Jignasha Amin Grooms of Epicor Software: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society

Eliminate as much bias as you can from your recruiting, compensation, and performance process. At Epicor, our HR team uses a thoughtful approach to ensure we hire employees based on qualifications and skills. Over the past few years, we also implemented a new standardized and structured performance management system, which was integrated with manager guidelines for the merit and promotion process. This new system focused on frequent, meaningful discussions between employees and managers rather than just an annual performance evaluation. These efforts ensure we create a level playing field for employees, no matter where they are in their career journey.


As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Jignasha Amin Grooms. Jignasha is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Epicor Software, a global leader providing flexible, industry-specific software designed around the needs of manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. As CHRO, she is passionate about the human part of human resources. That is why she focuses on strengthening employee engagement at Epicor as well as our globally diverse, customer-first culture.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Absolutely. I grew up in India, and we were one of the very few middle-class families at the time. My dad was an engineer, and my mom stayed at home to care for the kids. From an early age, my family taught me the importance of social responsibility, valuing people for who they are, and leading by example. In fact, some of my fondest memories as a child include volunteering with my grandparents, who would take me on weekly outreach efforts to fund schools in our community for kids who couldn’t afford to go otherwise. My great aunt — who was one of the first female attorneys and female drivers in Gujarat, India — would also drive me to different parts of Vadodara to deliver food to people in need.

My parents migrated our family to the U.S. when I was eight because they thought there would be more opportunities for my brother and me. When deciding a career path years later, I went to law school to study international human rights and international business transactions. My career trajectory has not necessarily been linear (I served as an attorney before making the move to the tech industry), but it has always been about two things: my passion for people and serving others. As Chief Human Resources Officer at Epicor Software, I’m driven by the human part of Human Resources.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’ll give you three: A Fine Balance, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Cutting For Stone. These three books resonate with me because they are about the resiliency of the human spirit, and they use beautiful prose to project that fortitude and determination of humankind in a way I find truly inspiring.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

My favorite quote is by Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Because of the type of work I’ve done since I started my career, it’s been really important for me to show up with honesty and integrity. One of the things I really focus on is meeting people where they are and making sure they understand that they are valued and important.

Shortly after I joined Epicor, Hurricane Harvey hit. In response, I asked the HR team to join me in calling every employee in the path of the storm to make sure they and their family were ok, and to also see if we could provide support for anything they needed. To this day, one of the most poignant times for me at Epicor was when an employee of 20 years in a very public way mentioned how much this call meant to him. He said no one had ever done anything like that for him before, and because of our thoughtfulness he would happily work at Epicor and give his all for another 20 years.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I would define effective leadership as leading others with a focus on three main points: leading with clear direction, leading by example, and leading by serving.

I’ll use the same example I gave with Hurricane Harvey. I provided clear direction to our team — we would reach out to our employees who were in need in order to determine how we could best assist them. (I clarified what we were doing and why.) I led by example — I made calls alongside my fellow HR team members. And I led by serving — the overarching objective of our efforts was to serve and support our employees to the best of our ability. And, our employees then projected that forward to our customers.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

The best way to maintain a good stress level is to be prepared. Obviously, you should make sure you are prepared from a knowledge standpoint. But my personal preparation goes beyond that.

I am a huge believer in mindfulness and meditation. One of the things I do is find 15 minutes to sit in silence and really center myself, both from a head and heart perspective. This allows me to show up authentically, whether it’s a high-stakes meeting or a challenging conversation. By sitting in silent meditation for 15 minutes, I am able to focus myself on the conversation and how I want to hold that space for the people with whom I’ll be talking.

I also use a mantra that my grandmother taught me: “Universe, please give me strength, wisdom, and faith. Peace.” If I repeat this phrase a few times, it helps me enter a state of mindfulness, and I come out of that 15 minutes stronger and better prepared to take on the task at hand.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

You’re right, it’s a complex topic, and such an important conversation to have. First, I think when any disenfranchised group of people feels like they’re not being heard, they’re going to take some type of action that gets people’s attention. I’ve seen it happen in lots of different places, including the country of my birth, where conflict was often about religion, caste, or socio-economic status vs. race.

If people feel like they are continually not being heard, or if they feel like they are being dismissed, things will continue to escalate. When it comes to the U.S., there are people who have been bringing this particular topic up for a very long time, and it continues to come up because we haven’t fully discussed or addressed it, and we need to.

We must have honest, open, fruitful conversations that will lead to peaceful action and real change.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

I’m actually an accidental HR person. As I mentioned, after leaving my work in the legal field, I entered the tech industry. I started in Sales Operations, and I came into HR via a high-potential rotation program, where my very first job in HR was in Diversity and Inclusion. When I asked why I was selected, I was told they wanted someone to come in with a business perspective who could really help the business leaders understand the quantitative value of diversity and inclusion.

