i3 | March 15, 2022

How the Role of a Diversity Leader Has Changed Since 2020

Megan Hauck
Male hand holding different colored ropes

New challenges often require new leadership approaches.

The pandemic, calls for racial justice, and remote work led business leaders to take a fresh look at the issues impacting their employees and the communities they serve.

At CES 2022, CTA Senior Vice President, Political and Industry Affairs, Tiffany Moore, sat down with Lyft’s former Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Sherida McMullan, for a fireside chat: How 2020’s Impacts Changed the Role of a Diversity and Inclusion Leader. McMullan has a unique view of the industry, holding multiple leadership positions at CTA, including chair of CTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, a member on CTA’s Board of Industry Leaders and a newly named trustee on the CTA Foundation. Key points include:

Representation Matters

The session’s key takeaway was representation and accountability matter in every part of the diversity and inclusion strategy. The five-step process “listen, learn, execute, iterate, repeat” was shared as a key function to building a successful strategy.

Intentionality in Recruitment and Employee Development

Incorporating intentionality into the hiring and talent development strategy is critical to success. Companies are using apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job training to recruit and develop talent, and creating development opportunities for internal talent around mobility, progression, mentorship and sponsorship. For example, one barrier to success, shared with the audience, was a lack of resources. Opening talent pools by reaching out to historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and organizations that work with these institutions, and utilizing your current talent by understanding employee’s individual skill sets and growth potential are intentional ways to increase access and representation.

Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) played an increasingly important role during the pandemic and in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by opening dialogues on racial justice, empowering vulnerability, and taking steps toward creating meaningful change in the workplace. As lines blurred between the home and work, and in-person collaboration was put on hold, employees turned to ERGs for support. For example, Lyft’s inclusion and diversity team developed “inclusion circles” to facilitate safe spaces for employees to hold structured and guided conversations. 

How do you build a diversity strategy from the ground up and from within your company?

Industry Awareness

While CTA’s membership includes some of the largest companies in the tech industry, 80% of member companies are small businesses and startups. One ongoing conversation in the CTA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group is how do you build a diversity strategy from the ground up and from within your company? This information sharing is fundamental to continuing the advancement of positive change within the industry.

Last year, the working group created and deployed CTA’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Study to understand how the technology industry is incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives into their business models, to assess companies’ strategic priorities, and evaluate the challenges the technology industry faces in implementing changes to promote diversity and inclusion.

As the session concluded, Sherida shared some final thoughts on continued progress, “Let us not get amnesia. The things that happened in 2020, the things that continue to happen, let’s keep those in our minds and make sure that we are ever ready to continue the fight, to continue to work. If we do that and we have those allies that are out there that continue to remind us that this hasn’t gone away, making sure that we stay mindful, and that we are continuing to do all the things [we started two years ago]. And as we move and hand things to the next generation, they are ready and equipped to succeed.”

i3 magazine March/April 2022 cover

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