DEI Leadership: Innovation, Inclusion & Insights

Revisit our recorded roundtable discussion about innovation, inclusion and insights in DEI leadership with some of the most talented experts in the industry.

The author(s)
  • Janelle James SVP, Qualitative
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The last two years we’ve seen an increase in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) conversation, commitment, leadership, and action. Each brand, firm, or institution is on an individual journey and actively learning that DEI cannot depend on a single person, initiative, or place. It’s a team effort, there are lots of ups and downs as progress is made, and even more questions that arise as we advance. Questions like, ‘How do we make DEI core to how we operate and innovate?’, ‘How can we achieve equitable access in the workplace and marketplace?’, ‘How do we engage and galvanize internal and external stakeholders?’… And ‘how do we protect the mental health of DEI practitioners on the front line?’

Listen in as Ipsos’ Janelle James hosts a dynamic conversation on innovation, inclusion, and insights in DEI leadership where we tackle these questions and more. Our guest panelists are phenomenal and are literally shaping the future of work, markets, and society:

  • Amanda Baker-Lane, Head of Product & Strategy, Amazon Studios DEIA
  • Antonia Dean, Director, Startup Pipeline Diversity, Comcast
  • Cheryl Kaba, Executive Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Morgan Stanley
  • Corey Smith, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, North America, LVMH

Today’s AI-generated audio transcript is offered below. Apologies in advance for inconsistencies that have been included.


Thank you for joining us for today's Ipsos virtual round discussion about the innovation, inclusion and insights in DEI leadership.


Today's round, we are among the most talented experts in the industry and you can read more about them on the side in front of you.


Throughout today's session, you will remain in listen only mode, however, throughout the webinar. Please submit your questions online using the Q&A feature.


Time permitting we'll answer questions at the end of today's session. However, timeline short then your question will be answered by e-mail.


Today's webinar is also being recorded and will be directly e-mailed to you.


So now without further ado pleasure to introduce today's moderator Janell James' Senior Vice President with Ipsos UU. Janelle, you have the floor.


Thank you Elen and thank you everyone in the audience. I am thrilled to be here today connecting with such a talented group of panelists. It's no secret that leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is challenging work that requires resilience and dexterity.


These teams are often under resourced and have outsized goals to support brands and firms on their various inclusivity journeys, so I'm excited to speak to our panelists today. These executives are dynamic, dedicated and diligent, and I love seeing their successes in their careers.


With that, I'd love for our panelists to introduce themselves.


If I can call on Cheryl first, just tell us, your name, a little bit, about your role, and about project that maybe you've done recently that highlights your working DEI and its impact, things to know. I am a diversity inclusion lead and Morgan Stanley. So that means is I drive to wrestle inclusion efforts for a number of divisions, internally that cover finance risk, internal audit, legal compliance, and then the other departments in the firm. So I really work closely with my business partner. Sometimes, I call them clients. I really like to think that people in the business as my partners in this work really closely with my business partners on everything from end to end talent, so that's recruiting diverse talent. It's hiring, retaining, and developing talent development programs for them.


Just ensuring that there's also connectivity between what's happening within each of our Divisions and the great ... initiatives that we're rolling out through what we call our Institute for Inclusion, which focuses on the marketplace equity.


Something that I'm excited about. So one initiative that we rolled out across the firm is one in daily executive.


If somebody experienced professionals program where we're bringing in diverse talent with different backgrounds outside of financial services, training them, and they really getting them ready for roles within our teams. And I do that work, my risk department. And it's amazing. Get the organization at a place where they're thinking about talent differently, thinking about what good looks like, understanding transferable skills, and just being able to bring in a wider set of diverse applicants. And yes, it's great for them, the people who join the organization, but they're fantastic. Successful every day when I really feel like it's a firm, really be able to experience the diversity and the skills that they're reading it. And so that's something that we launch, we're in our second year, third year, and our best.


Wonderful, thank you, Antonia, Europe, next, tell us about your role and a little bit about a project you're working on that brings your DEI work to life.


Awesome, well, hello, everyone. I'm Antonia Dean, I am Director of Startup Pipeline Diversity at Comcast, NBC Universal. And so, what that means is my role is to make sure that the startup founders that we are investing in and partnering with, look like the customers who use our products and the communities where we do business. And we have a nationwide footprint, though, It should be obvious that that group should reflect that. All of the beauty and diversity that exists in our country.


one project that I'm currently working on and aiming to get out the door before the end of the year, which it seems to be breathing down my neck. But part of our, our role here, my team, is we bring startups to the table to help solve problems that various business units around the enterprise are interested in. And currently I'm working with our total rewards team, which that's an employee benefits here. And we are looking at solutions that help alleviate and support caregiver so they can avoid burnout.


Because the future of work really does involve supporting folks who have responsibilities out of work and decreasing presenteeism and absenteeism.


So we went to market around that and cultivated a great group of founders and really excited that most of the companies that we spoke to were founded by women, which makes sense because women tend to do more of the caregiving work in this country. So that is just one way that we add that DEI lens to the work that we're doing, still finding great. For our business, let's see, who's best positioned to be able to, to, to be the person that is creating that solution.


Wonderful, thank you, Corey, you're up next. Tell us a little bit about your role and a project that highlights here, DEI work.


