Mike: Hey everybody. Welcome to the Level Up Leadership Podcast. My name is Mike Delgado.
Patty: My name is Patty Guevarra.
Mike: This podcast is designed to help you get to know the leaders here at Experian, and also gain insight into the leadership skills and traits needed to grow our careers.
Patty: In this podcast we’ll talk mentorship, career navigation, handling rejection, work-life balance, mental health, diversity and inclusion, and so much more.
Mike: We hope you enjoy the show.
Patty: Hi everyone. Patty here. Today’s episode is going to be a little different. In honor of International Women’s Day, Level Up is partnering with the Women in Experian Employee Resource Group, to bring you an episode of featuring some amazing female leaders and their outstanding allies. We’ll be featuring leaders of Level Ups, past, present and future.
Patty: International Women’s Day falls on March 8 every year, and does a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and has been celebrated since 1911. We are so excited to be celebrating International Women’s Day all week here at Experian. Keep listening to learn more about the glass ceiling and how our leaders are breaking it. Enjoy this special episode.
Patty: This first snippet is from our interview with Jennifer Schulz, Group President of Health, Automotive Data Quality, and Targeting for Experian North America, and Global Lead Ambassador for women in Experian.
Jennifer Schulz: Why is women in Experian important to me? It’s the manifestation of our commitment to bringing gender balance into our workforce at all levels. And I would argue that we’re not doing great, right? We’re doing really well at a lot of levels. And in North America, when I look at things, I see all the metrics heading in the right direction, I don’t know how many read the report of, there are more women working in the workforce than there are men at this point, and it does big inflection point. But I’ve also heard from men in our organization, well, argue saying men aren’t important? And I’m like, no. The balance, right? We need, because I truly believe that the best outcome will be created through diverse voices, and diverse perspectives. And I think men and women bring different perspectives into the workforce.
Jennifer Schulz: But like all of our resource groups, I think it’s giving voice to different perspectives and I think it’s important. But we’ll continue to work. I’m excited about the fact that our global ambassadors now there’s two men Dev Dhiman in Asia-PAC, and Steve Pulley in Global DA, who have joined the group. And I suspect there will be more as well.
Patty: One of your dominant goals is to actually engage more men, which makes sense with what you just said. We like balance, we like the different perspectives. What are some things that you think would be able to engage men more in this issue?
Jennifer Schulz: You know, it’s interesting. There is I think EITS led by Beth Wheat, the Women in Experian is about to launch a concept called WeForWe. Which is one of the ways we can get engagement with more diversity of engagement is bringing people into the conversation. Being tangible in our asks. So, “Craig, can you please be the keynote at the Women in Experian breakfast?” “Alex, can you sit on a panel more tangibly on a day-to-day ongoing basis, we’ve created sponsorship programs for the senior leader, women and men who we think need just more exposure, and more sponsorship outside of their functional area.”
Jennifer Schulz: Those are all tangible ways that I think we’re changing the conversation. This is not something that’s going to change overnight but.
Patty: Of course, yeah.
Jennifer Schulz: Yeah. Well, there are days when I wish it would.
Jennifer Schulz: But I fundamentally believe that Experian foundationally, because we value intellect, we value authenticity, we value hard work. Those are not gender specific traits, those are not backgrounds specific traits, those are just traits of people. And so then how can we get that diversity with it?
Patty: I think you’re a great example of what a lot of women in business would like to aspire to. So you’re a president of this great company, you’re a mother, you’re a wife, and you like pretty much on the surface level. It seems like you have it all.
Patty: But I think a lot of women struggle with the idea that maybe they can’t have it all. They have to choose between their personal life and their career, or if they go that far in their career, then they are going to have to sacrifice something in their personal life.
Jennifer Schulz: Yeah.
Patty: Do you have any advice for women who are told this on a daily basis?
Jennifer Schulz: Yeah. And by the way, it’s not just women, it’s men too. And so this is my advice and it’s funny because I was listening to Meredith Level Up conversation. I was like, “Hey, I gave her that advice.” And I’m really clear on this, which is you cannot have balance every day, but I believe if you expand your aperture of the timeframe in which you’re thinking about balance, you can get balance.
Jennifer Schulz: And so I’m heading into budget week, right? Tomorrow I’m going to be here probably at 6:00 AM, and I’ll probably be here until 7:00 PM, and that’ll commute home, and I will not see my children. I know that. But yesterday I worked from home and I was able… Well, Monday I work from home and I was able to drop them off. So I look at balance with a longer view, I know there will be peaks and valleys, and that I fundamentally believe I can get balance over time. I also have given up the premise that I need to, nor do I want to do it all. And so there are a few priorities in my life. And that’s where I focus. But a lot of working parents don’t have a super robust social lives.
Jennifer Schulz: They’re working parents, they focus on their kids, they focus on their family, maybe they get to work out here and there, and then they go out to dinner as a couple or with friends once a month. I’m okay with that. One of the things I do know is that the friends that I have in my life, whether I talk to them every day or once a month, or once every six months, which is sometimes the case, they’re there.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah.
Jennifer Schulz: They’re going through the same thing I’m going through or you’re going through, and it is about prioritizing, and letting things come naturally in terms of timing. So in a few years, my kids will all be gone and in college. And I will tell you they’re gone, right? And they start leaving at about 16. And what I mean by that is their social life becomes more important than hanging out with mom.
Patty: They’re checking out.
Jennifer Schulz: Right now my little still love us.
Jennifer Schulz: But the bigs, they’re gone.
Patty: They’re like, “Leave me alone, mom.”
Mike: My daughter’s 14, and she’s partying in her room.
Jennifer Schulz: Yes, exactly.
Mike: She’s fine in her room.
Jennifer Schulz: Yes. Yes. And you give them a device.
Jennifer Schulz: It’s like, “I really-”
Jennifer Schulz: … yeah, “I really don’t need you.” It’s a short period of time in a lifespan. It feels very strange when you say, I’m not going to have a social life while my kids are little, and I do have a social life. And I have wonderful friends. It’s just not as robust as it was when I was-
Jennifer Schulz: Single or newly married with no kids-
Patty: The following is from our interview with the Meredith Wilson, SVP and General Manager of Revenue Cycle Solutions at Experian Health. Meredith also serves as the North American lead ambassador for women in Experian.
Merideth Wilson: Raise your hand, do the things no one else wants to do. If you look at great leaders, they will say the same thing. Sometimes to stick out, if you feel like you’re being overlooked, or not heard, or not recognized, make sure you’re taking responsibility yourself to raise your hand, to make sure you’re seeing, put your voice forward, especially for women. Ask for what you want, always make yourself known. And once you do that, be prepared to deliver. Because you can’t ask for what you cannot deliver. So when you raise your hand, be bold, be courageous, and know you’ve got to back that up with some good experience.
