CSR into Projects, Programs, and Portfolios

I had the opportunity to both present and attend Boston University's Project Management in Practice conference. While we had to be virtual this year, it was a well attended event with many experts presenting on both research and actual projects. My presentation entitled, Building a More Sustainable Project Outcome, was well received and generated a great deal of conversation around embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into project, program, and portfolio management. While it has been several years since I published my book, Becoming a Sustainable Organization: A Project and Portfolio Management Approach published by CRC Press, the conference reinforced the importance of the topics, tools, models, and cases outlined in the book. My focus is to help leaders embedded the sustainable development goals into their organizations' mission, vision, and culture.

I was recently reminded of the impact of my book when I came across a link showing more than 100 libraries globally offering it as a resource for their members. Included in that number are some of the most prestigious research institutions in the world.

As a refresher on the content, I am sharing its Table of Contents.

Chapter 1. What is sustainability? Why does it matter?
Chapter 2. Building the business case for sustainability
Chapter 3. Gaining stakeholder and c-suite support and sponsorship
Chapter 4. Alignment of business and sustainability strategy creates sustainable strategy
Chapter 5. Project management techniques inform sustainable strategy development
Chapter 6. Creating a culture of sustainability
Chapter 7. Portfolio management supports strategic sustainability alignment
Chapter 8. Identifying and engaging external stakeholders
Chapter 9. Leveraging organizational relationships and assets
Chapter 10. Leveraging human capital professionals
Chapter 11. Adopting a culture of change to unlock the benefits of sustainable strategy
Chapter 12. Sustainable strategy as a lever to attract, engage, and retain the workforce
Chapter 13. Tools and techniques to embed sustainability
Chapter 14. Selecting goals and metrics that matter
Chapter 15. Celebrating success

Becoming a Sustainable Organization is available for sale from any of your favorite book retailers. It can also be borrowed from the following libraries . In case you are wondering, yesBoston University Libraries have a copy of my book!

I hope you find my book inspirational and useful as we transition to a post COVID-19 world in which both environmental and social issues are increasingly part of our business and governmental policy conversations.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Celebrating Juneteenth in Solidarity with Our Community

In recognition of our community and business partners and the need for social justice reform and change, we are honoring Juneteenth by taking a company-wide holiday on June 19th. Juneteenth is a celebration by the African American community commemorating emancipation from slavery on June 19, 1865 in Texas.  Our hope is that this day will provide time for reflection on how we can all drive  meaningful change within our social systems.

In addition to this action, we encourage our employees, customers and partners to share their voices in support of social justice reform. We are pursuing making a difference through the following actions:

Contact Political Representatives: Make phone calls to your local, state, and federal representatives and tell them your issues and the actions that you would like them to take.
Share Your Voice: While we are in the pandemic, show your solidarity while social distancing. Consider joining a caravan car parade, post signs, wear buttons. have a conversation.
Donate:  Donate funds to not for profits and community organizations supporting communities and social justice reform.
Be Informed: Gather information from a variety of sources, read books and articles, and listen to podcast and NPR.
Vote: Register to vote and vote in all elections.  If you will be traveling, register for a mail in ballot.

We are inspired by our partner’s, Ultimate Software and Kronos Incorporated, and are following their lead in taking this action. Here is their announcement:

The historical significance of Juneteenth will be honored as a company-wide holiday by Ultimate Software and Kronos Incorporated. Standing in complete solidarity with our community we will also take this time to focus on the critical work ahead in the pursuit of racial justice.

Be safe, be active, speak up!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Business Leaders Driving Impact on Climate Change and COVID-19

As we at Becoming Sustainable social distance and work remotely, I am drawn to thoughts about the health of our planet and the interconnectivity between climate change and disease. In the early days of COVID-19, I was on a webinar with a former head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, who highlighted the impact that climate change is having on infectious disease. The health of our planet affects the health of our people and businesses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted as business shut down and layoffs ensued. As business leaders, it is time that we take climate change seriously as a business risk and work toward a viable solution that protects our planet, people, and profit.

