Upcoming webinar: How to build an inclusive culture that drives business success

Before I founded Sama, I spent most of my career as an investor in global institutional private equity groups.

Eight years working in the PE market opened my eyes to the many realities of the corporate world as I worked with hundreds of businesses. I’ve witnessed firsthand how broken most company cultures are, where people do not feel they belong are aligned with their company’s mission. This translates into low levels of employee engagement and incredible wastage of human potential.

I have also seen how executive coaching can transform organisations and teams. For example, it can help unlock a culture of trust, and make teams go from good to great. Coaching is the Rolls-Royce of personal development. Personally, I have benefited from working with great executive coaches and have experienced the transformative power of coaching. Coaching is the privilege of too few, being offered to senior team members, in an opaque manner, when it should be accessible to all, especially the ones who are typically overlooked such as your average employee.

Lesson 1

The system is broken

I come from an entrepreneurial family and was always fascinated by businesses, by how things worked. That said, I got into private equity through a detour. I spent a few years as an international M&A lawyer, which was an intense but fantastic training ground in building a strong work ethic. The PE industry is a high achieving, fast-paced, numbers-driven industry. My experience as an M&A lawyer helped me navigate through this.

What’s great about private equity is that it allows you to look under the hood of so many businesses. You see what’s working, and what’s not working.

I realised that companies have a very high level of employee disengagement. What I personally witnessed coincided with the prevailing disengagement statistic in the corporate world: 52% of workers are not engaged. While they show up at work, they often do not feel aligned and do not put passion into their work. I saw people come to work generally unhappy, feeling stuck and that there was just no avenue for them to feel fulfilled. When this happens, you do the bare minimum, don’t raise red flags or contribute innovative solutions. This created a vicious circle where people were dissatisfied, not engaged, tainting the overall performance and the culture.

Lesson 2

Companies need to build a culture of inclusion

What came to light (and is a strong contributor to employee engagement) is how companies struggle to have an inclusive culture and maintain a diverse team that feels a sense of belonging. I am a female of mixed origins – my father is Indian and my mother is Canadian. I am often ashamed to realise how naive I was for a long time, thinking that if you work really hard, you’ll be judged on merit and able to succeed whatever your goals are.

I got to a point in my career where my rose-tinted glasses fell, I raised my head and looked around me and found that there was very little diversity within the corporate world. The situation gets even worse at the leadership level, where 90% of board chairs are Caucasian and 95% of CEOs are white males. The good news is that this is now recognised and that companies are pushing so many initiatives to solve this. 71% of global companies have processes to remove biases in hiring – it is progress, but it’s still not enough.

Fostering an inclusive culture and engaging a diverse team is not only the right thing to do as a human, but it also makes a lot of business sense. Several studies indicate that diverse and inclusive organisations are more productive and generate higher revenue compared to businesses lacking diversity and inclusion initiatives. BCG found that diverse teams had 19% higher revenue due to innovation relative to less diverse teams. Inclusive teams drive decision making 2 times faster with half the meetings.

Despite all the initiatives companies implement to support diversity and build an inclusive culture, only 25% of employees from underrepresented groups say they truly benefit from it.

To date, initiatives around DEI have been top-down, promoted by a leadership that is predominantly homogenous. Initiatives are not sufficiently tailored to each individuals’ needs and are therefore the antithesis of diversity and inclusion.

Historically, companies have dictated how employees should progress. If you want to create an environment where everybody is truly heard and can develop based on their unique skills, you have to give them resources that are tailored to their individual needs. This is why our coaches support the specific development needs of each individual within the organisation.

Lesson 3

Coaching is not just for executives

Coaching has a massive positive effect on employee engagement and productivity. I am a living testament to that. I had my first coaching session post-university and it was the most impactful interaction I’d had to date – and that was just with one session. I am an introvert and used to despise small talk and networking events. In one session, my coach helped me shift my perspective and guided me in approaching work interactions in a more authentic and enjoyable fashion. Had I not had coaching, I sincerely think I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I wish I’d had more high-quality coaching earlier on in my career. It certainly would have changed certain behaviours and reactions. For example, I’ve always been quite impatient. I would tackle projects and bulldoze ahead without much tact. Understanding how to build consensus would have been helpful, as well as learning how to find sponsors to champion me or advocate for myself better.

