Episode 325: Community Building and DEI With Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital

Summary:This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of the DEI series & features Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital.

Episode 325: Community Building and DEI With Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital

Summary:This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of the DEI series & features Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital.

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Episode 325: Community Building and DEI With Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:26.34] Welcome to the Workology Podcast. This podcast is part of a series that’s focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and HR. The Workology Podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. The DEI series on the Workology Podcast is powered by Align DEI and Ginger.com. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are not new ideas in the HR and corporate arenas, but in recent months, the importance and significance of DEI in the workplace has gotten leaders throughout corporate America to think about what doing the right thing in our community looks like. For many of us in HR, this means we’re not taking our DEI initiatives to the stakeholders. Those stakeholders are coming to us looking for answers and we must be ready to respond. Today, I’m joined by Melissa Marshall. She’s the VP of People and Organization at Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest general veterinary practice in the US. Melissa began her career at Banfield, helping to reimagine how Banfield supports its people across more than one thousand hospitals nationwide. This includes recruitment and increasing doctor retention and engagement. Before Banfield, she worked at other Mars organizations, including Wrigley Canada and Mars Pet Nutrition. Mel, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Melissa Marshall: [00:01:47.73] Awesome. Thank you so much for having me on, Jessica. Certainly excited to be a part of this series and to get into our discussion today.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:55.83] Agreed, agreed. Well, you have worked a variety of leadership roles in HR. I wanted to ask you, how did your past experience lead you to your current role at Banfield?

Melissa Marshall: [00:02:05.88] Yeah, it’s a great question. You know, as I reflect on it, I’ve always been passionate about people even prior to being an HR and kind of fun fact. I was actually on a path to a career in physiotherapy in my earlier years. But kind of fast-forwarding to the HR realm, I can honestly say that over the last 16 plus years in this profession, I’ve truly found fulfillment in being able to really contribute and shape the way that associates experience the work environment. And that, in turn, ultimately unlocks their full of potential, allowing them to constantly be at their best. And just the ability to know that I can play some role in that is just so meaningful for me. You know, my time at Mars over the last 17 years has primarily been having responsibilities and oversight to parts of the business where our key frontline and essential workers were my, my, my client groups. And so those were the teams that I was supporting. And when I transitioned to Banfield six years ago, I was working directly with our hospitals, our field, our regional leadership to support, as you mentioned, the, the more than a thousand hospitals in an effort to bring the people strategy to life across the organization. And that time that I’ve been able to spend over the years in the field, really working side by side with our veterinary professionals in this practice has just been so inspiring.

Melissa Marshall: [00:03:29.58] The veterinary profession is such a compassionate and passionate industry to be in, a profession to be in, and every day I’ve been inspired by our associates, by what they do. And about four years ago, I transitioned into a leadership role at our corporate office, and then December of 2019, I became the Vice President of People and Organization. So, kind of going back to the essence of your question, I really consider myself to be a servant leader and I really anchor myself in a place of mindfulness. And I have this kind of mantra that that has followed me through the years. And I think those experiences have shaped that, which is really about being open, present, and connected. And I think that’s really the experience that’s followed me through my career and certainly help me to progress within the organization to do the work that I’m doing today. And I think it allows me to bring a unique lens to what I do, which ultimately is going to be focused on creating an environment where associates want to start. They want to stay and they want to grow with us, but also ensuring that our people strategy truly feels the business strategy. So, it’s a little bit about my, my history or my thoughts, the background and kind of how I, how I navigated to get, to get where I am today.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:42.06] I love your background, and I and I love how you’re leading in that way, and I think, boy, you didn’t know what you were getting into in October of 2019 before no one, none of us did right. And, and for you to continue to lead that way and help support employees and the organization and, and the customers, speaks a lot about you and then the work that you’re doing at Banfield.