Mike: What was it like for you when you first started being vocal about I want more, can you talk, can you walk us through that? Because that’s… there’s a lot of like nerves that go into that, and then there’s fear, am I making the right decision?
Merideth Wilson: I think whether we’re male or female, sometimes we sit and we think we’re going to be chosen. We will be selected, right? There’s going to be an applicant pool, the next minute a job, there’ll be 12 of us.
Merideth Wilson: Or five of us. It’ll be looked at. Not necessarily I found that to be true. Again, being vocal and telling somebody where you want to go. I think oftentimes if we sit and think back, I just wish sometimes I can look back at my career at times that I was too passive. I assumed that I would be considered, or I assumed that someone knew what I wanted. Being vocal and taking hold of your own career is what so many people do. So lean in, power up, all these [crosstalk 00:09:40].
Merideth Wilson: These weren’t discussed so frequently, 10 years ago or 15 years ago, and when I think about the slumps, and if anyone has a perfect career trajectory, I’d love to meet her because I find that rare, setbacks are what make us better. If you don’t have a barrier to overcome, your story’s a little incomplete, in my opinion.
Merideth Wilson: If you’ve got to have some type of barrier, right? And most job interviews, you’ll hear that, “Tell me one time,’ and if you don’t have that one time, surely most of us have a few more than one time. But I can think of a time where I felt overlooked as well, and I had a manager that might not have been growing me and my team, as much as I thought I was patient, I delivered some results. But then I’ve raised my hand.
Merideth Wilson: And made myself a little more vocal, because I feared not only was I being held back with a team behind me. And if I wasn’t the leader that was doing a job, I needed to step aside, let someone else take the reigns. So a lot of times being vocal, sharing your feelings, but just being prepared. I again, I can’t say this enough. There’s a lot of people who say, ‘I want to get ahead.”
Merideth Wilson: But the question behind is, what are you doing to get there yourself? Don’t wait to be anointed and do something different. Break out from the pack, try something new, challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do.
Patty: So you’re involved in Women in Technology back in Austin. And then you’re also for anyone who doesn’t know, Meredith is the North America’s Women Experian lead ambassador for FYA20. So can you speak more about your involvement in these things, and why it’s important to you to be involved in extracurricular things apart from your day-to-day job?
Merideth Wilson: I think so, it brings a fresh new perspective sometimes within the Experian Four Walls, we can hear what we want to hear, or see what we want to do, I find it really exciting and Austin specifically we have Google, we have Apple, there’s a lot of great companies that are there now, small and big startups, and I think it’s important to get out there, there’s a technology lab, incubation group that is very alive and well. And that is sometimes all too often I lead a business as usual type business process where we’ve had products in the market for well over 15 years, to get with those innovators and market the millennials right as I call them today. They’re really starting up with some new ideas. It’s really important to hear different perspectives.
Merideth Wilson: And to see that and sometimes you have to step out to do that. So I think whether it’s an awesome technology, women in technology, whatever it is, there’s so many opportunities and most of our local markets to do that, that I do force myself. I can think of the times I’ve driven home from work and saying, “I don’t want to go straight to go Downtown Austin where they go home.” You’ve got to force yourself to get out there every one’s in a while, because you learn.
Merideth Wilson: But it’s an intentional step to make sure you make that time. And I think that is one of those important things, is also as women in Experian. I wanted to raise my hand because I wanted to learn from others. There’s only so much I can do for a North American perspective. I’m trying to put together webinars, I’m trying to put together podcasts. I’m partnering with several women leaders that I’m going to do some broadcasts with. But the reality is my partners in the offices are what’s driving the local community events.
Merideth Wilson: So everyone, whether you’re in Schomburg, or Clearwater, or Indianapolis, or Sacramento, we’ve got great offices around the country, but I’m relying upon my site leaders to make sure they’re doing those community outreach and outward that we can do together to make an impact on the community on behalf of Experian. So I think it’s intentional, you’ve got to get out there, but you can’t learn, in my opinion, by sitting in your desk. Product managers know this. You have to be market-facing, market-knowledgeable. How can you do that without being in that market?
Merideth Wilson: So it’s also a great way for me to network personally. When I put myself out there, I find great candidates who may not [crosstalk 00:13:13], but I get an import into Experian. I also find opportunities to learn from others because they’re way people, and have done way greater things than I’ve ever aspired to do. And I can look and see what they’re doing, whether it’s technology related, community outreach type events. We’ve got a lot of nonprofit work that happens in the communities that I live in, and it’s really inspiring to see all that.
Patty: The following is from our interview with Beth Wheat, VP of Global IT Transformation and Engagement. Beth is the EITS ambassador for Women in Experian.
Beth Wheat: Here it’s just so different because there’s usually a lot of great organic reasons to connect with people, because of the way we interact. And then the work that’s been done to create our ERGs, and our networks, and where we’re being encouraged to branch out even more, and learn about people’s backgrounds and cultures, and that’s phenomenal to me. It just adds a whole other layer to the way we network. That’s again, so human and I think really plays into our diversity and inclusion agenda.
Patty: Great. So because you mentioned our ERGs and DNI, I just wanted to tell you, reading your bio I was so excited. Because your prior experience, you worked with a nonprofit that dealt with diversity, poverty and anti-bullying.
Beth Wheat: Yes.
Patty: And then you got a certificate, or a teaching credential for multicultural education and communication, and now you’re an ambassador for Women in Experian.
Beth Wheat: Yes.
Patty: So you not only talk the talk, you walk the walk.
Ann Miura-Ko: You won a fan, which is a big deal …
Beth Wheat: That’s good.
Mike: … for Patty.
Beth Wheat: Oh, yeah.
Patty: Great DNI fan. I’d like to know more on why you’re so invested on being an advocate? It’s very prominent throughout your resume that this is really meaningful to you, and how that advocacy benefited your professional career?
Beth Wheat: I think some of that was in part how I was raised, because I just happened to have parents who were very much invested in civil rights, they came from that era. They were very much on that side of things. Our household was always filled with a lot of diverse people. And I remember my mom telling me, “Always defend the underdog,” and then when I went off to school, I was always defending the underdog.
Mike: I love that philosophy.
Beth Wheat: Yeah, I do too.
Beth Wheat: That was a big influence. And then when my children went to school I saw bullying firsthand, because I volunteered in their classrooms and things like that. And it was so shocking to me really. And it brought back memories from when I was in school and I had to defend the underdogs from the bullies. So that’s the theme.
Beth Wheat: And then the work that I did with the Lighthouse Project, which I just love to this day, was to try to get to the root of that, and give children tools to basically have empathy for, and help bullies not be bullies. And while at the same time standing up for themselves.
Beth Wheat: And I think that still we didn’t solve the problem, but we did make some improvements, and we drove some community awareness. So that’s really where the inspiration came from, I think. And then of course as, when you bring that into the corporations, it’s not certainly in a place like Experian, it’s not at all a matter of having underdogs or bullies, but people who are not heard as much as they could be. And that’s why I love our DNI programming.
Patty: I love that because you’re teaching children not only to be a good leader, or to value diversity, or kind of just teaching them to be a good human.
Beth Wheat: Yes, exactly.
Patty: Yeah. And we need that in our leadership.
Beth Wheat: Yeah. Yes. And it isn’t any different here, but it’s just at a different scale. Right?
Patty: Right. Can you tell us more about your WeForWe campaign?
Beth Wheat: Sure. So this was an idea that was formed collaboratively with the women in EITS who I pulled together on a regular basis, which are kind of like the local ambassadors for Women in Experian in the EITS. And I stepped into the ambassador role, I think it’s been about a year now. And the first thing we started talking about was the fact that, to only bring women into the group is in a way the opposite of inclusion.
Beth Wheat: So we wanted to get more men involved in the conversation, and we wanted to leverage the great work that’s been done with the networks in ERGs with other population as well. And so the dialogue was around how do we do that, and not make it be like cheesy networking, “Here’s my business card.”
Beth Wheat: We now can identify people who have identified themselves as being either allies, or affiliates, or belongers to these groups. So now we can find people that may have had a walk of life, or an experience, or a lifestyle that’s very different from our own, and we know where they are, and we can sit down and have a conversation. So the, WeForWe is on the back of a UN United nations program called He for She.
Beth Wheat: Which was men pledging their support for women. And we said, well, we want to pledge our support. We want men and women to support each other. Yes, exactly. So let’s make it completely non-binary. And the goal of WeForWe, which anybody can participate in, and we would love it, is for people to, you take your selfie with the hashtag and put your picture on the team site, but then you go have a conversation with someone from one of the networks, or ERGs that you don’t already know, or even if you do already know them, you say, why are you part, what inspired you to be part of the Nama Stay Group or whatever it is, and what’s one thing you would like us to know about that group? And then what’s one thing I could do to support you or that group? And we’ve had some panel discussions with people on some webinars that I’ve run already, and we’ve had some really heartfelt conversations that have been very impactful.
Beth Wheat: And so that is really what was the inspiration for WeForWe. And we have a webinar coming up with Barry next week to further talk about that, and we’ll have some other panelists. And so we hope that people join the movement. It’s all kind of designed to lead up to International Women’s Week.
Beth Wheat: Which is coming up in early March, but it’s something that we hope will continue. There was a conversation that was really meaningful in one of the sessions that I held in the UK, and afterward I received an email from someone who said, “I never talk about work at home, and today I went home and I talked to my family about what I learned in that session.” So that alone to me, if there was one conversation that was that compelling made it work.
Patty: Its impact. Yeah.
Beth Wheat: Yeah.
Patty: First of all, amazing campaign. I’m really excited for that to happen, and we hope to support you however we can.
Beth Wheat: Good. This is now bright. Yeah.
Mike: That’s right.
Patty: So I love the questions though. What inspires you? How can I help you? What do you want me to know about the culture and what not? So as a woman in tech, if you are talking to a man, how can he support you?
Beth Wheat: Oh, we have this conversation. And so that’s what’s great is we’ve had amazing men join our calls, and the support that we really look for, is just making sure that people are very open when they think about who to include in things. It’s easy to reach for the shelf that’s near you when you’re pulling together resources. And so asking people to take a step back and think more broadly, and not again, it’s all of us. It’s women. Yes. Because we have some work to do, especially in technology to even out our numbers and be more represented, but it’s really anyone that shows the potential, and the passion, and the desire that wouldn’t normally be your first choice. So we just ask to think outside the box. And the men in our organization are amazingly open to doing that, and they one person in particular had the idea that we should have internal apprenticeships, and that he would be willing to have that on his team for women or men.
Beth Wheat: But certainly for women who, especially for some of the super valuable technical skills that are hot in the market right now, let’s get more of our women trained up and exposure to those capabilities. So, that’s what we would ask. But honestly, just in asking them to come to the table, they have even more ideas than we would be able to ask them for. So just being there and participating and being aware.
Patty: No pressure if you can’t think of anything on the spot, but do you have an anecdote, maybe something that showed you true allyship during your career?
Beth Wheat: An anecdote from true allyship? Well, I can think of when I went to school for engineering classes there were usually, I would be either the only woman or there might be one or two other women, and it was usually the same ones. And so I remember being in classes where professors wouldn’t ask us to answer questions. If they bringing people into labs, they wouldn’t invite us, if we made a comment they didn’t even hear us. And this was a long time ago, I think things have gotten a lot better. But I would say I remember though, one of them was a really close friend and then this other woman we got to know, but we stood together. We also helped each other, we know with testing our code and making sure that, we were all being successful. So that’s being probably the closest business related anecdote that I could think of.
Beth Wheat: But having grown up with three sisters, I do tend to have had a lot of great sisterhood type experiences. I think that just the people that I’ve known have been great connectors, and that’s been really helpful. And then as I said, the sponsorship that I’ve had here from a lot of men at Experian in the time that I’ve been here these nine years, has been really helpful and appreciate it too.
Patty: How are you teaching leadership, and all these concepts of diversity and inclusion to your children?
Beth Wheat: Well, my children are big now.
Patty: Oh, are they?
Beth Wheat: I hope just by example, but I’ll tell you, they both work in service and they both serve underserved populations, and are doing amazing things. So, I mean, I think they’ve way exceeded my contributions, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
Patty: You did your job.
Beth Wheat: I’d like to think so. But it could have been luck.
Patty: As part of this special episode, we spoke to Lauren Gomez, VP of Human Resources for Experian, Spanish Latin America. She’s also the Latin American ambassador for Women in Experian.
Patty: So Lauren, you’re involved in our Employee Resource Group for Women in Experian. You’re one of our ambassadors. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in that, and what diversity and inclusion looks like in your region? Since I know that must be different than North America.
Lauren Gomez: Yes, absolutely different but it’s very important for us and by culture we have a huge challenge here. In terms of diversity, closure, and how to get hiring for career as a woman. So I am so proud because we are right now in Colombia, 50/50%.