Viewing some of the Nasa photos taken during China's COVID-19 shutdown gives us an opportunity to better understand the impact reduced industrial activity and consumption has on our planet. On February 28, NASA reported how decreases in industrial, transportation, and business activity since the coronavirus outbreak reduced levels of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over China.  Oil and coal consumption in China were also significantly down resulting in 25% lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These significant drops in emissions are  a reminder that while individuals can make personal choices to reduce their own carbon footprint, it will take significant business leadership action to reduce Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. The industrial sector is a major contributor to GHG emissions and air pollution. Without a meaningful plan from business leaders, we will not begin to reach our lower emission targets and our planet's health and ours remains at risk.

In order to drive meaningful change around climate action, we need a broad based approach that considers both environmental and social levers. Environmental and social impacts are intertwined within an interconnected system and their interdependency is reflected in the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). A team of researchers and scientists at Project Drawdown found that promoting gender equality (SDG#5) was one of the most impactful tools for addressing climate change. Through better access to education and family planning services, outcomes for women and girls improved. As a result, stewardship of land and resources also improved.

If you are a business leader thinking about what you can do, the following 10 steps provide a roadmap to begin to drive Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) change:

1.     Build a culture for ESG impact by changing behaviors in employees, customers, and suppliers.
2.     Leverage industry resources and best practices to identify and address material issues for your business.
3.     Align business goals and material UN SDGs
4.     Engage employees, communities, and peers on material ESG issues to collectively address solutions in public and political forums.
5.     Build partnerships with community organizations, industry members, supply chain organizations, and government agencies to support private public partnership solutions.
6.     Highlight organizational sustainability goals and initiatives to attract and retain top millennial talent to continue to drive change.
7.     Establish ESG goals, track progress, and report on outcomes.
8.     Leverage technology and Artificial Intelligence to improve data, impact and outcomes.
9.     Align capital investments and projects with ESG goals.
10.  Participate in public policy conversations to change resource allocation toward addressing the UN SDGs.

For additional information on driving impactful ESG change, here is a link to my book Becoming a Sustainable Organization. We believe that the health of our planet and its people are the top priority. We are happy to discuss these ideas with you and to begin the conversation about driving impactful change. 

Stay safe and well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Is Remote Work the New Normal?

When things return to the new normal, the state of work will not be the same. While some may have a different point of view, from my perspective remote work is here to stay. Both managers and employees are fully participating in this workforce dynamic and, if handled proactively, it adds value to businesses.

The benefits of making flexible work the norm include tapping into a broader and more diverse talent pool. For many, the work requirements of a 9-5 in person position just didn’t match their life requirements. Offering flexible work as the norm rather than the exception promotes belonging in your organization building a more diverse talent pipeline. Other good news, all of your employees are much more skilled in digital tool usage and are finding new and better ways to leverage existing tools to improve communication and project outcomes.

While there are many benefits to both employees and employers for offering remote or flexible work arrangements, it is imperative to have a policy that is well supported by tools, resources, and information for both employees and managers. At HRcomputes, we have worked with clients to create flexible work arrangements that include remote work, compressed schedules, and job sharing. Here are some of our top keys to success:

1.     Leadership Buy-in-Garner leadership buy-in and support for flexible work arrangements so that it is institutionally supported as the new norm. It is imperative that a flexible work structure is part of the organizational culture and that it is consistently implemented across the organization.
2.     Program and People Eligibility-Identify which flexible work options are going to be offered such as telecommuting, compressed schedule, and extended shifts and who within the organization will be eligible. Also, consider tax law requirements for remote workers.
3.     Tools and Resources-Clearly communicate expectations around requirements for a remote workspace; not only physical space but also technology requirements to meet service level agreements and security protocols. Leveraging existing employee engagement and communication platforms can be a great way to communicate the organization’s resource offering and the requirements need for remote work from the employee.
4.     Training-Both employees and managers will need some training on best practices for remote work. From managing people and projects to effectively utilizing digital tools, your people are going to need to learn new skills to effectively work and manage under a flexible paradigm. Providing on-going remote training is a way to establish baseline competencies as well as to provide access to gain new skills and competencies. The good news is that there are many great HCM learning platforms to support this delivery mechanism.
5.     Deliverables-Consider how work will be assigned, what it includes, who needs to be involved, and when it will be due. Set guidelines for responsiveness to invitations and emails. If your work is client based or collaborative, you may want to consider establishing hours for team availability. Working remotely requires us to be much more focused on transparency of process both around assignment of projects and deliverables.
6.     Feedback- Create a feedback mechanism such as a pulse survey that provides actionable data for managers and leaders. Also, provide a coaching protocol to allow managers to provide ongoing meaningful feedback for employees.
7.     Dashboards-Help managers meet their goals by providing meaningful data so that they can make data driven decisions rather than decisions based on their own biased perceptions. Leverage metrics, analytics, and predictive analytics to improve decision making and organizational outcomes.
8.     Networks-Promote a sense of community through your online communication platforms. Think of new ideas such as the virtual lunch and learn or virtual team gatherings. Use your voluntarism program to connect remote workers and create a sense of community around shared interests. Remote work can create a feeling of loneliness so proactively build a sense of virtual community.
9.     Technology- Managing remote devices can be challenging. Organizations that have gone to total remote workforces provide a useful model for technology support. They have tech support attend large conferences and employee gatherings and provide timeslots for employees to bring in laptops for upgrades. Clearly describe what equipment the organization will provide and what the remote worker needs to obtain. Consider providing reimbursement for internet access.
10.  Data Security-Set clear expectations around data security including data and information that should not be sent via email or provide a secure email option. Identify requirements for internet and WIFI usage especially for employees who like to work from coffee shops. Are you providing a VPN for employees? If so, are there restrictions such as employees printing documents on home office printers that might need to be addressed?

These are a few of our ideas to support a vibrant virtual workforce. We would be happy to continue to conversation including digital, AI, and machine learning tools that can help.

Stay safe and well!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

HRComputes Spring 2020 Newsletter

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Be safe, be healthy, stay calm!
Honored to be a Beacon ICON Award Winner
On March 11th at the Normandy Farms, Silos Ballroom, Beacon members gathered to honor three award winners with the Beacon ICON Award for their impact on women in leadership. The winners were Natasha Andrews, Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Girls Inc., Alyssa Budraitis, Founder and Owner, Beautiful Linens, and Kristina Kohl, Managing Principal of HRComputes. Each honoree had the opportunity to share her own journey and story on facilitating women in leadership. All of the stories were authentic and impactful.
Hearing from each of the award winners was very moving.  Click here to read Kristina’s speech.
Diversity of Thought Drives Innovation
Recently, Kristina was a guest speaker at the Ultimate Women in Business Summit in NYC speaking on Building a Socially Responsible Organization. While attending, she had the opportunity to hear Cara Pelletier, Director of Diversity, Equality & Belonging, Ultimate Software speak on Building a Culture of Belonging. Her presentation focused on creating a culture of belonging rather than one of inclusion. As Cara says, “You don’t need an invitation, you already belong” It is about bringing your authentic self to work and feeling like you really belong there. In order to have a diverse workforce, you need to create a culture of belonging.
As we think about diversity and its impact on innovation, we need to think about the many levels of diversity in our organizations. We have identity diversity, which reflects attributes that are more visible (race, gender, etc.) and we have cognitive diversity, which reflects how we see the world and think about things. A recent HBR article adds a third, experiential diversity reflecting how our affinities, hobbies, and abilities shape us.  Each of these types of diversity is impactful in driving innovation.
When we talk about work, where is most work happening? Work happens in teams and teams have meetings. So, how can we make meetings more effective in creating an environment for a diversity of thought to drive innovation? Click here for more insight!

