How Employer Brand and Inclusion Go Hand in Hand

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Creating an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is a balancing act. Yes, you’re trying to make something that appeals to prospective candidates and speaks to what they want in a wildly competitive labor market. However, you can’t just go by what sounds good—you need to articulate what is unique, different, and exciting about working for your organization that sets you apart from the rest of the field.

We spoke about that challenge to Natalie Bodus, the Senior Director of Inclusion and Diversity and Employer Brand at Zebra Technologies. She reflected on the process they went through to build an EVP and how they got started before there was an official Employer Branding function in the organization.

The Talent Challenge of B2B Businesses

Zebra is an older B2B company that got its start in 1969 creating barcoding technology, labeling, and ticketing systems. “My guess is most of you listening have interacted with a Zebra device without knowing it,” Bodus says, “we’re hanging in the background, subtly, with a lot of the big brands that you may engage with on a day-to-day basis.” As a business with a low profile but a wide footprint, there is therefore a lot of work Bodus and her team need to do to build awareness.

At the same time, Zebra’s logistics technology is essential across all sorts of businesses and they are therefore constantly expanding into a variety of new industries. These talent challenges combine to create a unique set of circumstances for Employer Branding. “We’re going into markets where not only is Zebra not as well-known, but the work we’re doing in those emerging technologies is new,” Bodus says. “It makes it an exciting place to be if you’re someone who’s driven by innovation, digging in, making a difference, being able to see your work come to life and put your handprint on the organization.”

A Grassroots EVP

Before any Employer Branding roles were formalized, there was already a grassroots effort to articulate what it was like to work at Zebra and why talent should jump at the chance to get involved. They created a matrixed team to develop an aligned EVP with perspectives from across the organization. They wanted to harness the energy employees had for Zebra but be more intentional about how they represent themselves in the talent marketplace. As Bodus says, “there was a lot of passion for this work but we wanted to match that passion with a greater capacity” to articulate, specifically, what made Zebra such a special place to work.

As Zebra built their EVP, they had to make sure that they weren’t just telling candidates what they wanted to hear. Yes, they needed to attract talent, but they also needed to find candidates who would be the right fit for their organization. As Bodus says, “What is it that makes us unique and different and how can we bottle that up and more clearly articulate that to current and prospective talent?”

Why EVP and Inclusion and Diversity Go Hand-in-Hand

Bodus’s role is relatively new, as Zebra set up their formal Employer Branding function in late 2020 after the EVP work was already underway. They had learned from that work that there was a strongly felt need to connect Inclusion and Diversity with their new Employer Branding efforts. “As you know, the focus around inclusion and belonging has become even more relevant not just to the way we work but to what candidates are looking for and what talent is looking for,” she says.

“Diverse Perspectives and Collaborative Approach,” for example, is a brand pillar in their EVP that connects directly with Bodus’s dual roles. “We focus a great deal on making sure our environment is a place where all employees can be seen, heard, valued, and respected,” she says, “and we want every individual to feel like they can be their true and authentic selves.”

Cross-functional collaboration and hearing a diverse set of perspectives go hand in hand and, for Zebra, they’re really two sides of the same coin. Articulating this unique perspective and showing how it’s put into practice has helped Zebra overcome their talent challenges and stand out to potential candidates.

To follow Natalie Bodus’s work in Employer Brand, connect with her on LinkedIn. For help identifying the values and culture you want to create in your company, get in touch.


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