Patty: Oh, wow.
Lauren Gomez: Women and men.
Lauren Gomez: Oh, yes.
Lauren Gomez: It’s true. So we honor that, and so proud because we achieved that, but we got to be pushing through that, it was like a reality and normal process for us, because it’s really important, we have those challenges in different cultures such as, Peru, or Mexico because it’s not normal, it’s more than traditional societies. Yes. In more a cultural situation in Experian, situations. So maybe difficult for us to hire or to find different talents, for an [NADDs 00:26:54] or technology, or finance or middle management level.
Lauren Gomez: So we are working on that, so being Women in Experian ambassador it’s really important because through my HR strategy I can be a really supportive for that. And so for me is totally important to be in Women in Experian it’s because of that. So high level of talent to find them a way to support us woman. We keep developing. There’s a race inside the Experian, and also to maintain and to develop it.
Patty: As the VP of Human Resources and you’re overseeing five different countries. How do you convince people that diversity and inclusion are important when you’re dealing with more traditional cultures?
Lauren Gomez: What may be easy to see is using me as an example. These I say, okay me, I VPM part of the head specialist committee for my region, so I have the highest level in the region. And I am woman. So I am VP since I was 34-years-old. So I really jumped for the level that I have. Also, I am responsible for my family. I am the head of my family at the same time since I was 27-years-old, and I am a case that I say, “Okay, I could do it. And we do that reality setting in Experian we can do, and this is really important for us as a company.” So I am recruiting, and when a candidate ask me about that, obviously in that moment it is easy for me to say, “Okay. I am example, that you can keep growing, because I am here.
Lauren Gomez: So, that there is this way with our employees is also through development, about to help us develop high performance team as they could do it. And I’m sort of that normal person. So if I can do it, you can do it. It is more about it, it might about how the inspirational, and an example for women, or to people.
Patty: What are some ways you would advise men to be allies to women?
Lauren Gomez: Yes, I spoke to them and I say, okay, Women in Experian, I want to study for…. or usually for a woman, but we need also man as part of this. How do you… how you are looking at us at the moment. What is it you as a manager, if you’re a man, you are a leader. Why is it important for you to have more women into the team, and I advise them, “Okay, if tomorrow all the women in your team disappears, how do you feel about it?”
Lauren Gomez: And when I say that is the scenario, they say, No. No. No. No. No. They are important because of that, that, that, that. And they say, “No. No. No. No. I cannot live without them.” Oh, okay. If you were to use that like an example to write equation, and they will realize, and think, yes. That’s why you can think of it if all the women in that company disappeared tomorrow.
Lauren Gomez: When they start to think about it, then I can give you that advice because you need to move feelings allow these, because if it is about diversity, or inclusion or women for equality and it is. No, for me, it’s only me seeing that part. No, I respect that kind of things. How would you feel about it? And in that moment to use that advice. Okay. Now that do that. Now that you realize that all the women in the company, and in your team are important, and why do you need it. Okay. Please we need to talk about it these diseases, or any situations that they have.
Patty: Yeah. You mentioned that you have an eight year old boy. Can you share with us a little bit about how you’re raising him to be a supporter of women?
Lauren Gomez: Yes. And I say, “Okay baby …” in any story I say, “Baby,” I told my story. Okay. Yes, yes, my baby, my yes, yes baby. Because he asked me, “Mom, what you are doing in your job?” And now I try to explain, “Okay baby your mom is helping people to do these to change their lives. I was advising people about this and this.” I mean I try to explain my role is more about why these role is important for me, and how this roles or my job, I am changing people life and then I say, okay, you will be a man and maybe you will be the leader of a woman like me, or you can have a boss like me. So please take care of this, and take care of them. Please take care of this and talk to her.
Lauren Gomez: The way that you are equal because I think that you deserve the same opportunities that I had in my life. And at the same time it’s time to say that why is important to take care of women are wrong obviously, but at the same time to say, okay, but remember that you’re a man, but we’ll have the same opportunities. And to keep growing in your life and in your career. It’s also the bending of the career that you have. No. It’s also the way that you act basically like, your attitude and how you are as a human being. For me, my piece is more about your bias and we’re elites. I think that at the end of the discussion, of any discussions we are human being.
Lauren Gomez: Not only the gender, or the… yes. You are human beings. We have needs, and we have a life, and we have feelings at the end.
Patty: Do you have any advice for women who are struggling to maybe break through their own ceilings, and move up in their careers?
Lauren Gomez: Yes. We need to have a growing mindset, and don’t create our own barriers. No space. Don’t create our own challenges. There are enough challenges in the world. No. Please, don’t create the same. We are the same, we have the same opportunities, we have the same excuse, the same capabilities, and we need to face the life, or the challenges, or any situations, as you want. Sometimes we need to be soft. Yes, we are human, and we have feelings, and we have our insights, of course, but sometimes it’s normal, and it’s positive to be tough, or to say the truth, or to say how you’re seeing? So I think that it depends about ourselves.
Lauren Gomez: So my advice is don’t create any more challenges than we already have. We have the same challenges that man, the only difference is that a lot of men doesn’t express the same challenges of their feelings, but there is another option for this story. They don’t accept it, or they don’t demonstrate it.
Lauren Gomez: But are very sorry. But at the end we have to say the situation from the feeling, or motivations in our life.
Patty: This next clip is from Dev Dhiman, Managing Director of Experian Southeast Asia and Emerging Markets. Dev is also the Asian Pacific ambassador for Women in Experian.
Mike: What’s been the reaction from employees as they’ve seen these different events happen?
Dev Dhiman: Yeah, so again, we’ve really worked hard with the communications team in the market to really amplify some of the efforts that we’ve been doing both internally and externally. I think we’ve made a great amount of progress. As I said in the last 18 months in the best measure of that really has been some of the sentiment that’s been coming through our surveys. So we were absolutely delighted to see that in a pulse survey that took in December 89%, of our employees agreed that experience committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. 87% of our employees agreed their immediate managers value diversity, and a lot of that has been driven off the back of some of the things that I mentioned around Super Heroes League that we established 18 months ago. And those measures have gone up significantly by around 8, or 9 percentage points in actually a fairly short space of time that we’ve been focusing on them.
Dev Dhiman: So the feedback from employees has been really positive, and we’ve also seen a real spike in engagement overall for the business. And I think while he can’t specifically say that’s been down to diversity and inclusion, obviously that plays a role in increasing that engaged workforce.
Mike: That’s great. What are some of the different themes or topics that are emerging as you’re holding these events and chatting with the different men and women leaders that are hosting them?
