Although software company Cloudera was thinking about DE&I when Saqi Mehta joined the company as the Global Director of Diversity Recruiting in 2019, it was not necessarily given the attention it needed. There were employee resource groups already in place, however, Saqi made a concerted effort to connect with the different communities in the company as soon as she stepped into her role.
“That was one of my first priorities when I started—just building relationships and trust with different communities,” Saqi told Canvas's Chief People Officer, Tariq Meyers, in the second episode of the Untapped podcast. “I found those partnerships to be really valuable, but there wasn’t necessarily a unified vision and everyone was kind of operating a bit in silos.”
Then George Floyd was killed last year and everything changed—both inside and outside of Cloudera.
“Our CEO, Rob Bearden, had a very impassioned conversation with us Clouderans internally and said, ‘My family and I started to have very in-depth conversations around what we need to do as myself, as our family, and then as Cloudera as a company, and how we really need to commit and do more and do better as it relates to diversity and inclusion efforts,’” Saqi explained. “He published a pretty in-depth blog that had a lot of actions he was committed to taking—committing to doing more, doing better, and educating himself and the rest of our executive staff and team.”
To work on this commitment of doing more toward D&I in the company, Cloudera took the following steps:
1. Forming an Equality Committee (EQ)
This is a group of about ten people in high-level positions in the company who are primarily minorities or women. The members of the EQ are responsible for advising the company’s CEO, as well as the rest of the organization, on the DE&I actions Cloudera should be taking.
2. Appointing a Chief Diversity Officer and building a D&I team
“We appointed Sarah Shin—who was our former L&OE lead—to be our CDO, and she’s amazing. But we needed an entire organization dedicated to D&I efforts,” said Saqi. “So Sarah was at the helm of that, but beyond that, we hired around ten people—some internally promoted, some from outside—for things like data insights for diversity data, L&OE folks for training, and program managers to really just help facilitate all of the initiatives we’re talking about.”
3. Building a Center of Excellence
Cloudera created a COE in order to pay it forward through educational opportunities. “We have partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Tennessee. We’ve made a sizable donation to them, but also we are about to bring high school students into a mini cohort so that we’re teaching them fundamentals around things like resumes and networking and all career one-on-one basically,” said Saqi. “And we’re now currently talking about the result of that, of giving them internships at the company because having on your resume an internship at Cloudera would be really powerful.”
Learn more about Cloudera and our guest:
Cloudera is a software company that empowers people to transform complex data into clear and actionable insights. In addition to being committed to delivering high-quality results to its customers, the company is also dedicated to equality and representation on all levels.
Currently, Saqi is the Global Director of Diversity Recruiting at Cloudera. She’s passionate about uplifting intersectionality & communities. She’s a storyteller & writer at HuffPo. Ex Square & Disney with 15+ years experience within D&I, startups, media, and higher education. Saqi is a dedicated mentor to women looking to launch careers in tech or those looking to make a career transition.
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