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2021 Top DEI Influencers in HR

Key players in the HR industry and their thoughts on DEI’s place in the workplace

by Nikhil Bendre

Now more than ever, the role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are crucial to the success of any organization. We’ve seen how quickly the world can turn upside down, whether it’s due to a deadly pandemic or blatant violations of human rights. Making sure that DEI is at the core of your company has become a prerequisite for longevity. Let’s take a look at some of key players in the HR industry and their thoughts on DEI’s place in the workplace.


Alysha M. Campbell

Founder & CEO
CultureShift HR

Alysha M. Campbell is an accomplished and respected Strategic HR Leader with a decade of experience that encompasses all facets of Human Resource Management. From executing successful multi-million dollar workforce recruitment and optimization projects to spearheading employee culture initiatives, Alysha has truly seen and done it all in the HR space.

Her passion for the industry has led her to start her own HR Consultancy and Strategy agency – CultureShift HR. As Founder and Principal, Alysha uses her business acumen to help companies utilize and engage their best talent while creating purposeful work environments that help businesses grow and thrive.

Through her experience and foresight in the Canadian, US and International talent space, Alysha has developed an eye for talent engagement patterns and the resulting effects on culture. As a speaker and entrepreneur, Alysha partners with and teaches organizations her proven process on how to align their talent with corporate objectives to achieve more and increase profitability. She enjoys sharing the secrets of the trade to help business discover the benefits of a high-performance culture, the increasing value of employee engagement, in addition to the ins and outs of talent acquisition.

Within Alysha’s business practices, she encourages companies to embrace the “Employee First” philosophy that focuses on shifting the culture dynamics and encouraging recognition of positive results and behaviours. Ultimately this leads to greater employee engagement, customer service and recurring revenue allowing clients to stay competitive in their respective industry and labour market.

Alysha is a graduate of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Commerce.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

Start small. Identify a plan that connects to the larger organizational goals and align 1-2 goals to your DEI roadmap. It’s important that when you begin your DEI journey you understand that you are dealing with individuals and their identities and that can be a sensitive topic. We need to ensure any work we are doing, we do it right and not rush. 

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

The biggest challenge I find with my clients is knowing where to start. It is scary, overwhelming and there is a lot of information out there. How HR can help is to help identify what DEI goals the organization wants to focus on and help to identify small but impact actions that will start to move the needle forward. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

Continue to help others activate in the workplace as DEI Champions. This can look different to everyone and it’s important that employees feel that they have an active part and are accountable to how the organization develops and initiates its DEI strategy. 

What made you decide to get into HR?

People are the heartbeat of the business and I wanted a career that helped to influence and make changes in workplaces where people really care and want to make a difference. We spend more time at work than anything else and it’s important that our workspaces reflect an environment that is supportive, inclusive and allows you to grow and be your best self. I wanted to be in the center of creating that and so HR was the path.

See what Alysha is up to at CultureShift HR!


Cory Kapner

VP of Global Sales & Partnerships Recruitics

Cory is currently a VP for Recruitics, a global recruitment marketing agency Headquartered in NYC and San Francisco. Previously, he served as the Managing Director of UK and Europe for Recruitics. Before Recruitics, Cory worked for Indeed.com and ran a full desk of recruitment at Michael Page International where he learned and solutioned against some of the greatest job seeker challenges. For the last 2 years, Cory has been volunteering at the New York Public Library as a career coach assisting job seekers with their job search, organization, interview tips, and salary negotiation

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

The biggest DEI challenge is measurement.  As stated in books like “The Sum of Us-What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” companies are starting to quantify the dollars lost in the US economy due to racism. Executives employed by influential companies need to do the same with their DEI challenges. Data provides a narrative to start making real change without hesitancy or friction. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI by #1, educating themselves on concepts like bias, privilege, culture, microaggressions, xenophobia + many more. Once the HR teams are fully fluent and passionate about these concepts, it’s critical for them to  advocate for people that can’t advocate for themselves. Communication apprehension plays an instrumental role for most diverse employees and unfortunately, gaslighting has become the norm. HR needs to bridge these gaps and meet people where they are.

