Inclusive Storytelling with Transparency and Authenticity with #SHRMDIV Presenter, Elena Valentine


My first interview for the 2018 SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference (#SHRMDIV) that is being held in Atlanta less than 2 weeks was with Joe Gerstandt.  Click here for the Q & A with Joe.  My next interview is with Elena Valentine. 

Elena Valentine helps talent acquisition and employer-branding leaders tell their company stories using video to attract and retain quality talent.  As Elena’s LinkedIn profile indicates, she is a Workplace Filmmaker and Design Researcher.  Elena spends her days leading the team at Skill Scout to bring jobs and company culture to life on video. As CEO, Elena wears many hats, but really geeks out on: new media (360, VR, POV videos, silent storytelling), and building Skill Scout’s diverse workforce!  She was recently named “HR Superhero of the Year” by the DisruptHR Chicago community. She’s also the founder of Mezcla Media Collective, an organization that provides opportunities for female filmmakers of color to connect, partner, and build their skill sets as leaders and storytellers.

Elena Valentine will be presenting a Concurrent Session, Inclusive Storytelling: Capturing Authenticity Through Employee-Driven Content, on Tuesday 10/23/18 10:30 AM - 12 PM, Room 208-209 (Second Floor) at #SHRMDIV in Atlanta.  

Check out my interview with Elena below:

AP: Please tell us a little about yourself:

Elena:  I’m a workplace filmmaker, design researcher and CEO of Skill Scout! I’m privileged to have finagled a career that allows me to celebrate people at work through a camera lens. It really is thrilling and something that pushes me creatively and intellectually.  I’ve seen the power storytelling has to make meaningful connections in the workplace. As a result, it's Skill Scout's main mission to empower HR to become chief human storytellers.

AP: What should an attendee expect to learn from your concurrent session, Inclusive Storytelling: Capturing Authenticity Through Employee-Driven Content?

Elena: Attendees will learn how sharing stories fosters a culture of belonging. We will share approaches on how to identify content that resonates with people inside and outside of the organization. And lastly, we will share ways of engaging employees in creating and sharing that content.

AP: How did you come up with your above title of your presentation for the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference?

Elena: We're inspired by this idea that if you want to change the story, you have to change the storyteller. So often, we lean on the same narratives and people to drive a specific strategy. What's more, we tend to develop these strategies without the voices of the very employees who would be most impacted.

We’re in a time where employees and candidates alike crave transparency and authenticity. Inclusive storytelling aims to do just that. It's an approach that fosters connection and engages employees in sharing the experiences and identities they care most about. In this session, we will dive into the process for developing a compelling and inclusive content strategy driven by those that matter most- our employees.

AP: How would you define inclusion?

Elena: At the heart of inclusion is the feeling of connection and belongingness. We all want to feel that when we come into work, we can bring our full selves into work. We don’t need to put a mask or only uphold to one aspect of our identity.

AP: Please describe the importance of authenticity and transparency and how it correlates with inclusion?

Elena: Authenticity and transparency are fundamental outcomes of an inclusive environment. We are hyper sensitive to cultures that we feel are fake or disingenuous. Now more than ever, our companies need to walk the walk, and talk the talk. When messaging and action are not aligned, our employees lose trust and inevitably leave our organizations. Given that, it’s not enough for companies to articulate their values. Companies must live out those values in how we do business and how we interact with our people.   

AP: What ways are there to develop compelling inclusive strategies and how does this connect to a company's employees?

Elena: It comes down to ensuring we find opportunities to include employee voices. That spans all aspects of the business. Often times leadership, despite good intentions, decides on solutions without a deep understanding of how this might impact employees. Adopting an ethnographic research approach to decision-making is one way to make sure we hear a representative set of voices. A few ways to do this are:

1| Immerse & Empathize. Before deciding solutions, encourage leadership to shadow and engage with employees in various roles. This can help provide leaders with the empathy and understanding of the particular challenge through the eyes of employees.  

2| Journey Mapping. Have leadership and employees go through the exercise of mapping out the key activity you’re looking to innovate. Once mapped out, together the collective can start to identify challenges and opportunities for improvement.

3| Ideate. Engage employees to be part of the solution by including them in preliminary brainstorms. Not only will employees feel engaged they will take more ownership when it comes to implementation.

AP: After researching, I saw that you are the CEO/Founder of Skill Scout.  Please tell us a little about Skill Scout:

Elena: We founded Skill Scout in 2014 under the premise that you cannot be what you cannot see. Job descriptions don’t show what a job is like. The hiring process is missing out on an important opportunity to help candidates consider careers that may not have considered before. What’s more, we saw there was power in video to expose candidates to jobs, demystify requirements, and provide them a more informed opportunity to self screen in or out. With that in mind, we saw it our mission to use video and storytelling to help make more meaningful hiring connections between candidates and companies.

Four years later, Skill Scout is a full fledged media company to that helps HR use video as a way to attract, hire, and retain talent. In addition to full scale media production services, we have a DIY video product offering that puts the storytelling in our companies’ hands. We give them the plan and the video kit. They film. We edit and share back a compelling video that they can share across their platforms. Our main mission is to empower HR leaders to be chief human storytellers of their business, and use video as part of their creative tool kit to do so.

AP: Congratulations with recently being named "HR Superhero of the Year" by the DisruptHR Chicago community.  How did it feel to win such an important award? Please share:

Elena: The DisruptHR Chicago community has a special place in my heart. I was one of the inaugural speakers, and Skill Scout has been a media supporter from its inception. I get so much inspiration from this community. The people who are a part of it are those who want to get out of the box and try new approaches. Award or not, I was a die hard supporter before. And, will continue to raise my sleeves for this community in whatever capacity I can.

AP: I always like to ask a few personal questions, such as what is your all time favorite movie and book?  If there is anything else personal that you would like to share, please feel free.

Elena: Book | Siddhartha

Movie | Steel Magnolias

Other random trivia: My ideal night in consists of pad thai, crab rangoon and reruns of either The Office or Parks & Recreation. Right now, I’m watching Parks & Recreation a 4th time through.

I’m a huge fan of boxing and MMA. Most recently I checked off a huge bucket list item when I got to see the Canelo vs. Golovkin match in Vegas. It was a surreal moment and something I will never forget.

AP: How can the attendees contact you or follow you on social media?  Please share.

Elena: Twitter | @elena_valentine

AP: Are there any videos or articles about you that you would like to share?  If so, please provide the link (s) & description about the link so those reading can view.

Elena: Disrupt HR Chicago | Your Jobs Are Dynamic. Your Job Postings Are Lame

Your job postings are often the first impression candidates will have of your business. While your workplace inspires, your job postings don’t. As HR Professionals we are witness to the amazing stories of our workplace and the people who weave them. How can we turn our job posts into job stories that hook those right candidates at the very beginning?

Disrupt HR Omaha | Meet Dick & Jane. Your Stock Photos Employees Are Lame.

You’ve seen them before. The high fives, the handshakes, the arms crossed in confidence. Perhaps your company has slapped 1, 2, or 50 Dick and Janes on your company website and internal corporate messaging. Well, the jig is up! Were in a time where employees and candidates alike crave transparency and authenticity. They can smell a stock photo and a buzz word filled values statement from a mile away. With the rise of employee review sites, now more than ever employees can share with current and future employees what its like to work at your company-the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. So why not get ahead of it and use this trend to your advantage?

I want to thank Elena for her time and for a great interview. To inclusion, transparency, & authenticity!!



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: