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Naadia Burrows, Chief Diversity Officer at Broadridge, shares what it takes to affect corporate change, including how to build transparency and accountability into processes for measurable impact and the importance of communicating with intention.
Matt: I'm Matt Swain and you're listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast where we discuss the opportunities and challenges facing companies on the road to optimizing their communications for the future. Today, I'm so excited to be joined by Naadia Burrows, Chief Diversity Officer at Broadridge. Naadia, thanks for joining.
Naadia: Matt, thank you so much for having me.
Matt: So, Naadia, we have a ton to cover. But I need to start with an observation, and that is your career path. It certainly is an inspiration for anyone that's new to their career, and uncertain of where they're heading. If I remember correctly, you started it at Broadridge 20-plus years ago in an entry-level position. And then you progressed through the organization into different roles, reaching your current role as Chief Diversity Officer and a member of our executive leadership team. It's truly inspiring.
Naadia: Matt, thank you so much, first and foremost, for the extension of that grace of 20-plus years. Thank you so very much for that. I'm always humbled to be referred to as an inspiration. And so I really appreciate you saying that. And as you started, it's been quite the journey here at Broadridge. I always say that I grew up here both personally and professionally.
And by way of background, I graduated from college, I did some international traveling. And then I started with our predecessor company as an actual temporary associate. I quickly moved on to becoming a full-time associate within a few short months. And really, my primary objective of starting here was really to pay off my college loans, which somehow evolved into a great career here for me.
So, before taking the role of Chief Diversity Officer in 2021, I was the vice president and general manager of our mutual fund regulatory communications business. And during my tenure, I was really fortunate to be able to expand that client base, grow the business to over $650 million in total revenue, maintain exceptional client and associate satisfaction scores, and creating some really innovative solutions to reduce our client's costs while improving their shareholders' experience and optimizing communications as you referred to in your open. I still have fond memories of my last big initiative, which was the implementation of Rule 30e-3.
Matt: Excellent. That's a perfect segue, Naadia, because I was going to ask you about that. At the time, I remember thinking about having you on as a podcast guest for that reason, because of the work that you were doing with 30e-3. Can you share some more context on what the initiative was, and lessons learned through the process?
Naadia: Absolutely, Matt. And I appreciate the chase and your interest in having me here for my current role, but also my last role as well. When we think about reimagining communications, I like to think that I somewhat coined that term here at Broadridge. And you're absolutely correct, 30e-3, along with other regulatory changes, like the summary prospectus, electronic delivery, they're all really great examples of regulatory changes that Broadridge has leveraged to partner with our mutual funds and brokers and our corporate issuers in other spaces, to really start thinking, rethinking, and evolving the way in which our content is created and distributed to the end investor.
30e-3 specifically enable funds to use a notice and access delivery method for annual reports and semi-annual reports instead of mailing out a full paper report. And it really created this interesting opportunity in which funds could drive traffic to their website, and potentially digitally engage with shareholders receiving physical reports. And I'd say even more relevant than Rule 30e-3 is the SEC's recent adoption of the tailored shareholder reports this past October.
This rule was enacted January of 2023, and firms have this 18-month transition period to begin moving from these bulky reports to a succinct and streamlined tailor reports. The reports are envisioned to be three pages and really include key information that's important to investors. I'd say one of the biggest lessons that I've learned, or I'll say one that was rather reinforced was that change is inevitable. So, we see this change that went into effect, Rule 30e-3, now followed by the tailored shareholder reports just a few years later. So, change is really inevitable, and we really have to continue to keep individuals engaged. And the most impactful way to do that is really through effective communications.
Matt: Preaching to the choir here, so I appreciate that. And so, if we take the work that you did there, and then look at your role today, I assume that as much as you're working with getting your message across to our clients, you're doing just as much work internally within Broadridge as well. And so, I'd be curious about how you're applying aspects of learnings through 30e-3, and other past experiences to the role that you're in today.
Naadia: Sure. You know, Matt, it's interesting that you talk about both our internal and our external efforts around this work. And so I like to make sure internally, we are grounded in what we're doing, we're saying, how it is really complementing our culture. And so you're right, there is a strategy both internally as well as externally.
For me, I'm always thinking about various ways to engage and disseminate information, realizing that the average person has a very short attention span, and then not everyone prefers communicating in the same method. Therefore, as I think about it, we always have to make sure that we communicate using different modalities and platforms. And for me, this is really a constant work in progress about how do I share the message, but more importantly, how do I keep individuals, specifically, our associates engaged?
Matt: And do you think that your communication style has changed in your new role, and if so, how?
Naadia: I wouldn't say that my communication style has changed much. I've always been very thoughtful and intentional in simplifying the message and ensuring that I'm connecting with people at all levels. And that being said, I'm always soliciting input to make sure that the ways in which I communicate are effective, and to think about all of the different aspects, because I do think that communication is really so critically important. And so, simplifying the message, giving high-level points, reinforcing the message, all of those are things that I consistently look for ways to improve upon.
