Katy Theroux, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Cornerstone Building Brands: What we're really creating is a vision of something much bigger that's going to be very solid and very foundational, that we could leverage later to help keep our talent attracted to the company, to really be able to connect this purpose to each and every person in the company and allow them to feel that connection and that sense of pride.
Voiceover: Welcome to the Bailey Video podcast. Today we're talking about brand purpose with Katy Theroux, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Cornerstone Building Brands, and Chris Bailey, President and CEO of Bailey Brand Consulting. Let's take a listen.
Chris Bailey, President and CEO of Bailey Brand Consulting: Hi Katy, thank you so much for joining us today; we appreciate you spending a little bit of time on our podcast.
Katy: Thanks for having me, Chris. I'm glad to be with you today. I am Katy Theroux; I’m the head of HR for Cornerstone Building Brands; we are a manufacturer of exterior building products. I've had the opportunity over my 30+ years of work experience to do a lot of different things, but at the core of that, I've always been focused on people. There is so much overlap, so much opportunity for intersection, between the customer experience and the employee experience that I really became very focused on brand and how the brand relates not just to your customers, but also to your employees and how when those things come together, it becomes really powerful.
Chris: There are about 20,000 employees at Cornerstone, so how do you get everybody to come together? Do you have difficulty getting everybody on the same page?
Katy: Everything hangs off who we are as a company: we have our purpose statement, we have our mission, we have a set of core values. From there, we built what we call our talent philosophy. That talent philosophy is related to how we are going to achieve our goals as a company but is very much linked to our purpose, our mission and our core values. Using the core values and that talent philosophy as the basis, we then built out all of our performance management systems and processes.
At the center of that is something we call our success model, and that success model is reflective both of what we do well and what we want to be known for as a company, but even more so what we aspire to be. By using that set of core values and our success model, we're able to evaluate the performance of people who work for our company and ensure that we're all moving forward.
Chris: When we think about purpose for clients, it's really about why the company or the brand exists. Thinking about that through the lens of Cornerstone and your role as head of HR, how do you see that applying to Cornerstone?
Katy: When we were putting all these companies together back in 2018, each company had been through a number of transformative changes prior to the merger. What we really wanted to do is provide something for our people that would allow them to connect and say:
"This is something that we're bringing together, and this is solid." We've been through a lot of change, there have been several owners of our businesses, but what we're really creating is a vision of something much bigger that's going to be very solid and very foundational, that we could leverage later to help keep our talent attracted to the company, to really be able to connect this purpose to each and every person in the company and allow them to feel that connection and that sense of pride.
We want to be able to show them that now, not only do I help make windows, but I am helping make windows that are going into that home down the street, or the apartment complex that's being built near my kids' school, and at that school, there's a metal roof on the building that was provided by one of the companies that is part of Cornerstone Building Brands, or the stone that is going up on my parents' retirement home – that is also part of our company. We really want our people to connect to where our products are being used in their community, and I do believe that is the most powerful part of our message. We're not just manufacturing exterior building products; those building products are being used in the communities where we live, where we work and where we play. That messaging is something that we hear over and over again. I don't know that we really intended that to happen, but people are really attached to it, and they use it.
You'll see it in presentations from different functional areas; you'll see the messaging in business presentations; at the plant level, you’ll see folks finding different ways to use that messaging. They've taken the intent, they've taken the aspiration, and they really have made it their own. To me, that's when you see a brand coming to life: when you're hearing this come back to you time and time again.
Chris: If you get it set forth in the right direction, it becomes organic manifests throughout the organization.
Katy: Yeah, it's a real point of pride for folks. Particularly when you look at manufacturing facilities, while we're in some major metropolitan areas, most of our facilities are in smaller markets, and so we could employ hundreds or thousands of people in a city.
People want to be proud of the places they work and go to every day. It's not just the products but the contributions we're making to our communities. We've been able to build on this idea that our building solutions are the cornerstone of the communities that we serve by introducing some community connection types of programs to formalize that and for us to take on a bigger presence in those local marketplaces.
Chris: Today, it's very much an employee's market.
I'd love to get your perspective on how the employment brand supports you to be able to both attract and then retain everybody because it seems to be hand-to-hand combat right now in terms of retaining people.
Katy: Our HR and plant operations leaders have a set of tools that they use for employee retention. There's a series of playbooks that are put together, and you see our messaging and our branding throughout that. We've taken that to a different level, and we've customized some of the messaging in our manufacturing facilities to focus on one of the attributes of our success model, which is winning as one. We're in the process of implementing our Cornerstone Production System at the plant level, with a heavy focus on continuous improvement and several other pillars of manufacturing excellence. That purpose is also built into the design and rollout of our Cornerstone Production System. It has to be in everything you do that represents the company. It really is a formula: this plus this plus this plus this equals an unleashed potential of the company. But you have to have alignment to do that, and you have to have commitment when you see something happening that may not incorporate the purpose or the core values, and this is both in terms of the words on the page but also the intent – you have to be willing to call that out.
You'll also see our purpose and our core values articulated clearly in the code of conduct that we put together for the company: how we're going to behave, what's acceptable, what's not acceptable.
Chris: You have a very wide variety of employees at Cornerstone, from hourly people to the senior suite. I would imagine that the communication channels are not necessarily easy, particularly when you get into the manufacturing facilities or people that are out on the road. How do you address some of those things?
Katy: Every year on our anniversary week, we've offered a gift to our employees: to go into our company store online and pick out a Cornerstone Building Brands piece of merchandise, and people love that. All of those things create a sense of family, and it may be the family that they're with locally in their local plant, but on that is the Cornerstone Building Brands logo, which connects people and pulls them together.
They wear their Cornerstone shirts when they're out volunteering in the community; when we're donating products, there's a real sense of pride that we can donate some product to help build the dugouts at the Little League field. There are just so many different ways that the purpose comes to life, but it's really through the actions of our people, governed by a number of those programs and policies that we put in place to create the structure around who we are as Cornerstone Building Brands.
Chris: When you think about the purpose, what kind of metrics do you think about, and how do you measure success?
Katy: We have more than 20,000 employees across North America, in four countries; we have thousands of customers that we are interacting with daily, but millions of people who have our products in their homes or are interacting with our products at their place of work, or their kids see our products at school. So we touch many, many people across North America. To measure our success, continuing to grow our business shows that our purpose is right and what we are doing resonates with our customers, both the end customer and the company or individuals who are selling our products. With our people, retention is really important to us, and our ability to attract people and retain people is critical.
The other measure we use is a cultural survey. We survey a large group of our employees every year and a half and look at how we're doing relative to twelve different cultural attributes. Three of those are directly related to strategy, mission and culture.
Chris: I think we have come to the end of our time and we just want to thank you so much for coming on today and telling us a little bit about your career and your journey and how you think about purpose. So, thanks so much, Katy.
Katy: It was my pleasure, and I really appreciate the support you've been able to provide to me over the course of my career. I learned a lot of this from you and the team at Bailey. So, thanks, Chris.