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Traunza Adams on creating equity in the workplace - beyond just pay equity

, | Aug 30, 2022 3:55:45 PM | By

Traunza Adams has been a Chief People Officer, advisor, and executive leader at companies large and small — from startups to Salesforce, AppDynamics and SAP.

On a recent episode of High Growth Matters, we talked with Traunza Adams about equity in the workplace and how to operationalize it, including::

  • How loving on our people helps businesses thrive
  • A 4-step framework for HR heads and people managers to scale equity
  • How to empower candidates and teams to determine which employers are serious about equity

To hear the full episode, visit this page, or subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Don’t miss the full episode: Creating Equity in the Workplace.

How loving on our people helps businesses thrive

After the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, many started to rethink their priorities, and one effect was the start of the Great Resignation — a mass transition from employees’ current jobs to others that more aligned with their goals, or at the very least, offered a fresh start. Fast forward to 2022, and the market is starting to again see trends similar to those of 2020:

  • Layoffs are beginning to occur more frequently.
  • Venture capital is becoming more focused and conservative.
  • Hiring has slowed or been put on pause.

These trends may lull some leaders into a false sense of security; engagement and retention will increase when workers are worried about losing their jobs, right? The truth is that top talent is often impervious to economic conditions that may leave others panicked.

Especially in the cases when top talent occupies mission-critical positions, it’s more important than ever to support your team. Your competition needs the same positions!

“Loving on your people means making sure that they know they're valued, supported, respected, appreciated, that they are important to the business, and that they're important to you,” Traunza explains.

How to thrive in the workplace

When employees feel cared for, rather than being considered just another resource, retention is easier. Traunza mentions a recent study by Glint in 2022 that received 350 million responses to the question: What do people need to thrive in their workplace? They landed on 6 people success elements:

  1. Purpose
  2. Growth
  3. Clarity
  4. Empowerment
  5. Well-being
  6. Connection

But is retention the only reason an employer should make their employees feel cared for? Absolutely not. If you want to improve other business outcomes, your first priority should be your team.

“When people felt cared for, valued, and supported, their level of engagement was three times higher than those who didn't feel that way. And when people are more engaged, they're more productive.” — Traunza Adams


A 4-step framework for HR heads and people managers to scale equity (and pay equty)

The definition of equity in the workplace has continued to expand from its initially limited definition — usually referring to only gender pay equity and stock ownership. Equity, as it exists today, is much more expansive.

“Equity really means that we take actions that will enable us to have an inclusive workplace and one where people feel like they belong.” — Traunza Adams

This means an employer has to understand individual needs, what they’re starting point is, and address those needs, so every employee can be treated consistently, fairly, and be empowered. If employees know that their individual needs are being met, they no longer have to worry about getting what they deserve.

To integrate this kind of individualized attention, Traunza shares a 4-step equity framework:

  1. Be intentional.
  2. Be aware of potential biases.
  3. Apply the golden rule: Treat others how you’d like to be treated.
  4. Apply the platinum rule: Treat others the way they’d like to be treated.

These steps may seem simple, but consistently keeping them in mind can be difficult. For example, unintentional proximity bias often results when one employee with the same skills works at home as another who works in the office.


How to empower candidates and teams to determine which companies are serious about equity (and pay equity)

Employees may want to take responsibility into their own hands and assess potential or current employers for how much the companies actively value equity. While it’s difficult to get a complete picture of what a company looks like from the inside without being there, Traunza shares a few tips to help the search:

  • Look at the makeup of the executive and leadership teams: Does this company look like a place that values diversity and different perspectives?
  • Ask the interviewer hard questions: Ask what the company has done to make sure that everyone on the team is treated equitably.
  • Ask to speak to people not on the interview panel: This gives you an opportunity to speak with someone you’re more likely to connect to if not present on the interview panel.




To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The High Growth Matters Podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or just search for The High Growth Matters Podcast in your favorite podcast player.