Melissa Marshall: [00:05:09.18] No, I appreciate that Jessica and I truly consider myself fortunate to have an opportunity to make an impact in this profession in this way. I consider myself grateful definitely to, to work alongside such amazing leaders and associates in this practice to really not only help our associates but also just help society and help the profession. So super excited about the work that we’re doing

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:32.43] To kind of level set here. We’re going to be talking a lot about community building and diversity equity inclusion, and I wanted to talk and ask you about maybe some recent news about how Banfield is investing in the company’s strategic pillars to kind of set the stage for the rest of the podcast we’re going to be talking about in the next few minutes.

Melissa Marshall: [00:05:53.04] Yeah, absolutely. So just to help frame, I think it’s a great starting place. So Banfield is a leading provider of veterinary care, preventative veterinary care at that in this industry, and we, we hold ourselves to a high standard of responsibility to make sure that we’re making decisions, that we’re creating programs that we’re really overall making a positive impact, as I mentioned before for our associates, but also for the broader profession. And at the end of the day, this is ultimately so that they can provide the seamless care for pets. And so I think about some of the investments that we’ve made in our people. They’ve really been anchored and guided by our three strategic, three strategic pillars, which is focused around the wellness of our people and the profession, focused on the wellness of pets, and then focus on the wellness of community. And some of the examples of things that we’ve done anchored in those,, those pillars. One would be our Banfield student debt relief program, and this was designed to really aim at easing the financial burden that student debt has on veterinarians. I’m not sure if you’ve heard some of these statistics before, but the veterinary profession has the highest debt to income ratio in any profession. And today’s veterinarian is graduating with, on average, 150,000 dollars in student loans. Banfield is just one of eight percent of companies in the U.S. today that offer a program like this. And when we started, we were somewhere in like the four percent range, so we were some of the early kind of pioneers in this space.

Melissa Marshall: [00:07:30.96] And so I’m just super proud of the work we’re doing. And when I think about the impact that it’s having, so cumulatively, from a time that we’ve been running this program, we have contributed nearly $50 million towards helping our veterinarians pay off student debt. And based on the partnerships that we’ve taken along through this journey, we’ve been able to facilitate over $60 million in educational debt refinancing for our associates so that they can have a good quality of life, that their financial well-being is in a good place. And, and when we look at what this has done in terms of retention, those veterinarians from our practice who have been a part of this program, we’ve seen upwards of almost 90 percent in retention rates. So it’s really been something that, that’s had a strong impact. I think it commits to this kind of start day grow philosophy that we have and just the ways that we’re trying to do things not only for the profession but for our associates as well. Another area that we’ve done some work is improving the financial well-being of our certified veterinary technicians, and we made some conscious decisions around increasing pay for this associate population. That in turn, had a great impact in terms of improving retention in this population as well. And then I think in addition to the financial stresses that I talked about earlier, some other statistics that you may or may not be familiar with. Veterinarians face an enormous amount of emotional pressure in this profession.

Melissa Marshall: [00:09:02.31] And a staggering data point, and in fact, quite frankly, is that one in six, and I’ll say it again, one in six veterinarians consider suicide, and I didn’t realize that until I actually began to work in this profession and see firsthand the pressure and some of the challenges our associates and other veterinarians in the profession have to navigate. And so we felt the responsibility to do something about this. And so to address this, we developed a first-of-its-kind suicide prevention training designed specifically for veterinary professionals. We named it Ask, so Ask, which stands for assess, support, and know, and while we launched this for our Banfield associates to begin with, our level of commitment was such that we actually shut down our hospitals for a period of time. So there was a two-hour workshop to discuss mental health to help our associates understand the impact of this challenge in the community. Make sure they knew the support that was offered to them. And then we also provided this training to the profession afterward at no cost at that. And again, this for me is really about not doing this for Banfield, but really doing this for the profession because these are resources. These are tools. This is education that, that many can, can benefit from. And so those are just a couple of things that we’ve done that really anchor to our strategy house, if you will, at anchor to our pillars that I thought might be, might be helpful to grab the conversation, Jessica.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:38.85] I had no idea that. There was such a high rate of suicidal thoughts among this group, but then I think about how important my pets are to me and for you to see the best and oftentimes the worst of, of course, those, that would be hard for anybody.

