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From D&I Practitioner to Chief People Officer

Prior to Canvas:

In June of 2020, Steven Huang, an incredible thought leader in the DE&I space, was educating and coaching me on the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a white male CEO in tech, this was instrumental in my growth. Steven and I were discussing the company’s needs and our approach to creating a world that is more equitable when Steven said he needed to introduce us to a DE&I leader and friend at Coinbase. Enter Tariq Meyers. 

I remember my first conversation with Tariq as if it was yesterday. We spoke about our past, our hardships, and the future we imagined for the world. I felt a level of authenticity and comfort that I had never experienced before on a first call. We discussed our families, the recent traumas we had both gone through, and what diversity meant to each of us through our own individual lived experiences. There was a true connection from that brief conversation. Before I knew it, he had met with over 50% of our then small company. To no surprise, everyone was as excited as I was. 

We quickly started devising a role for Tariq. Through his DE&I experiences, he learned that recruiting as we know it isn’t a fair process. He wanted to take his learning from Lyft and Coinbase and build a platform that could change the future landscape of hiring—a platform that would hold everyone accountable for the countless promises of equity that had been continually marketed for decades with little to no change. 

In less than 2 weeks from our first conversation, Tariq joined Co-Founder, Adam Gefkovicz, myself, and the executive team at Canvas as our VP of Strategy. We were excited and optimistic, to say the least, but we had no idea the massive impact this person would make in the few short months to follow. Tariq’s initial role was highly ambiguous. He would partner closely with me to think through and execute against our mission of making the world more equitable by building the first collaborative talent network to create more opportunity for everyone. So it began. 

Life at Canvas:

I believe that how someone deals with their offer negotiation has a strong correlation to how they’ll be to work with. Tariq made this part of the process enjoyable & straightforward, and that’s exactly how he showed up to work every day. 

We spent time discussing the role and what the company needed in order to be successful. Before diving in and beginning to execute, Tariq took the time to ask Adam and me more about our vision, the problems we saw in executing that vision, and what had been holding us back as a company thus far. I quickly realized that Tariq really saw the bigger picture. More so, it wasn’t just about him, but about the company and his colleagues first. 

After completing his first 3 months as VP of Strategy, he identified a clear need for a VP of People & Talent. He immediately shifted his focus and began building out this side of the house as the interim lead. 

Through it all, I always saw Tariq continually ask a simple question. How can I use my unique strengths and weaknesses to help the business most? 

With respect and admiration, Adam and I watched Tariq work day in and day out with no ego, total agility, prioritized focus, compassionate flexibility, radical candor, and the utmost integrity. At the same time, we were rapidly scaling the company and quickly realizing that if we planned to change the world, we needed to start with our people, our culture, and how we lead by example when it comes to all things diversity & inclusion. 

With Tariq’s reliability, long-term mindset, work ethic, and mission alignment, the opportunity before us was clear. After just over 8 months at the company, we made the decision to promote Tariq to Chief People Officer. 

There is no denying that Tariq has helped us drive revenue, process, culture, and key product initiatives but the truth is it’s not just about the work you get done that actually matters, but how you do it. 

How Tariq shows up every day sets an example of excellence for myself, Adam, and the company at large. Below are just a few examples of how he’s helped the organization level up and position us for even greater success. 

Communication - When I think about how Tariq communicates, the word that comes to mind is honest. Tariq meets you where you are, keeps it simple and clear, and if he doesn’t understand something he’ll always try to by asking thoughtful questions. Additionally, if Tariq has an opinion or disagrees he will be direct & honest but do so in a low ego, productive and thoughtful way. Allowing you to get to a consensus as efficiently as possible. Through these qualities, Tariq really embodies our company value of “Be A Student” and is happy to admit what he knows and what he doesn’t. For him, it is all about growth, not being right. He has strong opinions that are loosely held but knows how to disagree and commit. For a company moving and executing at our pace with such a grand mission, this is essential from a leader.

Collaboration - Working with Tariq is a joy and he makes collaborating fun yet highly impactful by focusing on outcomes. This is a tough balance to strike. He can work with anyone in any department and is always “Opening Doors” for those that he works with by empowering them and celebrating their work. This public celebration always gives praise to others instead of shining a light on himself to make sure people get the celebration they deserve. I’ve learned a lot from him here and can’t wait to collaborate with him even more. It doesn’t matter what your role is or how much experience you have, Tariq treats everyone with the same level of respect and I greatly admire that. 

Execution - Tariq doesn’t spend time talking about what he’s previously done or his past accomplishments (though they are quite impressive) but instead focuses on what he can bring to the table today. In doing so, he really “Walks The Walk” by living through action rather than words. For Tariq, it is not just about the quantity of work he produces but more so the quality. He believes good is the enemy of great and we should do less but do it better. Tariq has clear goals, a clearer plan, and stays focused on output rather than productivity theatrics. How does he do this? What is his superpower? Adam and I were talking about this the other day and if we had to put it into just one word, it would be this: Agility. He is flexible, understanding, level-headed in the face of crisis, and willing to roll up his sleeves and do what it takes to get shit done! 

Tariq, you’re amazing and we are grateful to work with you every day. Adam and I couldn’t be happier for you (and us!) and we are so excited to build this company with you in pursuit of our mission to make the world more equitable, for everyone.

— Ben Herman, CEO

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