Transparency at work

What happened when I emailed our CEO

5 min read

Progressive is a Fortune 100 company employing over 40,000 people, and as a new employee, I was afraid my voice would be lost amongst many. Before joining Progressive, transparency in a company was high on my list of must-haves. I was hoping to find a company that communicated openly and where my expectations as an employee were clear. As a new employee with Progressive, I was well-versed on the leadership inside the company. My onboarding was filled with inside looks at Progressive’s company culture. I was impressed that Progressive’s current CEO Tricia Griffith made her way from the Claims department to the highest role within the company. I heard stories of how down to earth she is, so much so that some days she’d choose a random table of employees in the cafeteria and join them for lunch. Tricia is genuinely interested in the well-being of Progressive employees. Stories are great, right? I just could not grasp the concept of a CEO of a Fortune 100 company—or any member of the executive team—making the time to check in with anyone besides their own team. I am happy to report, I was wrong. Twice.

Transparency in leadership

During periods when my community and I were experiencing some grim times, I decided to email not only my company’s CEO but also our chief human resource officer on two separate occasions. While I had heard the stories about Tricia’s approachability, we'd never met before, so I did not expect much when I sent the email. To my utter shock, shortly after I sent the email, I received a reply. I must explain that this email was not an automated email, nor was it an email sent from an executive assistant. I was floored! How many times can a newly hired employee send an email to their company’s CEO and get a personalized response? Not only was her reply thoughtful, but it also made me feel seen and heard. She thanked me for my email. I could not believe it.

When my community was experiencing yet another challenging time, I reached out to Progressive’s Chief Human Resource Officer Lori Niederst. Much like Tricia, Lori and I had never met, so when I sent her an email with a link to an article that I felt described the way our community was being affected, I had no expectations. Lori not only responded to my email, but she also let me know she was an ally. She let me know that my feelings were valid, but most importantly I was not alone. To my amazement, Lori went one step further and put me in touch with board members in Progressive’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) who were leading others in constructive discussions. She acknowledged that she did not have answers, but she promised to be a good listener and learn from my experiences. I could not believe it. Yet another personal and thoughtful reply from Progressive’s executive leadership. If I wasn’t sure that I had made the right choice in employers, I was convinced after my encounters with both Tricia and Lori. Although neither of them had ever met me, their ability to create an environment that shattered my idea of an “us versus them” mentality within executive leadership was not only appreciated but welcome.

The importance of transparency

I associate transparency with a company’s ability to be honest and share essential information. When a company is truthful and forthcoming with information, statistics find that their employees are a lot happier, and Progressive has an abundance of happy employees. The happiness of their employees is apparent as Progressive has been awarded “Best Place to Work” by several independent newspapers and magazines alike for many years, consecutively.

When I began my career with Progressive, I learned early on that I chose wisely. While training for my new role, I got a firsthand look at what Progressive has to offer by way of their company culture and desire for their employees to bring their whole selves to work. Progressive understands that being yourself at work is what makes work life enjoyable and helps foster a diverse and inclusive environment. Once my training was over, there was a clear understanding of what was expected of me in my job role, salary expectations, and career advancement opportunities. Progressive was already taking transparency to a whole new level for me.

Transparency in business

Progressive does an excellent job incorporating their Core Values within their company. With focuses on integrity, the golden rule, objectives, excellence, and profit as the foundation for the company, the work environment is one where employees feel comfortable speaking honestly or even elevating their concerns. My stories are proof of that. Adhering to those Core Values is what encourages transparency in all business areas inside Progressive.

Progressive effectively shares information through the company’s intranet where anniversaries are celebrated, employees can find the latest happenings throughout the company, and health and wellness offerings are never scarce. Employees also have the option—and encouragement—to sign up for one or more of nine ERGs. Rarely are employees blindsided by news or changes because of Progressive’s open communication policy. When I began my career here, I was amazed to find employees celebrating 40-year tenures with the company.

The longer I work here, the more I understand. Progressive is great at building relationships, not only with their customers, but with their employees. I was looking for transparency in an employer—I found that, plus the feeling of being supported, appreciated, and valued.

Keisha Fowler started at Progressive in 2019 as a services consultant and currently loans in to Progressive's Talent Marketing team as a Recruitment Marketing Specialist. Prior to joining Progressive, Keisha spent three years managing communications in the social media marketing field. She enjoys writing and content creation and dedicates her Saturdays to reading.

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