Sure. Thanks for having me, Cory Smith, I lead Diversity, Equity and inclusion for LVMH for North America.


LVMH is the largest luxury goods company on the planet.


We owned 75 brands across four different business verticals, wines and spirits, fashion, beauty and skin care and What am I leaving out Watches in Georgia? There we go.


And so, I oversee diversity equity inclusion for North America, Like I said, our Global Chief Diversity Officer sits in Paris, which is where our global headquarters are, based here in New York, and my remit is pretty much Canada.


Brazil, Um, something that I'm working on recently, we have, but we just wrapped up our global inclusion week, which, all of our mesons were tasked with, figuring out how to celebrate inclusion in some aspect of their work.


For North America, what we did was actually do an activation We Miami, during Art Basel last week, where we highlighted featured artists across all spectrums of diversity. December third, which was Saturday, is something globally known as International Day for People with Disabilities.


And so, we featured some artists with disabilities. We featured black artists.


Women artists tried to cover as many dimensions of diversity as possible, great, showing great turnout.


Tons of brain integration yet. Some of our brands did some pop ups during, during the time in Basel as well.


So, really a way to kind of embrace and include people in a conversation around culture, luxury art, and so many other facets of lifestyle. And so, we're really proud of that work.


Love it, thank you, Last, but not least, Amanda, tell us a little bit about your role and a project that highlights your work.


Sure. Hi everybody, and thank you for having me, I'm Amanda Baker Lane. I'm the head of product and diversity equity inclusion and accessibility strategy for Amazon Studios. And what that really means is our team focuses on inclusion and diversity in front of and behind the screen above and below the line. So, things you see when you watch Prime video content, you see on Prime video, our team has had a hand in a lot of that diversity and inclusion you see on the screen, but also the people who work behind the camera.


And I think one of the most recent projects that we've been working on a little over a year ago, we launched our inclusion policy in Playbook, which is really a best in class inclusion tool for the industry on what inclusion looks like in front of and behind the camera. And an MS releasing that a little over a year ago, we're working on really measuring the impact of that tool, how we've used it, and what successes we've seen. But also, to really highlight the areas of opportunity that we have in order to continue to grow as a studio. And so that's been exciting work to really look back on all of the great things we've been able to accomplish. But it's also really helped us how in our strategy, on, what it looks like to continue over the next 2 to 3 years. So, that's been exciting work, and hopefully we'll see those measurements come out very soon.


Wonderful, thank you. What I'd love to ask you guys next, it's kind of a creative question or a weird question, depending how you wanna think about it. I would love for you to come up with a nickname for yourself but not any old nickname.


I'm interested in your diversity, Equity, and Inclusion nickname that tells me what's most important when you're thinking about this work.


So, with that, I'm gonna call on, we'll just have one already.


It's just called Amanda, tell me what your DEI nickname is.


Yeah, so I went back and forth with several of these, Had to pull in some of my creative friends on this as well But so I've landed on the persuader as my nickname. And simply because over the course of my diversity career, I have typically been the person who has to create the proof of concept. So it's when we haven't had something created, or when we haven't invested in something. Or when we haven't necessarily aggregated all of the data and analyze it to say, this thing will work. And I've been typically, the person who is a part of the groups who are creating concepts for our executives to invest in when it comes to very specific communities.


Earlier this year, I worked on a project for black women executives that was really powerful at Amazon. It wasn't something that we had done before. But we were able to gain buy in and get the investment. And I also pride myself on being an HBCU advocate. I'm an HBCU grad Aggie Pride. And being able to work on projects that really serve that community has been a labor of love. But has also pushed me into areas of discomfort where I've had to persuade leaders, that it's the right thing to do.


But also that it's the best thing for our company as we move forward, so that the persuader feels like the right nickname OK, Thank you, Cheryl, you're up next.




Excuse me, I will go ahead, Cheryl will give me the data, Carla. And I say that because we know that the qualitative piece in D&I is instrumental. We need to hear about people's experiences. Inclusion is important.


When influencing the senior most levels, I love to hold them accountable by showing them the numbers, right? Here is your data, this is where you are doing well, and this is where the opportunity is, and always bringing it back to KPIs and metrics, right? You'll hear an recovering finance professionals Cells started my career in doing traditional finance and moved over to HR.


So that's still in me, I think in roles, and I think even columns, exactly How I communicate.


And it's really effective in a financial services firm, because there are how they are constantly looking at numbers aren't really being able to tie back to numbers has been helpful for a number of our senior leaders in our organization.


Wonderful Antonio, what's your nickname?


I think mine is going to be missed, show me the money.


Because I sit in a corporate venture capital role and we are able to invest. And I'm very passionate about making sure that when we are taking a DEI lens to our investments and we're engaging with underrepresented founders that we are engaging them in a way where we can financially support the work that they're doing. Whether that is investing and becoming part owners, taking an equity stake, whether that is becoming paid customers, that are bringing revenue.


And, but I'm very, very passionate about in this space, particularly, when companies founded by women, black founders by Latino founders in total all three together still get less than 6% of total venture capital dollars, meaning hundreds of billions of dollars, Lena you have to show up the money.


I'll show, show me the money first, And then we willing it is a sobering statistics, that 6%, Cory, last But not least. You have a nickname for us. This was tough, but I landed on the culture shift.


