Chief Inclusion Officer Randall Tucker offers a glimpse of how Mastercard intertwines data and lived experience to make life better for their employees and its customers.
Randall Tucker, Chief Inclusion Officer, Mastercard
Navigating the cafeteria tables of a majority white American secondary school as a gay, black teen probably might not sound like essential training for the corporate American C-suite. But for Randall Tucker, it helped make him who he is today.
As Chief Inclusion Officer for Mastercard, those years of coming to grips with his own identity in an, at times, unforgiving environment that Randall didn’t readily fit into, or understand, helped him hone the empathy he now draws on daily.
It took more than a decade for the relationship with his parents to heal after he came out to them. He speaks of the lessons he drew from his experience with gravity and grace: “I knew that if I was going to be a successful person, I had to understand the nuances and characteristics of people who are different from me.”
Even in a data-rich organisation, there will always be a “heart-side” of the equation that numbers can’t show. Lived experience is central to Randall’s work.
“If I’m leading groups in our organisation, I’m always thinking about people’s mindsets and reaching across diversity segments for the answers that we’ll only get from those different perspectives,” he says.
“It’s about meeting people where they are, letting people learn on their own, and letting them figure out what makes sense for them. My parents didn’t have an LGBT mindset, or any understanding what inclusion looked like until it showed up on their doorstep – when their son was gay,” he says. “Likewise, when someone has an accident and ends up being a person of disability. That was never an issue for them, or their family, before it happened to them.”
Inclusion and diversity are core to Mastercard’s business. Operating across 210 countries and territories, nearly every imaginable group is represented with the millions of people using its payment services each day.
Last year, Mastercard showed how insights gleaned from lived experience can create progressive and innovative products with “True Name,” a card for transgender or non-binary people. True Name cards have the customers chosen name on the front without requiring legal name change documents. It’s a simple step that allows people to do their shopping and go about their daily lives without their credit card making them feel like an outsider.
About 60 percent of people in transgender and non-binary communities face discrimination because of the documents they must use, Randall says. These people’s lives in transition are already complicated enough.
“We’re this company that has a card that has people’s name on it,” he says. “This is what we could do to show we’re committed and to let people honour their true identity. We don’t care what people put on the card. We care that they can choose what’s on there.”
The idea was born out of real conversations and lived experience within the company's marketing department, which then led the business groups to develop the product.
“It’s an intersection where decency meets the business, meets inclusion and diversity,” Randall says.
Mastercard launched True Name last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, widely considered the start of the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.
Another initiative designed for Mastercard’s nearly 15,000 employees is called “Seat at the Table.” It prompts employees when they’re composing Outlook meeting invitations to consider whether they’ve invited everyone who needs to be in the room to come up with a solution. “It’s an opportunity for us to give day-to-day tips and tricks for every employee on how to be more inclusive,” Randall says. “It’s a mindset change to always be putting at the front of mind – who am I missing? We need to make sure we have this diversity of perspectives.”
Already an innovator in its sector, Mastercard hired Randall in 2017 with a mandate to build and run global programmes that support efforts to find, recruit, develop and retain the best and brightest talent – with particular emphasis on diversity and gender equality.
“Diversity is all the things that make us feel similar and different,” he explains. “Inclusion is what we see as a leadership skill so leaders can build teams – and keep them.”
Accountability is crucial for successful inclusion programmes, he says. So how does Randall ensure he’s helping the company achieve its inclusion and diversity goals? “I see myself as a sceptic of my own work in that I ask everyday: am I adding value? Coming into the job pushed me to figure out ‘Am I doing the right stuff?’ We’ve had to work with many people on all levels to make all this happen,” he says.
Big data helps. It’s allowed Mastercard to identify opportunities to work with people of African descent and women globally to help them to work their way up within the organisation.
In the separate focus groups with each demographic, the participants pretty much came up with the same concern: how to ensure the company is developing inclusive leaders who understand employees’ direct experience?
Working with those groups, Mastercard has developed case studies based on lived experiences, which are now being woven into its leadership training. “There are headwinds, perceived or real, that there are barriers to these groups. We gave them a safe space to talk about what these things look like, and how they can solve problems around it. It was powerful that we were able to look at our data, say that we want to make changes, and go back to the community to give them answers,” Randall says.
“At the end of the day, our employees are our greatest asset and we want them to know that,” he adds. “We want them for their minds and ability to problem-solve and innovate, and they can’t do that if they’re constantly thinking about whether they belong. From a systems perspective, we have to identify if there is anything else we can do to be better for them.”
RANDALL TUCKER’S ADVICE ON HOW ORGANISATIONS CAN IMPROVE INCLUSION
Define your goal
It goes back to understanding what’s the purpose of what you're trying to do? Frame up what you’re doing and why. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Narrow it down to two or three things that can be done in the next 12 to 18 months.
It’s very important for anyone who is in an early phase of building their diversity strategy to be clear about what the business and its leaders are saying. Where is their head at, and where do they want to start the work? Without steering and direction from the CEO and the leadership team around what’s important to them, and how it connects to the business strategy, you’re throwing a dart in the dark.
Inclusion means everybody
If you’re saying that this is what we need to work on and this is what we need to do in these particular communities, you need to provide context and the data to back it up. As an organisation, we’re looking across the board to make sure everyone is included, invited and feels like they belong. If you miss that piece at the top, it’s that much harder to then make progress in any specific area if others feel like they’ve been left out.
Hold leaders accountable
Broadly speaking, the priorities in this space are relevance and accountability. That’s what we need to be working on. Business tends to build programmes and initiatives and kill people with them. We need to hold leaders accountable for progress. Building a programme isn’t going to increase representation. What increases representation is hiring representative people.
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