Dev Dhiman: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think when we started this out 18 months ago, the aim of our Super Heroes Initiative to amplify diversity and inclusion, was really to create a common language. So in Asia Pacific as I said, we’re scaffold across five, what we call markets within those markets or countries. We actually operate in over 14 countries, physically present. And each of those countries obviously has a very different perspective on what diversity and inclusion looks like.
Dev Dhiman: So when we started out on this, it was really, let’s create some commonality in the business that’s bring people together in a common way. And the best way we can think about at the time of doing that was to celebrate culturally rather than event. So that ranges from something like Diwali, which is celebrated in India, which we don’t celebrate in here. All of our offices in a very common way.
Dev Dhiman: And also looked at other kind of cultural festivals like Obon in Japan, which is a festival that celebrates your ancestors. That was the justice of this. But actually to your point, we’ve seen a huge amount of progress in the last probably six or eight months about just moving away from cultural diversity, and actually raising a lot of awareness around topics like mental health, as well as obviously gender inclusion, which in some markets it’s still less talked about than in others. So, you look at a market like Australia where mental health is very much top of mind, and then you look at a market like say Japan, where it’s less or more to do, and less talked about. But what we’ve seen from our employees, which has been really encouraging for me, is a willingness to tackle topics more than just let celebrate culture events, or that we’ve hosted panels around mental health.
Dev Dhiman: So things like prostate and testicular cancer, where we’ve had cancer survivors come and talk to our employees about making sure you’re getting tested, the common pitfalls that we as men go through to not take care of ourselves. And we’ve also had panels around mental health. So, the whole piece around it’s okay to not be okay. We started raising November with business and obviously there’s a huge aspect of that which is also around mental health. Why men actually find it less easy to talk about that sometimes than our female colleagues. And just that willingness from our people to take on broader and maybe more spiky topics in Asia Pacific is, has really given me confidence that we’re on the right track. And we’ve already been having some more in depth conversations about things than we otherwise I think would have if we hadn’t kicked off this program 18 months ago.
Mike: I love that you’re just very aware and very sensitive to the different cultural differences, and I’m just curious about what you’re doing to keep aware and to stay sensitive as you’re overseeing all these different programs in the 14 different countries.
Dev Dhiman: Yeah, it’s with a lot of teamwork. So I think that’s why we were so keen to get representatives from in regions to sit on the panels of the Super Hero League, to make sure that we are staying true to what’s relevant and actually acceptable in some markets, because we are leaving just as the economy is a very different in these markets. So the kind of cultural taboos and the other social willingness to talk about some of these topics. So we take onboard heavily feedback from markets around what is okay to talk about. We don’t try and paint everybody with the same brush. We do things at a common level, but underneath that we allow for local flavors. It’s definitely been a huge learning for me in this region.
Dev Dhiman: So I’ve been with Experian for 12 years, came out to Asia four years ago, and really learned almost the accelerated MBA on cultural diversity and cultural differences, and learn, but actually in Asia, cultural diversity is not a nice to have it. It’s a must have. You know, 60% of my workforce in Southeast Asia are female. We’ve got a huge percentage of millennials within the business. We have 26 countries within just the business that I look after in Southeast Asia. So we have colleagues from South Africa, from Mexico, from Portugal, from Japan, all sitting under one roof.
Dev Dhiman: And so it’s been an accelerated learning curve is how I describe it. But really the best way to make sure that we’re staying truthful to the different cultures, nationalities, and perspectives, is to keep listening to what people are sharing with us, and making sure we tailor our curriculum around that.
Mike: It’s amazing. What I’m curious about your advice for leaders in nether regions who are just getting involved with diversity inclusion programs like the ones you’re leading, and they want to avoid like common mistakes or pitfalls. I was wondering if maybe you can share, maybe some things or lessons you’ve learned along the way to help you improve the content, in these different events that you’re hosting.
Dev Dhiman: Yeah, I think from my perspective in terms of learning, obviously I had a pretty natural canvas to learn here in Asia and in Singapore in particular, which is a melting pot of cultures. But really what I continued to come back to was not really the literature, but really just the, how it felt for me in my emotion to the business, and the different types of people I work with. The different perspectives they bought, and tried to see the impact that had on the outcome. So myself being a British born originally from India, plea fitting into the Gen X in terms of my age, having a grounding in diversity just as we all have, right? We all come from different backgrounds, we all have different upbringings, and we all have different educations, we all have different nationalities, other people around us.
Dev Dhiman: And so just looking at diversity one level below just male, female was really what drove my interest. I have learned an enormous amount in the last 18 months by getting involved in this, actually it has been some of the richest learning I’ve had. More so than probably learning about our products and our services, has been really thinking about what makes people tick. We hear a lot within some of the high performance coaching that we have in the business around team composition. I think one of the biggest learnings for me was taking that team composition that Andy Mikal talks about, aligning it with diversity to take it to another level.
Dev Dhiman: So when you’re looking at team composition, making sure you have representation. And again, it’s not just gender, it’s not just age, it’s not just race, it’s not just nationalities, it’s not just sexual orientation. It’s even your upbringing, and your education, and your interests and just making sure that you have a good fit for the business that you’re representing.
Patty: I just love what you just said there right away. That was so good. Oh my gosh, that was excellent. Have you encountered any opposition along your way?
Dev Dhiman: I would say there has been opposition, of course. I think I paints a picture that we’ve made a huge amount of progress in APAC, and that’s true. There are still folks out there that I think don’t necessarily understand how much the emerging millennials, let’s call them, think of this as a massive deal. I think we’ve done a huge amount of work to educate those people, and show them that this does have an impact both on performance and engagement. And I think I would like to think anyway, we brought a lot of them on the way. It is a full on program and so we also hear sometimes around competing priorities for resources, but as an Asia Pacific leadership team, we have a team code, and at right at the top of that team goes, are people really, really matter, and therefore diversity and inclusion, in particular Asia Pacific is not an option. It’s something we will believe in around the leadership team table, and therefore that spreads down the organization pretty effectively.
Mike: What advice would you give male employees who want to get involved, who want to be… who want to do their part in raising up women?
Dev Dhiman: I think very simply the advice is get involved. Right? So I think what I’ve found by being involved in this program is, I love giving my ideas and my suggestions. I haven’t been told ever. You know what, you’re a man. I’m really welcomed into the fold by the team. The team have actually been really, really interested in my perspectives, which is humbling and unlinked for me. And a very rare occasion that people are interested in what I have to say. So I would actually say that men at this stage where we’re at in the lifecycle have a disproportionate impact on the program, and can actually really get more from it from a personal perspective.