Oh, I think most of what you are doing when you're operating in this role of D, is you're actually trying to change corporate culture.




Get it to embrace authenticity.


And that serves in two ways. That means you have to allow your talent to show up authentically. And that comes with whatever their backgrounds, their experiences their culture is. So, that's internal.


And then, external, as you're talking about who your potential customers are, that's the whole world, right? And so, you have to be able to embrace otherness. You have units will embrace difference in the experiences that come along with it.


So, LVMH, in particular, we're truly a global company.


We have over 170 nationalities represented in our workforce.


So, you know, you are talking about a truly cultural multicultural organization, and I'm here to make sure that it is embracing all of that.


I love that.


The next question that I have for you guys is kind of the personal one.


I'm curious, what drew you to a role in DEI, particularly just given what some of you shared. Many of you didn't do this work initially, so curious, what drew you to this area. Cheryl, do you want to start us off with that?


Sure, So, I grew up in a household or professionally. My parents gave us. ..., can be a lawyer, you'd be a doctor, and says, I'm from New York. They were familiar with investment banking. So he said, You can be anonymous.


But those are the three options that are available to me install.


as in the past, finance, And so it wasn't until much later in my career, honestly, where I even began considering a career in Human Resources, or even diversity and inclusion. But what began to happen, as I moved in Finance, was, I was suddenly in situations where I was hearing from Senior Leaders, questions, that they would break around diverse.


Where do we find your talent? How do we engage in talent in these challenging conversation? What is biased? And every, again, looking at them differently, right? Now, many rooms and understanding them, really ask these questions, let me, didn't seem that complicated, right? To me, given my name is Variances. I knew diverse talent. It didn't seem like a challenge, and it didn't seem like an issue of those connections with organizations.


I was doing a lot of shared already in my roles, and so I started to do the work, right Now, officially in my role, but that's when I started to do the work, and that's where you came alive professionals to tell you the truth. Right? My unique experiences were able to bring value to the firm that they just didn't have, to be honest.


I gave myself the freedom to go against my parents and my training and the lean into Diversity and inclusion, because it was my passion.


And it was me in 20 19 when I made that shift, but I haven't looked back.


Antonio, tell us a little bit about your journey and what landed you in DEI and what's keeping you there.


Yeah, so I will say, um, for me, I had the experience that I'm sure the rest of the panelists I've had and that many folks listening as well being the only woman of color frequently in the room. And so I started my career in the beauty industry on the brand side.


And so was frequently the only person to say, we can't discontinued the darkest shades. We cannot only have models that look one way.


We cannot photo, shop, enlighten, this model skin.


And so, it was consistently of just being like, I'm going to voice this over because I'm going to feel achy.


If I if I don't, if I let this slide and I, and I sat here in this continue. And so as I continued on my career, I made some shifts, obviously now, much more in the startup and tech space, but made some shifts and consistently had that experience of being the advocate to say, well, who's not here? Who's not represented? Hey, we have more advisors named Steve. Then we have women.


True story company will remain nameless, but it was consistently the thing I was doing on top of my job on top of my job. And so my current job is actually the first time one that this has actually been my job. And where where the DEI work that I'm doing is explicit, and I'm being paid for it, it's not taking on extra labor. But also this job is what brings all of those things together. How do we break this into our business operations, and meaningfully, and thoughtfully engaged with underrepresented founders, which were things that I was fishing for, anyway, and now officially get to do?


Cory, tell us a little bit about your journey. I know it. Most of your career has been focused on this space, so really interested to learn a little more.


That was a really nice way of saying that I'm the O G here. That was good at those good. Yeah, I've been doing this, we're bored when over 20 years.


I kind of got my start through procurement and on the supply chain side. So the first half of my career was in supplier diversity.


And, you know, for me, the, the beauty of that is what Howard informed.


What I would obviously be doing now was, supplier diversity is all about the dollars.


And so, it is, wow, the cost function of a business.


It's paying vendors and suppliers.


All right, and so, for me, it was the passion point came this idea that I'm sitting in this role, or I get to help the company or whatever company. I'm working for, save money.


Because that's the function of procurement goal to help the organization save money.


But at the same time, a pain entrepreneurs that look like me to provide a good or service for the organization. So, the idea that I'm saving my company money and putting money into diverse hands like that. That was like, what's that light bulb went off that somebody would pay me to do that. To put money in the hands of people that look like me. There was no, there was no turning back. I am the product of entrepreneurs.


Both my mom and my dad were immigrants. I'm first generation American. They came to this country and struggled to grow their businesses, and their brands, and your family from, by the way.




Uh, whole separate conversation around what, what Hispanics are supposed to look like, because of Latino, within the, next time you invite me back later on. But yes, keep going, and so did supplier diversity for a really long time? And that just kinda morphed into, is, I think Cheryl definitely said when you're in an organization, people don't come and ask you, you can refer people to four other roles. And so I started doing HR's job, right? Like, oh yes, I know, someone that can fill that position you have, and so the job is morphed and changed over time across 6 or 7 businesses.


Um, I've been in the entertainment industry, and I worked at NBC Universal for some time. I was in sports for a really long time.


I've been consumer products, I've covered a lot of different industries and the role has grown over time Until, you know now, it's the full scope of D&I. So I still have supplier diversity as part of my role and responsibility. Obviously, HR was the focus.


