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#OpenUpTheWorkforce with Monica Novomisle, Chief People Officer at Kraft Heinz

Written by Mitra LeBuhn on February 16, 2023
4 min read

Presented by Symba, #OpenUpTheWorkforce interviews feature executives advancing inclusion, diversity, and equity for the future of work. In these short audio-only episodes, we talk with the top about what it takes to develop and implement inclusive processes.

In this episode of #OpenUpTheWorkforce, Monica Novomisle, Chief People Officer at Kraft Heinz, North America, shares their company-wide philosophy, "We Demand Diversity," and how they are working to achieve that through their early careers programs, business resource groups, and diverse leadership team. Listen here.

A very special early careers program

“Now at Kraft Heinz, one of our biggest values is meritocracy and meritocracy is a beautiful ideal. That means that we believe that as you perform, we reward you through growth promotions and pay. Now, the downside for meritocracy is that the ideal assumes that all of us have the same starting line, but we know in reality that doesn't exist. So when you as a value are living out meritocracy, which we do here, you also have to look at how you are balancing that through equity. So, with our early career program, we have refreshed it so that as we bring in a new class of women and people of color and people of all different types of backgrounds, we are giving them an experience that is very different than I think is at most companies.” 

- Monica Novomisle

As an example, at Kraft Heinz, interns, trainees and MBA students get to have lunch with the board during board meetings. Oftentimes, their early-in-career talent also get to work on their Global Leadership Council and interact with their top 120 leaders across the global business. Monica adds, “...we really see our trainees as coaches, mentors, and we give them different levels of exposure and extremely high input into the future of the company.”

Diverse leadership team

One of Kraft Heinz’s pillars is “We Demand Diversity,” as defined by their Global CEO and North America CEO. Their diversity aspirations embody this. Kraft Heinz has committed that by 2025, 50% of all levels of management in the U.S. will have female representation, and they will increase the representation of people of color in U.S. salaried positions by 30%. They are currently beating those benchmarks. They also have a 91% participation rate in their engagement surveys, which shows how much their employees believe that Kraft Heinz will take action on their feedback.

“Inclusion starts with looking up and making sure that you see yourself everywhere, right? And I think that the work that we have done to onboard such diverse leaders at every dynamic of that of the word diversity has really helped us have an empathetic leadership group that understands being an outsider at one point or another in their career. And as a result, is just much more sensitive to being inclusive to assuring that people are coming along and at least to making sure that all voices are represented and being heard.” - Monica Novomisle

Big on BRGs 

Business Resource Groups at Kraft Heinz are run by a community of business leaders, and they are invited to give deep feedback pertaining to Kraft Heinz as an employer as well as how they serve their customers and consumers. Their BRGs are also engaged tightly in hiring and recruiting. The Women and Black BRGs, for example, have helped HR to curate training programs for high-potential women and people of color in order to assure that Kraft Heinz’s succession plans are truly diverse, and they've won a number of awards for those programs.

“Another moment for me where it was very different was when the Dobbs decision came down. We invited each BRG into the room on that Friday and we talked to them about all the decisions we had to make. And what was beautiful to me is, while they shared their emotions, they also gave us feedback on what they expected from us based on what they know of our business and our customer. And they gave us sort of a road map of how they believed our culture would embrace this and what we would do as the company. And they asked every question to make us prepared. And as a result, we really leaned into our culture and made good decisions because we had so many people with different perspectives at the table that day.” - Monica Novomisle

What’s ahead for 2023?

  • Different approaches to DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) in the future. Employers have to walk the talk and it’s bringing accountability to the I & the B.
  • Following the pandemic, the common struggle with mental health will bring us to long-overdue conversations about disabilities and neurodiversity. Invisible disability as well as disabilities overall will finally get the focus that that community really deserves.
  • Allyship is going to be a much bigger influencer at Kraft Heinz.

What do leaders need to do to open up the workforce?

  1. It can’t be a people want, it has to be a business imperative. “Again, one of the things that I espoused at the very beginning is that I think what's most powerful is when you are absolutely sure that you understand how to connect your DI&B agenda to the business’s agenda. Because if both grow at the same time, it is a magical unstoppable thing.” - Monica Novomisle
  2. Humility for leadership will allow a much more inclusive community and workforce. “Leadership in the past may have been considered as ‘I tell you’ or ‘I teach you.’ And I think we’re coming to a much more humble place of leadership where it’s ‘I listen, I coach and I bring the people together to discuss how we get there. I am a team leader, I am a coach of leaders, I am not the leader.’” - Monica Novomisle
  3. Corporations that see their early career programs as the next generation of leaders and commit to them, giving them every opportunity to develop how the company will be in the future, will win at inclusivity.

About Monica

Monica Novomisle, the Chief People Officer, Kraft Heinz, North America, is known for building high performing teams that deliver profitable business results. In her 20 plus years of experience in the people space, she worked with leadership teams at Kraft Heinz, Diageo, and Tory Burch, to achieve total business and culture transformations, focusing on changes in performance culture, coaching culture, employee experience, and corporate integrity and compliance.  She also has focused her career on evolving HR teams away from executional and administrative work and into business partnering and people experience strategies. Monica has lived and worked in six countries and been the head of HR in Canada, United States, Greater China, and APAC.  Prior to her work in Human Resources, Monica served as a Senior Associate for the International Employment Law Group at Paul Hastings LLP.  Monica holds multiple degrees from various institutions including, Trinity College, University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and the University of Connecticut School of Law.


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Mitra LeBuhn

Mitra is the Head of Impact and Communications at Symba and leads social impact, PR, and marketing partnerships for the business. She combines a unique background in Global Health and Higher Education, and speaks French. Beyond Symba, Mitra spends her time outdoors, traveling the world and making music.

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