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AnnMarie Gulian is the Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition for Campbell Soup. In this role, Gulian leads talent acquisition processes, including sourcing, selection, and on-boarding of professional candidates, including identification of entry-level talent—through college and university programs—and experienced candidates—through open forums such as national Black and Hispanic MBA recruiting events, Internet recruiting—and Campbell's Talent Scout employee referral program. [Full bio below]
In an interview with Vault's Senior CSR Editor Aman Singh, Gulian discussed how she correlates corporate social responsibility to recruitment and employee engagement, an oft-discussed challenge on Vault's CSR blog: In Good Company; why CSR is an indelible and core function of the HR team, and how the lethal combination of an inclusive business strategy, a hiring process that emphasizes diversity, and vocal internal activism, ensures Campbell Soup's primary stakeholders, its employees, are constantly engaged, accountable, and motivated.
I don't have a background in sustainability but once you start thinking about it and realize the impact that one envelope makes, it's a complete shift in mindset.
When I first had this conversation with my team, there was skepticism. But once we started down the process, it slowly began to make sense. I said, "I want you all to think about it—everything that we do doesn't end when you put it in the mail bin. Every time we can stop that one item from going in the mail bin, the impact we can have going forward is substantial. Yes, it's great from a budgetary standpoint but it's also great for our environment."
At first they just looked at me, like "Oh no, she's a tree hugger." [Laughs] Then when I started to explain the reasoning, the conversation turned to think of this as less work—when you start sending these emails out with an attachment, it's easier and quicker. No more addressing, printing, gluing, and dying for ink toner. Then they started to get it, and slowly, they started approaching me with ideas!
First they were looking at me out of the corner of their eye, but now they know me enough—they know I'm not driving an electric car to work every day. They get where I'm coming from and what we're trying to accomplish here as an organization.
In general, CSR is very much a part of everything we try to do at Campbell's.
One of our key seven strategies is to advance a powerful commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility, another is to improve overall organizational excellence, diversity, and engagement. When I sat down with my team after taking my position, we built our strategy on those two core foundations.
We asked: What can we do in Global Talent Acquisition to make sure that we are aligning our strategies with Campbell's overall strategies?
We try to hire diverse candidates—candidates with diverse ideas, backgrounds, thoughts, and history—who will help us grow the organization. We want to improve organization excellence and engagement with that and build on the acknowledgement that our Company has historically had high engagement. If we continue to keep our people engaged, we should be able to advance our commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility.
One of the things that we try to incorporate with our team (23 people), is to try to look at all the different things that we do on a day to day basis and analyze if there something we could do differently, in a more sustainable way.
We ask ourselves: Are we creating interview packets that we could communicate differently online? Is there something we're sending out that could become a link? It's about trial and error: You want to make sure that the candidate experience is rich.
In a conversation with our CEO [Douglas R. Conant], I brought up the idea of giving prospective candidates a preview of our history and what's important to us at Campbell's. What is it that we think candidates need to know? And how can we give them that in a format that is more sustainable and eco-friendly, and has some sort of longevity?
Of course, Doug was all for it. So we decided to create a three and a half minute video, and put it on a flash drive—it has a picture of Campbell's soup on it. That is what we hand out now, no more brochures.
It was that easy. I went to present the flash drive to our SLT (Senior Leadership Team), who welcomed it as well!
But yes, a lot of times your senior leaders are so stuck in the past, they just want to be able to smell it, touch it, and feel it. And our team was so ready to embrace a change—and they said it, "we were waiting for someone to do something different."
We are truly fortunate to have a leadership team that is able to embrace risk and say, "Do something different." We were doing something that was going to be well received by the audience, because our focus was going to be meeting our commitment to sustainability.
We want people to feel a strong connection with the Organization. We want them to get to know the Company. It used to be through a lot of written collateral—at one point, we were even sending out our entire annual report!
First of all, you and I both know that very few candidates would actually sit down and read an annual report. Secondly, the amount of paper that it uses is just astronomical. And a lot of people don't even put that in a recycling bin—they just throw it out. So from a sustainability standpoint, we said that's going against our grain. Our goal is to just send a link to people if that want to see the report, but for now we simply send an abbreviated version.
For our new hire orientations, we're trying to make sure we hand out less and still provide them with the necessary information (intranet, etc.). We're trying to change the traditional concept of stuffing away your orientation paperwork in the bottom drawer and never seeing it again.
Again, this requires constantly asking: What is it you really need?
When I started in this position, we were handing out printed collateral all the time at career fairs. Remember all the times you've received brochures from companies at these fairs? Where do they end up? Many college campuses still don't have enough visible recycling bins and so you end up throwing it out.