Spotlight on Technology
In early March, before the madness, Morris attended the Ceridian Dayforce Advisory meeting, an annual gathering of consultants, senior executives, and techies.  HRComputes has been attending for 3 years since its inception.  The point of the meeting is to hear the latest and greatest about the product, the strategy for what comes next and how to best partner with Ceridian.

One of the most important statements made by a senior exec was that “80% of HCM clients use only 30% of the functionality of the system”!  With the emphasis of so many projects on getting Core HR and Payroll up and running in a short amount of time, so much functionality gets left un or under implemented.  Many of the “bright and shiny objects” and the leading-edge range of capabilities – many of the things one sees in a demo and often the reasons for the purchase decision – do not make an impact on the organization.  The consensus on how to fix the issue was to increase client-side support, expand on change management and include a budget for technology adoption and communications techniques.  All services, by the way, that we excel in providing!
To read more about the Advisory Summit click here!

Kronos-UltimateSoftware Merger
The Kronos-UltimateSoftware merger made the news recently.  In our view, with both companies having the same Private Equity owner, it seems like it was only a matter of time.  We hope that the new company will bring to market the best of both products, technology and positive culture.  We look forward to hearing more when we attend the UltimateSoftware Advisory Council meeting in May!  Stay tuned!
Honors, Awards, Board Appointments
Kristina Kohl Beacon 2020 ICON Award Winner

Kristina Kohl named to Wharton Alumni Club of NJ Board of Directors

Morris Yankell named to Beacon Networking for Life Board of Directors

Kristina Kohl named to SJ BIZ 2020 Women to Watch – click here for more on this award and to read Kristina’s answer to “What’s the best business advice you were ever given or gave to someone else?”

Check out our website
Connect with us at:
Kristina Kohl, Managing Principal
Morris Yankell, Principal

Follow us on Twitter:
Kris    Morris 

Please stay in, virtual, touch!.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Kristina Kohl Named as a SJ BIZ 2020 Women to Watch

We are honored to have Kristina Kohl, Managing Principal, named as a SJ Biz 2020 Women to Watch. Meet all of these women leaders and hear about their journeys. Here is an excerpt from the article and a link to the full article.

"Is there anything more powerful than women lifting up other women—encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves? The women before you have done just that and are empowering others at their places of work and all over the community as well. They lead by example and have attained an immeasurable amount of success by pushing boundaries and making their dreams a reality."

Congratulations to Beacon Icon Award Winners

 On March 11th at the Normandy Farms Three Silos Ballroom, Beacon members gathered to honor three award winners with the Beacon ICON Award for their impact on women in leadership. The winners were Natasha Andrews, Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Girls Inc.; Alyssa Budraitis, Founder and Owner, Beautiful Linens; and Kristina Kohl, Managing Principal of HRComputes. Each honoree had the opportunity to share her own journey and story on facilitating women in leadership. All of the stories were authentic and impactful.
 As one of the award recipients, the event was very moving. I had the opportunity to share my perspectives with the audience. The following is an excerpt from my speech:

 I’m wearing my suffragette sash this evening in honor of all of the women who came before us-our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmother who blazed the path for us. While women have come a long way in terms of rights and opportunities,  we need to continue to push the needle forward to level the playing field and to provide opportunities for women at the most senior levels.

 As women take on senior roles,  we need to pick up the mantle of leadership which includes strategy and vision but also talent development and management. Opening the door for others, sponsoring, mentoring, and providing growth opportunities moves the needle forward.

 As women leaders, we have the opportunity to make the world a better place focusing on a triple bottom line strategy of planet, people, and profit. We have the opportunity to make our organizations places of belonging so that all employees can thrive and contribute by bringing their full selves to work. We have the opportunity to guide our people to a successful and impactful future.

 When I began in the business world, I was often the only women in the room. The only role models that I had were men. Today, I’m honored to serve as a role model for future generations. I share my network, time, and experience with many other women in order to improve their own journey toward their personal and professional goals.

We can't wait to see who will be selected next year for this honor. While this was the inaugural event, The Beacon ICON awards have already become a major Philadelphia business community event.