eBay’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Damien Hooper-Campbell, took the stage at the first inaugural Move the Dial Global Summit to talk about diversity, and he didn’t promise a tidy solution wrapped up in a bow.
Hooper-Campbell, who in the past has held posts as the first Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Uber, and Diversity Business Partner and Community Strategist for Google’s Diversity, Integrity, and Governance Division, said that companies need to approach diversity differently. Specifically, start having more effective conversations by putting more emphasis on being human.
It sounds simple, but in reality, it’s a complex and uncomfortable approach that requires vulnerability and the ability to tackle sticky subjects with openness. “Places that are really going to keep it real are going to run towards courageous conversations,” he said.
Hooper-Campbell added that many companies think that hiring a diversity officer means they’re done and dusted, when in fact, that’s just the beginning and they’re only scratching the surface.
These surface-level solutions result in only surface-level conversations, and that’s what Hooper-Campbell wants us all to get past. So, he proposed three key questions that he said we should all continuously ask in the journey towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Understand why your CEO cares about diversity and inclusion, “not just because it’s a business imperative,” Hooper-Campbell pointed out. Have a candid conversation with your company leader, and give them the space to tell you that they do (or don’t) care – and then make it your mission to help them care.
“We do a lot of calling out,” Hooper-Campbell said, citing social media as a busy arena for verbal warfare, with groups and people calling out others for bias, or getting terminology wrong.
“We hold immense power to free and disarm people to have a human conversation,” he said. He then advised that the next time someone says something offensive, instead of calling them out, pause, assume they have good intentions, and call them in to a conversation to explore what happened. “If they were being racist or sexist, then pounce,” he added, “But take a second and treat each other like humans.”
Hooper-Campbell brought the conversation back to an idea from the beginning of his presentation, when he asked attendees to share who their personal convention-breakers are, and why. By this, he meant the people who have challenged the status quo, stood up for something they believed in even if it was an unpopular opinion, or who did things in a different way.
His point was that people shouldn’t wait for a “diversity officer” to be hired, or someone else to take action – they should do it themselves. “No one in this room – regardless of their background – has the luxury of being a convention-keeper. Be a breaker,” he said.