Melissa Marshall: [00:11:01.93] Absolutely. It was amazing. My first time spending time in a hospital, I had just joined Banfield or transitioned to Banfield at that point, and just being in the hospital, you know, spent a week just in scrubs, you know, helping to fold laundry, whatever I could do since I’m not a clinician. And just to see the resilience in our doctors, I mean, being able to create excitement for a six-year-old child with a brand new puppy that in turn, you know, five minutes later, turn around and have to help a family think through and make decisions on end of life care. And it’s a lot for, for our veterinarians to handle. And they do such grace and they’re so passionate about it. So we’re doing everything we can to continue to provide the support, the resources, the education to really make sure that they can thrive in this environment.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:55.06] Lots of highs and lots of lows. I really love the care that you put into this, not just for Banfield, but the whole entire profession supporting them, regardless of if they’re working for Banfield as a veterinarian or somewhere else.

Melissa Marshall: [00:12:11.20] Absolutely. We’re in this together.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:13.03] Can you talk about equity, inclusion, and diversity as your approach versus DEI?

Melissa Marshall: [00:12:19.84] Yeah, it’s an interesting one, and I’ll kind of walk you through our journey a little bit. So at Banfield, our commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity, it really drives our culture. It’s embedded in the foundation of who we are. It’s not something we do. And as a leader, I’m constantly seeking feedback so that I can understand the experiences of our associates, what’s working, what’s not working, what can we do better and fostering an environment in which our associates, their needs are not only heard but acted on is a critical component of creating a better world for associates so that they, in turn, can do what they do best, which, as I mentioned earlier, is really around delivering high-quality care for pets. Now we believe as an organization that it’s essential to create an environment of belonging where associates can truly bring where we as an organization, we can all bring our unique selves to work and allow people to show up as individuals. And we feel and very strongly that inclusion is what unlocks our differences. And so we can have belonging. And when we talk about belonging, we’re talking about being your unique, authentic self, not only at home, but at work as well, right? So, so we bridge those together. And so that’s where we come from when we talk about equity, inclusion, and diversity. EI&D as we call it, and quite honestly, Jessica, I don’t know that it differs from DEI as many organizations refer to it. We’ve just been super intentional around putting equity first. We know that ensuring equitable, equitable access to opportunities is critical. And we will not achieve the level of inclusion and diversity that we’re striving for if we don’t.

Melissa Marshall: [00:14:13.90] So not only do we focus on how do we improve EI&D internally, within our four walls, but also across the veterinary profession? And just to give you some, some perspective of what I mean by the external component. Today, nearly 90 percent of veterinary professionals identify as white, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet at the same time, we have a real shortage of veterinary talent in this industry. So it’s going to be absolutely imperative. And it’s absolutely clear for us that in order for us to attract and welcome more veterinary professionals to this profession, that also includes introducing and welcoming and embracing more black, indigenous, people of color to this profession as well that we can continue to see and serve the pets and the communities that need us. And I think it’s this concept of we need to represent the communities we serve. And you can see in the data and statistics, you know, you hear in the news about the pandemic, pet boom, if you will. Pet owners are becoming more and more diverse, and we have a, we have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure that those providing care meet and can understand and see and be reflected in the communities that they’re actually providing care in. So the industry desperately needs representation in diversity of thought experiences. And quite frankly, I would probably argue that it starts with focusing on equity and making sure that education and things like that are accessible in underserved communities and really that we’re removing barriers. So that’s a little bit about how we framed it, why are we framed it that way, but also how we’re kind of tackling it internally and externally through that lens.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:06.06] I love that, and I love that you’re putting equity first. It’s, it’s refreshing. It’s hard to say because my brain wants to go to the diversity side. But yeah, but when you talk through, you can’t have all these other things without equity. I love that approach, and I think it’s really in alignment with everything that you’ve talked about with Banfield Health, the commitment to the community and to your employees and your customers. So I, I feel like others should, should definitely follow suit.

