Phillip Hales’s time at investment and banking app Stash has been defined by the alignment between the company’s values and his own priorities as a leader. As the senior director of internal communications, Hales is able to help shape the conversation around Stash’s inclusive and authentic culture while modeling leadership grounded in an accountable, people-first approach.
“As an internal communications leader, putting myself in the shoes of others is a muscle that I’ve been developing professionally for nearly two decades,” Hales said. “I was lucky to have managers and mentors early in my career who instilled in me the value of empathy in the workplace.”
- Prioritize people. “We believe a diverse, authentic and inclusive culture empowers us to grow together.”
- Create solutions. “We challenge the status quo and apply our creative energy to solve complex problems in fresh, new ways.”
- Take ownership. “As the risk-takers, drivers and doers behind each initiative, we take responsibility for our contributions individually and as a team.”
- Obsess over the customer. “We have a mission mindset and always strive to build the best experience for everyday Americans.”
At Stash, Hales is “responsible for how Stash communicates with its workforce — determining and optimizing the channels we use to reach Stashers and ensuring that we get the message right,” as he told communications industry newsletter The Switchboard.
The breadth of his responsibilities encompasses driving the conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, handling crisis communications, encouraging adoption of the business strategy and vision, championing company values and celebrating product releases — all while working to create the best possible employee experience for Stashers.
Since Hales’ communications work is so embedded in building his employer’s culture, it was crucial that he find a role that aligned with his own values, identity and vision — and he found it at Stash.
Finding the Right Fit
Throughout his career, Hales has also reflected on the power and influence of personal experience in a professional capacity. “My experience living and working as a Black and queer man in predominantly white spaces has shaped my focus on being considerate of the needs of others,” he said.
While working with past employers, Hales hasn’t always found the same alignment on managing and leading with a bias toward empathy and kindness. “I’ve worked in organizations with a culture of ‘deliver at all costs’ and in organizations where I saw a propensity for sharp elbows completely derail the upward career mobility of some otherwise exceptional colleagues,” he said.
But his contrasting experience at Stash highlights the power of the organization’s values in empowering leaders to drive toward building an inclusive and diverse workplace.
“Over-indexing on empathy has helped me earn the trust of my direct reports and colleagues more quickly,” he said. “It has helped boost engagement and productivity within teams I’ve managed and has also helped make my own day-to-day experience at work more fulfilling.”
Supporting Equity for LGBTQ+ Communities
To honor Pride in 2022, Stash spoke with a leader from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to highlight how businesses and individuals can support equity for LGBTQ+ communities through financial and business decision-making.
“LGBTQ+ leadership is important, but also being able to see yourself in a company and being able to move upwards,” TJ Chernick told Stash. “If an LGBTQ+ person can’t bring their full self to work comfortably, then the company is not getting their full investment in that employee.” Stash’s commitment to an inclusive and people-first culture supports mobility and leadership opportunities for all employees — including those with marginalized identities.
Growing Together — Authentically
Hales was also drawn to Stash for the opportunities the startup offered for continuing to grow alongside the company.
“It’s important that we as internal communicators embrace a ‘never stop learning’ mindset, whether we’re just starting out or well into our careers,” he told The Switchboard. “One of the things I love most about working at a startup is the wealth of opportunities to try new things and acquire new skills, including digging into work outside the internal communications space.”
Hales’ commitment to growth isn’t limited to his own advancement — he also pays it forward to those on his team, as a mentor, coach and manager.
“Over the past few years, my work style also created opportunities to be a mentor and coach colleagues at a variety of levels on how to successfully navigate the aspects of work and career that often feel more art than science, from dealing with a difficult manager to confronting the thornier side of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “I’m still learning and growing every day myself when it comes to empathetic leadership, but it’s been rewarding to pay the best of the skills I’ve acquired forward.”
For those looking to join a team defined by its commitment to authenticity, diversity and seeking creative solutions together, Stash offers the opportunity to learn and grow alongside a team empowered to take on a meaningful mission together.