Our ultimate objective at Sama is to support employees and give them the tools to be more productive, to help companies perform better, and to do it the right way with a workforce more engaged and better equipped through their career and their life. 

The International Coaching Federation shared that 80% of employees who received coaching became more confident. In addition, more than 70% saw their work performance improve, communicated better, and fostered stronger relationships in the workplace. Coached individuals also became adept at navigating their organisation as well as expertly approaching even the most critical, tense situations. 

Management should make coaching a core initiative for employee development. For one, coaching improves employee wellbeing by providing employees a safe space. It helps employees see, and tap into, their strengths and skills, their blind spots, and find ways to unleash their full potential. When this happens, employees don’t just feel more confident about who they are, but they can contribute more to their company and community. 

These realizations empowered me to make it my mission to make coaching available to all employees, including more junior team members who normally would not have access, in a way that is tailored to their specific needs and situations.

Lesson 4

Finding the right support matters

While I am an advocate of coaching, finding experienced coaches is a challenge. The two key issues are that it is an unregulated profession and there is often a huge disconnect between cost of coaching and quality.

Because it is an unregulated profession, anyone can call themself a coach even without having done any coach training. Then, there is the question of the quality of the training and experience. There’s that inherent risk of getting someone who overpromises yet underdelivers.  

An HR professional has to spend significant resources to find quality coaches who understand the intricacies of their company and industry, which means that they often work with a small pool of coaches or rely on an agency. If you are an employee, to find coaches you either do a search on the internet and HOPE it’s the right coach, or you rely on word-of-mouth. But a coach that’s great for your friend isn’t necessarily great for you. Vetting the quality of coaches you find is extremely hard.

Because it’s an inefficient market, the cost of coaching often does not translate to the value it provides. You may think you’ve chosen a great coach, but it’s hard to be sure. You might also spend thousands of dollars if you hire coaches personally, regardless of whether you are with the best coach for you or not.

Other organisations have initiatives where they commission an agency to provide coaching to their employees. But there’s an inherent problem with in-house coaches or third-party coaches selected by one or two people within the company. When the company handpicks the coach and asks for specific reports on the interaction, the level of trust and psychological safety the employee has in their coach is generally much lower. The same goes with in-house coaches.

Working with an independent 3rd party that selects and works with incredible coaches that have a duty to the employee is really different. The challenge is that not all platforms are created equal and often quality lacks there too. You have to have a lot of confidence in the platform and their coach selection process to delegate the selection and matching.

When you can trust your coach, you develop faster.

Lesson 5

The best solution is one that is tailored to each employee

Having experienced firsthand what’s wrong with the traditional way of finding a coach and delivering coaching, I decided to build a platform that provides the Rolls-Royce of professional development, starting with high-quality coaching that is the most relevant for each employee. We take into account company specific needs, and make the employee the center of their development journey.

At Sama, we constantly seek to achieve ongoing growth and development for our users. Our professional coaches ensure the ultimate impact for individuals and the company. 

Our experienced coaches work closely with employees to create highly tailored programs and tools to help each individual access and activate their full potential.

Most importantly, all Sama coaches work for the employee. For us, confidentiality is sacrosanct. We do not share individual data with client companies. They are comfortable with this because they care about and know the benefits of coaching at scale. Data is only shared in aggregate, not individual metrics on employees, and only when teams are large enough to ensure anonymity. Ultimately, this leads to the great advancement of individuals and a positive impact on the company’s profitability.

Lesson 6

Coaching at Scale Improves Company Culture

Alongside helping employees looking to navigate and progress in their company, coaching helps leaders be more self aware and adopt behaviours that are exemplary. We work at all levels of seniority and help improve the culture of the company, one employee at a time.

With Sama, I hope to give all employees, regardless of their seniority level, the chance to tap into their highest potential, perform at their best and feel fulfilled. Through high-quality, tailored coaching, business leaders can broaden their perspectives, be more inclusive, and embrace diversity to transform their company into an effective, resilient, and high-performing enterprise.

No industry is more competitive and fast-moving than tech. Innovations come rapidly, consumer expectations constantly shift, and companies have to be agile to succeed.

