The focus of this year’s International Women’s History Month is to inspire inclusion. Companies must create a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and with respect. This year’s theme of inspire inclusion is directly linked to Robert Half’s deeply rooted value of inclusion and commitment to celebrating diversity, creating inclusive work environments and building a culture of belonging. Leading by practice, Robert Half continually focuses on supporting the professional advancement and skill development of all female employees throughout every phase of their careers. Whether that means pursuing a leadership role or supporting clients and candidates across the globe. “Reflecting on my career journey, I attribute much of my success to the combination of hard work, unwavering dedication, and the invaluable support of an inclusive workplace culture. Throughout my 25+ years in the industry, I've been fortunate to be surrounded by so many inspiring women leaders who have guided and empowered me since my earliest days. Their mentorship and example have fuelled my determination to not only succeed but also to advocate for gender equality in the workplace. Now, I consider it both a responsibility and a privilege to champion the advancement of women in our professional sphere, knowing firsthand the transformative impact of diverse perspectives and inclusive leadership,” shares Koula Vasilopoulos, Senior District President with Robert Half Canada. In collaboration with Michelle Reisdorf, Albane Armand, and Beth Turner from Robert Half, alongside Alix Weikhard and Megan Giezen from Protiviti, this interview examines the best ways to create a values-based corporate culture. 
Michelle Reisdorf: A values-based corporate culture is where everyone considers everyone's opinions, feelings and sharing equally without judgment. That we are open to each other's ideas, even if they aren't like our own, or even if it's something we haven't done before. The way I learned to run a recruitment team and how I run it today is different, but I have to hear what they're saying and appreciate the value they bring to me. Learning every day. Likewise, I expect them to appreciate the value I bring with 27 years of experience. Albane Armand: Totally agree with Michelle, of course. But, also, business values, diversity, equality, and inclusion. These are key factors. Leading the way in ESG activities is vital. Another example is our job as staffing professionals. It is important to have an open-minded approach so that we see inclusion becoming concrete and tangible. The last point for me is the onboarding process and letting people know they are part of the adventure of the company and corporate culture from the offset. Beth Turner: I think a values-based corporate culture is one that really is the glue that holds people together. We can all be different. We can have different approaches, different ways of doing things, different feelings etc. But the values need to be aligned and at the heart of that. So, Michelle, Albane and I might work differently to one another, but as integrity is one of our values, then we would all unite on that value. So, that's what a values-based culture is to me. One that is the glue to hold people together. Megan Giezen: I think for us in Protiviti, a values-based culture enables us to grow and develop as an organisation. The communities that we live in are dynamic and always changing, as are our teams and our clients. A values-based culture helps to create an environment where we are able to listen and learn from new ideas and this allows us to be more innovative and be more creative when solving problems. Alix Weikhard: I agree with Beth, a values-based corporate culture and leadership offers an advantage by establishing an environment and work atmosphere that unites both diverse and heterogeneous groups. Such values serve as guiding principles, establishing coherent behavioral patterns across departments and hierarchies. The shared acceptance of these values fosters a strong sense of unity, promoting unity with the company. This environment allows for personal development by providing security without restricting individual creativity. A positively shaped corporate culture based on shared values not only enhances collaboration but also strengthens employee engagement and motivation. Common values act as a unifying force that binds the entire workforce, thus creating a foundation for sustainable business success.
Michelle: Yeah, I've heard often over the years that our industry is not one that encourages people to always do the right thing, based on the structure. We don't really have a category to acknowledge collaboration. Our motto always was and will be to do the right thing. And it’s important that leaders show this example and I stress that consistently. Beth: I think it is challenging in the field role as we are dealing with a lot of competing priorities. But we have many operational elements which encourage collaboration between colleagues to benefit our clients and staffing professionals and candidates. So, the leaders’ initiatives have a positive impact on people living our values and that is where it must start. Albane: I think leaders can do it and demonstrate from the top. It’s important to lead by example and provide employees that sense of belonging which we do and value in our company here.
Albane: A values-based corporate culture is important to attract talent. Companies must make sure they create an environment where people want to come to work to have an impact on something that is bigger than themselves. Having a values-based corporate culture is also important in allowing a certain level of flexibility, where people can have the right balance between their private and professional life. Beth: Why is it important? You look at social media where people showcase themselves – a lot of how people live their life is “all about me”, and, you know, that collective goal can drift away because it's all it's all about the individual. But if you join an organisation with strong values, then yes, you're important and yes, you're included. But then that person over there is important as well and so is that person sitting in the corner. If we are going to work together as a collective, we need to again come back to those values which unite us. A values-based corporate culture helps us bring it back to what's been agreed, to what we feel is important. And that helps us to feel like we belong, which then helps us feel that we're better together. Michelle: I would agree with both ladies. You know, I think it goes back to initially what I said, that values-based is where everyone's input and ideas are important, and they feel included. And I think, especially as leaders of the company, we have to make sure that everyone is represented at the table because it's so easy for us to sometimes go to our top recruiters or our best speakers, when in essence, we have to make sure the mothers are represented, the fathers, the  part time workers, the remote workers etc, every group is represented, so every voice is heard. And then collectively, I agree, we make better decisions together when we consider everyone involved. Megan: A values-based corporate culture is one that allows people to be their best in the workplace – as it doesn’t see difference but it encourages perspective and new ideas – with everything that is changing at the moment with AI and other type of technology improvements and society changes, global unrest etc – a values-based corporate culture allows people to feel comfortable whilst experiencing change both in the workplace and outside of work. Alix: I agree with all that has been said. A value-based corporate culture creates a universally-embraced environment that brings together different groups and teams within an organization. This type of corporate culture not only enhances collaboration and employee engagement but also serves as a cornerstone for the sustained growth and success of the business. Through establishing a secure environment, it enables all employees to grow and contribute in line with their values.
