S4 E52 | Moments That Matter with Tara Amaral

In this episode, Tara shares with Melissa a few pivotal moments she had growing up in a multicultural neighborhood and the importance of understanding the community you are in.

Announcer 0:04
You’re listening to Moments That Matter, a special CXR podcast series, where leaders and telling professionals share their own experiences with varying aspects of discrimination and inequality. Hear on Moments That Matter, we are dedicated to creating connected conversations around specific moments. These are moments that matter.

Melissa Thompson, Nielsen 0:26
Hello, everyone. I’m Melissa Thompson, and I’m the SVP of talent acquisition at Nielsen. I’m delighted to have this quick chat with Tara Amaral, who’s the Global Head of talent at MMC. Tara and I are taking part in quick conversations for this CSR sponsored series called moments that matter where leaders connect to share an instance in their lives where they have experienced or witnessed discrimination or inequality, and have the realization that something in their lives or work environments needed to change, basically, a pivotal moment that matters to them. So Tara, can you share a little bit about yourself, and then tell us about a moment that you’ve decided mattered to you?

Tara Amaral, Marshall McLennan 1:12
Thanks, Listen, it’s a pleasure to chat with you today. And all the other CXR members. So I just back up a little bit, because I think I was very naive when I entered the workforce. I am one of three children. And if you believe in birth order theory, I’m in the middle surrounded by two brothers. And we’re very close in age, there’s three years between the three of us. My mother who did not work, but manage the household incredibly well. She never raised us with gender differences of I’m happy to say that I was fired from doing the laundry because I didn’t do it well enough and it was passed on to one of my brothers who’s much more meticulous than I am. And so you know, growing up, we all learn to do the same things. We learned how to plaster we learned how to cook, we learn how to do the laundry, you know, we had equal shared responsibility. And so when I went to college, and in high school in college, I never really thought about it because it wasn’t part of how I grew up. But you know, earlier in life, it did come to light. The other thing I would say is I grew up originally in Queens in a very multicultural neighborhood. And so I also didn’t think much about having people with different backgrounds as part of my life. We lived on a street in Queens that was integrated. We didn’t even use the word integrated because it was just life. And then at some point, we moved from the Queens to the east end of Long Island, which was not integrated back in the 70s. And I had some pretty crazy realizations that I clearly had different thoughts and other people, some of which stick with me today. And and my friends remember a some some of you on the call. No, I mean, once I was beaten up because I defended somebody who was black. And I was like 12, and my mother stormed into the school because I was the one being expelled. And my mother was adamant how, why is she being expelled, she’s, you know, sticking up for somebody who was being undermined. And that sticks with me in a lot of things. Because I heard something, I did something. I was not in good shape after this, I got my I guess, punch very much. But you know, it was one of those experiences that I remember coming home and I said, I don’t get it. Like Why didn’t anybody else stand up. But it wasn’t a very integrated community at the time. And when I talked about it with my parents, it was one of those things where like, I don’t get it. And I think that, that and some other things that my parents did, when we were much younger, that were just part of our life. It is really how I approached living and life. And you know, I think it’s knowingly impacted why when somebody says you can’t do something, I’m like, I need a good reason why I can’t do something. And so when I entered the workforce, I didn’t think twice about, well, why can’t I do the same thing that a man is doing? Or why can I do something or why can’t I give an opportunity to somebody else? But it started really young and and I’ve tried to do that with my children. Hopefully I’ve been successful. And so we’ll see. Yeah.

Melissa Thompson, Nielsen 4:35
So Tara, when you think about the various companies that you’ve worked in, do you see a place where that early experience of being an integrated neighborhood and feeling like you really kind of were engaged? Did you see an opportunity as you went into the workplace to use those skills?

Tara Amaral, Marshall McLennan 4:56
I definitely did. And I was telling somebody the other day, that I’ll date myself as well, when I started out in banking, it was the mid 80s. And, and literally in retail banking, the first course she went to was diversity training. Yeah. And you know, I was in retail banking. And the whole idea was you need to understand the community that you were working in. And even if you didn’t reflect it, you had to understand what the community was about at the time, like we were sending people to Hong Kong to understand functionally, right when we were building branches in Chinatown, and I was working on a brand expansion. So when we were building branches in neighborhoods, we literally were bringing artwork in from local artists, to make sure that it was reflective of the community as well. And so I do think that some of the companies who have been at this for a long time and still even say we still have more to go, I think I definitely resonated with being part of those efforts. And I really do believe still that they were authentic. And there was a business imperative, right? I mean, we want it to be part of a community. And they were definitely different ways of doing that.

Melissa Thompson, Nielsen 6:06
So when you think about 2020, well, we’ve had lots of seminal moments happen during the course of the year. What kinds of things do you feel like you’ve thought about doing differently as a result of the things that happened in the US in the first half of this year?

Tara Amaral, Marshall McLennan 6:25
I’ve been in with Marshall McLennan leading talent acquisition for just about two years. And we’ve put together several plans, which started prior to 2020. So I’d like to say the team was smart enough to anticipate some things, but we had already looked at creating new roles around diversity and inclusion partnerships, right. So we weren’t just reacting to the events of 2020. But really starting to look at once we had a stronger foundation build, how did we need to supplement that activity? What are our sourcing channels? And were we comfortable with the talent that we were sourcing when I joined I had said to the TA team in 2020, no later than 2021. You will all be held accountable for a diverse slate of candidates. Thank God we were. But it took us a while we just transition to a new ATS platform. We had to work out all the kinks. But it is an ongoing conversation and then talking to the businesses about why diversity is important. A lot of this started last year but has kind of been on overdrive during 2020 as well.

Melissa Thompson, Nielsen 7:38
Cool. Thank you.

Tara Amaral, Marshall McLennan 7:40
You’re welcome.

Announcer 7:40
You’re listening to Moments That Matter, a special CXR podcast series, where leaders and telling professionals share their own experiences with varying aspects of discrimination and inequality. Hear on Moments That Matter, we are dedicated to creating connected conversations around specific moments. These are moments that matter.