And also touch things from an experiential marketing, branding, consumer facing side as well.


Amanda, tell us a little bit about your journey and what, what drew you went and what keeps here.


Sure, OK, I grew up in Colorado, and I grew up in an environment where a lot of people didn't look like me. And I was getting my cultural lessons from my mom, who was teaching me about kings and queens and, you know, as being kings and queens and all of those things.


But it was normal for me to go out into the world, not being an environment where people look like me just like Antonia mentioned being the only that was normal for me. And then I went to an HBCU, which was like the Mecca Black Talent. And I started to understand that there were a lot of us out there doing a lot of really great things. And I, I started to put the two together and didn't really understand why there were so many environments.


Where, it was OK that there was a mixture of, you know, underrepresented folks at these lower levels and, not at these upper levels.


I remember looking around and saying, oh, I'll never reach those very specific, you know, executive level, or our higher level roles, because I didn't see people that looked like me. And, so straight out of college, I remember, I was an arts advocate for awhile, and I was advocating for arts resources in schools.


And I, it was very apparent as I went to underrepresented schools and the resources that weren't there, but yet, we were able and could afford to make certain decisions in other environments. And so that was my first taste, the backbone in this, in this work. And that's when I really started doing it and realizing I can make an impact. And as I started to see, things come to life, I realized that my voice in this work really mattered.


And so, I started to do this, and just different ways. And then I started to study talent. And I realized I really loved it.


And so mixing underrepresented, how, the work I had done before, using my voice, with really understanding town and why people do what they do. I stepped into that world, I found a wonderful mentor who was able to pull me in. And I stepped into talent acquisition and started realizing where I could really be of value to the business, and started just understanding more of the things that we could do to remove barriers to entry for people. And I think that is still the thing that keeps me here. Now, I'm in a role where I can tap back into the arts work. I was doing a long time ago. Also, the talent work. We call ourselves a home for talent. And that just, really, I think it brings me a lot of joy every day.


But also, being able to see the long term impact of the work that we're doing, and all of the things that I didn't see, when I was younger, really being able to change the landscape for the others who are, who are coming behind me and so many of us, has been really powerful. I Didn't know that the work I was doing on a day-to-day basis could have an impact on so many other people, and as I see that, it just pushes me to continue. So I feel like this is, this is my life's work. This is why I'm here.


Love that. Now, I'm curious, many of you were sort of volunteering and doing DEI work before your current roles. And Antonia sort of underscore that and what she shared I'd love to talk a little bit about that given.


You know, there's so much overlap between what what brands and companies are able to do in the marketplace and what they do, what they do in the workplace, and how employees sort of fuel that what are your thoughts on sort of, you know, unpaid or free, DEI work? Where do you draw the line?


How would you advise others? How do you think about that?


Do you want to start us off, Antonia?


Sure. Um, I think it is it is a deeply personal choice. And I think for me, I did the unpaid DEI work for a while.


But for me, the cost of not doing it, the cost of submitting that and seeing things go in a direction that I didn't agree with, without voicing it was higher than the cost to me of doing it for free.


And so for me, I think it is, I don't think there's a one size fits all answer. I think it depends on the team, on the company where you are on who you are as a person. Either books that I know who are deeply committed to, DEI work but who purposely don't want to be paid for it. They want to be the advocates on the other side of the table. They want to be actually The co-conspirators, they will be the ones. Who will pull me the sat side before the meeting and say, hey, I got your back. If you mentioned this, I will jump in and support they don't want to do my job, They don't want to have it in my job, they want to use the institutional and social power that they have to lend credence and support to the work that that I'm doing. And so I think it's just like a deeply personal choice. I think there are ways you can see this as a potential future path.


one of the break into it is by being on the steering committee, or volunteering for the Mentorship Program, or some of those things, so that you get on, on folks radar, because, unlike Corey are, OGE has decades of experience. and many, many companies, this this is a new role this year, there is no team, There is no pathway into it. So, you have to kind of start to show some successes and some expertise in whatever ways you can. So, I think it is deeply personal. I will not call on anybody and say, you must do unpaid labor. I am not about that at all.


But you should not feel bad about stepping up and volunteering if it if it brings you a sense of gratitude or achievement in doing so.


And, he builds on that before I move on to the next question.


I do want to add, because I tell people all the time, you don't have to have DEI in your title to do this work, all right?


You can be in the marketing department, you can be in finance, you can be in any position or role in your organization and be intentional about creating a more inclusive culture.


And, depending on the role in your organization, you might know, most inherently have that responsibility.


So, you know, for me, it's, it is about how are you going to show up in the office every day and make sure that, one, you are being authentic, being yourself.


Because, I think that helps them forms, form others around you, about what it is to operate an exist around people that are not like them, but then what are you doing to help someone else, right?


And so, no, but, as Antonio said, I know it's not for everybody.


You know, we all remember 20, 20 when everybody wanted to lean in all of a sudden to this conversation.


And, you know, you, you did have, you know, people of color.


Particularly around kind of the resurgence of black lives matter, saying, Look, it's not my job to educate others, right?


They need to go get educated on systemic disenfranchisement and marginalization. And it's not my job to do that for them. And so I can understand that perspective as well.


