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Connecting Leadership & DEI

PERKS Editorial Team

PERKS Editorial Team

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June 1, 2022

The Building Culture Podcast - Episode 5.7

Jeremy Chou, Director of DEI at Marqeta - "Connecting Leadership & DEI"

We have some great news! PERKS will be at the SHRM 2022 Conference & Expo: Cause the Effect from June 12-15 in New Orleans. Our team hopes you can join us there - please register here and let us know if you’re going so we can give you a shout-out!


What is the connection between your HR and DEI initiatives? How should leaders measure these programs? Jeremy Chou is the Director of DEI at Marqeta and he shares key examples and advice for doing DEI well.

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Show notes:
  • Jeremy Chou is the Director of DEI at Marqeta.
  • What is your goal as a DEI leader? What outcomes are you hoping to drive and how do you build that?
    • Challenges at each company are different and require unique goals and programs.
      • Jeremy helped scale the DEI team over his 8 years at Google
      • Discovery phase: diagnosing the needs of the culture
        • How is the health of ERGs, what programs were previously in place
        • You can't always copy and paste from the playbook you used before
    • Formulate strategy thereafter
  • From our whitepaper, 5 Measures of Company Culture: Venn diagram with DEI at the center.
    • Without DEI, you cannot do the other 4 measures well.
    • Comments?
      • Representation: increasing diversity of thought, representation in a company
      • Consistency: equity - ensuring voices are heard, policies and practices carried out
      • Psychological safety: inclusion, belonging, building a truly positive culture
    • Trent University diagram
    • How do you achieve belonging? It seems like when you overlap only equity and inclusion or diversity and inclusion, you won't necessarily have belonging.
      • Intersection is critical
      • Illustrates what happens when you focus only on one or two of these areas
  • How do we gather team feedback about the success of our DEI initiatives? In other words, how do we know they’re working?
    • Understanding what measurement you will use is as important as the program itself
    • "What gets measured gets fixed"
      • Often, the strategy comes first, but it needs to be reversed
      • What are 2-3 things we really care about as a company? 
    • How that information is reported must involve the leaders 
    • The discovery process is ongoing - not one-time only
      • Feedback loop
      • e.g. Marqeta releasing quarterly data internally
        • Leaders and teams have fireside chats about what to add, remove
      • Similar to using only an annual engagement survey vs. regular pulse surveys
  • We consistently hear about how DEI is done wrong. What is a specific situation or share any positive stories or case studies you were a part of?
    • From Jeremy's experience at Google, creating clarity around what the goals are, where the numbers came from, guiding philosophy, accountability
      • It's a journey from establishing company goals and having individuals understand and speak to those goals
      • Each person has a role in building culture
  • What’s the relationship between your HR, People Ops, People & Culture department and diversity person/people?
    • Every manager and leader in HR must be able to articulate the vision the same way as the DEI leader can
      • This is difficult and sometimes uncomfortable - psychological safety is needed to allow for growth
  • Tying DEI back to this season’s theme of Leadership & Admin: DEI is a shared responsibility between the organization, but how can leaders and admins contribute to a healthy DEI culture?
    • Leaders/admins can talk about both their individual experience and also the company's
      • Building comfort with the language and shared vision
      • Making it human and personal and helping others share that
    • There are many discussions within the industry about employee resource groups (ERGs). What are ERGs or diversity resource groups (DRGs) and what is their purpose? How do they serve an org’s DEI purposes?
      • DEI leader can paint the vision, but the ERGs and DRGs that drive it forward. 
      • Funded - not only budget, but having a seat at the table. Are their opinions and voices driving policies?
      • ERGs created often in silos (natural in bringing like people together), but how do these groups lean on each other? How do they support one another when something happens externally?
        • e.g. George Floyd, Roe v. Wade
        • community empowering one another
      • How do we compensate ERG leaders? How do you quantify the value of their contributions? 
        • Interesting incentive - is it the right incentive? recognition and reward? What is the right, fair, and inclusive incentive for people taking on this work?
          • If we get this wrong, risk of hurting the group
          • Taking on work they aren't truly passionate about
        • Or it can hurt someone's day job
        • Look at your culture, burnout rate, productivity, participation in non-work activities
  • Great Resignation/future of work: Many people have expressed their preference to work from anywhere - even over getting a raise. How does remote work affect an organization’s DEI initiatives?
    • Supporting remote-based work may be the biggest policy any company considers
      • micro-level: allows you to attract underrepresented talent
      • macro-level: talent market is fundamentally changing.
        • How do you engage with talent? Build programs at local schools and universities? Social media and marketing to further your brand? 
  • What is some useful information or first steps for small- and medium-sized business owners who don’t necessarily have a DEI or HR role in place?
    • Upward feedback for managers and leaders is often looked over
      • Leaders may share in the same vision and possibly the same background (and unconscious bias)
        • recurring feedback in a safe, maybe anonymized method to identify trends
  • PERKS is located in Los Angeles and it’s just like many other companies who are more vocal about DEI initiatives. Would you say that DEI is more apparent and focus-driven for organizations exposed to multicultural settings? vs. a business in a rural setting: What does DEI look like there?
    • Starts with how you define those terms - what does DEI mean for your organization?
    • Places like LA, Bay area may have a better opportunity naturally, but it comes down to are leaders intentional and willing to put in the work?
      • The resources, training are all there if there is a will
      • Diversity can refer to age, thought, etc.
  • What DEI initiatives do all leaders need to pay attention to in the long term? 
    • Future of work
      • Remote work leveled the playing field for many groups
      • Will in-office bring back microaggressions and unconscious bias?
        • proximity bias/in-office culture may create disparity for internal mobility or promotion
    • Pay transparency
      • What strategy around level of transparency both internally and externally?
      • How does that impact companies in different locations?
  • Where do we follow what you’re doing at Marqeta?
    • Working with marketing team to build out websites and social media presence
  • Closing thoughts?
    • Give yourself grace and be patient. This work is challenging, difficult, there are times you can feel like you're taking one step forward and two back. It's some of the most important work in front of us.