Heineken USA chief people officer brews authenticity

Segolene Prot credits ERGs with influencing beer brand's DEI strategy

Heineken USA chief people officer brews authenticity

When Segolene Prot joined Heineken USA at the dawn of 2022, it was the first time the 25-year HR veteran revealed her true self in a welcome announcement.

Instead of simply saying “lives with her family,” as she had done at previous employers like Thomson Reuters and International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), the senior vice president and chief people officer shared that she “lives with her wife and daughter in Manhattan.”

“As people get to know me, they might as well know the whole me,” Prot told HRD. “It was important to be transparent and authentic right off the bat if I wish to influence an agenda for our people.”

Heineken USA focuses on limiting bias and boosting inclusion

Heineken USA, a subsidiary of Dutch brewing giant Heineken, has doubled down on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) over the past few years.

In December, the company released its second annual Behind the Label report, which covered alcoholic beverage employees' perspectives on bias and inclusion in the industry. Most (86%) employees surveyed said they’ve experienced personal bias in some form: 35% said their ideas weren’t taken seriously, 32% said they were passed over for promotions and 27% said they were excluded from teams or projects, among other findings.

In some positive news, 70% of respondents are confident about their employer’s ability to improve diversity and inclusion. Traditionally, employee resource groups (ERGs) play a major role in a company’s DEI strategy – 40% of respondents say ERGs have encouraged them to stay in the alcoholic beverage industry, according to the survey.

What role do ERGs play in your DEI strategy?

Heineken USA currently has three ERGs: Women’s Leadership Forum, which boasts 42% of employees as members; HOLA!, which focuses on issues related to Hispanic people and has nearly a quarter (24%) of employees as members; and BERG, which focuses on issues related to Black people and is comprised of 18% of the workforce. “They give us an opportunity to be more authentic and help us break down some barriers,” says Prot, who credits the ERGs with pushing the company to align with more providers of diverse talent.

Prot also attributes the company’s higher engagement scores, especially around inclusion, to ERGs’ events and programs, which have focused on food, hip-hop and other cultural touchstones. These efforts have helped foster camaraderie while employees navigate a hybrid model of being in the office two days a week.

“When you talk about a culture of belonging, we saw there’s a need for connection at work and beyond work,” Prot says. “How do you achieve that if everyone is remote? ERG events and town halls bring people together much more naturally, which creates an even greater inclusive environment at work.”

‘Transparency will take away a lot of the shenanigans around pay’

When asked what changes employees would like to see the alcoholic beverage industry make, more than a third (37%) said greater pay transparency with more than half (54%) claiming there’s a lack of equal pay in their workplace.

A staunch proponent of pay transparency, Prot believes that compensation is aways an area that employees, managers and company leaders need more education on.

“It's one thing to put the salary range out there, but it’s a whole other thing to then have to explain why you maybe won’t always get paid on the higher end of the range,” Prot says. “It’s important to discuss all the other elements that go into compensation and benefits because they’re all quantifiable. Transparency will take away a lot of the shenanigans around pay. If one of my competitors is advertising a job, let’s see the pay scale. As employers, we can all benefit from it.”

California, Colorado and other states are fighting for equitable workplaces via pay transparency laws. As of Jan. 1, 2023, all employers in California with at least 15 workers must include the hourly rate or salary range on job listings, as well as provide the pay scale to current employees upon request. Although California-based companies hiring outside of the state won’t be required to include salary ranges on those job listings, companies based out-of-state and hiring for jobs to be performed in California will be required to disclose pay ranges.

Plus, California employers with 100 or more employees must report the median and mean hourly rate “within each job category, for each combination of race, ethnicity and sex” to the California Civil Rights Department. Similarly, employers that retain 100 or more workers through labor contractors must submit a pay data report covering those workers. Finally, employers must maintain a record of each employee’s job title and wage history during employment and for three years thereafter.

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