As a child, I would stand outside of the Chicago town hall and listen to leaders address policies about everything from fair housing discrimination to women’s rights. I remember thinking, even at that young age, how beautiful it was to see a group of people fighting for justice. It signaled to me that there always has to be someone who is willing to stand up for what is right.
Now as a leader in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B), I have both the honor and responsibility to do the same – to enable and empower every person to own and shape our culture and workplace, and to drive what belonging truly looks like at our organization and beyond. But it wasn’t always this way.
I started my career during a time when diversity was looked at as affirmative action. Companies would check the box – and often I was the “check.” The woman of color (Black and Hispanic descent). The spouse of a husband who had served in Afghanistan, the one who has a special needs child, the one who was raised by the LGBTQ community – the checklist continued.
All those intersectionalities of who I was were never wholly accepted. I remember the day when I said I’m done. Done pretending, conforming, and suppressing who I am just to fit in and get a paycheck. It was at that time that something powerful unlocked for me, and I committed myself to a mission of changing the employee experience.
Since then, I’ve built my career around helping organizations move through their DEI&B journeys. Recent events have shined a light on this critical work, igniting opportunities for real change like we’ve never seen before. But even with the best intentions, the reality is many companies remain performative. DEI&B isn’t a “program” or an add-on – belonging and inclusion show up when we sit in our seats every day, when we’re having interactions with our managers, talking to customers, or partnering with our peers. DEI&B should be embedded in how we work and woven through our cultural tapestry, until it just becomes a natural part of who we are.
Highspot is at a pivotal moment – we’re projected to grow by more than 500 headcount this year alone. Not only is this a crucial time to protect and cultivate our culture, but if we can get the DEI&B part right, as well as retention and recruiting, can you imagine where we might be in 10 years?
To my fellow colleagues – DEI&B starts with us. You are DEI&B. Together, without fear or distance, we will own the creation and evolution of inclusion and belonging at Highspot.
We will collectively shape how DEI&B shows up in our every day and build a culture of inclusion that we all believe in, see ourselves in, and thrive in. We will show the industry what it looks like to break all the rules, to create new trends, to propel progress, to structure a world-class DEI&B philosophy and framework, and to give each other grace as we learn. Our efforts will not only resonate throughout our workplace – but will be reflected in our product, surface in our customer conversations, and reach outside the office walls and into our communities. This work will make ripples.
And through it all, we’ll be shining as our most authentic selves, in all our diverse brilliance.