As part of the Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B) framework at Highspot the Vice President of DEI&B, Jyl Feliciano, sat down with members of senior leadership in EMEA to discuss DEI&B.
Leaders shared some of their personal stories relating to DEI&B and the importance of this framework to Highspot and its employees. Other topics discussed were how senior leaders are implementing these principles within their teams, what excites them about DEI&B, as well as the advice they would give about approaching DEI&B in the workplace.
‘Keep being different and don’t conform to others – this is how you will succeed’ – Phong Lam, Director, Sales – Central Europe
As the son of first-generation immigrants in Germany, I spent my childhood already being different from others. When I think about my time in school, me and my sister were the only ones with an immigrant background amongst our classmates. I am lucky to say that the school community never made me feel any different.
My first steps into leadership were another experience because I was the youngest People Manager. What I encountered was a group consisting of white males, white shirts and big egos across the board.On my first day with this group, I never felt comfortable, instead I felt odd and awkward.
I was lucky enough to work under the CEO at the time, and I still remember him telling me, ‘keep being different and don’t conform to others around you – this is how you will succeed’. Somehow, this stuck with me, and I had the confidence to build a team from scratch that looked completely different to what the company had seen before.
I always ask my team to advocate authenticity – be your true self wherever you go and whatever you do. I think the most important job for us as People Managers is to make everyone’s voice heard in the room. These experiences in my personal life and early career have shaped who I am today and the leader I want to be.
‘I like to believe that I can run a mission of being a true leader…if I can help others become leaders’ – Julia Kühnast, Services Lead – EMEA
I was raised bilingual, my parents migrated from Eastern Europe to Germany and I am a recent mom. I am an entrepreneur by heart and I believe that I can run a mission of being a true leader if I can help others in our organisation become leaders.
My team is located in four different cities – their native languages are English, Spanish, German and French. It is difficult to form physical belonging because we cannot come into the office every week. I am trying to advocate a more self-governed team in which I would like them to evaluate as a team what their strengths are, and who they would propose for a project. I am also looking into leveraging weekly feedback, where we do a team health score check-in every week. These are the rituals I am already establishing and looking to continue going forward.
‘This is a topic deeper than just everyone’s day-to-day work; it’s about how people feel safe, supported and empowered in and outside the workplace’ – Charlotte Herbertz, Director, Account Development – EMEA
I am lucky to say that I bring my full self to work every day. I’m young, female, a proud part of the LGBTQ+ community, and there hasn’t been a day at Highspot where I felt I couldn’t bring all of that and more to the workplace.
What excites me about DEI&B is the inspiration that comes with people feeling empowered to bring their whole selves to work and feeling like they need to leave any part at home.
This is a topic deeper than just everyone’s day-to-day work; it’s about how people feel safe, supported and empowered in and outside the workplace. As there is so much pressure behind not getting it wrong, it’s easy to turn into not doing anything at all. A good start to combating inaction, is one of our Guiding Principles which is being “Open and Real” when you don’t understand something or feel uncomfortable in a situation.
‘If we are deliberate as leaders about building teams with different perspectives and come from different, diverse backgrounds…we will make better decisions’ – Andy Champion, VP and General Manager – EMEA
I’m a father of two kids, I have been married for twenty three years to a wonderful wife, but I’m also a military veteran. Something that is deeply personal to me is, I’m adopted, and so I do not know who my ancestors are. But what I do know is I was blessed to have two absolutely incredible parents.
Leadership starts with you as an individual and how you turn up every single day. It’s the values that you convey through your behaviours and actions, and it’s the trust and respect that you build over time. It’s about being deliberate and thoughtful about how you invest in yourself so that you can come to situations with an open mind. It is about a mindset of not owning the monopoly of ideas, but is about being curious of the ideas that others have around you. It is important to create a space where all of those voices are heard. If we are deliberate as leaders about building teams with different perspectives with people that come from different, diverse backgrounds, then my experience is that we will have a much richer conversation, and as a result we will make better decisions.
As a leader, you are there to serve your people and to be a catalyst for them to be the very best versions of themselves. One of the great privileges we have as leaders is to be able to help people on that path, and to celebrate their successes in public.