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Key takeaways:

  • Integrate close to the business: If you integrate your operations into how HR, marketing, procurement, etc., you’re more likely to establish strong partnerships.
  • Position privacy as a value prop: Privacy is too often seen as a cost drain, but you’ll establish value for your program if you can explain the “why” behind your principles and help other teams with some wins.

It’s no secret that chief data privacy roles win by influence. Earning stakeholder trust and support is paramount, and this endeavor has to extend well beyond senior leadership.

Despite the undeniable growth the privacy space has seen in recent years, winning friends and influencing enterprise partners can still be a challenge.

In fact, Data Privacy Board members privately shared that they’ve experienced more difficulty gaining traction with middle-layer employees than they have with executives.

We broke down how several senior data privacy leaders at large companies fostered strong enterprise partnerships and positioned privacy as a value proposition.

Integrate Close to the Business

Privacy is still a relatively young department within many companies, even billion-dollar corporations. So, it’s important to remember that shifting the collective mindset to foster a privacy-first culture won’t happen overnight.

During a recent Data Privacy Board panel discussion, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Vice President and Head of Global Privacy Drew Bjerken, supported this sentiment.

He’s been leading the privacy program for over two years and said he’s seen a shift in culture — stakeholders value privacy’s input.

Still, Drew said, “I’m not going to lie it was an uphill climb initially because of the change of culture.”

He shared that the team worked to be viewed as real enterprise partners rather than advisors.

“There’s definitely a difference,” Drew said. “A partner is there from the beginning to the end, and an advisor tells you, ‘Here’s your requirements, go forth and do what you need to do.’”

During the panel, Xochitl Monteon, Chief Privacy Officer at Intel, also emphasized the importance of cross-department collaboration and integrating close to the business.

Cyber privacy and safety have long legacies at Intel. Xochitl said, “They’re woven into our culture,” but she still shared advice for gaining enterprise-wide support.

“If you integrate close enough into the way HR, marketing, product development, and research operate, it just becomes a part of the way you do business. It is a value proposition.”

Xochitl Monteon, Intel

Furthermore, it’s important that your program’s mission and principles are closely aligned with the overarching enterprise objectives.

Ask yourself, what is the long-term vision of your company, and how can privacy aid in that journey?

Sarah Stalnecker, Global Director of Data Privacy at New Balance, shared how her team achieved this alignment during a panel discussion on internal branding.

Sarah said, “How do we make sure that we’re laddering up to the larger brand purpose and brand ideals so that there is a little bit of consistency with what the brand is trying to achieve? Part of being a purpose-driven brand absolutely extends to the way that you collect, keep, store, share, and delete data, right?”

Positioning Privacy as a Business Enabler

Part of gaining stakeholder support comes down to explaining the “why” behind your program and requirements. You don’t want your program to be seen as the place where new project ideas simply go to die.

Drew said this starts with having a great privacy team that understands the importance of winning the hearts of stakeholders.

“They do that each and every day by spending those extra few minutes to explain why we’re doing something versus just telling them we need to do something,” Drew said.

“My job isn’t to tell the business ‘no.’ The business has to survive. My job is to figure out how we can do what they want in a compliant manner that adheres to the privacy principles we’ve set forth.”

Drew Bjerken, Marriott Vacations Worldwide

Caroline Parks, Senior Director of Corporate Privacy Counsel at Expedia Group, also described this idea as being a “critical friend” within the organization.

“We’re all going in the same direction, but I might be the one that holds them up and says, ‘Is there a better way?’ Caroline said. “For me, that consistent but principled approach helps to give the business that extra lens.”

Part of acting as a business enabler is really understanding your stakeholders’ objectives. Caroline said one of the best methods for winning trust and support comes down to finding common ground and helping teams solve their pain points.

“For me, one of the main things was actively listening and actually hearing the business. If you can really understand what is driving your business, then I believe you can actively serve them.”

Caroline Parks, Expedia Group

Benchmarking with Your Peers

Even for large companies, stakeholder support for privacy isn’t a given, and combating the reputation of being a cost add can be a challenge.

Learning from your peers at companies like Intel, Expedia Group, or Marriott Vacations Worldwide can help you advance your strategy.

If you’re interested in learning more about peer communities like the Data Privacy Board, get in touch below.

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