He is a 6ft 4in ex-cop who first joined the police force when he traveled to South Africa from his native Zimbabwe just a week after his 18th birthday.
I was still a boy and it was a wild environment,” remembers Hermann Trepesch. “I cared about the police and the law, but I didn’t want to die.”
Eager to continue serving but with his personal safety in mind, Trepesch moved to England, rejoined the police force and became a member of Britain’s National Black Police Association.
“Less than 3 per cent of civil servants in the UK identify as a minority. There was a lot of structural and institutional racism. I had to be part of the solution, so I started poking around and showing leadership,” says Trepesch.
During his 20 years in the police force, Hermann was active in developing and leading cultural training and mentoring programs. He now serves as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sanofi – the Paris-based multinational healthcare company with more than 95,000 employees in dozens of countries around the world.
He says his Zimbabwean origins helped him connect to a sense of the job.
“I come from a country that has no national health service and no national insurance system. If you fall on the street with no money in your pocket, they leave you there,” he says.
“A company like ours, which has a foundation that gives free medicines to the poorest, connects to my purpose – that we are all responsible for taking care of each other on this earth.”
I was attracted to Hermann’s direct and energetic style of speaking. This is reflected in his active approach to problem solving for the organization he serves.
keep it simple
“Simplicity is key to surviving the day when you’re in a police environment,” he says. So he dedicated himself to finding the seemingly smallest of problems and then solving them with simplicity in his corporate role.
“Our travel policy was a nightmare. They had to be signed by 10 people. Why? If we trust our people, then remove all boundaries and tell them, “Explain why you want to do it,” then trust them to just do it.
“We have vendors – thousands of them – around the world booking hotel rooms that are not covered by the directive. Because have you ever tried to book a hotel room on the coast of any country in the summer? The rooms aren’t under your policy — but those sales reps still need to go out and do their business.”
Trepesch convinced the company to simplify their lives – because, as he explains, “those are the people who generate the revenue that keep the lights on”.
He used the same simplistic approach in restructuring Sanofi’s family leave policy.
“If your family leave policy is muddled or doesn’t exist in 60 percent of your countries, let’s create one for everyone. And if the policy doesn’t fit on two pages, it’s too much,” he explained.
According to Trepesch, politics is now uniform. For each. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
“Anyone who takes in a new child gets 14 weeks with full payment. In countries where they already had it and it took longer, fine. You keep that. In countries that had nothing, take that rule and apply it now,” he explains.
“Right now it’s all about proven leadership. It’s gender neutral. You have a newborn baby? 14 weeks. Assumption? 14 weeks. surrogacy? 14 weeks. Go and be with your family. Start now. And people say, ‘This is amazing. Many Thanks.'”
He sums it all up. “The less time you focus on bureaucracy, the more time you focus on the wonders of science. And that is our goal.”
That’s the kind of approach any company can take, isn’t it? If it’s too complicated, simplify it.
Give others a chance
Trepesch’s direct approach to solving problems is a cornerstone of his diversity, equity and inclusion approach to hiring.
For example, when someone goes on a family vacation, they ask leaders to think of people who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
“Can 14 weeks change your entire career?” he asks. “Yes it can.
“We give them coaching to make it a positive process. It can allay worries about how you feel about yourself if you care. When you come back to your role, you know you have something to work towards and feedback to work on.”
Interestingly, Trepesch’s insistence on diversity has extended to hiring a white man to fill a role.
“For example, if there’s a gap in Human Resources — which is overwhelmingly female — that keeps us from thinking, ‘What this team needs is one guy for a while to bring a different mindset to the team — because that are you missing?’
“Why can’t I fill a role with a white guy on a team that’s demographically underrepresented by white guys?
“I made it. And we were able to show that diversity, equity and inclusion are not there to benefit a specific population group. Everyone should be represented.”
Don’t rely on your HR or marketing department to carry your entire organization’s diversity metrics.
“Be kind. Practice love-based leadership,” concludes Trepesch.
A huge heart lives in this great ex-cop.
https://www.independent.ie/business/in-the-workplace/if-your-policies-get-too-complicated-youve-got-to-simplify-your-processes-41827454.html When your policies get too complicated, you need to simplify your processes