But again, also isn't, until you said, I do think you find advocates, and you find allies in all sorts of walks of life and in all sorts of people, you know, the LGBTQ community has allyship kind of inherently built into it, right? Whether it's friends or family.


Same thing can have apply to gender, and the same thing can apply to race and ethnicity.


So, you know, it isn't one dimensional, But I think it is a personal choice, but, you know, in your role, in an organization, I think you almost have that responsibility.


I love that.


I wanna ask, you mentioned, you know, 2020 and sort of the renewed interest and commitment that a lot of companies have no focused on what trend or technology advancement or phenomenon has been sort of the most influential or even the most disruptive when you think about DEI work in your experience.


Sure, you wanna take a stab at that one?


Last 1, 2020 was more openness and transparency is talking about diversity and inclusion than I had in the past. Even firm that had been doing. The work may have been doing the work silently behind closed doors. But in 20 20, suddenly companies are saying, we can't relax employees. We care about our spending a week. You know, all about it in a way that I hadn't seen before, and sold in and of itself, is disruptive. But then when maintain that, and maybe add on the data transparency, show me the data, that began to happen. Again, in 20, 20, 20, 21 years, suddenly started to see representation numbers, right? And Diversity Inclusion report.


So you're starting to see board diversity publicly out there in a way that we did before that is impactful and not only for employees, right. But now suddenly your customers, your investors, are candidates for roles are all now looking at your numbers, right? And that was transformational. Because no longer wasn't just people within the organization clamoring for the affirmatively.


You're right, the firm started to feel the pressure from a number of angles for mean, transparency of the resonated really impactful for those companies that decided to lean into it.


I'm curious, What are some ways that this sharla for anyone, what are some ways that been able to sustain the interest? And the progress since 2020? You know, as a researcher, I have the privilege of working with a lot of different companies, and in many ways, I can see some are strong on that journey, and some explained a little bit, you know, how do you guys sustain that forward movement without a crisis like the church.




Anyone can jump in? I'll jump in.


I think, for us, what we did lose, double down on employee resource groups.


That has given people, um, purpose, almost, if you will, right, kind of above and beyond there.


Day, job, what they are showing them in the office to do.


And so, your ability to lean in and participate in your G and express themselves in a way that they can't do in the scope of their actual job.


For rough kinda help me.


And then we leveraged the ERG or to inform the business. So as we kind of moved out of, black Lives matters, and then we went into stop API hate, and then it went to, you know, the next thing. And so, we kinda really just were able to keep the conversation going. Literally, just either.


Amplifying the voices in our ERG is creating new ERG is having that, that momentum of just people doing something that felt like it was actually really kind of help us to screen all the time.


I love that. I have a kind of a creative question fill in the blank for me.


For me, doing blank is most difficult with DEI work because of Blake.


Doing blink is most difficult and DEI work because of Blake wants to take that on.


I can pretend you guys are back in business school and just start cold calling.


I mean, Court bad about it, I mean, there's so many things that I think, Yeah. Right. And, kind of, just picking the one.


Um, look, I think just the work itself can be difficult, right, because you're, you're operating in this corporate space, and you're wondering how much of a change you're actually making out into the world.


Unfortunately, you know, black men are still by the police, or, so, you're operating in the corporate structure.


If you're actually making a little bit of headway, you walk out of the office every day, you turn on the news. To two steps back.


And so there's always, for me, this rationale between the corporate work, then, the real work, right?


The other way I was going to answer that question is, I sometimes have to remove myself from the conversation.


I'm still a black man, at the end of the day, all right?


And so, it's also not getting emotional, This is business, and this is the business strategy, And I have to do, as Cheryl said, I connect this to the business goals and objectives, every day.


There's no, there's no value add, if I'm emotional about this, right, and the way he responds to that. As a matter of fact, that's counter-productive because they get defensive.


And so, you know, deep between emotion and then what you would consider real impact, you know, you kind of wonder.


I love that. I'm curious, where do you guys go for DEI inspiration? Or your organization's your teams or even personally?


I think for, I'll jump in on that one. I think for us stories are so powerful. Hearing people's stories. And hearing creators talk about their lived experiences.


I think all of us could look at each other, feel like we have very similar experiences, but if I listen to each individual story, there's some real power there. And for us, that's, that's really where we go. We listen to stories. We seek out stories, Those, those have just been really powerful to us for inspiration, I think also being around each other, and pulling on that diversity of thought of Mostar team. But also, as we work with our business leaders, you know, that, that other question, you asked around what's difficult.


And while I said my nickname was the Persuader, that's also some of the things that are most difficult in this work, because of the stories that are out there, right? And I think we work with, with different people who have the privilege of ignoring certain stories or experiences that we see every single day. And being able to share those stories with them from a firsthand account has has really shifted mindsets and really shifted hearts. And so, I think, I think, for us, that's, obviously, we go to the data, we go to all the other things that everyone else is everyone else uses, But I think the stories have been most powerful for us and have helped us move our work forward on a day-to-day basis.


I'm curious, you know, as, so, I'm a qualitative researcher, I always think about, you know, not only how you can connect with people, but you know what you can observe to really inform a process. And, so, it sort of inspired this next question.


If you could be a fly on the wall and observe an interaction, a type of meeting, or a process where you can have more perspective, that informs your DEI work, what would you want to know?


observe or listen in on where they wouldn't know you're there. Antonia?