As a result, tech leaders face unique challenges. With technology continually improving, tech enterprises can struggle to keep their teams up to pace with learning and development and retain their talent. The biggest challenges for most tech companies include finding time for upskilling their employees, the lack of experienced digital talent, and retaining top talent.

Maintaining employee engagement is critical to addressing these challenges. Another stumbling block is diversity; all companies need to do more to establish and maintain more diverse teams, but many companies aren’t sure where to start and especially how to have lasting results.

Employee coaching can help tech companies reduce employee turnover, boost engagement, and improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Online executive coaching can also help tech leaders better utilize their leadership abilities to the fullest, molding them into better, more engaged leaders. Read on to learn more.

how can tech leaders reduce employee turnover and improve diversity in the workplace 4 min
By driving inclusion, staff stay around longer on top of being hired in the first place. Companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover rates.

Promote DEI in the Workplace with an Employee Coaching Platform

Many tech leaders are rightfully committed to improving when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace – including diversity in senior management positions.

This commitment is crucial. The research is clear that we tend to categorize people through easily observable criteria such as age, gender, sexuality, accent, and skin color. This can become a stumbling block when letting in new hires or considering candidates for leadership positions.

Women comprise nearly half (47%) of the American workforce. However, they are severely underrepresented at the top leadership level, occupying less than one-third of the leadership roles in tech. Diving deep, women only hold 16% of senior level positions, and account for just 10% of executive leadership roles.

Not only is it difficult to achieve diversity, but inclusion is a huge challenge, with 57% of women having experienced discrmintation in the workplace. Nearly half (48%) of female workers say they have been discriminated against in terms of their technical competence. That means women are denied complex tasks and challenging roles because they are deemed technically inferior to their male counterparts. Worse, tech enterprises tend to not hire black and Hispanic women into tech positions – even if they have a degree in computer science or engineering.

Coaching promotes and helps maintain diversity in a foundational way. Coaching helps all employees develop an inclusive mindset and further expand their perspective. After intensive examination of their conscious and unconscious prejudices and thorough reevaluation of their values, practices, and organisations, staff at all levels of a company can become more accountable and willing to explore opportunities that promote and tap into the potential of a truly diverse team. These opportunities include hiring more individuals from diverse backgrounds and building and sustaining an inclusive culture where diverse teams thrive.

Moreover, professional coaching provides employees a safe space where they can be open and sincere. This results in the surfacing of issues and concerns as well as the development and implementation of solutions to address these situations. When companies practice an inclusive culture, every individual feels engaged and empowered regardless of their background. Every employee flourishes across the entire company.

And best of all? By driving inclusion, staff stay around longer on top of being hired in the first place. Companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover rates.

Tech leaders should want to improve diversity, equity and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do. But it’s also the business-savvy thing to do. Research shows that companies with women and minorities achieve better financial performance. A survey from the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that more women in the C-Suite positions significantly improves profitability. Companies with inclusive cultures have 22% greater productivity and 27% higher profitability than their less diverse and inclusive competitors.

As all leaders know, teams perform at a higher level when all its members are supported. However, no two employees are the same. Sama recognises this and matches employees with the right coach for them whilst minimizing bias and optimising fit. All Sama coaches are vetted on their values and approach to DEI. Sama has developed a training tool on DEI for its coaches.

Our platform has been developed with a unique insight into science, leadership development, DEI and corporate culture. It is crucial for tech firms to build and sustain a culture of inclusivity, as this makes all tech employees feel valued. With coaching for all employees, companies can play an active role in fostering DEI in the workplace.

how can tech leaders reduce employee turnover and improve diversity in the workplace 3 min
90% of workers said they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback.

Employee Coaching Platforms Help Tech Firms Reduce Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is a problem in every industry. This is doubly true right now, as the pandemic has triggered the so-called “Great Resignation”, causing millions of employees to quit their jobs. People value their time now more than ever, and are looking for greater flexibility and happiness in their work. A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions in 2021.

Attracting and retaining talent in the tech sector can be a special challenge. Tech firms operate in difficult, high-pressure and increasingly competitive environments where teams shift a lot. Right now, tech is the industry with the highest turnover. Tech companies have on average an employee churn rate of 13.2%; this can climb to as high as 21.7% for embedded software engineers.

In a survey of tech employees who had recently left their job, almost two-thirds of leavers would have stayed had their employer taken steps to create a more positive and respectful work environment. 52% of employees exiting voluntarily say their manager or company could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.

