Embracing Equity and the Power of Awareness, Representation, and Community
Q&A with Kirsten Garrett, CHRO, Confluence
With over two decades of human resources leadership experience, Kirsten Garrett is an accomplished human resources executive with a proven track record of building teams, implementing scalable processes, being an agent of change, and creating operational efficiencies.
Joining the firm in January 2023, Kirsten brings to Confluence proven abilities in talent management, talent acquisition, strategic planning, organizational effectiveness, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), compensation, M&A, and workforce analytics. We caught up with Kirsten to get her views on International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month, and Confluence’s DEI initiatives.
What does International Women’s Day and #EmbraceEquity mean to you?
The notion of diversity has evolved and become significant for anyone who has been underrepresented, and women are no different. To me, embracing equity means being aware of and accountable for the reality of gender bias and avoiding the tendency to think in that vein of gender stereotypes. Regardless of gender, everyone should feel empowered to speak up if and when they think they are being judged in a way that deviates from one of equity.
At Confluence, embracing equity is vital. I already have a great network of colleagues that make it easy to share ideas and go to them for that support. Having that kind of two-way street and supportive environment is imperative to be successful.
Also, as an executive and a mother, I know how necessary it is to decide what is important for you, rather than have others decide what is right for you. Listening to your inner voice sometimes means making sacrifices and difficult decisions.
How is Confluence supporting women in the organization?
Although I have only been with Confluence for two months, I can already see the company’s commitment. Women make up one-third of our executive leadership team, and our board of directors is in the process of increasing its female representation as well.
One of those commitments is to start a network that promotes and supports women across Confluence. And, with March also Women’s History Month, we are working with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee to create a framework around a women’s heritage calendar to highlight and communicate the many significant contributions women have made and continue to make in business and society as a whole.
Why do we need more women in leadership roles?
Diversity is a diversity of thought. The way women approach things is sometimes different. When we tackle a problem, having input from people of different genders and backgrounds will always get us to the best answer. Our goal is to have diversity across the organization, not just at the executive level. When you think wholistically, you always come to the best possible decision, leading to better outcomes for the company and its clients.
What are the key DEI initiatives at Confluence?
We have established a DEI council with the goal of enhancing our ability to recruit, retain and advance diverse talent. It consists of employees from a wide range of backgrounds focused on five key areas: Leadership, Hiring, Advancement, Community, and Connections.
For example, Leadership supports an inclusive culture where diverse perspectives are valued and a culture of transparency and feedback. Hiring is about creating partnerships with other organizations to ensure we are recruiting diverse talent. Advancement creates development opportunities for diverse talent within Confluence. Community is about working externally to leverage community partnerships and underserved communities, and Connections are internal programs that support an inclusive culture and our 800+ colleagues across the globe.
Can you share an inspirational story of how Confluence is embracing equity?
Since I joined Confluence in January, our DEI council has made outstanding progress, particularly through volunteer efforts. As part of our ongoing commitment to social responsibility, a team of 13 people from our leadership team recently traveled to Mexico to build a home for a family in need, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Three of us are women, and it was great to work alongside women in that capacity.
I got to know the mother and her three children – particularly her daughter, who was the middle child. She was very quiet, while her brothers were more outspoken. I noticed that no one asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. I understood that in different cultures, females might be viewed differently from males, but I had an affinity for this girl and knew she had her thoughts and dreams. When I sat down and spoke with her, she said she would someday like to build homes and give back to those in need, just as we have for her family.
That’s when I realized how much I love what I do, the role we can all play in DEI through community involvement, and how vital awareness and representation are in embracing equity.