Yeah, I will say, you know, given the work that I do, where I'm working with startup founders and, in my experience over the last 6, 7, 8 years, what I have found is that the kind of, not best, but maybe like, biggest indicator of startup success is, quite honestly, how much money that person has to figure out. You're trying to create something new. You're trying to offer a new product in the world, and it's one thing. If you have six months to figure it out before the lights get cut off, and it's another.


If you have 36 months to figure it out before the lights can answer your question, I would love to sit in the room with, you know, some of it, venture capital decision makers and venture capital can be a closed industry. I think the industry got a bit of a wake up call in 20 20, and folks are.


I will share this, because we have a number of HR leaders VC firms are just now starting to post job descriptions and Post their open roles. Because it was that close of an industry that you didn't even know how to get in it, there weren't even a? Hey, we are hiring.


So I would love to be in the room after a woman founder, pitches, a black founder, pitches. They Latino. Founder Pitches.


And what, what's the conversation being had?


And really, I would just love to, here it is, even if it doesn't change, that person, so that, you know, in part of the work with founders, would be like, Here's what I said about you when you're not there. So here's how you can address it at your pitch.


Or here are the doubts that someone might have. And here's how you can get past it. Or even, hey, here are some folks who are probably never going to see your vision for the future, So don't waste your time over here and instead, focus. Focus in the space.


That's what I would love to hear, because those cameras often happen, close the door, or over drinks, and edit.


The rationale isn't always clear and transparent.


Yeah, Cheryl, what would you want to be the, be a fly on the wall?


For example, Antonio said it is. often we are recipients of decisions, but not really understanding exactly how the decision makers are, making them.


We understand, is a project got approval of this Monday, and this is going to be invested in in front of them, but this one may not be in holes an answer, and that's it, and human resources to the cell. People are very safe, quite often, when, given an explanation as to why things are being, or maybe a promotion has happened or hasn't happened.


But really as a conversation that's happening when I'm not in the room, right, when I'm actually hearing decision factors for these quantitative decisions. Either qualitative tools, training on my is able to pay their own biases. And perhaps they don't want to talk about publicly behind closed doors. ... is exactly what our more internal right? And just thinking about title heaters are making the decisions around hiring those investments as well as programs.


Because I always get the same answer the HR Amanda, why would you want to be a fly on the wall?


I think it's the same same area. I think, you know, when I think about Antonio's nickname of show Me the Money, that's really where I want to be a fly on the wall is when we're making some of these funding decisions. Especially around some of our content, right? Like, I think we can have discussions with our leaders, and I think our leaders at Amazon Studios do a really good job. But I think, as we think about some of the other players where funding is really important, like marketing and applying equitable dollars to specific shows, and making sure it reaches all these different communities that we want to reach.


At the end of it, we say, We wonder why or did certain shows meet the KPIs we set out for them. But also, on the front end, when we weren't in the room, what decisions were made that, potentially, had an impact on the outcomes? And so I would love to be a fly on the wall when they're making some of our budgeting decisions, and just getting more information about how we make those deeper decisions around the images that we're going to show, or the money that we apply towards our outreach.


Um, I'm curious about a word that often gets used in corporate workspaces, and that word is fit.


It's become polarizing, in a lot of different ways, particularly when we think about organizational culture. And I've heard business school professors call it a summary statistic that should be distilled into clear operational activities or skills. I've heard DEI thought leaders say that it shouldn't be a consideration in hiring talent because talent should be additive.


But yeah, I still hear across organizations of people not being hired or retained because of fit.


I'm curious how you think about fit, how you think about culture fit as DEI leaders. Tell me a little bit more about that.


Let's get us started. Corey, you want to kick us off with this one.


Oh, I can, I think I understand what people mean when they say it.


I get, theoretically the idea of, um, finding someone that wouldn't be disruptive in someone value add.


I get that in theory.


The application of bit, though, is 100% based on buttons, therefore, it's not.


It's not objective at all, it's set subject.


And so, you know, that's where you get into, well, what are you really evaluating this personal?


And there is no set criteria from one individual to another.


You're measuring them based on your own personal experiences or the things that you've gone through to determine fit.


And that's where it starts to fall apart. You know, operate right now in an industry. That historically used terminology like exclusivity and, you know, certain words, luxury, right?


And who fits that category, and who does it, whether internal, from a talent perspective, or who our customers are, right. We've, we've all heard that story of, you know, Oprah going into the store in Europe. I won't say the name to get, you know, the most expensive bag in the store, and they looked at her didn't know who she was like, well, you can't possibly afford that.


It's Oprah, she could buy the story she wanted to write. And so, you know, the idea of bias is what people are usually referring to when they see fit, and that's where it becomes a very dangerous thing, You're not assessing someone on their ability to contribute.


You're assessing your own lens of what you feel is.


Fits, literally. Yeah.


Cheryl, any thoughts on that one?




We'll set a perfectly and he said the word disruptive Frey in that scary for a lot of managers, right, to bring in somebody who is going to think differently, who is going to potentially challenge status quo and brass comes from a different background and doesn't fit that mold, sometimes it does feel disruptive. But that is why we do our work, right? Because we know that you need somebody who's going to challenge or question was going to be indefinitely.