See what Cory’s up to at Recruitics!


Angela L. Shaw

Chief People Officer
JuiceLand

Angela Shaw is an HR professional focused on developing the next generation of inclusive leaders. She is a force to be reckoned with as a volunteer leader, people advocate, diversity inclusionist, introvert, speaker, student, and teacher. As an avid learner, Angela is never afraid to ask the hard questions.  Best of all, she shares her truths and experiences to connect, influence, and inspire the people around her.

When Angela is not changing the world of HR with her talents, she is speaking on the importance of HR, diversity, inclusion, and other related people topics. Not only does she speak about it, but she also lives it in her everyday life. Angela is actively involved in groups and organizations such as Austin HRM Association, TXSHRM and SHRM where she uses her platform to help change people’s thinking about critical topics like good HR and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Currently, Angela is focusing on teaching, speaking and consulting work.  She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education where she teaches about the essentials of HR. Angela has had a range of roles in HR within a variety of industries, adding to her rounded experience and expertise. She has also served as a volunteer Board Member for several other organizations including the YWCA of Greater Austin and PelotonU.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

My advice is mainly for individuals because within every organization are the individuals that are holding up real and lasting movement. From silent allies to outright racists who instead of helping to break down discriminatory and oppressive systems are in fact upholding it up. These are the ones that I want them to:

  • Accept that disparity exists and that the playing field is not level.
  • Accept where they are on their journey even when it is in its early stages.
  • Accept that it is an ongoing journey that moves beyond education to action.
  • Commit and support all underrepresented groups, not just the one that you can   tolerate.
  • Center on the underrepresented and shift power to the vulnerable.

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

  • The fragility of the people with privilege and power who want to stop DEI with their outcry of reverse discrimination, unfair treatment and labeling everything political therefore not worthy of discussion.
  • Individual acceptance of stopping progress with fear or not wanting to do the work that comes with real DEI.
  • Ignorance of experiences that are not your own. If it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t exist and doesn’t need addressing.

HR needs to call people on their BS and address bad behavior in the workplace. Accountability not only for DEI but just common decency in how everyone is treated is sorely lacking.

If a manager fires all of their Black employees…there is a problem and are we addressing that?

If a co-worker makes misogynistic comments…there is a problem and are we addressing it?

If a senior leader uses a homophobic slur in an all-hands meeting…there is a problem and are we addressing.

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

Whether DEI leadership and advocacy comes from a DEI executive or from within the HR department there will always be a close relationship. Almost all HR duties relate to DEI in some way. HR are the ones that do the actual work to evolve the application of policies, programs and people but unfortunately, HR does not have a good track record in fighting bias and discrimination. In order to have meaningful impact HR should:

  • Re-connect with employees and change the perception that HR cannot be trusted or are only in place for compliance and policing.
  • Be a change agent for ensuring equity and fair systems are in place for employees.
  • Commit to creating equitable culture by making diversity, equity and inclusion focal points within the company.
  • Show up with innovative and creative ideas for employee inclusion.
  • Exemplify inclusive behavior for everyone else to follow.

What made you decide to get into HR?

The opportunity to connect with and serve the people of the organization. I was an employee first but I recognized as an HR person that I would have more power and a platform to help others. When I decided to get into HR I didn’t have anything but a passion for it but I persevered and learned as much as I could. Over my own journey I’ve been able to use my righteous indignation as a measure of my dedication to DEI and working towards real change. I’ve built a platform that allows me to speak to my experiences that so many others resonate with and connect to. I’ve had the opportunity to encourage and empower people in using themselves to take a stand for what is right. Every uncomfortable, torturous or oppressive experience I’ve had only inflamed me for more. Each day I count my blessings that I have the opportunity to do more, be on the right side of history and get into good trouble.

See what Angela is up to at JuiceLand!


