In this insightful interview, Netta Jenkins sits down with Marcus East, a renowned Global Digital Technologist, to discuss the critical issues surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the corporate world. With over thirty years of experience in the tech industry, working with giants like IBM, Google, Apple, and T-Mobile, Marcus brings a wealth of knowledge and firsthand observations on the evolution of DEI initiatives. He highlights the challenges faced in implementing and sustaining these practices and delves into how Aerodei, a promising new tool, aims to democratize and integrate DEI efforts into everyday operations. This conversation sheds light on the uneven distribution of DEI responsibilities within organizations and explores the persistence of ineffective practices, offering insights on how to break these patterns for a more inclusive future. Marcus's expertise and Netta's probing questions make this a must-read for anyone interested in the future of DEI in the corporate sphere.
Netta Jenkins: Hello everybody, and welcome. Today, we're joined by a seasoned tech professional with over 30 years of experience working with major brands like IBM, Google, Apple, and T-Mobile. We're here to explore his insights on the evolving landscape of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the corporate world and his excitement about Aerodei's role in this space.
Netta Jenkins: Could you please share a bit about your background and your observations regarding the growing focus on DEI during your extensive career?
Marcus East: Certainly. I've had the privilege of working in the tech industry for over three decades, collaborating with some of the most prominent brands. Over the years, I've witnessed a significant shift toward prioritizing DEI initiatives within organizations.
Netta Jenkins: Given your experience leading large teams, what challenges have you observed when it comes to implementing and sustaining DEI practices in the corporate world?
Marcus East: One glaring challenge has been the lack of accessible tools to support the vision of DEI leaders. While the importance of integrating DEI metrics into operational goals is widely recognized, achieving this has proven elusive. Without the right tools, it's challenging for teams to seamlessly embed DEI considerations into their day-to-day operations.
Netta Jenkins: You mentioned that many organizations struggle to make DEI initiatives sustainable. Can you elaborate on why this is and how Aerodei addresses these challenges?
Marcus East: Absolutely. Data shows that many organizations find it difficult to make DEI initiatives enduring. Employees may engage with powerful DEI programs but struggle to sustain that engagement over time. It's crucial to integrate DEI practices into daily operations to avoid placing the entire responsibility on ERG members and HR teams supporting DEI efforts.
Netta Jenkins: Could you delve into the issue of uneven distribution of DEI efforts within organizations, where a small percentage of individuals end up carrying the majority of the workload?
Marcus East: Certainly. Despite sincere efforts, a common pattern is that only a small percentage of individuals, around 5% in some cases, end up shouldering the majority of DEI work. The challenge lies in enabling the remaining 95% to actively contribute and sustain their involvement. Aerodei's approach seems promising in addressing this imbalance.
Netta Jenkins: You've expressed excitement about what Aerodei can achieve. What specific features or capabilities of Aerodei do you find particularly promising in the context of Inclusion integration?
Marcus East: Aerodei's focus on democratizing Inclusion efforts is a game-changer. By providing tools to embed Inclusion metrics into day-to-day operations, it empowers all employees to actively contribute. This approach is instrumental in demonstrating the success of DEI initiatives at a program level and fostering a culture of inclusivity.
Netta Jenkins: Finally, you mentioned the persistence of ineffective practices in some organizations. Why do you think this is, and what are your thoughts on breaking this pattern?
Marcus East: It's a great question. I believe organizations may be stuck in ineffective practices due to a combination of factors—perhaps a resistance to change, a lack of awareness about alternative approaches, or a hesitance to invest in new solutions.
Netta Jenkins: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights today. We appreciate your time and expertise. Let's continue the conversation in the chat, and feel free to share your thoughts and questions.