Melissa Marshall: [00:16:38.80] Yeah. And just, just to kind of, kind of tie on to because you made a good point that the commitment component is is really critical for us. So just to give you some perspective. Jessica, so we’ve made some very intentional commitments to drive initiatives, actions. So not just saying we’re going to do something, but actually put some, some elbow grease behind it and really do the work is really around increasing the pipeline of veterinary professionals and with the ultimate goal of building a more diverse industry. So a couple of things we’ve done in partnership with Rokinon, which is a part of our Mars ecosystem. We’ve launched and kind of set up a student support fund with an initial gift, 125,000 dollars to start. But it was in the, in the intent of helping Tuskegee veterinary students with financial need as they navigated their educational journey. And we knew that through feedback, engaging with the community, that was an area where sometimes students made choices to either come out of the track to become a veterinarian because financial barriers were a challenge. And so it was one way that we, we did that. We’ve recently formed what is being called the Diversified Veterinary Medicine Coalition, and it’s really set up to ensure that equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts among veterinary professionals are ongoing and industry-wide.

Melissa Marshall: [00:18:05.67] So we have partners within Mars Veterinary Health, but then also within the profession who have a commitment. And we’re just so grateful for the partnership of many of our colleagues in this profession that have just put a stake in the ground to say no more. We will help shape and diversify this industry. And it’s just it’s refreshing to see so many wanting to be on this path as well. Another and I’ll just give me one last example partnership that we’ve done is with InStride, and we’re using that partnership to help provide tuition completion or tuition support for education completion so that three times fast for our paraprofessional associates. And so those associates that we have that go through the in stride program walk away with a degree 100 percent tuition covered by the, by the practice. We started with 26 associates last year and this year we’re scaling that initiative and we’re welcoming 200 associates to go through this as well. And again, with this focus on how do we ensure that we’re removing the barriers that maybe have come up in the past for our associates that maybe have been underserved in communities or previously disadvantaged for a variety of reasons? And so we’re really just trying to find different ways to live into the commitment that we have in this space.

Break: [00:19:31.30] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you were listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. This series is powered by Align DEI and Ginger.com. We’re talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, or in this case, inclusion, equity, and diversity with Banfield Pet Hospital’s VP of People and Organization, Melissa Marshall.

Break: [00:19:56.23] Every employee has different mental health needs, from preventive behavioral health coaching to therapy and psychiatry. Ginger offers effective, convenient mental health care for any level of need. All from a smartphone. Learn more. Visit Ginger.com.

Community Building and DEI With Melissa Marshall


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:13.99] I love all the, the partnerships and the programs, and I wanted to ask you about the talent pipeline building piece of this. How is this benefiting your recruiting and hopefully your retention efforts?

Melissa Marshall: [00:20:28.39] Yeah, it’s it really is a holistic, like, you have to take a step back and, and really see how, how we’re doing this and where the impact is happening. So just to give you a bit of perspective, the veterinary profession, not only is it essential and we’ve been living through this in the pandemic and but the other component is we’re in high demand, right? As I mentioned before, the pandemic, puppy boom, and things of that nature that, that are manifesting. And so we’ve really made a conscientious effort to build relationships early, partner with schools to really ensure that the talent pipeline grows and diversifies to meet the evolving needs of pets, people, and society. You know, students are passionate about exploring future opportunities where pets are concerned. We want to make sure that through university and campus relationships, we’re building that excitement around this profession. We also offer internships and externships for those students that want to get firsthand experience at our practice as well. So kind of going earlier in the, in the, in the pipeline, if you will, to create that exposure. And then as a national practice, we think it’s really, really important. And kind of going back to that representation conversation, we had earlier that local veterinary professionals are the ones that are actually connecting and meeting and visiting these campuses.