Amit Parmar

Co-Founder & CEO
Cliquify

Amit is a global HR/Talent leader with over 16 years of experience in the Technology industry.   Presently, he is the co-founder and CEO of Cliquify – a candidate engagement SaaS that helps employers re-define how open jobs and career content is portrayed to drive more diverse and relevant talent pools across social media channels to the career site.  The result, 4x more candidate engagement as measured by click through rate while reducing cost per click by as much as 79%.   

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?  

Improving DEI in the workplace begins with helping people understand the various facets of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  A common understanding of what DEI means is a critical foundational step.  Once the understanding is in place, the next step is to identify, review, and measure the impact of all HR practices and policies to drive more equity and inclusion throughout the journey of the employee lifecycle.  People analytics and insights are key functions in this approach.  Having a good handle on the demographic makeup of your workforce and then measuring the impact of each of your HR practices whether positive or negative is important to identify the specific areas that need to be revamped or leave as-is.   

Address HR practices and policies that may unintentionally impact specific demographics of the workforce in their journey experiencing you as an employer of choice.  For example:

  1. Talent Attraction: Removing biases in sourcing and selection processes.  Hiring for potential versus pedigree.  
  2. While Employed: Ensuring equity in maternity and paternity paid leave policies or benefit elections that are favorable to transgender or aging populations, or accommodating commuting policies for employees who may live in underserved communities or with disabilities relying on public transportation.  Removing biases in performance and promotion management.  Ensuring people are included in key meetings or offsites without favoritism.   

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that? 

The biggest DEI challenges in the workplace are related to how people view and learn from the “norm” behaviors that are displayed by leadership at all levels in the company.  If a certain set of positive/inclusive behaviors are celebrated and rewarded consistently then people will learn those behaviors as anchors to continue emulating.  However, if top and front line leaders incentivize and accept toxic behaviors at the expense of top results (high performance), then there is a huge challenge and a problem.  HR’s role is to defend the behaviors that are core to the values of the organization and hold leaders at all level accountable to live and breathe those values.  Call out leaders and employees who role models for those values and behaviors and address those leaders and employees who need coaching and develop to help emulate those values/behaviors.  

 How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond? 

HR is the only function in the entire company that is objective and is trusted by employees to hold leadership accountable and also trusted by leadership to hold people accountable with appropriate coaching and development.  As it relates to DEI, HR can make a meaningful impact by ensuring that they are addressing areas in the organization where there may be toxic/non-inclusive behaviors and bring a balance back to living the core values versus simply focusing on high performance.  HR’s role is to make sure that there is balance between how the work is performed and what the results are.  How would you as HR influence your line leaders with this choice: A high performer who is toxic and not team oriented OR a mediocre performer who lives your values and is a team player? 

 What made you decide to get into HR?

For any organization to be successful, they have to have the right caliber of people working there and there is a social responsibility we have to grow and develop people as a global society.  I chose the field of HR early on in my career as I am deeply passionate about helping organizations and people maximize their potential.

See what Amit is up to at Cliquify!


Pat Caldwell

Chief Operating Officer (COO/CPO)
FundApps

Pat is a senior people and operations leader and self-confessed people geek! After starting his career in the coal mining industry in Australia before joining the tech scenes of London and New York, Pat is now building People, Finance, Legal and Operations as the COO at FundApps, a high-growth bootstrapped software company and certified B Corporation. Pat has a passion for disruptive HR practices, reimagining the role of HR for the future of work and the role of culture and inclusion in the employee experience.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

Start small and focus on practical actions that meaningfully contribute to equity and inclusion. Improving DEI isn’t a simple, silver-bullet fix, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But when I see 5-year diversity & inclusion strategies that have taken months or sometimes years to put together, I do wonder if we’ve overcomplicated it a bit. Sometimes the most meaningful change is sparked from a small, practical action executed well. More walk, less talk. 

