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ChapmanCG Brings Rewards Leaders Together for Final Networking Session of 2014

Hosted by: Thomson Reuters

The Chapman Consulting Group recently brought together a key group of senior Compensation & Benefits professionals at the offices of Thomson Reuters in Singapore. This was the latest in our regular HR Leader networking sessions, held throughout the year. Jaslyn Koh, Global Rewards Partner for Thomson Reuters, co-hosted the group discussion for over 30 C&B leaders. Although a busy period for many, interest in this session was high, and we were pleased to welcome representatives from an impressive range of companies, including AIG, BHP Billiton, Bloomberg, Covidien, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Franklin Templeton Investments, GSK, Hilton, HSBC, Jones Lang LaSalle, Mars, MasterCard, Mead Johnson, Unilever and Visa, among others.

Integration and Harmonisation

The group filled the two-hour session with some fascinating and insightful discussion across a broad range of topics, with a few key themes emerging as the major focus, including M&A, Global Levelling and Diversity. Jaslyn Koh, Global Head of Reward, Growth & Operations for Thomson Reuters, opened up the session by sharing her experiences and what she has learned from the company’s M&A track record. After any integration/ merger/ acquisition, this leader felt the harmonisation had to be done swiftly and handled well, to avoid any potential pitfalls. “M&A is a people business, and the stakes are high for sustainable M&A value creation and success. Management involvement on day one on-boarding is important, and communication should continue over an extended period for a greater sense of transparency with “new” employees. It is definitely crucial that the key processes are harmonized as soon as possible. Not harmonizing ‎can be more costly than we think, and more complex in future integration. Flexibility really is the key to success‎.”

This was a view that was echoed by many who felt that culture harmonisation, the right engagement surveys, and performance management, carried out at the right time can all prove to be effective ways for organisations to come together. Hostile takeovers are an exception, said one regional Rewards Head, who had experienced somewhat different circumstances. Another observation shared by some was that business expectations on C&B leaders have shifted, and are much higher than ever before, with many being asked to effectively lead the integration. This included, compensation and benefits, but organisational structures, people planning, modelling, and costs as well.

Global Levelling

Next, Vivian Zou, Regional Head of Rewards for Mars, gave an impressive overview of the on-going journey Mars is on to reach the company’s goal to achieving a global levelling system. Global levelling, the process used by many multinationals to systematically determine the value of certain positions within the organisation, can be difficult to establish. The objective is to standardize pay and facilitate consistent talent management strategies throughout the world. Vivian described how the Mars levelling project was triggered by the company’s acquisition of Wrigley’s, which resulted in a hugely complex business with no global consistencies.

The company took action a few years ago to establish this global levelling system, in what was seen as a huge change internally. Vivian said “When it’s related to pay, it’s sensitive; it’s personal, even. When there are changes in how grades, titles and career progression are measured, it’s really not just people who are affected — it’s the whole culture of the company.” She added, “We have really tried to put an emphasis on a career map, not just a ladder, to move up and progress — not a hierarchy in the traditional sense.”

Of course, when systems change, there will be challenges and even pushbacks during the process. Issues at Mars included not only inconsistencies in each country, but also inconsistencies within certain functions. In addition, the new organisation had too many layers, meaning some job levels were left reporting to the same job level. How can a company get this right and have the correct job descriptions amongst the complexity and variation that exists when two companies come together? It needs to be closely linked to talent development said some, with a robust succession planning and performance management framework in place. This may consist of perceived progression ‘upwards’ being not only title, but also cross function movement, training and development, and most probably step promotions within grades themselves. This allows for ‘promotions’ and celebrations, without too much impact on internal levelling. Cultural, industry sector and geographical factors also combine to play a huge part.

Can We Ever Achieve Equality?

Finally, JingYing Li, HR Leader, Reward for BHP Billiton, presented an overview of a study she had worked on to the group, in which she looked at gender based pay in the workplace and asked whether equality will ever really exist? Diversity discussions always become animated, and this one was no exception, with lots of differing opinions on why the gap remains, and what is being done to improve or understand the situation. The fact remains that there are still significant gaps in pay globally, differing across regions, job functions and industry sectors. Overall, it was agreed that this is not always due to gender, but can also be related to age, nationality and other “unconscious biases”, which may affect decision makers.

JingYing shared a couple of key insights with the group that resulted from her study. “Gender income inequality is persistent in the region because it is rooted not only in culture and tradition (thus preventing women from accessing education and employment opportunities), but also in legal difference in the treatment of men and women (e.g. laws that prevent women from owning property, accessing credit or gaining employment). In addition, women on average expect to make less than men, so they’re more likely to take jobs immediately at the time of offer, rather than negotiating, which results in pay differences. Additionally, men are more likely to ask for raises.”

Are closing the gender pay gap, and equal remuneration, vital for the creation of quality jobs? JingYing believes it is: “A true gender perspective can help companies recruit and retain the best employees, create a positive work environment, and gain the confidence of their employees. It an also make the best use of HR and improve productivity and competitiveness.” She continued, “It’s not all just about Diversity, but also Inclusion. Awareness, training, best practice driven and led by senior leadership, and gender based reward reviews can help.”

Many thanks go to Jaslyn Koh and her team at Thomson Reuters for co-hosting such a great gathering of C&B experts, and we look forward to bringing this group together again in early 2015.

Graham Tollit is a Director with the Chapman Consulting Group, and in addition to supporting Senior HR searches, he helps lead the C&B practice globally.

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