For T-Mobile, Transparency And Accountability Are Key To A Successful DE&I Strategy
This week T-Mobile published its second Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) report in which the company shared its progress in the core areas that guide its ESG efforts: “Equitable Opportunities, Digital Empowerment, and Thriving Planet.”
For this article, I will focus on who CEO Mike Sievert calls “the heart and soul of the company and the key to its success “- its talent, the fabric of the Magenta (the corporate color) culture.
During the pandemic, most organizations realized how critical being in touch with their employees was. Timely and transparent communication was needed to build trust in a moment of great insecurity and stress. In addition, being in touch with how employees felt about their day-to-day work and the company they worked for was critical to evaluating engagement and overall worker satisfaction.
T-Mobile measures the health of its culture through a confidential survey called “Our Voice” that goes out to employees several times a year.
In October 2021, approximately 39,000 T-Mobile employees took the survey with data pointing to a customer-focused, inclusive environment:
87% of employees say their team clearly prioritizes the customer experience in its work
86% of employees say their own team creates an inclusive work environment “for me to be myself.”
80% of employees would recommend T-Mobile as a great place to work
In addition to the surveys and roundtable discussions hosted by directors and VPs, T-Mobile hosts quarterly all-employee meetings where everyone can ask questions directly to Mike Sievert on topics such as new business offerings and the response to the pandemic.
T-Mobile’s Equity in Action was born out of these conversations and focuses on three areas where employees wanted to see continued work from the company: increasing diversity in leadership roles, maintaining a company culture of respect, and positively impacting the community by supporting education and upskilling opportunity.
Specifically for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), the company set 54 goals that the company refers to as “promises,” really underlining the commitment made to its talent rather than some external stakeholder. In the report, T-Mobile says it has achieved 27 Promises so far and it is on track with its effort to deliver on the remaining 27. Among the delivered Promises are:
Established an External Diversity & Inclusion Council and a California Council
Added diverse representation to T-Mobile’s Board of Directors
Expanded access to wireless service through organizations serving underserved communities
Established partnerships with minority-owned banks
Increased procurement activities with diverse businesses
Internal and External Allies
For its DE&I strategy, T-Mobile relies on internal and external allies such as its Inclusion Council, Leadership Task Force, Oversight Committee and External Diversity & Inclusion Council, a group of thinkers and advocates in the space who help support the company’s goals.
Holli Martinez, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, believes that aligning the business goals with the Equity in Action goals, with the Employee Resource Groups’ (ERG) strategy both at the overall company and local level allows T-Mobile to streamline DE&I practices while addressing local needs for maximum impact. ERGs are critical internal partners to Martinez’s efforts. What started as a grassroots movement is now an essential element of the company culture, with nearly 40% of employees participating in one or more ERGs. Six ERGs and four sub-affinity groups drive actions to solve business and employee pain points. For instance, the Women and Allies Network pointed out gaps in T-Mobile’s benefits for family planning and conception and the company addressed those pain points with increased benefits. Likewise, when the Pride and Allies group called out a need for enhanced surrogacy benefits, the company also increased those.
Pay Equity & Career
Pay equity plays a big part in T-Mobile’s drive to be an equitable and inclusive workplace. The company’s commitment is that employees are paid equitably based on their work, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or other aspects of their identity not relevant to their work performance. In addition, the company considers factors such as market data, employee role and experience, job location, and performance.
Economic stability is very much intertwined with personal growth and career. In 2021 T-Mobile partnered with McKinsey to deliver two programs that enhance the capabilities of underrepresented leaders. The McKinsey Manager Accelerator focuses on improving leadership mindsets and behaviors and deepens participant understanding of nine business topics. The McKinsey Executive Leadership Program equips future leaders with the peer network and sponsorship that helps them achieve their aspirations and develop new skill sets. Career progression is not only based on performance and output. The ability to progress requires skills not often taught at school or on the job. Being able to rely on sponsors and mentors willing to have transparent conversations based on their own experience is the most powerful tool this initiative is providing.
The Numbers Are Only Part of the Story
When it comes to DE&I, the numbers reported in each annual report are always the cause of much attention. T-Mobile’s workforce is in much better shape than most tech companies. Employees who identify as women represent 41% (flat over 2020) of the company’s workforce. While the number decreases to 33.8% (32.4% in 2020) when looking at executives, the percentage remains considerably higher than most tech companies. Without wanting to take anything away from T-Mobile’s initiatives, the fact that roughly 39% of overall US-based employees work in retail helps explain the above-average numbers. That said, the focus of T-Mobile’s leadership is apparent when looking at its diverse board of directors. T-Mobile’s director selection guidelines define diversity broadly to include factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, geographic, cultural, and professional diversity. As of December 31, 2021, 7 of 14 Board of Directors members identify as women and/or members of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
T-Mobile’s business mission is to connect people so everyone can thrive. When it comes to the company itself, connecting people is at the core of the inclusive culture being built so the company itself can thrive today and, in the years, ahead.