We’ve just seen our LinkedIn feeds smothered in rainbow-washed brands talking about celebrating the LGBTQ+ community but with a complete absence of stories regarding the actions companies took to contribute to greater DEI for LGBTQ+ team members in the workplace beyond updating their logo colours and writing a cute social media post. If we genuinely want to make change, beyond just good intentions, we need to co-design actions using lived experiences and start to think of DEI as being as integral to the business as customer satisfaction or product development. For example, when was the last time you reviewed your parental leave policies to understand the experience of LGBTQ+ parents in the workplace? Or reviewed the education/experience requirements on a job description to see if it might be playing to biases and turning away very capable candidates? Or systematically reviewed and adjusted the process to award pay increases to ensure a reduction in the gender pay gap. It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but it requires actually making a change and forcing some uncomfortable conversations.

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

Converting a strong ‘why’ into the ‘what’ and ‘how’. There’s plenty of debate around DEI having it’s own seat at the table, or whether it should sit within HR, and both of these seem like noise to the actual question which is whether a company is genuinely committed to making changes and progressing DEI, or if they’re just afraid to be seen as doing nothing. It’s an important distinction. Assuming there is that commitment, I see HR’s role as ambassadors for the workplace culture to be helping translate that commitment into tangible actions. 

It might be the case there is a lack of women or people of colour in leadership positions. Unfortunately, the common response to that is to show commitment to change it, to maybe set a target, to communicate it out to the business, and perhaps a tweak or two in the recruitment process for good measure. But all of this is just scratching at the actual issue. HR can play a vital role in helping the organisation ‘develop its IQ’ and understand what exists systemically that has contributed to this, what are the lived experiences of women and people of colour in the organisation, where are the areas that need to change for leadership to be more representative of the broader organisation or the community in which it operates in. This may reveal a whole host of various issues, from policies that reinforce stereotypes to leadership behaviours (or even leaders) that need to be removed from the business. 

They can be tough things to confront, but it comes back to the same question of whether we’re actually committed to making changes and progressing DEI, or just afraid to be seen as doing nothing.

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

In a single sentence: Pick one thing that needs to change and change it, then listen to your people to see what effect it had. 

What made you decide to get into HR?  

It was very much an accident. I dropped out of law school and studied business as I found I was interested in lots of different things and I liked being able to flip between the complexity of organisational behaviour, to the certainty of accounting and finance, to the thinking and psychology in marketing. Now that I’ve been in HR for the better part of the last decade, I appreciate that it’s a profession that is currently being reinvented and there’s an incredible opportunity to cut across teams and do good by people.

See what Pat’s up to at FundApps!


Katrina Jones

Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Leader
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Katrina Jones is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader and Champion. She works with organizations to create strategic and process driven solutions to disrupt bias, in order to foster more equitable and inclusive workplaces. Katrina has served as a diversity and inclusion lead at large, complex, global companies and startups, and has designed and executed strategies to attract, retain, and advance people from underrepresented and historically marginalized communities. The foundation of her passion for this work is an unyielding belief in justice and transformation, and a desire to lift up people whose voices and experiences have been denied or silenced. Katrina is a Lifetime member of the Texas Exes, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. She also has a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management from The Catholic University of America. You can connect with Katrina via LinkedIn, or find her on Twitter, threading tweets on diversity in the workplace, racial and gender equity, and the occasional art exhibit.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace? 

I have three key pieces of advice for improving DEI in the workplace: 1) Focus on systemic interventions; 2) Critically assess your organizational culture (or find someone who will); and 3) Resource DEI with external experts as needed.  

1. Commit to tackling the work at a systemic level. To do so, you’ll need to collect and analyze data from every place you can – the recruiting process, promotions, attrition, performance plans, compensation, employee relations cases, offboarding and exit interviews – basically any outcome that’s connected to the employee and talent management lifecycles within your company. Look for any trends in the data – no matter how minor they initially seem – and apply interventions that get to the root of the issue within the organization. What does this look like? It could look like an organization revamping or eliminating a certain talent management process, if it’s found that the process results in disproportionately negative outcomes for certain marginalized groups. 