Dev Dhiman: So I said earlier, this has been one of the most richest learning opportunities that I’ve had in the 12 years I’ve been in the business. And I think if I was my boat to any guy out there who’s got an interest in this, or wants to have an interest in it, or wants to find out more, is really getting involved, I don’t think you will regret that. It’s such a rewarding experience to drive business, right? I mean, at the end of the day, this is not diversity for diversity’s sake. All of the literature points to a diverse workforce, being more innovative, being more productive, and being more progressive and engage. So at the end of the day, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s for all of us and we really need to all be on board of this. We can’t just have 50% of the team on this, we have to be 100% aligned behind this is an initiative for our business.
Patty: This snippet is from Robert Boxberger President of Experian Data Analytics and Active Women in Experian member and ally. You mentioned that you have three kids and the first time I saw you was actually at the women in Experian leadership summit when you talked about the all male panel about [crosstalk 00:46:51].
Robert Boxberger: Which is a nerve-wracking thing.
Patty: I must admit.
Robert Boxberger: You know what, it’s funny that that’s nerve-wracking when pitching startups and getting $100 million from Steve Bezos … That was easy. [crosstalk 00:47:02] No, yes, yeah. Being one of a middle aged dude standing up there with [crosstalk 00:47:13] women from Experian. But yeah, it was… I’m sorry, go ahead.
Patty: I loved your story about your daughter on the cheerleading team.
Robert Boxberger: Actually, yeah.
Patty: Yeah. So for Mike, since you weren’t there he was… actually, how about you explain your anecdote? Because it was about how she was on the cheerleading team and she wasn’t allowed to call it a sport and they weren’t funding it.
Robert Boxberger: They couldn’t go. Yeah. So, my son who’s now 21, he’s a senior at San Diego State, and my daughter who’s 19, she’s at Pepperdine. She’s actually in but it’s only for the next four months studying abroad.
Patty: Oh, very cool.
Robert Boxberger: Don’t get, I’ll start crying. And I have a 12-year-old guy too. But, my oldest son who is a captain in the football team of up North. We just moved to Laguna two months ago. And my daughter was Kathy Julie too. And the benefits that he got from football were numerous. I mean, it was free this and free that, from the Boosters, and really nice buses, and they’d have to pay for the uniforms. It was great, and my daughter and all of her teammates didn’t get that same privilege.
Robert Boxberger: And when we dug into it a little bit the County in Northern California did not recognize cheerleading as a sport. They categorize it as extracurricular hobby. And my daughter could kick my sons, but my six foot two linebacker sign up and down the field. So I mean, she took that as a challenge. So, she rallied her teammates, and she rallied the school board, and we supported her and we turned it around, and now it’s recognized as a sport as well as it should be. I mean, the athleticism with those girls is great. So, that was just something, it just drove it home to me that even in 2019, it still exists. That inequality-
Mike: Yeah. Yeah.
Robert Boxberger: So still really exist, and it’s up to us to do everything we can to change that.
Patty: I really love that story. And I think my question from that was obviously your daughter displayed immense leadership in rallying her team, and making sure leading an official sport. So I want to know more about how you’re displaying leadership with your kids, because they obviously are born leaders already.
Robert Boxberger: Well, thank you. They’re also offering him a brass, as much as they’re… as much as the earliest. I mean it’s my daughter’s, she’s pre-med and she’s in the Honors Program. And my son is a… and she’s… all my kids are bilingual. So that was something that we were sure that they.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Patty: English and?
Robert Boxberger: I’m English and German, and my wife is Irish, so we’re the most widest setting kick on a Sunblock, and from sixth grade, or from kindergarten through sixth grade, all of my kids were taught in Spanish entirely.
Mike: Oh wow.
Robert Boxberger: And I mean, it’s part of leadership thing, right? Is that we wanted them… we live in a great big world, right. And you can’t have tunnel vision on, so you’ve got to expand your horizon. So yeah. So, when they entered kindergarten, they were spoken to entirely in Spanish, no English whatsoever.
Mike: That is so cool.
Robert Boxberger: So she’s in [crosstalk 00:50:48]. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And my wife is a stay-at-home mom, and everything, we always do a creditor things 50, 50, and I think it’s about respect and just showing the kids by example how to respect people, and they’ve all seen me coaching, and so they see that, and they’ve seen videos of me on YouTube and stuff, a couple of commercials for recent, but it’s obviously it’s different when it’s your own, which when it’s your own kids. But I think we do a pretty good job with the kids, teaching them right from wrong, and teaching them to be confident. And I mean, it’s about confidence, and it’s about believing in yourself. I mean lot of… like.
Robert Boxberger: Leadership comes from strength of character, right? And that’s not always innate. That’s something that you really have to teach. And my son, sixth grade moved to Laguna two months ago. Right.
Mike: That’s big change.
Robert Boxberger: Big change. Right. And it’s a big, it’s a…
Mike: That could be very hard.
Robert Boxberger: It’s a big deal for him.
Robert Boxberger: But he knows that we all have his back, and at the end of the day, I’m like, “Listen, dude you play football, you surf.” He plays electric guitar like a champ.
Robert Boxberger: “I think you’re going to be okay.” Like, I don’t… you may have a day, an hour or two of discomfort, but dude I think you’re getting is a righteous little dude. So and I’m the same person here that I am at home. Like some people kind of turn it on and turn it off. I’m kind of the same. The same guy, but I mean, it’s confidence and it’s knowing that if you fail, you can pick yourself back up again. Like that is to me, that is the most freeing thing you could ever imagine. Knowing that it’s okay to fail, knowing that somebody has your back, knowing that you don’t always have to be 100%, that if you do stumble, you’re going to be okay. I mean, there’s a lot of folks that believe that they’re nervous. I go through life thinking, wow, if I fail, I’m going to be judged. Here’s what it is.
Robert Boxberger: Right? It is what it is. And if you can get past that. It’s probably one of the most liberating things there is.
Patty: Yeah. People are always going to think things of you might as well just do whatever you’re going to do.
Robert Boxberger: Yeah. No, I agree. I mean, I… yeah. It’s super liberating.
Patty: Let’s hear from David Proctor, President of Experian Partners Solutions and Active Women in Experian member and ally. So the first time I saw you was actually at the women in Experian leadership summit when you talked on the Amil Panel. That was a really good conversation and I remember you and Robert Boxberger were talking about how diversity is good business sense, and I feel like here at Experian, that’s just like common sense to us. It’s diversity. It’s just like in everything we do.
Patty: But I was scrolling through LinkedIn today and I saw this article that said NASA is going to be doing his first space project with an all female team. And all these comments are just like, “Why do we need to talk about all female like, we don’t need to bring attention to that, blah blah blah.” Like this is misogynist or whatever. I was just like, I feel like it’s important to us, but it still doesn’t make sense to some people. So I want to know what diversity looks like on your team, and what that looks like to you, and any advice you have for leaders who still kind of don’t understand why it’s important, and why it impacts business.
David Proctor: Yeah. I think diversity is important for a lot of reasons. And diversity if thought is first and foremost what I think about, is how do we bring people that have different perspectives, come from different backgrounds, both professionally, socially and how do we bring that diverse thought to how we want to run the business today and going forward? And so that’s one of the first things I’m thinking about, and that diversity has got to come through. It could be gender, it could be other forms of diversity. But that is a principle that as I’m forming a team, and over now, and then over time, and all of the different levels within the organization that I’m thinking about, because it… you can actually see the data, right? That it actually has an impact on business performance. And that was something we referenced, I think Greg referenced in the panel.
David Proctor: But I think in terms of comparing experience to the outside, and convincing others that diversity is good, that’s one of those things that is a continuous journey, right?
David Proctor: That we’re always going to be on as a culture, and as a society. And I think each person just needs to do their part, in my opinion, and promoting diversity, and whatever form that is, it could be in outside work, could be at work, just depends on how you want to put your energy behind it. But I think it’s important, and so we don’t always talk about it openly. It’s kind of like one Experian.
David Proctor: You don’t want to go into an initiative saying, “Hey, we’re going to do this one Experian thing and let me tell you how.” Right? It needs to now be more organic and it needs to be a baseline. Right? And so we don’t always sit, and my leadership team is around the table and say, ‘Okay, What can we do to be more diverse?”
David Proctor: Right? It’s expected.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
David Proctor: I expect it of my leaders and they expect it of me, and Todd expects it, Craig expects it of me. So it’s just how we roll.
Mike: How can we be ethical? It’s like no, that’s just part of who we are.
Mike: And we should be acting-
Patty: It’s part of my culture.
Mike: Yeah. Part of our culture.
David Proctor: Yeah. Not that it happens by itself, it takes diligence. You have to work it. Right?
David Proctor: Some parts of our society and some industries may not be as developed, or evolved as we are at Experian, and we have a lot of work to do at Experian. Don’t get me wrong. So I think just building it into your day-to-day, in your planning, and expecting it to be something you continuously improve, just like innovation, is a great starting point.
Patty: This next clip is from Dacy Yee, Chief Customer Officer at Experian Consumer Services and ECS ambassador for Women in Experian.
Patty: But one thing I did want to ask is that you were involved in children’s advocacy in Women’s Law in law school, and you volunteered for the domestic clinic. And I feel like you translated that well into your leadership today, because you’re heavily involved in Women in Experian and the Asian American ERG.
Patty: So, I want to know how you supplement that to your leadership in your everyday job, and how that helps you and why it’s so important to you.
Dacy Yee: Early on in my career I was, again, very goal-oriented, go, go, go, and the goals that I shaped were all around what I thought success looked like for, I don’t know, something in my mind that I thought success was as you … It always was go after the next promotion, or just go after the next visible accomplishment, and that way that’s hey that seems to make sense in that path.
Dacy Yee: And what I have found is that you definitely have to look for what fills your cup and what is satisfying to you, and those things are really, really important to me. Again, the whole idea of bringing your whole self to work, that’s a part of me. I identify with being an Asian American female going through her career path here. I also identify with some other things.
Dacy Yee: I’m a mother that wants to balance raising my family with having a really, hopefully, successful career in which I’m really proud of. And so that’s a part of me. And so those activities … I’m lucky enough to work in a place in which those activities and opportunities are there for me to be a part of. And I love them. They’re really, really fun part of my day-to-day. And I hope that it has an impact on others.
Dacy Yee: I really like mentoring people. That’s a part of what drives me. And so that’s a big part of my time here, and I make time for it. And it’s part of my experience and I think that it’s a big part of it. So it’s not just the numbers that I drive, or the outcome and performance that my teams can get to get us to operationally. I look at this as part of my whole experience here.
Patty: This is from Hiq Lee, President of Experian Business Information Solutions and BIS ambassador for Women in Experian. Just going off of that, it sounds like you were working at a time when there wasn’t a lot of female leadership, and it was a lot of meal colleagues. How did it feel being maybe like one of the only woman of color who had a seat at the table? And how did you kind of build up your voice, and have the courage to speak your mind?
Hiq Lee: You know, it’s interesting, I’m being transparent, I recognize that, that is the case because it’s obvious. We all can look around and say, “Okay, this, I’m a minority literally and figuratively.” But I never felt treated like that, at least here at Experian.
Hiq Lee: And most of my significant leadership roles have been here at this company. And I have to say, you have to just be genuine and know that your voice is going to be heard, and you have to bring forward great ideas. And there’s a saying that a lot of women are taught is, “Don’t wait until like seven men talk, but maybe be the first or the second,” because typically what happens is when you are the first to talk, you then become more comfortable in that setting to what you’re going to actually offer up more ideas.
Hiq Lee: And I think the biggest challenge that I see in this type of situation is you don’t know if your idea’s going to be better than others. Right? And I don’t know why people sell themselves short on that, but you going to believe in the ideas that you have and what you’re representing. And now I feel like it’s those differences in ideas that actually make a really great leadership team, right?
Hiq Lee: So when you’re sitting altogether, so you do have to be authentic, and I don’t try any harder to be honest. In fact, if I don’t say anything in a meeting, it doesn’t bother me, because part of you is like, you can’t try so hard either. And it becomes pretty obvious, right? You have to say things just to say things.
Mike: That’s right.
Patty: Yeah. How do you think we can all become better allies to one another regardless of race, orientation, gender, especially if you’re a leader.
Hiq Lee: I may have kind of maybe stated, but if you think about what an ally means, you have to actually ask the question, right?
Hiq Lee: So if you want me to be an ally to the, let’s say the Veterans and the Patriots, set of colleagues, like what does that mean and how can I help? And a lot of times it’s frankly, it’s just asking the question, taking the time to understand them, to understand what makes them unique. Because unless you have a deep understanding of, well, why it matters and what they care about, you can’t be an ally. You can’t be an ally without that empathy and that understanding. And that goes to anything, whether it’s an employee of yours or again, as we’re trying to connect different communities, is being able to truly understand what matters and what they care most deeply about.
