January 9, 2023

How Ceridian is helping emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds thrive

The first class of Ceridian's Achieving Corporate Equity program officially graduated. Here's what they have to say about their experience in the ACE program.

Ceridian’s Achieving Corporate Equity (ACE) program is one of our newest efforts to work toward our organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. ACE participants dedicated an average of six hours per week during the 16-week program focused on personal and professional development. After a successful program, we asked the 10 participants about various aspects of their journey. Here’s what they had to say.

Why does representation matter to you in the workplace personally and professionally?

DiAndre Atwater (Customer Relationship Executive): I have always been someone who has had role models in my life. Personally and as an athlete, seeing someone who looks like me in a position that I am striving to achieve has always been an extremely positive motivator. That concept is no different in the workplace, and I hope to be a motivating factor in this organization for those who come behind me.

Yvonne Graham (Senior Manager Learning & Leadership Development): When employees are not adequately represented, organizations run the risk of employees feeling alienated, afraid to be their authentic selves, and unhappy in their roles. That’s because they don’t see people like themselves in positions they respect and perhaps look up to. For a lot of underrepresented people, if they don’t see someone who looks like them in positions of power, authority, or positions that earn what they might consider a great salary, it does not feel tangible.

It’s important for today’s employees and the employees of the future to see a reflection of their community in their workplace. We all deserve to feel safe and seen and have access to the same opportunities afforded to others yet often denied to us, and representation is a huge part of that.

How did you grow personally and professionally during the 16-week ACE program?

Sharese Pierce-Boshers (Senior Incident & Problem Manager): As a new mom and a woman in technology, balancing career goals and personal goals can seem overwhelming, if not impossible. This program not only provided support but also, a community that understood my circumstances and could give me practical advice and skills to help navigate the special challenges that occur in this phase of life.

If I had to describe my ACE experience in three words, they would be: inspiring, challenging, and exciting.

–Tarmar Bhebhe (Principal Service Consultant)

What surprised you from your ACE program sessions or conversations?

Yvonne Graham: What was great about the ACE program and what surprised me was the true focus on self with the guidance of a licensed psychologist. Not only were we having sessions about negotiation and agility, but we had group and individual sessions where we focused on who we are as a person, which was great.

DiAndre Atwater: The reality is, you cannot always leave the challenges of life “at the door,” especially when you wear it on your skin and in the fiber of your being. Our personal self shows up to work, and it’s important that there is space for understanding that, which ACE sessions gave me.

Sharese Pierce-Boshers: I was most surprised – and appreciative – of how open my fellow colleagues were in sharing their stories. Many of our sessions opened with everyone sharing their wins and challenges. We spent time celebrating and supporting each other. From this, I learned the importance of having a community whom you can be your authentic self with.

I was most surprised that there were other individuals who had similar experiences to me as an underrepresented minority (URM)*in the workplace. It was extremely comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in my experience. I was able to form bonds (both within the cohort and through the mentor program) that I can lean on throughout the rest of my Ceridian tenure.

What was the number one thing you learned from taking part in the ACE program?

Sumin Want: Networking and maintaining relationships are critical to career growth.

How did participating in the ACE program impact you?

Kelly Doane (Principal Instructional Designer): Becoming an ACE graduate has been a highlight of my career. I learned so much valuable information that I’m excited to translate into helping other URMs advance, not only their careers, but in their sense of belonging here at Ceridian. In addition, upon graduating the program, I was immediately promoted into a manager role.

Yvonne Graham: Participating in the ACE program allowed me to build my network and connect with a hiring manager, leading to my second promotion in six months. In my new role, I will be able to advocate for and participate in the career advancement of other URMs.

DiAndre Atwater: Participating in the inaugural ACE program really helped me feel more grounded at Ceridian. To get to interact and collaborate with individuals who have had similar experiences as me (in the workplace and in life) really helped me feel more at home in this organization. The connections and conversations we had – both within the cohort and the mentor team – were truly invaluable, and I’m honored to have been included. Since participating in the ACE program, I have been promoted to Customer Relationship Executive IV, servicing Enterprise customers.

Jhenelle Tucker-Faust (Principal Service Consultant): Being a part of the ACE program helped me recognize my value and what I bring to the table. It inspired me to be more open and be my authentic self at work. In addition, I made great friends along the way and found a place where I belong.

Sumin Want: Being a part of the ACE program has been such a refreshing and authentic experience for me here at Ceridian. The program focuses on you as a whole person – from the inside out – as you share your successes and challenges throughout navigating your personal and professional life. I highly recommend this program for any URM looking to find a place of respite and growth amongst colleagues.

Hanspaul Saund (Senior Service Consultant): I’m proud and grateful to have participated in Ceridian’s inaugural ACE program. Under the tutelage of our VP of Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and special mentors, I learned important life lessons that allow me to bring my full, authentic self to work. The privilege of being a part of this 16-week program has given me access to new connections and friends, being selected to join Ceridian’s Emerging Leaders Program, and most recently, a promotion to Principal Consultant. I will pay it forward by using my voice as a URM to help foster a culture that is diverse, equitable, inclusive, and promotes a sense of belonging among our peers.

Yanice Boothe (Principal Service Consultant): Participating in the ACE program has been one of the most memorable experiences in my 12 years with Ceridian. It’s given me hope that we are moving in the right direction as an organization, and that our voices as URMs matter.

Tarmar Bhebhe: Since joining the ACE program, I have been promoted from a Service Consultant to a Principal Service Consultant, all the while using the skills and advice from my ACE peers. Having them as a sounding board for both professional and personal decisions has been priceless. I was also able to take full advantage of an experienced mentor with vast experience in the corporate space who advised me on how to best navigate it. I walked away from the program having built skills and lifelong connections with individuals who are invested in my continued success.

Toyin Odujebe (Systems Engineer): The ACE program was and still is life changing for me. I got to learn from mentors, peers, and special guests on various topics related to achieving corporate equity, and I can definitely say I have built amazing and strong relationships that I believe will last me a lifetime. I am already referring everyone to join the next cohort!

ACE cohorts in the future

We’re so excited to celebrate the first graduating class of the Achieving Corporate Equity program, and we’re already looking ahead to the future. Seeing the positive response to the program and the fact that 100% of ACE participants would highly recommend the program to peers, we’re hard at work preparing for two new cohorts in 2023.


* We define an underrepresented minority (URM) as a subset of a population that holds a smaller percentage within a significant subgroup than the subset holds in the general population.

Donnebra McClendon is the Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ceridian. She is an innovative thought leader and strategic business partner who focuses on cultivating consciously unbiased and intentionally inclusive leaders.

Donnebra McClendon

Donnebra McClendon is the Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ceridian. She is an innovative thought leader and strategic business partner who focuses on cultivating consciously unbiased and intentionally inclusive leaders.

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