2. Oftentimes, in organizations with homogenous employee populations (or limited employee diversity), employees from majority groups will have a different employee experience than employees from marginalized groups (who may have a less positive employee experience). When majority employees hear critical or negative feedback about the organization, they are often surprised and may react defensively in response. It can be difficult to empathize with employee experiences that contradict your own, especially if this feedback is coming from people whom you lack “familiarity” with. Your implicit biases and embedded stereotypes will work overtime to help you dismiss their feedback. Leaders and HR/Talent team members must consider their biases about the organization, and how those biases impact your view of the employee experience and the organizational culture. Admit that you can’t be objective or detached in reviewing your organizational culture, and ask others who can do so, unsympathetically, to take the lead in evaluating the organizational culture. Or better yet, hire an expert to put together a report on your organizational culture, along with recommendations for addressing any problems uncovered. 

3. Pull in external experts as needed. You might hire external consultants for anything from conducting an audit of your company’s current DEI state, to facilitating employee learning and skill building, or even serving as a DEI thought partner and coach to senior leadership. If you bring in external consultants, make sure you’re clear about goals and what the person or team will deliver within the defined period. 

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that? 

One of the biggest DEI challenges is how DEI is resourced and where it sits within an organization. Often the DEI function sits within HR, with the head of DEI reporting into HR. At times, it can appear as if the goals of each function are in conflict with one another (HR wants to minimize risk; DEI wants to foster a more equitable organization and increase diverse representation). Historically, the head of DEI has been expected to influence change (“win hearts and minds”) and has often been severely under resourced – no headcount, small budget – with a large plate of responsibilities. HR can demand more (and better) for DEI as a function. Ask for DEI to report into the CEO’s office, and advocate for increased resourcing of the work. HR can also be explicitly supportive of DEI. I would encourage all CHROs/CPOs to sit down regularly with the DEI leader at their org and ask them, “how can I best support you and your work, as well as the work of your team?” Listen intently, to really understand what they’re asking for, and then follow through with your full support. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?  

One of the impactful things HR can do is ensure that their HR team is engaging in continuous learning on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s critical for HR professionals to go beyond unconscious bias, and build skills to engage in organizational equity and inclusion work. To do this, you’ll need to assess your knowledge gaps about specific dimensions of identity (e.g., race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status, disabilities, and more), and get real about what you don’t know, as well as where the knowledge you do have came from. As an example, if you are white and grew up in a majority white community in the United States, you likely have limited knowledge about the history of race and racial injustice in the US, and how racial inequity shows up today in our workplaces. Learning about this history and reading about the experiences of marginalized employees in the workplace will help you build knowledge that you can apply towards equity and inclusion work.  

HR professionals can also continue building their capabilities to lead and work with diverse teams, and strengthening their inclusive leadership skills.  

What made you decide to get into HR? 

I’m incredibly purpose driven – I always have been, since I was a kid. I was drawn to HR because I saw it as a place where I could make a positive difference in the lives of people, in spaces where access and opportunity aren’t always distributed fairly. How can we transform our organizations to meet the needs of a diverse range of people and their communities? Professionally and personally, I am a champion for justice, and an advocate for evolving our workplaces to welcome everyone – especially those who have been historically excluded and denied opportunities because of who they are and how they identify. 

See what Katrina is up to at AWS!


Anita Lettink

Strategic Advisor/Analyst/Partner
HRTechRadar and Strategic Management Centre

Anita has worked in the HR Tech space for 20 years. As SVP Strategy & Alliances, she developed digital ecosystems, executed multi-national research projects, coordinated alliances with partners and implemented strategy programs while leading global, virtual teams. She has worked for public, private and PE-owned companies.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace? 

Always start by listening to your employees. You might want to send a short survey out first, and then follow up with meetings to understand the real issues. Ask a lot of questions. As leaders, you might think you know what the issues are, but you don’t have the full picture. 

Also involve your employees in coming up with solutions to improve DEI. I think you will be nicely surprised by what they suggest, and how much progress you can make by following their lead. 