Shortly after joining this team, we needed to address some religious accommodation issues at one of our facilities. A lot of people who managed that facility had really good intent, but they just didn’t fully understand the problem. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big believer in meeting people where they are, so I went to the facility and worked there for a few days. I talked with the employees and asked them to help me better understand what they needed so that we could make accommodations to help them work more effectively. Not all these conversations were easy, and there were many different voices that needed to be heard.

Ultimately, we were able to make religious accommodations in a way that honored our employees. We provided spaces where everyone felt like they could access what they needed to meet their personal and religious needs. But more importantly, our efforts fostered a culture of inclusion and diversity that then helped us to be even more productive and efficient from a business perspective. And I’m proud to say that our leaders at the facility really embraced the efforts. I’ll also say that one of the best things from this experience was that as I talked with people, we all discovered we had a lot more in common than we thought. And I fundamentally believe we all are way more alike than we are different.

Just remember that one of the biggest issues we have from a Diversity and Inclusion perspective is that everyone expects to lead with the knowledge they already have — that there’s nothing more for them to learn. But we all have unconscious biases (even if they’re positive ones). So, meet people where they are, and listen to understand all sides of an issue. After actively listening, if you still have a different perspective or believe a different decision would be better for the company, at least you have done your due diligence.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

I think the natural inclination is to limit diversity to gender and ethnicity, and while both are incredibly important, I’d like to take it a step further. I believe that when you have a diverse executive team based on personal experience, work experience/workstyle, and thought style, then you are better reflecting your customer base.

Any of us that work for global companies, especially companies like Epicor, need to make sure that we understand our customer base and that our customer base feels like we are going to represent their best interests when we’re thinking about our product roadmaps, our people-strategy, or our customer success strategy. For example, at Epicor we have increased our female executive population by over 35% over the last three years.

Diverse executive teams when done right fully reflect the customer base. They don’t have to look the same for every organization, but you should be thoughtful about your customer base, where you do business, and what kind of business you do.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

Show up honestly, and listen to understand. I’ll expand on the example I mentioned earlier when my team needed to address religious accommodations at a facility. You need people to trust you when they share feedback. If you approach others with the intent of listening not to just respond but to understand, you will have a more authentic and open exchange. Listen with your defenses down. My efforts to come to the location and spend quality time there, and to let individuals express their thoughts and needs, put us on the right foot to make effective changes.

Act with integrity. If you ask your employees for input, don’t just listen to them — circle back with them. Tell them what you’re willing to change, and what you’re not willing to change. People may not always like a decision, but people will respect the decision if you share why/how it was made. That respect is earned when you follow through and uphold your word.

Always put your people at the center of your business value proposition.Your people will always be your key differentiator. When they feel valued, they will reflect that forward to your customers. This was a big initiative I undertook when I joined Epicor in November 2016. There are many stats I can share that point to the results of our efforts, but for the sake of brevity I’ll share two: since 2017, employees’ approval rating of the company on Glassdoor has increased to 81% (up 27%), and external surveys found customer satisfaction increased steadily over the last three years, rising from 63% with marked raises each quarter to 91%.

Eliminate as much bias as you can from your recruiting, compensation, and performance process. At Epicor, our HR team uses a thoughtful approach to ensure we hire employees based on qualifications and skills. Over the past few years, we also implemented a new standardized and structured performance management system, which was integrated with manager guidelines for the merit and promotion process. This new system focused on frequent, meaningful discussions between employees and managers rather than just an annual performance evaluation. These efforts ensure we create a level playing field for employees, no matter where they are in their career journey.

Onboard everyone, regardless of level, for success. Make sure you take the time to effectively onboard every employee, whether they are early in their career or have 20+ years of experience. Not only should they understand the functional expectations of their job, but they need to understand how they support and add value to the business as a whole. Perhaps most important, they need to know what is expected of them from a company culture perspective, and how they should expect to be supported by the company and their fellow employees.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

Yes, I’m highly optimistic that many of these issues can be resolved because of the response globally and how many people around the world are willing to come together to make a stand. That’s the kind of conversation that drives resolution. The other thing I hope we do as a human race is really learn from history.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Desmond Tutu. When I think about Desmond Tutu, I think about heartfelt and altruistic leadership that comes with an acute sense of understanding both the business world and human beings. I actually had the amazing honor of meeting him during my undergraduate studies, when I minored in religion. My advisor, Dr. Fenton, was friends with Desmond Tutu, and Dr. Fenton invited him into one of our classes to speak to us. I remember listening to Archbishop Tutu and thinking he was the type of person who changes the world — who made a difference not just in a few lives but in many. That’s who I want to be when I grow up.

There are peaceful, beautiful, soulful ways to be inclusive of everyone in this world regardless of age, orientation, ethnicity, gender, etc., and we can all continue to learn from people like Desmond Tutu.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on LinkedIn or check out Epicor’s The Shop Floor for thought leadership from me as well as other Epicor ELT members.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!