Adobe: The Business Behind Why We’re Supporting 3%

Adobe: The Business Behind Why We’re Supporting 3%
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On the eve of the inaugural 3% Conference Australasia, B&T sat down with its first principal sponsor, Adobe, to chat through its immediate and enthusiastic support for this landmark event.

Adobe’s head of experience marketing for the Asia-Pacific region, Clare Cahill (pictured above with her daughter), will deliver the company’s keynote on Thursday, and it’s appropriate she does. Clare was the first person I mentioned the possibility we’d bring the event to Australia to as far back as October last year, and her passion for the event was a big part in us taking the plunge and bringing the event to Sydney.

However, Clare is not unique in Adobe for being passionate about The 3% Movement. Adobe’s global CMO, Ann Lewnes, was equally as enthusiastic in 2012 when 3% founder and CEO Kat Gordon approached her to support getting the movement going. Lewnes immediately committed Adobe to being a founder sponsor when the event was little more than an afternoon of mentoring young creative women.

So, why has Adobe been so eager to support and nurture The 3% Movement first in the US and now in Australia?

Clare Cahill says this conversation is not about feminism – it’s about business.

“If business can’t get the internal culture right with women, how can they possibly understand the external cultures of customers?” she told B&T.

Her view is also reflected by her company’s longstanding and transformative CEO, Shantanu Narayen, who was recently quoted as saying this: “Much of Adobe’s success can be attributed to a simple belief that our founders instilled in our culture: Great ideas come from everywhere in the company.

“In today’s ultra-competitive environment, it’s critical to cultivate a strong, diverse workforce who bring their best ideas to work every day. We are committed to making Adobe a great place to work, where everyone can contribute and succeed.”

So, what are the business reasons to focus on employee engagement?

Proving Adobe isn’t just paying lip service to all of this, Clare can rattle off statistics and studies on after the other. She points to a recent article by Kevin Kruse in Forbes, where he tracked more than 30 studies which showed how engagement correlates to decreases in absenteeism, turnover, accidents and defects, while it also correlates to increases in customer service, productivity, sales and profits.

In companies where 60 to 70 per cent of employees were engaged, average total shareholder’s return (TSR) stood at 24.2 per cent. In companies with only 49 to 60 per cent of their employees engaged, TSR fell to 9.1 per cent. Companies with engagement below 25 per cent suffered negative TSR.

Companies with highly engaged employees beat average revenue growth in their sector by 1 per cent, while companies with low engagement were behind their peers.

Yet another study, this time by Deloitte titled Global Human Capital Trends 2017: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, showed only 10 per cent of companies are prepared for future labour market needs in a digital age.

Eighty-five per cent of human resources professionals say their biggest priority is developing a better experience for employees.

Organisational culture, engagement and employee brand proposition remain top priorities in 2017; employee experience ranks as a major trend again this year.

Nearly 80 per cent of executives rated employee experience very important, yet, 59 per cent of respondents reported they were not ready or only somewhat ready to address the employee experience challenge.

I then asked Clare what was it personally which drover her. And part of the answer was more about who drove her.

“We have an amazing executive vice president of customer and employee experience, Donna Morris,” she said.

“‘Disrupt or be disrupted’ is Donna’s rallying cry.

“From abolishing Adobe’s annual performance reviews to dramatically expanding its family leave policy, she has set the industry agenda while making Adobe a great place to work.

“She leads the product, customer service, and technical support experience for all Adobe products, in addition to all aspects of human resources and the workplace. Donna has been the advocate and the champion of change at Adobe.”

At last year’s inaugural Adobe Women in Leadership Summit, they took a pulse. Adobe wanted to understand what drove its female employees and what were their key factors in supporting their career at Adobe.

The results came back:

  1. My manager.
  2. Schedule flexibility.
  3. Ability to advance career.

As part of this the company announced some major changes in Australia. Adobe now offers six months primary carer leave – this can be for male or female employees. It offers pay parity and is proud to be joining more than 150 leading companies in signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

And if that’s not enough, Adobe is just about to launch a re-boarding program for those coming back who have been out of the workplace on either sick/paternity leave.

Things change when you aren’t at work for extended periods, and the program is designed to ease the transition back into work through flexibility, meeting-free Mondays and Agile work practices.

“So people like me, single mum, to a beautiful, crazy seven-year-old girl can still do big, fun, yet demanding jobs – and yet also still be a mother,” Clare said.

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