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How ServiceNow’s CPO structured her first year on the job

August 5, 2022, 1:16 PM UTC
ServiceNow Chief People Officer Jacqui Canney.
Courtesy of ServiceNow

Good morning!

Today kicks off the first of our Friday takeover series where we feature first-hand insight from CHROs and C-suite people leaders tackling today’s most pressing issues. Jacqui Canney, chief people officer at ServiceNow, breaks down how she set priorities in her first year at the company. 

Canney joined ServiceNow in July 2021, following stints leading HR at Walmart and WPP. She now heads talent strategy for the software company’s global workforce. Despite the notoriously tight labor market, she’s fixed her sights on building competitive talent programs that align with the company’s value proposition for employees. (Editor’s note: ServiceNow is the sponsor of CHRO Daily)

This essay has been edited for clarity and brevity.


“Do you want to make the world work better?” ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott asked me this about a year ago.

Making the world work better is the ServiceNow mantra for its customers and the businesses it serves, and I quickly embraced it when I was named chief people officer—focusing on making the world work better for our people.

I strove to build an HR agenda that was as unique as the employees I serve and as ambitious as our company’s vision. As I reflect on my first year with ServiceNow, here are some principles I used: 

1. Make clear, tangible commitments to employees.

One of the first things I did was partner with our marketing and brand teams to refine ServiceNow’s employer value proposition. As a result, we defined our “people pact”—our commitment to our people to help them live their best lives, do their best work and fulfill our purpose together. The people pact serves as our north star when making HR investment decisions; if an activity doesn’t enable it, we don’t prioritize it.

2. Rev up that talent engine and fuel it with data.

To scale, we innovate around a talent engine that helps us attract, grow, and retain the best people to drive our business forward. How we hire, train, plan, manage performance, and reward our people all needs to work together. Over the past year, I’ve prioritized collaboration across HR functions so decisions are made as a team to keep the engine humming. And the best way to fuel that engine? Data—and plenty of it. I’ve spent countless hours with our people insights team to build a data-driven HR practice. 

3. Remember that world-class leaders build world-class teams.  

As a hyper-growth company, ServiceNow needs to develop rapidly. In my time leading HR for Accenture, WalMart and WPP, I learned you don’t grow by just hiring, you grow by leading. That’s why I focused on “leadership through innovation,” which ensures our leaders at every level have the capabilities to flourish in the new world of work. Empowered leaders help turn accelerated growth from a daunting challenge into an achievable goal. 

There are other values I’ve leaned into in my first year at ServiceNow, but I’ll leave you with this thought: CHROs must also continue to grow and develop. It’s easy as a senior-most leader to become comfortable with what you know, but I’ve adopted the question, “Do you want to make the world work better?” as my own personal mantra. It reminds me to be better, so I can better my team and together, we can better the company.

—Jacqui Canney, chief people officer at ServiceNow

I want to hear from you! What are the biggest HR challenges and priorities today? Reach out to me at amber.burton@fortune.com. I’m hosting 15-minute desksides with HR and DEI executives. You could see your answer in a future newsletter.

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

Reporter's Notebook

The Labor Department released its July jobs report this morning. The U.S. added 528,000 jobs, far surpassing expectations, while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, down from 3.6% in June. Unemployment is now at its lowest rate since early 2020, right before the pandemic, further muddying the possibility of a recession. Economists had expected the Labor Department to report much lower jobs growth in the month of July following a slowing economy.

Fortune spoke with Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed Hiring Lab, to get his reaction to the news and find out what this means across sectors.

What was your reaction to the U.S. adding 528,000 jobs in July?

That was definitely a larger number than I was expecting. I think most expectations were that we were going to see payroll growth fade a little bit and that hiring was slowing down…I think what this shows is that the concerns about a rapid pullback and employer demand for workers were overblown and continue to be. We're still seeing very strong levels of demand for workers and that's why hiring remains elevated, why we're seeing payrolls grow so quickly, and why we're still seeing strong wage growth.

Here’s the magic question: after seeing this report, are we still in a recession? 

If we're in a recession right now, this is the weirdest recession I've ever heard of. Output growth may have faded quite a bit, but employers don't seem to have considered that overall pace to be so slow that they need to pull back on adding new workers to their firms. So I think maybe the economy went through a bit of a soft patch, but it looks like employers are looking through that and seeing that they need to continue to ramp up employment to try to meet demand for the goods and services that they produce.

Is there anything that would change your outlook right now?

The one thing here is that demand, at least through last month, is still elevated. But I do think the No. 1 risk on the horizon right now is a Federal Reserve that's very keenly focused on bringing down inflation. And demand for workers is really high, but we haven't seen labor supply pickup correspondingly with demand. There was some progress in the labor force participation rate at the beginning of this year, but it has stalled out as of the last few months. So that would mean, unless demand starts to fade sometime soon, that wage growth will continue to be strong, and the Fed is going to interpret that as pushing up inflation. The risk there is that the Fed continues to hike interest rates very, very quickly and that pushes the economy into a recession.

Around the Table

- Apple’s HR team is facing backlash after allegedly dismissing 15 women’s sexual misconduct claims at the company. Eight of the women reported that they were also retaliated against. Financial Times

- Shake Shack could be the tastiest litmus test to date for the return to the office (or lack thereof) in big cities. The burger chain’s quarterly earnings report missed estimates, signaling a slower return to metropolitan office hubs. Bloomberg

- Capitalizing on that slow return to the corporate office is WeWork. The office rental company posted slightly smaller losses last quarter as more companies embraced hybrid work arrangements and continued to shrink their commercial footprints. New York Times

- Winter is coming to Wall Street. Job cuts and smaller bonuses are expected to hit finance workers as IPO issuance slows dramatically and stocks continue to slump. CNBC 

- Salaries for professionals across the country are nearing that of San Francisco. Some are calling it “The Great Salary Convergence.” Yes, that’s a thing. Remote workers fled big cities during the pandemic and many companies allowed them to take their big salaries with them—a trend that appears to be sticking. Business Insider

Watercooler

Everything you need to know from Fortune. 

Health is literally wealth. Health care costs are so high some Americans say they are cutting back on necessities like food and gas. Others are delaying or skipping treatments altogether. Tradeoffs were higher among lower-income households, but cuts are occurring in higher-income households as well, according to a recent survey by West Health and Gallup. —L’oreal Thompson Payton

Recession realities. The bad news: it looks like we’re heading into a recession. The good news: a former Federal Reserve governor says it likely won’t be “devastating.” Randall Kroszner says while there is an “elevated possibility” of a recession, he doesn’t predict it being anywhere near as bad as what we saw in the early-1980s. Take that sunny outlook as you may. —Tristan Bove

ESGee-whiz. The term ESG is more divisive than you might think. Just ask a room of ESG executives. Many believe the acronym is unclear and has been used inconsistently across sectors. What counts as corporate sustainability has become more complicated as more leaders throw around the term. —David Meyer

TikTok transparency. Gen Z has taken pay transparency to a new level. One 25-year-old TikToker is rising in popularity thanks to her quippy videos asking people on the street how much money they make. Here’s the kicker—people are actually answering her. —Alice Hearing

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