DocuSign: How to Use Data to Improve DEI

Earlier this year, DocuSign made a little more room around the proverbial C-suite table. In March, the company announced that it would appoint Iesha Berry as its first-ever chief diversity and engagement officer. .

While the role is new to DocuSign, it’s far from new to Berry, who is a veteran in the field and has previously worked at Microsoft, Bank of America and Slalom. His stint in financial services, as well as legacy organizations, has resulted in a distinct reliance on data and strategy when it comes to addressing diversity and inclusion. And while Berry brings more than 20 years of experience, she says she’s still in a learning position in her first 90 days leading diversity, equity, and inclusion at DocuSign.

Berry told Protocol what his first few months were like, how to structure your focus in a new leadership role, and how to create more lasting systematic change within an organization.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Being the first to do so, how did you go about laying the groundwork for what you want this role to look like in your first 90 days?

I go into the role very similar to when I’ve been in other roles, whether I was a first or not, because on some level as a person of diverse identity, both seen and unseen , there is always an added weight of responsibility, especially for me; probably not something different from someone else who reflects various diverse identities, as we all are, is that you want to make sure that what you do and how you present yourself creates space for that to others come behind you. And so because of that, I take it very seriously to spend time really getting to grips with the business of the organization. And so, while there is expertise that I bring as a DEI practitioner, more importantly, as a human capital executive, it is equally if not more important for me to become a student of ‘organization.

And so what I did was spend those first 30 days, you know, probably about 60 days after I hit 90 days, really understanding and studying the organization, meeting with our business leaders, understanding their top three priorities from a commercial point of view, but then also [looking at] what that means from a people and culture perspective, because DE&I, as you know, is a business priority. And what we do around the employee lifecycle and our business lifecycle are inextricably linked, because ultimately you need the human experience to deliver an iconic product.

I think what’s interesting is that you’ve done it at Bank of America as well as at Microsoft. I would like to know since you are in technology and finance, is it so different from one industry to another?

It’s a different challenge with every new organization I come into because I come into these opportunities with a learner mindset, not a knower mindset. Yes, there is a space of expertise that I bring, but ultimately that space of expertise doesn’t create an opportunity for evolutionary change if you don’t understand the business.

Ultimately, in every organization in my experience, across multi-faceted industries, our goal has been to always create a talent pool that reflects our clients, customers and communities, to create a dynamic and engaging experience that empowers us to retain the talent we attract within the organization and, more importantly, leverage that talent to create the next innovations for this client suite and all products, whether technology or a new financial product.

How much of the first 90 days is the listening tour these days? Or do you think people are a little tired of listening tours now?

I love this question because it’s as much about the listening tour as it is about taking action. What I’ve learned and experienced that really interests me about DocuSign is that the organization values ​​someone who listens and appreciates the historical background and journey of DocuSign. What we need to start doing is marrying our conversation with…our action. I just moderated a session where we talked about theoretical data as well as practical solutions to amplify and accelerate diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity, and we did it with a partner from McKinsey. So you have to listen, but you have to do. And you have to take people on this journey so that they understand that it’s very important to me that we go and talk with our walk.

Who do you lean on and call on to help you chart this course since it’s new to DocuSign? What other resources do you rely on at the moment to lead by example?

What I would say is that while I’m the organization’s first Director of Diversity and Engagement, this isn’t DocuSign’s first entry into moving this work forward. It is an evolution of DocuSign’s visible commitment to driving action and progress on diversity, equity and inclusion by bringing in a leader to shape, model, execute and operationalize our strategy around this space.

What I’m also doing is that, as we provide thought leadership, I’ve brought in individuals [and we] are in contact with people at McKinsey and Company. They have done a lot of research not only in the space of diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity, but also in sustainability and impact. And because my role was one that marries those two areas, along with diversity and recruiting, it’s a unique set of three concentric circles. And at the center of it all is what we do around equity. I also rely, in complete transparency, on my [personal] board of directors, CDOs who preceded me and did this work of transformation, who themselves have been and continue to be my mentors… Leaning on this group of individuals who have done this work is also essential to mission, as well as external thinking from leadership organizations that produce academic research that helps us amplify the why of our immediate or stated change in this space because we are a data-driven organization. What gets measured is what gets done. And helping crystallize the story for people to act on is always aided by data that is researched and validated.

What are the main data points you are eager to track?

So what I would say is that from a strategic point of view, it’s a three-legged stool: it’s the workforce, the workplace, the market. What I’m excited to be able to be very surgical about is not just our workforce data – that transactional data that is the hiring, promotion, retention and development of talent within the company. organization – but it is also what our employees are. tell us about workplace and employee sentiment, and look at employee engagement surveys versus how they are experienced in the real organization.

And looking at this from an overall DocuSign perspective, but also by our business units, in addition to what we learn from talent who chooses to pursue their careers outside of the organization – i.e. exit interviews – and coupling that data, workplace and workforce data with market data. Because, as I started, this work is really a business strategy and a business priority.

In your experience, what have you seen that really works to entice people to not only stay, but to move up an organization?

While programs are important, ultimately it is about being able to examine and make a systemic assessment of these barriers to progress. And what I’ve seen as success and what I’ve done in other organizations is to focus on the barriers to progress that exist in the employee lifecycle, and address these barriers to create equitable access to these talents.

Now, it’s not an “either or the other”, it’s also a “both and”. It is therefore about assessing the systemic barriers that might exist within an organization that create barriers to entry or growth within the organization, and this can also be coupled with development programs that are laser-focused to help talent continue to build leadership and leadership momentum in their career journey. This then gives them greater visibility for promotion and advancement within the organization.

I’m talking with a lot of young organizations who are thinking about it right now, and maybe they’re getting to the number of employees where they can do that deeper dive. Where to start this systematic evaluation and how do we find where the failure occurs?

I’ll tell you about the approach I’ve taken in legacy organizations. We started with employee feedback, but we also continued to monitor entry into the organization, how individuals enter the organization through the hiring process, then through reporting and job creation. a rhythm to report back to management regarding overall representation. .

And again, at your point where you have enough population to be able to report without having issues from a privacy perspective, it’s being able to say, “This is where we have a problem. We start to see a reduction in leadership talent once they move into that professional role from entry level to middle management, so what do we need to do to value more there? So it was really about looking at all aspects of the employee lifecycle, but first starting with what I call the VOE, the voice of the employee.

Finally, a big overarching question is what can be done to see more CDOs thrive. Protocol has researched the mandate of CDOs at some of the biggest tech companies, and while some tech companies have done a really good job of getting them there and really embedding them into the fabric of the company, others don’t. were able to hold onto their CDOs for about a year. What do you think needs to be in place in a company to ensure that a CDO can truly thrive and transform the business?

Does the CEO and his leadership team understand that it is not the CDO’s responsibility to change the organization from a demographic and employee experience perspective? The CDO is meant to be the catalyst for the culture that helps accelerate and create that mirror for the organization to respond to the changing needs and needs of talent. This is number 1. It starts with leadership understanding that change does not reside with one person.

Second, as organizations commit to hiring a CDO, ensure that you have the right conditions within your organization for the role to be successful. An example of this would be for leaders to understand that responsibility begins and ends with them: [It’s] not sure [the CDO] to bring in X amount of diverse talent, but it’s a shared responsibility across the leadership team, with the CDO being the conduit through which to drive that awareness, engagement, and action toward creating those opportunities for the organization is to seek talent, develop talent, nurture talent and grow talent.

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