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that? 

As soon as you set your DEI goals, you will hear from team leaders who think you should make an exception for them: their situation is different. 

When we first ran our DEI initiative, as a leadership team we set objectives for our teams and then cascaded those all the way down. We decided that no matter what arguments people would bring, we wouldn’t change our (and their) objectives. While we did soften our approach a bit later, that early stance showed how serious we were about DEI and sent a message to the whole company.  

DEI is a tough topic to crack and requires that everyone is on board and supportive. Once you allow one person to deviate from the plan, it becomes a slippery slope, everyone will come up with an excuse and you will not hit your objectives. So be firm at the start to achieve success. 

And don’t forget to celebrate success: sharing achievements is the best way to show employees that you are taking DEI seriously and it becomes “business-as-usual”.   

 How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond? 

The best thing HR can do is put the topic on the board agenda and link it to workforce strategy. Arm the CHRO with facts and numbers. Understand the issue. Make visible how a lack of DEI will seriously impact your attractiveness as an employer. 

In short, don’t do DEI because it is a trend: do it because it’s normal. A lot of companies make great progress with well-thought out programs. Most of them are happy to talk about the way they approached the topic and will share lessons learned. Reach out to their HR teams: I’m sure they will be eager to talk to you.

Make sure that HR presents the C-suite with a monthly progress review – this way the topic stays front and center, and you can immediately take action in case you are behind.

What made you decide to get into HR?

I got into HR by accident – I worked in technology, and joined a company that implemented HR solutions. I came to understand the industry very well, and the profession has gone through so many changes with so much still left to do that I am still here!

See what Anita’s up to at Strategic Management Centre!


Anessa Fike

CEO & Founder
Fike + Co

Creating excellent workplace cultures, strengthening employee engagement, and increasing company productivity run through Anessa’s veins. She has led more than 70 companies worldwide through scaling efforts through various stages of business from seed round series to Series A- D to mergers and acquisitions to pre-IPO. She has served as Chief People Officer, VP People & Talent, and/or Head of People at 15+ tech companies and has not only helped to scale revenue at these organizations but has also helped companies boost their DIBE efforts to ensure that more people find amazing places to work for them. Anessa has been named as one of the Most Inclusive HR Influencers for her work toward pushing businesses forward in this area.

Focused on assisting executives with complex organizational and growth issues, she has also been a force in the growing world of transparent workplace culture, working with anonymous employer review sites including InHerSight and Glassdoor.com. With a Master of Arts in English from National University and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Business, and English from Penn State University, her unique background enables her to understand people and craft internal communication in a way that very few can.

When Anessa isn’t helping companies enhance culture, you will find her with a kickass pair of shoes on and a full-bodied glass of red wine in her hand.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

Most companies have to first get really clear on what DIBE means. There needs to be a solid foundation from which to work from at a company that is built on true understanding of DIBE. DIBE includes diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity. Belonging is also as important as the other items because once someone gets to an organization, if she/he/they don’t ever feel like there is a place for her/him/them at the company, they aren’t going to be as productive, engaged, or happy. Companies also need to make sure they truly understand the E in DIBE; the goal should be to strive for equity. Bring in the core values of your organization and make sure to weave DIBE through each and every one. Then, educate, create awareness, and then educate some more. Encourage hard conversations. Encourage open dialogue. Encourage real discussions. And then make solid steps in the right direction. Whether that means creating an unlimited vacation policy where taking the time needed to recharge and rest is encouraged, or that means a hybrid 4-day workweek, both can help out underrepresented groups and create more inclusivity, belonging, and equity. The best companies that understand and make a real difference in DIBE are the ones that create thoughtful environments; for leaders, this means never thinking about just one group of people in their organization when they are making decisions, but instead thinking of all people and of all circumstances and taking those into consideration. Be careful not to forget about the intersectionality of people – each person is unique and so is the perspective of that person. Don’t assume that one person’s views are representative of all of those that come from the same background or look like that person. 

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

The largest DIBE challenge for most organizations is honestly that they don’t want to do the work. They want to look like they are doing the work, and project the illusion that they are doing the work, but for most companies and most leaders, the status quo has gotten them to where they are today – and they aren’t jumping up and down to change that. Now, the smartest companies realize that having a heterogenous group of people makes them smarter, better, and more thoughtful, but change is still hard and takes a lot of time and work. Really changing companies for the better is not a side job and not the job of only one department. It is the job of each and every person in that company. If companies are serious about DIBE, then it should be clear and seen in the company’s core values and in its everyday life. If leaders push off DIBE to their HR teams and do nothing else, they aren’t serious about DIBE; instead, they are only concerned about the appearance of DIBE. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

The number one thing that HR departments can do now and in the future is to continue to push; push hard conversations, push leaders to get uncomfortable, push for change, and push for action. If you are not pushing as an HR department for DIBE, you aren’t doing what is fundamentally at the core of your role. Human resources doesn’t just mean resources for white men; it means resources for all humans, period. 

What made you decide to get into HR?

I always laugh at this question because I’m not sure that I ever decided to get into HR as much as I fell into it. I started my professional career as a journalist writing for a small family-owned newspaper in Eastern NC. After having won a press award there and seeing the journalism industry change from paper to digital, I decided to try something different. I started as an Executive Assistant at The Motley Fool shortly after I decided on a career change, and there I worked with the President, Chief People Officer, and Chief Technology Officer plus their teams. After 6 months in that role and having a very in-depth view of the business from various angles and from both strategic and detailed levels, I was promoted to work on the People team where I handled projects that had been on the back burner. I got a crash course in what people and talent looked like at an organization that was one of the highest revered workplace cultures in the country, and the skills needed were surprisingly similar to what is required of a journalist. And at the base of both were people.

See what Anessa’s up to at Fike + Co!


Keirsten Greggs

Founder & CEO
TRAP Recruiter, LLC.

Keirsten Greggs is the Founder and CEO of TRAP Recruiter, LLC, a Recruiting Consulting and Career Coaching firm. With over 20 years of experience in Talent Acquisition, she’s passionate about helping organizations attract, select and retain the best people, including underrepresented candidates, as well as helping job seekers find their voice in the hiring process. She does this through consulting, facilitating workshops, hosting training sessions and webinars, coaching job seekers and more.

She has been featured as an expert in ERE, InHerSight, Diversity Jobs, Hiretual, Talview, TechTarget, BBC World Service Radio, MadameNoire, Fast Company, and SiriusXM Urban View.

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

Many organizations haven’t had DEI strategies long enough to measure their efficacy. 2. Some DEI initiatives are reactionary and a temporary fix/bandaid for deep-rooted systemic issues.3.  Even when there is a desire to develop and execute DEI strategies i a meaningful way, some organizations don’t know where or how to start. 4. No buy-in and commitment from the very top to 5. Putting an emphasis on Diversity hiring (improving numbers/representation) without putting mechanisms in place to ensure equity and inclusion once historically underrepresented hires are made. 

HR’s role should be a stakeholder, key driver, and collaborator. Depending on the size of the org, ownership of DEI initiatives and strategies should rest with a dedicated individual or group of internal and/or external DEI practitioners. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

We should be the change we want to see and lead by example. ​

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

A few ways that HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond are to partner with organizational leaders to define the DEI strategy, assist in short and long term goal setting, and lead the organizational change management to ensure the  desired outcomes and optimal organizational culture are achieved. 

What made you decide to get into HR?

​I started as a third party/agency technical recruiter in 2000. Shortly thereafter, I moved into an in-house corporate recruiting role. I’ve mostly worked for large, global organizations and the TA and HR functions were either directly connected or adjacent so I was afforded opportunities to learn and cross-train across HR functions.

See what Keirsten’s up to at TRAP Recruiter!


