What We Do: A Case Study
Once we identify a problem that ignites a significant number of people within Parliament, it becomes a little bet. Little bets are of-the-moment problem areas with the potential to change the way we work and live, for the better. Once we've identified the opportunity to shift power within the little bet, we assemble the top influencers, thought leaders and executives to form a posse that will turn the little bet opportunity into action. One such posse underway within Parliament focuses on how to make the workplace more inclusive and diverse. At the individual level, Matt Breitfelder, Chief Talent Officer of BlackRock, and a Member of Parliament, conducted approximately 30 focused discussions with innovators and authors within the Parliament ecosystem, including at one of our 2016 PowerShift gatherings.
Armed with insight and inspiration from those early adopters, Breitfelder and BlackRock had a host of new partners, collaborators, and conspirators working on similar problems. Returning to BlackRock, Breitfelder worked with senior leaders including CEO Larry Fink, and established creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce as a top priority within BlackRock.
As Breitfelder relates, he has at most 10% of his time to invent new approaches to solving problems such as creating a more inclusive workplace. Parliament became the platform and sandbox he could plug into to try a handful of small bets in a safe and trusted environment.
After hiring Jonathan McBride to lead BlackRock’s inclusion and diversity efforts, and Breitfelder and McBride navigated the Parliament ecosystem for several months, BlackRock forged a range of thought partnerships and collaborations. That list included authors like Tom Rath, Patty McCord, and Susan Cain, as well as leaders with Pixar, Genentech, GE, OgilvyOne, and Stone Yamashita, as well as a range of entrepreneurs and dynamic Millenial voices within the House of UnCommons that aren’t often heard in the C-suites. Using both top down and bottom up strategies and experiments, both senior leaders and hundreds of employees within BlackRock increasingly understand that the company should look very different in the future than it does today.
Perhaps most significantly, Breitfelder and McBride ended up developing a partnership and close collaboration with another Member of Parliament Pat Wadors, the Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow. Wadors is widely considered the most respected HR/talent leader on the west coast, including for her focus and thought leadership on creating cultures of “Belonging”. What started within LinkedIn, creating cultures of belonging began to spread rapidly in Silicon Valley as well as beyond, including at BlackRock — perhaps one of the last places we might expect D&I to be a top strategic priority.
Thanks to leadership like this from Breitfelder and Wadors, a burgeoning movement around inclusion and belonging has taken hold within a host of Parliament member organizations as well as companies outside of Parliament including IBM, HP, and KKR, to name a few. Parliament's community around this posse extends deep into Silicon Valley where a host of questions around inclusion have national consequence, just as questions of disconnection and biases flagged by BLK SHP (black sheep) in the heartland of America has moved toward the coasts.
In addition, coming out of these and many other further conversations, Parliament published a book under its Silicon Guild imprint by Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer of Netflix, and co-author of the Netflix Culture Deck. The book, entitled Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, was published in Jan. 2018, and explores how to rethink team and organization cultures to make them more transparent, honest, and inclusive.
That’s the type of thought leadership, validated through action, that Parliament seeks to drive. We believe thought leadership only matters if can be acted upon at scale, hopefully in ways that make the world a bit more human.