Beth: I think just having a bit of patience, taking one step back, looking at things from a different perspective, is always a good exercise. Walking in someone else's shoes, active listening, really listening to what people say, and to see people, you know, for who they are. Albane: I believe in highlighting the small successes and making sure that we understand their wants and needs so we can create a sense of belonging. Having an open-door policy is key too. Sometimes people want to leave for other reasons and it’s important to support that too and wish them good luck. We’ve had some successes thanks to this mindset, with “boomerang effects” (people joining our company again a few months or years after leaving). Michelle: When we ask and we really listen, we know how to make those people feel included and more important that they belong instead of assuming, well, if we do this, that will make them feel more included. It isn't always the answer. We shouldn't assume we know what everyone’s different feelings are about inclusion. Megan: I like to think that I help to create an inclusive environment in our teams through always listening and knowing that work doesn’t come first. I believe success comes when our people are balanced in work and at home, and that our policies are the guides that help create a good positive corporate culture but that as a leader I support and listen and see how I can help our people achieve more either at work or help with challenges at home. Alix: I think encouraging an open dialogue around the values is important and making sure that employees' perspectives are at heart. Further setting clear expectations also foster a corporate culture where shared principles guide every aspect of the workplace.
Michelle: It comes from the top down on us showing up every day not making the assumptions, inviting everyone to the table. I think in a lot of cases, especially as leaders, we have to just slow down, right? Sometimes we are on a mission to hit a goal or to make something happen. I think it's key that we as leaders, highlight when we see the, the value-based, activity that we're looking for. We must recognize it. We must shout it from the rooftops. Beth: I agree and would also add the importance of reinforcing that message, but also spearheading initiatives. We've got a women's Employee Network Groups (ENG) with two senior leaders on the board.  They have been very supportive of our events and initiated some productive conversations about challenges facing women within the business and their experiences.  So, I suppose, sharing those stories and, putting yourself out there and being a bit vulnerable as you look at those different things that you're working on. Albane: Leading by example is the first step to create a corporate culture of trust. This starts from the board members down to senior leadership teams and the rest. The right levels of training and development amongst senior leaders is key too. So, there are numerus facets and factors at play to create that culture which will ensure an organisation that thrives not only now but long into the future too. Megan: Our leaders listen and are humble – the Protiviti leaders are always ready to listen to employee ideas and take action on the feedback that they get from our people – when our executive team does this and role models this type of behaviour it is then creating the culture that supports and encourages inclusion as we know that we solve problems together and through different perspectives and lenses. Alix: I agree, the tone comes from the top. People should witness leadership behaviors that prioritize open communication, actively seek diverse perspectives, and foster a sense of belonging. As leaders we should demonstrate fairness and celebrate diversity. Transparent decision-making and a commitment to addressing bias contribute to an inclusive environment. Effective leaders create a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered, irrespective of their background, fostering a culture of acceptance and mutual respect.  Discover more insights for managing a dynamic workforce by visiting the Robert Half Canada Insights page today.
Koula Vasilopoulos is a Senior District President with Robert Half. In her role, Koula oversees the Canadian business across Western Canada and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). She has led a successful 25+ year career with Robert Half and held senior leadership positions in both Canada and South America. Michelle Reisdorf is a District Director at Robert Half. She has over 25 years of experience and currently oversees the Contract and Permanent Finance & Accounting divisions, as well as the Administrative Customer Service divisions in the offices of the Greater Chicago Area. Albane Armand is Regional Managing Director of the Paris Branch in France and Managing Director Switzerland at Robert Half. She has worked in the recruitment sector since 2007 specialized on permanent placements in finance and accounting, legal, HR, and tech. Albane helps companies recruit the available profiles according to their needs and development objectives for all types of engagements. Beth Turner is the Director of Learning and Development for the UK/UAE and Corporate Learning EMEA. She works closely with the business to coach, train and mentor talent managers and leaders, from onboarding to training on the job. Before joining the Learning & Development division of Robert Half, she set up and managed various branches in the UK. Today she can look back on a career at Robert Half spanning over 25 years. Megan Giezen is International Senior Director for Human Resources at Protiviti in Australia. She is a member of the Global HR Leadership Team and supports and leads the HR strategy and teams across both Europe and APAC. With over 20 years professional experience in HR, she looks back on the implementation of a variety of impactful strategies that foster organisational growth, nurture talent, and promote a corporate culture of inclusivity. Alix Weikhard is a Managing Director and Co-Country Market Lead Germany at Protiviti. She has more than 18 years of consulting experience in assisting national and global organisations with transformation and change management, implementing governance structures, and compliance and risk management.