Going back to the flash drive example, at the end of the day, students can take those and save their papers or whatever they want to it, it's helping with our brand image, because they're carrying it around, and there's usability afterward.
That's just one example. In talent acquisition we understand the need to be sustainable and earth-friendly. I know that we can do things in better ways and we're trying to improve, one piece of paper at a time, one strategy at a time, one day at a time.
We track our employees' involvement in furthering Campbell's corporate responsibility. We track the hours and how much we give back to the community. That's an expectation; it's on our performance reviews.
It's an objective: Participate or lead in a community effort to show Campbell community activism. A second bullet would be to improve the sustainability of (in my case) the Global Talent Acquisition programs and processes.
So it's a dual expectation: Not only are we going to actively participate and lead in a community effort, my team members are also expected to work on increasing the sustainability of our programs.
This translates into measurable goals and you either can either meet them or not.
For example, if you do one community external event, you meet. If you do more than one, you exceed. If you put a program together, you can exceed. If you do at least one process on my team, you meet, but you have to do multiples and show the ROI—because of this expectation, we saved over $20,000 last year by making one small change to our mailings with FedEx.
As a team, this meant considerable cost savings. But it also meant a reduced carbon footprint for FedEx and us. We think of every envelope that doesn't have to be sent—what that means and what that translates to.
Now, multiply that 250 times—that one envelope—it's substantial. If that's just one department, what if ten departments would employ the same strategy?
At different levels in the recruiting process, the conversation comes up. The trend is definitely among the entry-level candidates who express a lot more interest and questions about CSR: How they can get involved, what are we doing, etc.
So generationally, the more mature workforce has less questions and continues to require the same training again and again, e.g., remind them to toss their recyclables in the right bin. It's a process.
When we're interviewing on college campuses, CSR is very much asked about and something that candidates have a lot of interest in. You get questions like; can you talk about CSR or sustainability? What does that mean to you? How does your organization live it? They want true examples. And you can't just gloss over it. They really want to know what it is that you do.
At different levels of experience of the hires, they have different questions.
It's been a process of collaboration and making sure our university and diversity relations team is educated and prepared to answer these questions.
We've also been involved in enough meetings with Dave [Stangis, Campbell's VP for CSR] that we're all clear on what it is that our role is, and what is important at Campbell's.
What also helps is that we're big enough, yet small enough of an organization so there's always great access to our leaders. Having Dave in a leadership position is incredibly important because we know exactly what we need to be doing, what we should be doing, and we always need to do a little bit more.
Undergrads seem to have more of an interest; for graduates, it's a mix.
It all depends on what we're looking for. For example, some of the finance and brand managers don't have as much of an interest at times. Every so often, if they've truly read about our strategy, we'll get that question because it's listed and they want to test us. Now if they do that, I know that they're truly interested in Campbell's as an employer of choice, because they've really spent some time looking at us.
We expect every position in our Company to make CSR an objective. While our job postings don't include a direct link to CSR as an objective, our performance reviews do. Although it's not blasted out there in our job postings, it is an expectation.
So once you get here, its most assuredly expected. It's attached to our strategy; it will certainly be attached to everybody's performance.
I am on the Board of Trustees at a College (It's a smaller liberal arts school up in New York State), where I brought this up in the last meeting. Not for the MBA classes, but for the undergrad curriculum, saying they needed a class that is based on corporate social responsibility.
And they were like, "Oh—okay." I thought, guys, come on, you've got to get with it. It's important!
There are very few schools with majors focused on CSR. But from an MBA perspective, CSR must be embedded without any question.
Most MBAs have their capstone class in strategy. Every single MBA program should have a CSR course. I don't care if its business—every college should be offering courses in CSR, almost like every student must take classes in sociology and psychology.
Corporate social responsibility and sustainability should be offered everywhere. I don't care if you work in healthcare, education, or finance. That should be a part of what people are doing, an imperative.
About AnnMarie Gulian:
In her role as Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition for Campbell Soup, AnnMarie Gulian also leads the process of identifying executive candidates through both in-house capabilities and partnership with executive search firms. Prior to formally joining Campbell Soup in 2010, she was the interim leader of its Global Talent Acquisition team and the founder and managing partner of Gulian & Associates, a talent management consulting firm.
With over 20 years of experience in recruitment, she has previously worked with ARAMARK Corp, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), Systems & Computer Technology (now Sungard), Dun & Bradstreet Software, and the American International Group. Gulian earned her bachelor's in political science and business management from Nazareth College and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University.
For more executive interviews, CSR commentary, career advice, and job search tips, visit Vault's CSR blog: In Good Company.
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