Workday Chief Diversity Officer: Our Approach to Diversity and Inclusion

Earlier this year, I joined Workday as its first-ever chief diversity officer. What attracted me to the company was the opportunity to further expand our diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, influence our products, and have engaging discussions with our employees and customers about our D&I initiatives.

The chief diversity officer role is relatively new in many organizations, and like others in this position, I’m still learning every day. However, I think it’s important to share my experiences and how I’ve been able to contribute to Workday’s special culture so far. I hope that by continuing the conversation around D&I and by discussing Workday’s approach, I can get others—both at Workday and across the industry—excited about the progress that’s being made at a global level.

Diversity is About Embracing Everyone

Diversity exists because we’re all different. And it’s by embracing everyone’s differences that we’ll make progress at Workday—both for our employees and our customers.

From day one, one of my biggest priorities has been getting everyone at the company on the same page when it comes to D&I. When we think about the myriad of perspectives we’re dealing with—on topics ranging from politics, gender equality, pay parity, and more—we have to consider the impact on the whole business.

Our personal lives often blend into our experiences in the workplace, and almost always, it’s these different perspectives that fuel innovation.

One way to galvanize an organization into action is by deploying programs that bring different people and different perspectives together. For example, this year our inaugural Global Employee Belonging Council (EBC) Leadership Summit brought together our EBC leads. EBCs are internal employee groups with a goal to support a more diverse population and advance the professional development of its members. In addition to having Workday’s leadership team hear from the EBC leads, the summit allowed us to define where we are going as a business with our D&I efforts and what success will look like across the company.

It’s also important to recognize how people’s individual experiences inform their perspectives and contribute to their views. For example, my outlook on D&I is heavily influenced by my personal background. Like many people, I’ve had my share of adversities to overcome—from growing up as an African American to being a single, queer mom raising two teenage daughters. Yet what I’ve learned is that our personal lives often blend into our experiences in the workplace, and almost always, it’s these different perspectives that fuel innovation. That’s why it’s so important to get the whole company aligned—so we can celebrate each other’s differences and create a broader connection to the world.

Members of The Talented Tenth–Workday’s EBC focused on educating, inspiring, and exciting black communities about careers in technology–come together to share ideas on how to best foster fellowship and excellence.

Building Deeper Connections at the Executive Level

Diversity plays a large role in the overall performance of any company, so buy-in and active participation from senior leadership are crucial. In soliciting feedback from other leadership team members at Workday, I’ve found that they are extremely supportive and passionate about furthering our D&I initiatives.

Here at Workday, I joined Jim Bozzini, our chief operating officer, for a frank and open fireside chat about the importance of D&I. The discussion took place in July during Workday Altitude, our annual professional services conference, and included people leaders from Jim’s team. I also had the opportunity to partner with Diana McKenzie, chief information officer at Workday, to present and participate in a panel discussion about D&I for our entire Dublin, Ireland office, which has more than 850 employees.

In addition to having executive support at Workday events, we also have strong representation at industry events related to D&I. Lynn Christensen, senior vice president of products at Workday, and Diana McKenzie have served as executive sponsors for the past two years at the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. And I’ll soon be joining more than 180 Workday employees at this year’s Grace Hopper, and look forward to meeting with other thought leaders to discuss how to best support and celebrate women technologists in the workplace.

Not only have executives shown up and supported these events, they’re enthusiastic about doing more. In fact, we’re in the process of creating a global executive Belonging & Diversity Council, so senior leadership can connect and help influence how we further our efforts in this space.

Rowena Patrick, vice president, group campaign director at Ad Council, Mike McNamara, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer at Target, Cristina Jones, head of trailblazer marketing at Salesforce, and Carin Taylor at Target’s “Diversity in Tech” Open House event in San Francisco.

Shaping Our Approach to Diversity and Inclusion

I see my role as an opportunity to empower others to embrace what makes them different, and I’m passionate about nurturing an inclusive culture with this in mind. My goal is to ensure that we have the best workplace in which all employees thrive by collectively contributing to Workday’s success.

To do this we’ve put in place an approach to D&I that is centered around value and supports a broader strategy we call VIBE, where we aim to value inclusion, belonging, and equity for all of our employees. You can see our VIBE strategy in action in the below video.

I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to influence D&I at Workday, with our customers, and across the industry. I’m proud of what my team and I have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, and I know there’s still much more to be done. As we look to the near future, we’ll continue to openly discuss the topic of D&I and set company-wide goals to increase the diversity of our workforce. And by encouraging an open dialogue, we will uncover new ways to enrich Workday’s culture of bringing one’s best self to work each day.