Talent Insights: Frank González champions inclusive talent management

The director of equity, inclusion and belonging at Yum! Brands shares how empathy, accessibility and continuous learning drives his mission to unlock career potential and cultivate thriving workplace cultures.

Chief Talent Officer’s “Talent Insights” series is dedicated to sharing the insights and expertise of influential talent executives. In this Q&A series, we garner strategic insights, innovative approaches and challenges overcome from C-suite talent and HR executives, chief talent officers, chief people officers and more who are shaping the future of talent management.

What initially drew you to a career in talent management, and how have your experiences in the field evolved over the years?

Unlocking opportunities for others who may not have had the exposure to their aligned career purpose really excites me. My best memories, connections and successes come from the right mix of exposure and opportunities, while reducing worry for employees who have felt “stuck” in their work approach and contributions. DEI pathways have helped to structurally reduce barriers that minimize opportunities for some so that all employees thrive. From being an individual contributor to coaching and leading systems that help others, I have gone from tactical execution to negotiating contracts with vendors, plus leading teams that can inclusively scale those unlocks. Surround yourself with people who care and empathize. I challenge myself to be an ongoing learner and listener.

What core values and principles do you believe are essential for building a positive and inclusive company culture?

Providing realistic and consistent career pathing for others encouraged by exploration and connection. I also love to have humility, honesty and humor with the “heaviness of work.” Consistencies cannot happen without providing care, coverage and competency building during the highs and lows of business. I commit personally to: providing calm in change, genuineness, approachability and transparent trust both personally and professionally, so that consistency is translated to elevating the inputs of others. “Beautify the basics” is a motto learned from an inspiring colleague turned lifelong friend. These values serve well when building the structural inclusion (policies, platforms, processes) that support employees, consumers and business.

Can you share a significant challenge you’ve faced as a talent leader and how you successfully navigated through it?

I’ve navigated similar changes mentioned by others previously here in the Talent Insights series: reprioritizations, workforce reductions, layoffs, leader changes, role changes and overall routine changes. Belonging (connection) has helped navigate these changes for me and others. Outside of town halls, business updates and other formal sequenced communication, just connect. Connecting one-on-one or in small groups helps us navigate changes. Collectively we process and solve changes. It is also backed by empirical research. Quenga (2022) looked at servant leadership measured by the SLAT (Servant Leadership Assessment Tool) and the impacts on changes (routine, experiences, short-term focus, emotional responses) as measured by RTC (Resistance to Change Scale) and found kinship (relationships, connections) were a significant reducing agent for resistance to changes. So, connect with each other.

What strategies have you found most effective in attracting and retaining top talent in competitive industries?

Connecting employee life cycle to leadership models that mirror an organization’s aspirational statements helps drive the stories told. Attrition and exits should inform your strategies for attraction. Embrace internal data successes as well as the opportunities. Great stories to tell originate from several people experiences (e.g., demographics, culture, leadership moments, mobility, turnover, wellness initiatives, employee resource groups, mentoring, development opportunities, engagement scores, community sponsorship, volunteerism). The stories and enthusiasm generated with talent acquisition efforts should speak to the stories told internally so that it is genuine and organic for recruiters to talk about with prospective talent. Prospective talent want to hear differentiators and work purpose. Even opportunities and gaps can be a reason you provide or seek talent as a great culture add. These data points and insights should be consolidated into a vetted infographic that recruiters can speak about. Connect and embrace the stories of your business.

“The greatest risk is looking back and not realizing that your fears were perception, not reality. The only risk is not taking a risk at all.”

How do you balance advocating for employees’ needs while aligning with your company’s business objectives?

Utilizing the umbrella of accessibility for all (e.g., consumers, talent and systems) so that the organization can continue to prioritize people. Accessibility involves platforms, processes and policies that impact employees, consumers and the business such as digital, tech and marketing in ways we are all connected. Accessibility involves the holistic needs of everyone while still balancing business priorities.    

What leadership skills do you prioritize and cultivate as a senior talent leader to inspire your team and drive talent initiatives?

Allowing exploration to innovate in ambiguous times through a growth mindset, so that inspiration is internally driven for others. We often focus on leadership enablement, but we are all leaders in the seat we sit in and must overcome our own worries, perfectionism and doubts. I often seek opportunities to surface obstacles, challenges and barriers during any connection. How are you feeling? What’s a word to describe your day personally or professionally? How would you rate today from one through five? Why? How can I continue to encourage? These exploration moments humanize our workforce experiences and inspire through prioritizing and centering people.

What game-changing advice would you offer if you could go back in time and mentor your younger self?

Take chances sooner on others, but also on yourself. You know what motivates you, so stay true to your values. The greatest risk is looking back and not realizing that your fears were perception, not reality. The only risk is not taking a risk at all.

What do you feel is currently the single biggest challenge facing talent professionals and the industry as a whole?

Prioritizing well-being. We often do not slow down and find time for well-being until well-being finds time for us. Model great behavior by disconnecting and encouraging others to disconnect so that your talent is refreshed, rejuvenated and resilient.

We’re always looking to showcase innovative tools and technologies. Can you share one tech product or platform that has significantly improved your work processes and why you find it valuable?

Any platform that is WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant has always helped me, other employees and consumers. WCAG compliant platforms cast a wide net of structural inclusion that increases accessibility to any platform and meets the needs for all.

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