Challenge:

Since 2013, Cook Ross has partnered with an American banking and financial services company with an annual revenue of over $75 billion and over a quarter million employees around the world. The company initially asked Cook Ross to provide training solutions for senior leaders to help reinforce their global diversity and inclusion strategy. Later, they invited us to explore ways to address challenges in their talent pipeline related to the upper levels of company leadership.

Solution:

After extensive consultation with company leaders, Cook Ross created Unconscious Bias training in two formats: in-person delivery and live (synchronous) virtual delivery. The training engagement began in 2013 with senior leadership – the CEO, his direct reports, and continuing through three additional management layers across several business units including Consumer Lending, Community Banking, Securities, and Compliance. Virtual training was provided across the country to business unit leaders.

To date, Cook Ross has delivered more than 200 hours of training, with significant additional time devoted to preparation and project management. Live engagements have taken place in seven U.S. states.

In 2015, at the company’s request, Cook Ross researched their talent review, calibration, and succession planning processes to look for bias vulnerabilities. Based on our research, and in close collaboration with the company’s talent strategy group, we designed a targeted learning solution to be delivered to senior executives and their teams immediately before their annual talent review meeting. The solution combines classroom training with case study review and group coaching in a live, two-hour instructor-led seminar. The seminar leaves participants with a clear set of ground rules for their talent review meeting, an understanding of the unique ways bias affects their leadership team dynamic, and a plan for addressing bias when it occurs in the meeting—all designed by the executive team itself with coaching from a senior Cook Ross consultant.

Results:

Executives report their talent review and succession planning conversations have taken on a completely new character. Candidates that had been stuck in the “ready in five” box for years are being evaluated in a new light, and more candidates from minority and underrepresented backgrounds are making their way into the upper levels of the company.

Several Cook Ross interventions are deeply integrated across the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. High satisfaction with the applicability of the course has been reported in qualitative and quantitative data resulting in a documentation of better decision-making in hiring and talent review. Cook Ross partnered with this client to focus on longitudinal outcomes to sustain long-term impact and return on investment.

The partnership recognizes the critical role of accountability and seeks to measure the ROI – Cook Ross has worked closely with our client to create a dashboard to help track retention and promotion impacts of the effort to decrease the impact of Unconscious Bias and other issues across business units.