Melissa Marshall: [00:21:55.96] So students actually see what it’s like, real hand, to work at a Banfield in their community to see how that cultivation of, of the strategy comes to life. And we’re really just trying to be really intentional about presence in this journey. So we’ve, we’ve had some really good progress, I would say, in terms of early pipelines connecting with students, we actually have a program called Banfield Pet Academy with the goal of aiming to inspire the next generation of veterinary professionals by exposing them to the veterinary industry. And so through this program, there is interactive presentations and giveaways and lessons. We offer this in multiple language. Languages, sorry. And we have connected and typically connect with about 10,000 kids each year. And so we’re trying to again look at this from a kind of current, future, and upstream mindset. So current being some of the things that I talked about earlier that help our existing associates. Future being those things that are coming through how we work with colleges and universities to increase the number of potential future recruits. And then, of course, upstream being things like the Banfield Pet Academy. And I’m super exciting, or super excited because while traditionally we focused on elementary and middle school, there are studies that show that that’s really a critical time for students because they’re typically making a decision.

Melissa Marshall: [00:23:27.55] They may not know the title of the job they want to have, but directionally the career that they want to have, and particularly students of color. That’s usually the time in which they make a decision that this may not be the place for them or the profession for them because they are not seeing anyone who looks like them. They’re not really having access to anyone who is a veterinarian or a veterinary professional. And so we’ve been really, really intentional around canvassing this program and making sure we’re reaching out and touching elementary middle school. And now going forward will also be expanding to high school students as well because we know that we need to reach them as they’re starting to actually make decisions about what happens post to high school, giving them exposure to work, work experiences as well. And so with Banfield Pet Academy, we’ll be partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of America to really help connect with their high school members and with the goal of diversifying the veterinary profession or veterinary professionals, then connecting them with veterinary professionals who can tell them about the job, the work. And really just getting to see it firsthand, so those were a couple of ways that we’re doing that and what the impact is, is showing.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:39.57] I love this, and you’re making my job so easy because my next question was going to be talking about the benefits of community building and how that supports diversity initiatives inside and outside of your organization. But it’s, it’s clear like you said, children or students or young minds, they want to see people like them in those jobs by giving them access these students to learn more about the veterinary profession and seeing people who are diverse. Hopefully, it is going to get them excited about a career in veterinary medicine.

Melissa Marshall: [00:25:18.57] Yeah, most definitely. I think, you know, we’re constantly trying to find ways to connect the passion that I talked about earlier, that our associates have bottled up inside with those that are outside of our practice and really kind of forge a, forge a merger there between a connection, authentic and genuine connection. Because I think there’s needs on both sides and it’s just how do we identify them and really have the intentional effort to do that, for sure.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:42.87] In our prep call, we talked about employee resource groups or ERGs, and you and your team have set up six different ERG groups. I wanted to ask you to talk through the structure, some of the responsibilities of the members, and any executive sponsorship you have for those programs.

Melissa Marshall: [00:26:00.36] Yeah, absolutely. So at Banfield, we have 6 diversity resource groups. We call them DRGs, and each one really has their own mission, vision, and kind of strategic goals with a very strong linkage to our EI&D and business strategy. And that really helps to ensure, you know, ongoing alignment as we navigate the weeks, months, and years ahead. Our DRGs really continue to, to flourish. When we started the journey to where we are now, it’s just been absolutely amazing to see the organic nature. It is for associates by associates, if you will. We currently have about 1,800 associates actively involved in the DRGs in one-way shape or form, whether through leadership or just being a part of that community. And the 6 DRGs focus on the LGBTQ+, Latinx, Black, women, Asian Pacific Islander, and Generation Z communities. So that’s where our DRGs focus today. We have designated leads and leadership teams for each DRG, as well as one to two executive sponsors, and the executive sponsors are members of our senior leadership team and other senior leaders who are really there to unlock barriers and help the team navigate through their respective strategies. When we started our DRG journey, yes, it was about community building, but they were so passionate and quite honestly, organically, innovation began to spur through our DRG communities. And so we really see our DRGs as critical stakeholders as we, you know, develop and review policies and programs through a lens of inclusivity.

