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Being the Change—Two IT Diversity Champions Share Their Story

Women discussing at a meeting

Rod:  My name is Rod, and I am a Business Relationship Manager for Nestlé IT. My goal is to provide value to organizations while deploying my acquired skills of project management, leadership, and ability to foster positive client relationships with the potential for upward mobility within a solid organization.

Betsy:  My name is Betsy, and I am the Transformation Manger for Nestlé IT. I have been with Nestlé IT for 20 years in November 2021. I am primarily responsible for guiding our organization in the adoptions and functions of our new product driven operating model. I support the four pillars that make up our operating model: Business Relationship Management, Product Management, Funding & Governance, and Capability Building.


What does an inclusive workplace mean to you, and what are some ways Nestlé IT has supported you?

Rod: An inclusive workplace is a workplace that fosters diversity and supports people with all kinds of differences. Nestlé and its leadership team have supported me in this endeavor by making me feel comfortable and confident to be myself while being a strategic partner to the Nestlé business teams.


African American history is all around us, in what ways do you celebrate its history, and what does it mean to you?

Rod: I pay homage to black history by being the best representation of myself in my day-to-day endeavors to facilitate the IT needs of my internal and external Nestlé receivers. In some instances, I might be the first or only diverse engagement with a receiver. I elect to use each engagement opportunity to dispel biases and prejudices.

Betsy:  Black History, for me, is a time to echo communications delivered by our Diversity & Inclusion team, and to post celebrations on my own. It's a time that I can reflect and ask myself, ‘What am I doing to close the gap of inequity, and how am I taking action?'.


Employee Resource Groups (ERG) promote inclusion, which also creates a more welcoming environment where our teams can show up authentically each day. Why is it important to you to be involved in Employee Resource Groups?

Betsy:  As a gay woman, I know what it is like to hide or protect part of yourself at work because you weren't sure if you would be supported or shunned for who you are. I wouldn't want anyone to ever feel this way, and that's a large part of why I am a participant and proponent for our entire ERG community. When people can be their full self at work, they are more engaged, innovative, productive and satisfied, which sounds like a good thing to me.


2020 was a year of heavy racial injustice being brought to light. During our recent ITTakesCourage panel, you shared your views on being an anti-racist. Can you elaborate?

Betsy:  I was listening to a podcast with Ibram X. Kendi, and he was making a point that you are either racist or anti-racist, that you can't label yourself as "not racist." You are either on the side perpetuating racist ideas, language, or policies, or you are on the side that is working to change or enact new policies, to eradicate systemic racism and to raise your voice when confronted with racist comments or language. I realized, for myself, being inclusive and aware makes me nice, not anti-racist. If I'm truly going to be part of the solution, I need be intentional, vocal, and proactive. I need to create a safe space and speak up if I feel someone is being marginalized and better yet not allow that situation to materialize in the first place. I also need to ask people for feedback to see if I am on the right track.


Community Service is a part of many of us at IT NA, what ways do you choose to serve your community?

Rod: I serve my community by offering consultation and support to my fellow veterans in the form of resume writing and job opportunities searches. The transition to the civilian life can be challenging for newly separated veterans. I utilize my knowledge of various industries and markets to assist prior service military personnel in acclimating to civilian life and identifying a career-path in which they can leverage the experiences and education received while servicing in the military. Many skills such as project management, resource/people management, strategic alignment, and organizational governance are transferrable to roles within Corporate America. 

Betsy:  Volunteering in the community is part of who I am. For the past six years, I have volunteered with local advocacy and grassroots organizations to push for voter's rights and expanding voting within our communities. Additionally, I am a strong believer in fighting for social issues that provide a microphone to the voices of the unheard. I do this by supporting various initiatives at different levels of the political spectrum.


We all have individuals in our lives who have influenced us in some way, but who is someone who influences you to stand up for positive change?

Rod: I am influenced by the people that purchase Nestlé products. We are all consumers of Nestlé products in some form or another. The fact that we feed the world is the driver behind my motivation to bring value to Nestlé in the form of positive change.


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career at Nestlé IT, but also wants to be involved with an ERG/ becoming a Champion?

Rod: In my experience as a former ERG Champion, I would highlight the importance of seeing representation of yourself in key leadership positions within the organization.  ERG’s can work as a mechanism to boost the visibility of underrepresented groups among larger groups in a company.


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