One crucial step to reducing employee turnover is by engaging employees by reinforcing purposes and providing more development opportunities. Coaching for employees helps them recognise and value their strengths, become aware of the impact of their skills to their company, and chart their own path to their personal and professional success.

In a survey by Achievers, 90% of workers said they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback. Through coaching, employees can get better at giving and seeking feedback, and feel more empowered in their role. 

Coaching employees encourages them to confidently communicate and build relationships with their colleagues and managers, share insights to improving situations in the workplace, and help create environments where everyone implements their skills and abilities successfully in their respective positions.

Coached employees have also proven to have better work-life balance, wellbeing and are more empowered to thrive within their role. Employees leaving a company is costly. In one study, when an employee for a technical position leaves, the company is set back 100 to 150% of that employee’s yearly salary. For C-suite positions, the turnover costs is up to 213%. It takes precious time and money to find and train a replacement. Tech leaders need to improve retention and reduce their turnover as much as possible. Coaching improves employee engagement, and higher employee engagement results in staff sticking around.

how can tech leaders reduce employee turnover and improve diversity in the workplace 2 min
Employees who received professional coaching exhibited up to 17% increase in productivity levels and better performance at work.

The Impact of Coaching on Employee Performance

The tech sector is highly competitive. Success requires constantly adapting and growing.  The continual learning and development of one’s own skills is what sets both great tech leaders and great tech employees apart.

Coaching is key to helping employees develop their skills. Research by the International Coaching Federation reveals that over 70% of coached employees benefited from improved work performance, relationship and communication skills.

Coaching can help tech leaders in nurturing a growth mindset in employees.  Research found that employees in growth mindset companies, when compared to those with fixed mindset, are:

47% likelier to see their colleagues as trustworthy;
34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company;
65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking; and
49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation.

Employees who received professional coaching exhibited up to 17% increase in productivity levels and better performance at work. Coaching  also has a significant impact on retention. One survey revealed 80% of Millennials and GenZer say they would leave a company that doesn’t provide workers personal development opportunities.

Indicators of employee engagement such as these are correlated with higher financial returns, and the culture itself serves as a recruiting tool. All tech leaders should be prioritizing employee growth – and coaching is a key tool in this project.

Online Executive Coaching For the Entire Tech Company

At Sama, we work with many high-level tech sector professionals. We understand the unique and escalating challenges faced by tech companies and their employees.

Coaching for employees can sustain transformational change across all levels of a tech firm, especially in today’s digital-first world. An employee coaching platform for all employees can challenge their ideas, help them refocus and reclarify, and vastly improve their decision-making skills.

With Sama’s online coaching app, you provide employees the tools and support they need to become the best versions of themselves. CEOs, managers, business owners, and leaders have all benefited greatly from receiving coaching.

By offering coaching for employees as a company wide benefit, you can show employees that you are invested in them and are willing to support their personal growth and empower their professional journey as well.

We’d love to give you a demo!

The global financial services market is flourishing and is expected to reach $28.5 trillion by 2025.

Despite the pandemic, many financial services companies, or finserv companies, have managed to maintain steady growth. However, the pandemic has brought to light challenges within the industry. These challenges include ensuring the wellbeing and high level of engagement of teams; competing to attract and retain high quality and diverse talent; and ensuring high levels of productivity.

An employee coaching platform can help companies respond to these challenges. Finserv companies can utilize coaching at scale for employees as a powerful strategy to increase productivity and empower growing teams. Coaching has been proven to increase wellbeing and engagement; improve employee retention; boost productivity; and foster an inclusive culture. Across the board, coaching for employees can enable finserv teams to operate successfully, and should be embraced by more leaders. Read on for more.

Professional Coaching Enhances Workforce Wellbeing and Engagement

Stress can lead to employees becoming disengaged and unproductive. Almost two-thirds of managers in the finance sector have experienced burnout during the pandemic. Coaching can help financial services leaders and their teams to effectively deal with certain causes of stress. Coaches can offer actionable solutions to help teams become more effective and resilient, whatever their working conditions.

Introducing an employee coaching platform that makes coaching available as and when the employee needs it, encourages employees to be more open, sincere, and involved. This transforms the workplace into an engaging environment for employees. And when employees are engaged, they are more likely to stay and become highly productive.