Matt: I think of our research in the CX and communications research that we do, and one of the key takeaways is one that we've seen over the last few years, which is use plain language, simplify the communication, summarize important information and put it at the top.
Naadia: Yeah. Matt, I'm glad you highlighted that because I think the work that you all have been doing around CX has really been just critically important. Listening to the voice of the people and hearing what they say, and then translating that into ways in which companies, organizations really can better help to engage, I think it's really critically important.
Matt: So, in your role, you're tasked with designing and implementing a holistic diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI strategy. But you're also supporting other initiatives at Broadridge. I'd be really interested for you to share a bit about what you're working on, as it's certainly an area of interest for me and for a lot of our listeners.
Naadia: Absolutely. I'll share a few initiatives that are currently underway, and there are quite a few. The first one I'd really just want to highlight and talk about is a recent engagement that we did with an external firm. And it's really an assessment of our policies and practices, all of the key touchpoints that we have throughout the talent lifecycle to identify important opportunities to embed equity and inclusion throughout our talent management process. These touchpoints include areas like performance management and talent acquisition.
And then I'll bundle the next two together, which are transparency and accountability. I'm really looking to design and develop tools to provide our HR professionals as well as our leaders throughout the organization with greater transparency into the composition of their groups as compared to Broadridge overall, and alongside our enterprise-wide metrics, goals, historical trends, and really real-time progress reporting. So that's really important. We have to know where we've been and where we are to know where we need to get to, and how exactly we can do that.
And then lastly, I just say setting us up for success to reach our goals by embedding accountability. An example of this is the addition of a DEI goal within our annual performance and development program that we implemented two fiscal years ago. And for this particular piece, we've seen some really great initiatives flourish because of this. One of my favorite being our Women in Technology Campaign.
Matt: I'm excited that you touched on the Women in Technology Campaign, which Broadridge launched in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day. The stories for the women highlighted last year were excellent. And I'm so glad that Broadridge is relaunching the campaign this year because we have so many amazing women at Broadridge that deserve that recognition.
Naadia: Well, Matt, thanks so much for that plug, I'm sure C.J. will absolutely smile when she hears that. I really want to encourage all of the listeners to keep an eye out for Broadridge's daily post on LinkedIn, which will have one post for every day in March. And I would really like to personally congratulate all of the dynamic honorees in this year's and last year's campaign. We have so many phenomenal women at Broadridge, and it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just 20. But I'd say that that's a really great problem for us to have.
So, this year's International Women's Day theme is Embrace Equity. And this campaign is really recognizing, acknowledging, and honoring our exceptional women in technology that demonstrate drive, commitment, and innovation throughout the product lifecycle, from the inception all the way through to client delivery.
The way the campaign was originated is just as inspiring as the campaign itself. As I mentioned earlier, we established a DEI goal, and several members of our corporate marketing organization developed this campaign. It now lives on in the spirit and support of our DEI initiatives, and our talent retention and acquisition efforts, as well as to amplify our technological skills and expertise around innovation. This initiative really highlights just one of the many ways that teams or individuals for that matter, can use their passion, creativity, and ingenuity to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Matt: Excellent. So, I have a closing question that I try to ask all of my interviewees or guests, I'm going to try a hybrid version for you, given your current role. So, how do you anticipate the role of a Chief Diversity Officer, and how and what they communicate, to continue to evolve in the coming years?
Naadia: Well, first and foremost, I love everything hybrid, especially our workplace and as we think about evolving it, so I'm all for a hybrid version of your standard close. You know, I'd just start by saying, like all other business partners, we really have to stay abreast of the changing dynamics within the workplace in our world and make sure that we're actively listening to our key constituency. Part of our mandate is to elevate and amplify the voices of marginalized people within our organization. It's also imperative that we align our DEI strategy to our organization's strategy, and we embed it into our culture, and find creative ways to effectively communicate that DEI is not separate and distinct, but it's interwoven into each and everything we do.
When I think about it, and I have these conversations as I talk about connecting people into DEI, we really diversify so many aspects of our lives. For Broadridge, it's critically important. We diversify our investment portfolios, our clients, our investors. We diversify where we travel. We diversify the foods that we consume. So, we know that there are multiple food groups, but we again, diversify those.
So, given that point, I would ask if we diversified everything else in life, why would it feel unfair, or why would we feel discomfort around diversifying our workforce? And I'll really end by saying that we really must continue to advance the who, what, where, and why, and I can't forget the how we communicate and to ensure that we keep pace with the world that's evolving around us.
Matt: Well said. So inspiring. And thank you, Naadia, for joining.
Naadia: My pleasure, Matt. Thanks for having me today.
Matt: I'm Matt Swain and you've been listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast. If you liked this episode and think someone else would too, please share it, leave a review, and don't forget to subscribe. And if you're ready to reimagine your communications experiences, consider the Broadridge Communications Cloud, an end-to-end platform for creating, delivering, and managing omnichannel communications and customer engagement. To learn more about Broadridge, our insights, and our innovations, visit broadridge.com or find us on LinkedIn.
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