Creating a United Team
As an innovative growth company, we value and seek out a diverse workforce. Today 40% of Acxiom employees are female—which is significantly better than most technology companies. Yet diversity extends way beyond gender; it’s multidimensional, extending to global experience, veteran status, gender preference, ethnicity, geographic location, leadership style, generation, and other factors.
When you acquire and retain a workforce with a rich mix of experiences, your employees are happier, your solutions are more innovative, and your business is stronger. So in addition to finding applicants with leadership potential, excellent technical skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a results-oriented mindset, we try to uncover the individuality in each applicant and make sure every candidate has the opportunity to showcase their personality and aspirations. We look for insightful individuals who are strategic, willing to challenge the status quo, and have a “yes, we can!” attitude.
Here’s how we accomplish this feat: Our structured hiring process starts by understanding the business need and how the role will fill that need. From there, our team works with the hiring manager and interview team to understand who our ideal candidate will be. Throughout the process, we ensure timely communication, clear feedback, and a candidate-focused approach. Here, it’s a “two-way” interview where candidates feel comfortable asking questions to ensure the role is a mutual fit.
Hiring the Talent of Tomorrow
Our college recruiting program helps us attract and develop up-and-coming talent and accelerate performance and growth. To form relationships with students early on, Acxiom creates numerous touchpoints throughout the year, including community engagement functions, targeted on-campus events, career fairs, and interview opportunities.
We are especially proud to attend and sponsor Grace Hopper, a three-day conference where women in computing gather to discuss research and career prospects. Co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994, this event was inspired by Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing women in tech history. We use this platform to share the career possibilities at Acxiom, facilitate networking between women at Acxiom with their peers in the industry, and recruit the conference’s brightest minds.
As part of our commitment to build a strong pipeline, hire a diverse workforce, and nurture a “win together” philosophy, we’re proud to offer scholarships to students who are enrolled in a full-time, post-secondary degree program in select technology fields. Since 2012, we’ve awarded 31 scholarships to students within an underrepresented population in the technology workforce.
Winners of our $5,000 Diversity Scholarship demonstrate a combination of academic achievement, field of study aimed at Information Technology, and professional interest as it relates to our business. We also offer winners a paid internship at one of our locations, providing the opportunity to gain real-world experience and develop practical IT skills.
Welcome to the Acxiom Family!
We want new hires to feel connected and confident long before their first day of work, so we invest significant time and resources to start inspiring their trust from the get-go. Our annual New Hire Survey informs our onboarding processes and has been a great way to measure the success of our new programs and processes.
Nailing the First Impression
86% of new hires rate the Acxiom first day experience better than at other companies, which is up 3% from 2016. When the big day finally arrives, new hires are greeted with an office tour, fresh Acxiom t-shirt, and lunch with their leader or team members. At our Central Arkansas location, the welcoming team includes volunteer ambassadors who accompany our new hires from orientation to their team and provide a campus tour at the same time. This lets new hires ask questions and get to know a familiar face on campus.
To create a more inclusive environment, orientations are conducted either virtually or in person, depending on where and how the employee will be working. During orientation, new hires participate in a one-hour tech session where they get 1-on-1 time with helpdesk and desktop support teams. This improvement has decreased the time to productivity for our new hires because they’re up and running by the time orientation ends. We also introduce associates to our unique company benefits and philanthropic opportunities like Acxiom Cares.
Feedback from our new hires continues to be overwhelmingly positive:
Fostering a Culture of Growth and Belonging
We recognize that it takes time to empower new employees to reach their full potential and integrate them into our culture and work processes. To ease this transition and develop a strong workforce, Acxiom created a few programs just for new hires:
New Hire Social
Every six weeks, our San Francisco offices hosts a new hire social with IT’S-IT ice cream. We set up an ice cream station in the team room at lunch, and associates can only claim a treat if they name two new hires and two fun facts about them. New hires wear little sombreros so they can be identified. Most people don’t remember the fun facts from our introductory email, so it’s a great time to strike up a conversation with a new hire.
New Hire Leadership Chat Series
This one-hour, monthly Q&A session allows new hires to personally chat with senior leadership members. In the 2017 Chat Series Survey, an associate noted that the series “provided a sense of the direction of the enterprise. It offered insight into our organization and demonstrated the commitment Acxiom has to its associates simply by having it.”
Empowering New Leaders
Leadership Kickstart is a six-month development program for leaders who are new to Acxiom or beginning their first leadership role at the company. With in-person workshops, short on-demand videos, and other resources, we hope to create effective leaders in the shortest amount of time possible.
● Transition to Leadership: This short module is based on “What Got You Here Won’t Get Your There” and “The First 90 Days,” and includes recommendations for making a successful transition into a leadership role.
● People Processes Overview—All That “HR Stuff” Leaders Need to Know: This virtual, instructor-led class gives new leaders an overview of their responsibilities in several key HR areas.
● Leadership Toolkit: Tools to Make Your Life Easier: This short module introduces leaders to the tools available to them in their leadership roles: Workday, Birkman On Demand (a web-based reporting tool that makes sense of behavioral assessments and insights from The Birkman Method), Leadership Toolkit, and more.
● Foundations of Leadership: This immersive session teaches new leaders the Expectations of an Acxiom Leader and equips them with leadership skills necessary to be effective. The program includes a variety of learning methods, including instruction from Talent Performance experts and leader-teachers. A key component to the success of our Foundations of Leadership program is tapping into the knowledge and experience of our existing leaders through their role of leader-teachers in the program. The leaders share their experiences with the key leadership concepts that are being taught.