Melissa Marshall: [00:27:52.50] And just to give you a couple of examples through our DRGs, Banfield has been able to implement some pretty significant initiatives. One one of them being our ability to offer interpretation services for our clients. So that was an idea that sparked out of our DRGs that manifested into a pilot that is just now a way of how we do business today. We made some significant changes by adding gender-neutral bathrooms to our standalone hospitals. Another great example of their impact has been we’ve been able to host what we’re calling be empowered sessions and conversations to really encourage a safe space for associates to share their feelings, thoughts, experiences, and ideas. And it’s just forged such a great community and I think understanding across the organization, so not even within a particular DRG, but how it’s just unlocked understanding of each other. So this kind of concept of, OK, I understand myself, check. Now, do I actually understand others? And this has been a huge unlock again, stood up by our DRGs and really created through their innovation. And then two other things that we’ve been able to do, and again, just great ideas coming to the forefront from these teams is language flags. So as I mentioned earlier, the communities that we serve are extremely diverse and we want to make sure that we meet their needs. And so being able to not only, one, have interpretation services when you need where we do have associates that maybe speak multiple languages, we can actually identify that on their nametags or their badges, if you will.

Melissa Marshall: [00:29:33.09] So that is very visible for clients to be able to know, Oh great, somebody speaks Mandarin. Awesome. And then they can engage in a conversation and really feel supported as they make decisions about their pets. And then lastly, we’ve also included pronouns on our associate badges and again, just our DRG saying, Hey, what if we do something different to really, again, create this sense of belonging in the organization? So a couple of ideas of what they’ve been doing, Jessica, if I had to summarize not only our DRGs in existence and really creating and fostering connection and community both in and outside our four walls, of course, but they also play an instrumental role in strengthening our culture. And as I mentioned, the examples that I provided, they really are instrumental in developing innovative, innovative solutions in service of the growth of our business and meeting the needs of our clients, and impacting society. So they are an awesome group of leaders. They typically spend about a year in their leadership assignment for those that are leading the DRG, and it’s just a great development opportunity. And then we also create this space for others to get involved and get exposure in leadership as well through, through these programs as well. So super proud of them. It’s an amazing group of associates.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:52.02] I love hearing the experience from you and how you’re helping them grow and then using their expertise, their insights, their opinions, their feelings, their thoughts to help shape the customer experience, the employee experience, and the business, I think this is truly what an ERG is designed to do

Melissa Marshall: [00:31:16.56] Most definitely, most definitely. And they’ve just risen to the challenge, so many of them, some have worked at previous organizations where perhaps ERGs or DRGs were in existence. But for many of them, first time they, they didn’t have background knowledge or information in this space, and they have just absolutely flourished. And that’s a testament to just the amazing talent and capability that our associates have. And so again, I’m super proud of them.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:41.94] Another area I want to talk about is I’ve been having conversations with a lot of HR leaders about getting comfortable being uncomfortable, which I feel like we have been uncomfortable for the last 18 months, almost 24 months now in our jobs. But in relation to leadership, and I wanted to ask you, what is your approach to this when you’re working with business leaders?

Melissa Marshall: [00:32:04.77] I love the question because, for me, this anchors culture. You may have heard the reference and I’m totally air quoting right now but you can’t see me, but growth zone and that, that description has come into place over the years in place of comfort zone. And it’s this notion that growth comes from being uncomfortable. Growth comes from tackling new experiences. It comes from tackling new challenges. And so I really believe that if you can create a culture where your leaders have psychological safety in knowing they can speak up, in knowing they can experiment, that they can embrace failure or as Albert Einstein would say, they would categorize or he would categorize that as success in progress, then I firmly believe that’s how leaders thrive. That’s how organizations thrive. And so for us and for me personally, it’s really about a focus on continuous learning and development, you know, making sure that we’re using opportunities for, for learning lessons that we’re really spending time and reflection and coaching and providing feedback to leaders. You know, some of the, the typical questions they’ll be like, Mel, I know you’re going to ask me this and my biggest question is, OK, I get this happened, but what learning do you take away from this experience?