Hiq Lee: And so I think you can be a better leader as a result, or an ally, or however you want to word it. When you have that better understanding.
Hiq Lee: And most people do not. Because you can’t say, well I’m going to be an ally to the Pride Network here at Experian, and you don’t know a single person.
Hiq Lee: Or you’ve never had a conversation about like what-
Hiq Lee: What matters and why do you not, or why do you feel inclusive? Like you have to have the conversation. So take the time to understand and I think that’s really important.
Patty: Those were just a few snippets about diversity and inclusion from our amazing leaders here at Experian. If you’d like to hear more from each leader, please revisit old episodes available wherever you consume your podcasts. To round off this episode, the next two clips are from a very special podcast interview conducted by Women in Experian themselves. In the next snippet you’ll hear Meredith Wilson interviewing Kendra Scott, CEO, designer, and philanthropist.
Merideth Wilson: You’ve always been about women empowering women. Why is female empowerment so important to you?
Kendra Scott: Because I’ve seen the power of it. I’ve seen what happens when women have one focused goal, and work together for that goal, and it is pretty spectacular and amazing. It is mind boggling to me right now that 95% of the Fortune 500 companies are run by men. And my goal is that we are going to see a shift in that over the next 10 to 15 years. And I think women really knowing that they have this incredible ability to lead, but that when they hold hands and join forces watch out. And I’ve seen it in action. I mean, over 95% of our workforce at Kendra Scott are women. And we love men that work at Kendra Scott, but we have a strong army of women that love and support each other, and root for one another and fight for each other in a great way. And when you have that, it is, you’re unstoppable.
Kendra Scott: And I think getting that message across and now more than ever, I think we’re seeing that women are realizing instead of tearing each other down, let’s lift each other up. And I think when you get that culture and that I always say I’m the principal of my high school, and there’s no bullying allowed at Kendra Scott, and I think it’s really important today, in companies and founders to support the women, and allow them to root for each other.
Merideth Wilson: You have three boys and a very supportive husband. What are some of the ways you incorporate gender balance in your life personally and professionally?
Kendra Scott: Well, I think as a mother of three boys, I think about this every single day. I’ve raised them to play fair to see women as equals, and they have a mother who is a leader. And I think, look up to me. But above all, I tell them all the time, have an open mind and an open heart, and be kind. And I think if we can raise our sons to grow up, to have those values, to respect women, to think of them as equals, I think this world is going to be a very different place in the future. And I have a lot of men around me that have lifted me up, that have been incredible mentors and I think there’s a lot of credit to be given to the men who do that. And my husband is one of those, I mean he is my biggest fan and he’s always rooting for me, and always cheering for me. But he’s also there for me on the days when things aren’t good to remind me to, “Okay babe, you got this.”
Kendra Scott: And sometimes we all need that in our lives. And so there’s a lot of credit. I had a great father, he taught me that and said, “Sweetheart, you can be anything in the world you want to believe be.” And he believed in me. And I think as father’s with daughters, making sure to look at them and give them those words, “You can grow up to be anything you want to be.” And then the sons raising them to say, “Support the women in your lives and help lift them up.” That’s going to be a pretty amazing thing if we can continue to have fathers and mothers like that.
Patty: Please enjoy this clip from Women in Experian Podcast interview with Ann Miura-Ko, co-founder of Venture Capital from Floodgate, and a repeat member of the Forbes Midas list.
Tanya Thomas: It’s a pretty well known fact that the tech industry can be a tough landscape for women. We talk a lot in the Women in Experian group about unconscious bias. So just curious if in your efforts around creating more diversity, or even in your own personal experience, have you encountered situations that you’ve felt, were sort of driven by unconscious bias and how have you navigated those situations?
Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So first of all, I’ve been shaped by my own experiences.
Tanya Thomas: Right.
Ann Miura-Ko: So I think that context is important. I majored in electrical engineering in a major where even in my class there was maybe one other woman-
Tanya Thomas: Yeah.
Ann Miura-Ko: In my class. And I remember there was a moment where I complained about this to my mother, and my mom to her credit just shot back at me, “Why is that even a concern, you’re not in your class to make friends?” She said, “Make friends in your dorm rooms, don’t make friends in your classes.” And I remember taking that to heart, thinking through what are the opportunities that I want to have for myself. Am I going to give up on something because I don’t see people around me that are like me.
Tanya Thomas: Yeah.
Ann Miura-Ko: Doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends either. And so one of my very best friends actually in college was one of my study mates from electrical engineering is a guy from North Dakota. He was a wrestler, Terry Malburg. We would have had absolutely nothing in common except for our core interest in electrical engineering. And I learned to work with someone who is completely different from me, and it was a really important lesson to me that, A, I could be friends with people with whom I barely had anything in common, and then B, that those relationships were actually really important to form. And that I didn’t need to look around me for those relationships in terms of they had to be a woman, they had to look a certain way. They had to act a certain way, they had to have certain interests. Because I could find those other needs elsewhere.
Ann Miura-Ko: To me, I had to also overcome my own biases in order to be able to participate. And then the second thing I would say is that I’ve probably encountered unconscious bias. I fought that with my own set of credentials. So I have a PhD from Stanford in cybersecurity and math modeling. If anyone ever thinks that I’m not technical enough, I have a degree to show that I am technical enough.
Ann Miura-Ko: I also believe that participating in the conversations is really critical. So one of the things that I had to fight against my own personal tendencies was the desire to sit back and watch the conversation unfold. And I was fortunately trained very early on in my professional career to participate in the meetings. And I was asked to say something in the first 10 minutes of any meeting that I was part of.
Ann Miura-Ko: I was coached to interrupt if I needed to. And I’m grateful for that advice, which came actually from men and women, because it gave me the ability to do so and realize that there wasn’t a huge consequence to pay. That I used to worry that people would see me as extraordinarily aggressive, that I worry that people would see my participation in negative light.
Ann Miura-Ko: And so far, at least for me, stylistically, I found a way in which I can do these things without it significantly impacting my professional capabilities. In fact, now I’m trying to tone all this down to some extent. I have to make sure that I’m not interrupting so that I have other people’s voices are able to be heard. And I love that I’m at that point in my career where I have to think about that angle, not just being a part of the dialogue.
Tanya Thomas: Yeah, absolutely.
Patty: If you’d like to listen to our full Women in Experian podcast episodes featuring Kendra Scott and Ann Miura-Ko, we’ve linked the interviews down below for you.
Patty: We hope you enjoyed this special episode of Level Up and that you’re inspired, male or female, to advocate for diversity of gender, race, sexual orientation, and more in the workplace. Happy International Women’s Day. Until next time.