Stepping into comfort: Crocs’ CPO on transparency, collaboration and a new generation of talent

'We're really trying to emphasize that talent is an enterprise asset - it's not a brand asset,' says Shannon Sisler

Stepping into comfort: Crocs’ CPO on transparency, collaboration and a new generation of talent

At shoe giant Crocs, their commitment to comfort goes beyond footwear. Speaking to HRD, chief people officer Shannon Sisler says she’s laser focused on creating an environment where everyone feels safe and heard.

"We focus on comfort for all, and that has been near and dear to Crocs for a very long time," she says. “It happens in our products and we hope that it happens for our people as well. We're really focused on having an inclusive workplace with lots of individuality. Almost two-thirds of our workforce are women, and over half of our US population is [comprised of] people of color.”  

‘Come as you are’ part of company culture

And with a company slogan of ‘come as you are’, it’s no surprise that a core component of Crocs’ culture revolves around a sense of acceptance and belonging. Additionally, transparency is a cornerstone of Crocs’ people practices. As Sisler tells HRD, roles are defined by personas, and expectations are communicated openly when a position is posted – fostering a sense of clarity and fairness for all employees. 

When we post a role, it's out there for you to take a look,” she says. “So either you want to apply for it or you don't - it's not based on the person, it's based on the role which is different than some other organizations. We really try to be transparent in the way that we approach these types of things.”

Creating collaborative workspaces is another integral aspect of Crocs' strategy. The emphasis on physical collaboration is particularly significant for a company designing tangible products.

"In the last five years, we've looked at all of our global workspaces to make sure they foster creativity and inclusion,” Sisler says. “We’re designing physical products - feeling, touching and getting design input is actually quite important. We're fortunate that we have lots of people coming in and collaborating day to day, and I think it's because we've created a comfortable environment where they can do that.”

Board visibility in HR leadership

With annual sales of nearly $4 billion, and a global team of over 6,000 employees, that’s no mean feat.  Sisler’s unique perspective as chief people officer with extensive board exposure adds depth to Crocs’ strategic direction. Sitting on various boards around Colorado, Sisler believes that getting HR a seat at that table is critical to a company’s overall success.

Board exposure, according to Sisler, is essential for HR professionals, and she underscores the importance of HR professionals viewing themselves as business people first.

It really informs the direction that I set for my team and the strategy we come up with,” she tells HRD. “We shouldn't be doing HR for the sake of HR, we should be doing HR for the sake of enabling the business to succeed - and sometimes those are not the same things. I'm fortunate that I've gotten to experience the boardroom in every type of organization I've been at – and they're quite different.

“I think understanding the organizational dynamics within a board and how they interact with management is actually a really good learning opportunity.”

‘Talent is an enterprise asset - not a brand asset’

And this commitment to constantly learning came in handy in 2022, when Crocs acquired footwear brand HEYDUDE. Sisler acknowledged the need for an organizational shift to support the acquisition and emphasizes the importance of aligning cultural values.

“While we want to respect that the brands are somewhat different, we go back to some of our similar cultural values and our progressive people practices that we treat similarly across the enterprise,” she says. “We're really trying to emphasize that talent is an enterprise asset - it's not a brand asset. Everybody gets to share it.”

Diversity and inclusion remain key priorities for Crocs, as Sisler advocates for casting a wide net in recruiting to ensure an authentically diverse workforce. The company has taken a unique approach to DEI, opting for inclusive councils instead of employee resource groups, which aligns with their overarching commitment to an inclusive environment.

Women taking charge in Crocs’ senior leadership

“Crocs has evolved over the years,” says Sisler. “Our numbers have changed. If you look at some of our most senior roles, our chief financial officer, our chief marketing officer, our chief product officer, our brand president - a lot of them are women, which is great.

“We’ve taken a different approach than a lot of companies with respect to DEI. We don't have employee resource groups. Instead, we come together as inclusive holistically – we have councils that look at how to create an inclusive environment.”

Sisler's hard-hitting approach to people practices at Crocs reflects the necessity for adaptability, transparency, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. And this extends to fostering a whole new generation of talent too.

“I personally do a lot of giving back to women and girls in education – it could be teaching in a classroom, getting some of our senior leaders out there, mentoring or coaching. I think those are really important things to do. And I'm super excited about the next generation – they’re all so digitally savvy - I think they have a lot to offer.”

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