● Birkman One on One: The Birkman Method is a scientifically developed, multi-dimensional assessment that helps leaders dive deep into an associate’s personality to better understand their behavior and improve work satisfaction. Acxiom uses Birkman to provide insight into a person’s motivations, perceptions, and behaviors. We find it helpful to review a new leader’s personal Birkman profile, as well as the profiles of their direct reports. The goal is to identify behavioral differences and discuss strategies to overcome them.
Internship Leader Chats and Lunches
Members of the leadership team spoke to interns about their personal career journeys, offered career advice, and discussed the value that interns bring to the company. Recognizing that to win together, even interns can and do make valuable contributions to the company’s overall success, these leaders provided important feedback and made a huge impact on the interns. Our executives who spent time with our interns included:
- cott Howe - Chief Executive Officer
- Warren Jenson – Chief Financial Officer and President of International
- Terilyn Monroe - Chief People and Culture Officer, Senior Vice President, HR
- Art Kellam - Chief Accounting Officer and Senior Vice President
- Janet Cinfio - Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President
- Rick Erwin - President and General Manager, Audience Solutions
- Anneka Gupta – Vice President of Products, Connectivity LiveRamp
- Dennis Self - President and General Manager, Marketing Services
How Associates Were the Architects of Our Refreshed Values
When Acxiom acquired LiveRamp, LiveRamp had its own set of core values. Those values, which come from LiveRamp's founding days, still hold true today. Yet in early 2017, we saw a need to also have a shared set of values—a way to help Acxiom's businesses collaborate effectively and recognize one another using a shared language.
From the start, we knew that our associates’ involvement was key to making our value refresh stick. This was no top-down approach! In April 2017, over 20 associates from each division spent two days in Austin, Texas kicking off our values refresh effort by learning what it meant to be a “team of teams.” From here, our Values Team was born! After they learned the importance of empathy and teamwork in our situational workshop facilitated by General Stanley McCrystal’s team from the McCrystal group, this cross-divisional team embarked on a journey to refresh our company values.
Grounded in our business, the team reflected on the current state of our company, what we needed to be successful in the future, what was important to each division, and what an ideal company culture would look like. What the team realized was that there were more similarities than differences across our divisions and regions.
Through constructive debate, over 700 post-its, 650 associate survey responses, and 10 executive interviews, this “all-star” Values Team had looked at every angle.
Since then, the Values Team has continued to iterate value themes, supporting statements, and antonyms to ensure our leaders and associates understand exactly what these values are intended to mean and not mean. It was important that these refreshed values be flexible enough to stand the test of time and evolve with our company.
Bringing Our Values to the Team
● Division Senior Leadership Meetings: Members of the Values Team spoke to senior leadership in their respective divisions to share the values journey and its importance, and outline what was expected of leaders.
● Values Team Panel at Divisional Town Halls: Once senior leaders understood the story, it was time to educate the rest of the associates. As a united, cross-divisional values panel, the Values Team shared their perspectives and answered associate questions.
● Values Team Vlogs and Video Series: Using their iPhone or webcam, each Values Team member recorded a video explaining the mindsets and behaviors they felt it was important to model. These were compiled into content for our company intranet, newsletters, and town halls. Eventually they will be posted on our social media sites and shared with prospective candidates and the public.
● Values Challenge Coin: A tradition the military has used since World War I, our values challenge coin is a visual representation of our values and a way we build camaraderie and pride around them. Our associates keep this with them at all times, and when they see their peers role-modeling one of our values, they give them the challenge coin to publicly recognize and reinforce the exemplary behavior.
Living Out Our Values
Many companies claim to live by their values, but few truly embody them in their day-to-day activities. Our refreshed values are still new so training our leaders to live out these values is key to encouraging our associates’ participation. The following programs and activities (some of which have yet to be launched) demonstrate our commitment to our values:
● Scott’s Thoughts: Once a month, CEO Scott Howe sends a companywide email to share stories that reinforce our vision, mission, values, and strategy in a humorous yet relatable way. Not only does Scott demonstrate his commitment to remaining transparent, but he also provides real, tangible examples of associates’ exemplary actions and inspires community.
● Companywide and Division Town Halls: These events inspire trust by providing associates with a two-way dialogue between themselves and leadership. Associates are encouraged to comment, question, and hold leaders accountable by providing their thoughts in pre-town hall surveys. Executives and leaders then candidly address and respond to associate concerns in a very public forum.
● 29-Minute Meeting: Our San Francisco-based Connectivity division hosts a 29-minute meeting over lunch to share company news, office updates, product updates, and other important business strategy information. Why just 29 minutes? Because time is precious!
● Sharing From the Front Lines: Leaders aren’t the only people holding each other accountable by celebrating success. We encourage associates to share inspiring news and brag on their peers with enterprise-wide social networking tools like Slack.
Remembering the Why
Our thorough hiring and onboarding processes ensure that candidates understand the Acxiom culture well before their first day of work. Yet it doesn’t stop there. The homepage on Acxiom Connect, our intranet, always features a large news banner with company highlights, product launches, wins, executive insights, and other information that celebrates the work we do and reminds associates of their importance within the company. We also place artistic renderings of our vision, mission, and values in various places, such as:
● Acxiom Connect
● Posters hung throughout our offices
● Our VPN login page (for remote employees)
● The first slide of most presentations, commonly referred to the “Line of Sight” slide, as it helps programs, initiatives, and presentations stay connected to the big picture