Additionally, coached employees have better work-life balance, and are more empowered to thrive within their role. 90% of workers say they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on their feedback. Through coaching, employees can get better at giving and receiving feedback.

An Employee Coaching Platform Helps Increase Employee Retention

There is a great resignation afoot, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S., more than 4.1 million have already left their companies as of July 2021. Of those who stayed, an estimated 41% of workers are now considering quitting their current jobs in the coming months.

Whilst a certain level of turnover is always healthy, when key talent leaves, it is incredibly costly for your business. It takes time and money to find, onboard and train a successor.

According to research, 87% of highly engaged employees are less likely to leave their employers than their disengaged counterparts. One key to keeping high engagement and therefore retention is continuous development and support for each employee, in a tailored manner. Why? Because over 80% of employees said they would leave if they perceive companies to be indifferent to their professional and personal growth and fail to provide them with development opportunities. Professional coaching is the only resource that does that.

It is imperative for companies to be proactive instead of reactive in providing learning and development for their team and empower employees to craft their development journey. This is why coaching employees at every level must be a core part of a company’s culture. When employees see that their company is committed to their development and provide them opportunities for professional growth, they see it as an incentive to stay and become valuable contributors.

Coaching helps encourage innovation while ensuring agility in a competitive finserv market.
Coaching helps encourage innovation while ensuring agility in a competitive finserv market.

An Employee Coaching Platform Increases Team Productivity and Agility

Many successful finserv leaders have benefitted from the guidance of expert coaches. Imagine what would happen if you gave this superpower to all your employees too. Leaders can help their teams prosper by introducing coaching for all employees.

Financial services employees are used to fast-paced environments. Coaching allows finserv teams to become more productive and agile, enabling them to create more positive conditions for problem-solving and collaboration. Over 70% of people who were coached benefited from improved work performance, relationships and effective communication skills.

Finserv companies are increasingly looking to infuse agility into their operating models. Coaching helps encourage innovation while ensuring agility in a competitive finserv market. It helps inspire new ideas, helps staff refocus and reclarify, and improve their decision-making skills.

Coaches can help people unlock their potential and reach their goals. By investing in coaching for employees, financial services leaders can supercharge their learning and development programs by fully supporting employees and optimising agility.

Employees become more engaged and productive when companies are proactive about supporting their well-being and development, especially in hybrid or fully remote work models.

It is well recognised that driving efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is crucial.
40% of men and 36% of women from under-represented demographics voluntarily exit companies where they do not feel included.

Coaching for Employees helps create more diverse and inclusive cultures

It is well recognised that driving efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is crucial.

Why? Because 40% of men and 36% of women from under-represented demographics voluntarily exit companies where they do not feel included.

The benefits of having diverse teams are well-recognised. For companies that implement fair DEI programs, the benefits are impressive:

One study revealed that employees that work for enterprises with inclusive cultures are 19% more likely to stay.
Inclusive teams boast a 2x faster decision-making process over a non-inclusive group.
Diverse teams achieve 60% better results and generate 19% higher revenue because of their tendency to innovate.

Helping leader’s develop an inclusive mindset is important when it comes to unlocking the true potential of a diverse workforce.  Coaching provides a safe space for leaders to explore their challenges, gain awareness of both their conscious as well as unconscious biases, and broaden their perspective through continuous dialogue and reflection.  By holding leaders accountable, coaching encourages them to take responsibility for building and sustaining inclusive behaviours within their teams.

Targeted Coaching for Financial Services Companies

At Sama, our co-founders, team members and coaches have had extensive careers in high performing professional and financial services companies. We understand the unique and escalating challenges faced by financial services leaders in managing distributed teams across all levels of a finserv company.

Coaching is a very effective way to build resilience and agility, and support a truly cohesive culture. An employee coaching platform can support your teams no matter where they are located. Employees can access the online coaching app anytime, and work with their own coach, when and where needed.

With Sama’s employee coaching platform, you can create an inclusive and psychologically safe culture where employees can be their best selves. CEOs, managers, business owners, and leaders have all benefited greatly from receiving coaching. By offering coaching as a company wide benefit, to all, not only your senior professionals, you can show employees that you are invested in them and are willing to support their personal leadership journey.