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Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, CHRO

Strength in Diversity

Bethany Tomasian

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf is the chief human resource officer for global cybersecurity and defense company Symantec. Cappellanti-Wolf has extensive experience in the consumer and tech sectors, having worked companies such as Pepsi, Disney and Cisco Systems. Cappellanti-Wolf spoke with Workforce Editorial Associate Bethany Tomasian on diversity as a driving force for a successful business operations model.

Workforce: How does diversity fit into Symantec’s business strategy?

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf: I believe that diversity is an important business driver. Symantec is located in more than 42 countries around the world, and if you’re going to be a global company you need to have an employee population that reflects the different geographies of your customers. You need different ways to operate and go to market and you aren’t going to be able to do that with a homogeneous employee base. You need people that bring different perspectives and experiences into the business. Diversity is a critical enabler for the business to be successful.

Workforce: Can you describe Symantec’s initiatives to overcome diversity barriers regarding women and minorities?

Cappellanti-Wolf: Our first part of our three-pillar approach is centered around amplifying the work that we do and creating a platform for it. That affects our employees and potential employees in the marketplace, as well as our customers and partners. Our CEO Greg Clark signed the diversity pledge for CEOs to show that we are committed to creating a diverse work environment. The second pillar is about taking bias out of the system. We did this when we introduced Textio to our system. Textio allows you to look at job descriptions and ensure that the language is gender-neutralized. We don’t want words of phrases that might not be attractive to a diverse set of candidates. That change allows everyone a level playing field when they look at these jobs. The third pillar surrounds inclusive leadership and that starts at the top. You need a company where people have a voice and they know that what they say counts because different voices bring different solutions. Diversity is an outcome of good inclusion practices.

Workforce: What advice would you offer other companies and startups regarding HR?

Cappellanti-Wolf: I would tell them to start with diversity now. Be clear about the three to four things that you want to do and focus on those, rather than launching 1,000 different ships. Leadership teams have a responsibility as officers of the company to drive this type of strategy so that it becomes a way by which you do business. I would tell startups to plant the mindset early by not to hiring the likely suspects: friends from college or previous colleagues. Bring different perspectives into the room. If you start at the beginning, it will become the operating model of business as it grows.