And unfortunately, the way people to find that in need is saying, oh, they don't fit in this because it takes a level of courage to bring in different, right? And so, sometimes when people say they weren't a good fit and credentialing and side, but often it's just a training moment is, yes, I understand that they are differentiated. Perhaps it will be a little bit harder for you to just go along.


But you need that, You need somebody who was going to compliment your team the way or in a skill that you don't currently have, even if you initially react to it with fear, because it's harder. But it can.


Right? I agree, it really issues a lot of hidden biases.


And here, built into that were, I know that your roles are really complex and nuanced.


If you could add, change or remove, what if, you know something from your list of responsibilities to make your job better? What would you add, change or remove to make your job better?


Tell me, Antonia, you want to start?


Yeah, sure, I get it, give this a little bit of thought, add, change, or remove the other three good options now.


I think, for me, going back to my nickname, what I would add is, I think where every business leader would add, we do it once a year, we asked for more budget.


So, But specifically, in my role, looking at underrepresented startup founders, quite honestly, dollars, is a significant, is going to have a significant impact on the overall trajectory of those founders and the overall world. We want to see where anyone who has a good idea, and the experience, intelligence, and perseverance to try to make it come alive has an equal shot at doing that. And so what I would add certainly would be budget to invest in more founders, companies, and really help folks kind of see, see their dreams through, through to completion. So, maybe a easy answer, but.


Always give me more budget. I will, I will do this.


Amanda, what would you change or remove from your role?


It's along the same lines of resources. And I think a lot of times, we don't think about DEI as a, as a group of, Or a team that means, you know, heavy tech resources. Or, heavy, you know, UX design resources. And I just think about all of the amazing things that we could do, not just with more people thrown at the problem, but, the right resources to really go deeper with very specific issues that we see, so, that we can scale ourselves as DEI leaders. I think, you know, Corey mentioned us trying to shift culture and we didn't get here overnight, and so it takes time to really shift culture, and it takes really intentional resources to work on very specific issues and going deep on those specific issues to achieve sustainable results.


And so I think that if I could add, you know, or even remove, not having to fight for, or justify very specific resources, I just think it would really allow people to see how impactful this work can be. I think all of us, as leaders in these discussions, can be really impactful leaders, But think about, if we were given the same level of tech resources, are the same amount of money, or any of those things. What we could really dream up, would be pretty amazing. I dream about those things anyway, being able to receive them, and see it come to life would be really amazing.


I know that many of the, many of you are are in dual roles where your work impacts the workplace or talent, but it also impacts the marketplace.


So product or services that your companies offer, how do you manage that, like the balance or yeah. Tell me a little bit about sort of the dynamism in your role with workplace and marketplace.


And how, if at all it may come together. Corey, I saw you nodding a little bit.


Yeah, I mean, for me, they're there, 100% connected, and I remind everyone of that all the time, right?


eight people think HR, and, like marketing, or two completely unrelated functions in the organization.


And what I really try to say is, you know, whoa.


Communicate your brand.


How you store retail.


What you put out into the world for people to see about you, absolutely then impacts who might potentially apply for a job there. They don't see themselves reflected.


Why would they think that could work?


Well, nobody that looks like me, So I see this amazing role. I know, I'm amazing for it.


Not going to apply.


There's nothing there for me, because there's no one there that looks like, so, know, those two for me are actually 100%.


So the impact, too, have the impact, not only recruit, retain talent, but also have some influence over what we're communicating externally, is really important for us. Even our boutiques and our stores are extensions of our brands, right?


And so, what are people viewing when they walk into one of our stores? Do they feel as if they belong there? Are we making them feel that you shouldn't be here, right? And so.


Even the store experience is an extension of we storytelling and how we communicate to people whether we feel that they belong and parole, you know, they could be walking into either by something that they could be walking in to apply for a job.


You don't know what that, the minute they hit the door, what are we expressing to them? Is it come on in?


We see you, we value, we acknowledge you, or is it somebody called security and start following the person in the room, right?


Like, that's real, you know, And so, all of those moments, to me, our HR moments and their marketing moments.


I mean, we went through an exercise here where we literally re re did all of our retail employees, grooming and style guidelines.


We have various, we are very strict uniform policies about how people represent our brands and our stores and we read all of them not only to embrace different skin tones and hair textures and all of that good stuff. But we had to do it to embrace the LGBTQ community as well.


We had people look male but they wanted to wear the female.


Yet, women wanted to wear the uniform, and so how we embrace all of that impacts whoever was walking through the door. I've ever been going through that exact same experience in their lives, as well, right? And so all of that plays a part in that, and it's all connected. It's all part of the business, it's about people LVMH, whose tagline is. People make the difference.


We believe that whether it's people internal to the organization, or people that are potential consumers, a light bulb literally went off for me as you were speaking. So not thank you for that.


Any other builds on this sort of balancing workplace a marketplace.


Quickly move on to the next Dory question.


So this is a challenging one for me to ask. But a couple of years ago, maybe a little bit more than a couple of years ago, I was literally conducting research. The study was for a media company and the opportunity was to illuminate the lives and experiences of black women.


And they wanted to use that to inform a few different initiatives in the organization, because it was a priority target for them.