Ashley Perryman

VP of Global Human Resources
Spiceworks Ziff Davis

Ashley Perryman is the Vice President of Global Human Resources at Spiceworks Ziff Davis and the President of the J2 Global Latinx ERG. She is an Executive Coach, Certified Force Management Facilitator, and a long-standing Human Resources leader in the technology industry. Ashley leads graduate-level workshops at Acton School of Business, mentors in the Women’s Initiative on Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development at University of Texas at Austin, and serves on the Texas Diversity Council. Ashley has been an active Committee member in her local professional associations including Association for Talent Development, Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin and Austin’s Society for Human Resources Management Association.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace?

To improve DEI in the workplace, companies need to focus on becoming a place where all people can thrive; it goes beyond being hired, which is good, but DEI efforts need to establish environments where people belong, do their best work and grow in their careers. 

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that? 

Truly effective DEI work will uncover some issues and bring out some very uncomfortable conversations/environments. This is hard, but worthwhile, work that is never fully finished. Human Resources professionals play an integral part in shaping and deploying DEI strategies in that they are often a mouthpiece for employee groups, the connector who introduces DEI resources to the business, or responsible for monitoring/reporting success metrics over time. 

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond? 

The Human Resources function can drive meaningful impact on DEI through ensuring that the company conducts regular equity audits – truly assessing its practices, structures, and all of the assumptions that are rolled up into them. A baseline evaluation and then regularly scheduled audits to make ongoing assessments should be a key part of any effective DEI strategy. The HR team should be responsible for partnering with the business to deploy and monitor the agreed-upon KPIs/metrics over time.

What made you decide to get into HR?

I like to say that over the course of my career, I tripped and fell into the HR field in that I did not originally set out to be an HR practitioner, but I am so thrilled and fulfilled about the work that I do every day. It really is all about the people for me –  I’ve had the privilege of working with some pretty brilliant teams, under fantastic leaders, and in support of amazing employee groups.

See what Ashley’s up to at Spiceworks Ziff Davis!


Joey Price

Founder & CEO
Jumpstart:HR

Joey V. Price is the Founder and CEO of Jumpstart:HR. The company offers HR outsourcing and consulting for startups and small businesses. Joey also hosts the “Business, Life, and Coffee” podcast, with personal development and success tips for entrepreneurs.

A seasoned HR professional with hands-on experience in multiple organizations, Joey advocates for businesses to “translate their goal into high ROI through happily engaged staff members.” He also serves on the Advisory Board for the HR Department at the Forbes School of Business and Technology and the Ethics in AI Board at Arena Analytics.

What advice do you have for improving DEI in the workplace? 

What gets measured gets managed. Once you have resolved to improve DEI at work, you MUST track and set real goals based on where you are today. Don’t stop with a mission statement or “beliefs” about diversity… make it a key metric by which intentional business decisions are made.

What are some of the biggest DEI challenges in the workplace, and what is HR’s role in that?

The biggest challenge about DEI is that not everyone believes it’s important. HR’s role in highlighting the importance of DEI is to be an advocate for underrepresented staff and candidates who might be overlooked based on biased thinking.

How do you think HR can make a meaningful impact on DEI in 2021 and beyond?

HR won’t make a meaningful impact on DEI until C-Level leaders make a commitment to grow in this area. HR must study, be credible in recommendations, and present the business and ethical case for DEI so that when the C-level is ready to listen, you have the right things to say.

What made you decide to get into HR?

I decided to get into HR after I decided my undergraduate major was no longer a career choice I wanted to pursue. My undergrad major was Kinesiology and I thought I would be an athletic trainer. However, I realized that I didn’t want to be taping up athletes for the rest of my life. What I did want to do, however, is see people reach their highest level of performance in whatever arena I was in… so that lead to me pursuing HR. HR is the architect of workplace culture and a champion for workplace leaders who want to give their best to their role and the teams they work alongside!

See what Joey’s up to at Jumpstart:HR


These HR superstars are some of the people who are making Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an increasingly prevalent topic and priority in the workplace. Be sure to check them out, as well as all of the incredible work that they do!

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