Melissa Marshall: [00:33:25.77] Because that’s where the growth is. And so we really just try to make sure that we highlight those learnings. We create the space for it to be embraced, that it won’t always be right. But I would rather you try and learn from it versus waiting for perfection and missing the opportunity for growth along the way. And so something we are continuing to do, not only myself but our leaders at Banfield as we think about skills that we need for individuals, skills that we need for our teams and really shifting the mindset. So we’ve been spending a lot of time in that space, just helping leaders and the entire organization really just think about being comfortable, as you said, with, with, with being uncomfortable. And I think we’re all works in progress. We’re ever-evolving, but it’s a good thing, and I really just try to help people see the other side of the coin, if you will, as it relates to what this really means.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:34:22.05] I notice, and our listeners probably do too, that you said learning, not failure, which I think is what a lot of us got to go to. I failed. I like this approach because even in my mind, like when something doesn’t go the way that you planned or doesn’t turn out exactly like you had managed or not at all. There’s still opportunities to learn and grow and use that moment to reassess so that you can move forward with whatever you want to do, whether it’s, try again the exact same way or do something different or not at all.

Melissa Marshall: [00:34:55.77] Absolutely, absolutely. It’s funny enough we’re in that performance development process, reviews, and even with my own direct reports, my team. The question that I asked them to reflect on in preparation for our conversation is not, what are you doing well? What’s your opportunity? It’s, what have been your key learnings for the first half of the year? Because for me, that’s where the growth comes from, and that’s where you get a chance to focus on, OK, now what am I going to do differently for the back half of the year based on what I’ve learned? And so it’s really just I think it’s how we reframe how we use those opportunities organically to help people kind of see the other side of the coin and not always anchor something to your point that didn’t go well, that means X failure. I don’t think so at all. And if you didn’t try, you never know.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:41.64] Agreed. Well, Mel, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. I, we’re going to link to your LinkedIn and then also the careers at Banfield Pet Hospital page for them to learn more. But is there any other place that they should go to learn more about you and your team and the work that you’re doing at Banfield?

Melissa Marshall: [00:35:58.62] No, you’ve nailed it there. I think you can certainly go to Banfield.com as well to see some of the great work that we’re doing there. But it just noted those are probably the best handles and contact points to be able to see all the exciting work that’s happening at Banfield. So thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. We’ll have to do this again sometime.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:36:17.84] Absolutely. Thanks again so much, and I can’t wait to catch up soon and hear more about all the change and learnings and opportunities and that, that you’re, that you and your team are making happen.

Melissa Marshall: [00:36:32.84] Wonderful. Thank you. I look forward to it.

Closing: [00:36:34.70] Conversations about leadership and culture are extremely important and we need to have more of them because these conversations spark change and not just change in your organizations, but they inspire change for other HR leaders who are representing and working with organizations. As HR leaders, we can support our company leaders with resources and training that can open up your DEI initiatives in a way that sets your company up for long-term success, while also setting an example of what doing the right thing looks like. And Banfield Pet Hospital is doing the right thing, and they are setting the bar very high for the veterinary industry. I appreciate Mel sharing her experience with us on today’s podcast. Now, thank you for joining the Workology Podcast, sponsored by Upskill HR, and Ace The HR Exam. This podcast is part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This series is powered by Align DEI and Ginger.com. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Workology, this is a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and then until next time, visit Workology.com to listen to all our Workology Podcast episodes.

Closing: [00:37:50.30] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training, community, and over one hundred on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.

Connect with Melissa Marshall.



– Melissa Marshall on LinkedIn

– Careers at Banfield Pet Hospital

– Episode 322: Executive Buy-In For DEIA With Kim Crowder

– Episode 318: Building a DEI Team With Nadine Augusta, Chief DEI Officer at Cushman & Wakefield

– Episode 314: DEI and Preparing Students for the Workforce with Ariana González Stokas

– Episode 310:  Measuring DEI and Systemic Change With Traci Dunn

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