And, part of the study I was doing in home interviews and the lead person or the host had to invite four friends over, so, it's me and five black women speaking about their experience, just living, being Black woman and had a camera man as well.


And, they're talking and one of them starts talking about generational trauma and her dad and sort of the plight of black men and starts crying, hysterically.


All her friends start crying, I start crying, the camera man is tracking, were all crying, and that was a really pivotal moment for me, because no, one, I think to do DEI work, You have to have a lot of empathy, and, you know, hearing some of these stories, I don't think anyone would have not been crying in that room.


But then also, how do you keep a certain level of distance.


And so what it made me think about is, this work is very involving.


It's very consuming, It's sometimes even triggering. If you're part of a group that is marginalized and underrepresented, how do you protect the mental health of DEI practitioners on the frontline? How do you protect your own? Oh, how do you get that distance when you need it?


Antonia, you want to start?


Sure. I think I was at a conference earlier this year and one of the speakers was the activists Dolores. Huerta, who is, I believe, 92 or 93 years old. And so the question was essentially that to her like how have you been able to sustain yourself and doing this work like some of the hardest work you can do this long as she was like, I am unabashed about taking care of myself.


And that kind of gave me the permission where I was like, OK, I have to take care of me. I have to put my oxygen mask on first, because I can't burn out doing the work.


If you go as hard as you could, if you tried it, you know, put forth every idea and execute on all of them. You will burn out in this work within probably a quarter six months at most.


Like, you can absolutely just is all right out. So you have to really, truly take care of yourself. And so for me, that means like I am ruthless about my calendar. There are certain days where I can certain kinds of work. So I block that off Monday mornings. I cannot meet with you at 9 0 AM. Like, I need to use this time to set out what's going to get accomplished this week and how I'm going to do it. So I'm, I block that timeout. So there's little things like that. I give myself permission to log off, like the day can be done. Because, again, we are best, I'm creating incremental changes. And ideally, there are thousands of us, all creating incremental changes at the same time, to kinda chip away at these big, massive, systemic problems, as Corey reminded us earlier. And so, you don't fix the systemic problem all at once. You don't fix it with just one idea, is that steady pressure to push it and push things along.


And so, realizing that just really given myself with the permission of, like, I have to show up well to be able to do my job well, That means I have to take care of my physical, mental health, I have to make sure my life outside of work feels good, so, that I don't feel guilty when I'm, when I'm showing up to do the thing that I do professionally. So, I would say really like, embrace in and take advantage. And give yourself permission for true self care, not just like bodies in a bubble bath and like commercialize self care that you can buy. But, like truly, what does it mean to take care of yourself and, and do that?


Amanda, any thoughts on this question?


Yeah, I think I'll add, is, is, being in community and realizing that you're not by yourself, in the ways that you feel has, has really helped me in this work. I think, before, I thought, you know, I triggered by myself, or I was feeling these things all alone.


But then, as I found that community, I realized, wow, this is, this is the space I needed to really talk about and squash these things out, and I think, just to add onto what antonius that inviting, giving myself permission but also vocally inviting my team to do the same thing. So, making sure that they understand. It is OK. I think a lot of times we're in the corporate world. And we feel like we just have to keep grinding and keep going, but really inviting my team to do that and then working for leaders. And I work for a leader right now who invites us to do that as well and acknowledges it openly when things happen, and mentioned that, and says, Hey, do do what you need to do to take care of yourself?


And so, having that invitation, I think, has really been helpful, because a lot of times I can feel no guilty if I need to take extra time or if I need to go to a spa day. It feels like, oh, you know, I'm just doing this thing for myself. But it's absolutely the thing you need to keep feeling yourself to continue.


Cheryl, Cory, any built on this one?


That is, just to go deeper community, find that many of the practitioners to be so valuable, right? acquires! Actually, when I first moved into diversity inclusion, a classmate introduced to Korea where you probably don't even remember this. This was, you know, 3, 4 years ago.


But even then, just thinking about who is in this space, who when N goes to a conference, I can no, say hello to.


And when there is a challenging moment, and we have to be strong for our, our organizations, and our clients and our business partners, who can I really call in a small phone booth room cry, perhaps, ..., who will also understand? And that might be, their movements also cry before putting them back on and being strong, but, the organization, and use the organizations talking points and communicating.


The firm scans on a specific issue, and the practitioner community has been extremely valuable for me, so I will be reaching out to you.


Love it. Cory? Any last thoughts or words?


Apparently, I need to change my nickname to Uncle apparently.


Know, you're going to say, grandma. But I'll do that to me was. Pulling together your bios. I noticed you both went to Columbia Business School, so I was wondering if you knew each other. So, anyway. But thank you so much. You guys were fantastic. This was a phenomenal conversation. And there's just so it's rich with so many tidbits. So I absolutely appreciate your vulnerability and your willingness to share. And thank you so much for your time. This was excellent, Elen, I'm gonna pass it back to you.




I really want to thank to now for moderating an amazing and candid discussion. Thank you to our guests and thank you to everyone for joining us today.


Be on the lookout for an e-mail with a direct link to good presentation that will likely come before the end of the week. but at any time, please feel free to reach out and connect with us directly.


That now concludes today's Ipsos webinar.


Have a wonderful day everyone.


Thank you.

The author(s)
  • Janelle James SVP, Qualitative