Diversity & Inclusion

Early Experiences with Diversity Leads to Lifelong Passion

Patricia “Pat” Mayers is the Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager at Seismic, a global enablement platform that was recently placed on the prestigious Forbes Cloud 100 List. Mayers’ unique background includes a childhood spent growing up abroad, and she attributes her passion for DEI, at least in part, to the race-relations culture shock she received when returning to the United States.

Patricia Mayers DEI
Patricia Mayers

A Career Spent in DEI

Unlike many of the DEI leaders we interview for this series, Mayers started her career in DEI. “After getting my MBA at Texas Woman’s University, I was fortunate enough to start my career at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where I was a Diversity and Inclusion Manager,” she explains.

“During my time there, I quickly found a love for advocating for underserved patients and discovered that geography, socio-economic status, education, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, and many other determinants had a huge impact on access to healthcare and health outcomes.”

Early Exposure to Diversity

As noted, Mayers’ social and corporate outlook and her passion for DEI are driven in part by her childhood. “My interest in diversity fundamentally was born out of my experience growing up alongside diverse individuals,” Mayers says.

“For background, I was born in Panama where Spanish was my first language. From there, I went to a school at a military base in Zaragoza, Spain. Once I came to the United States, I found that race and ethnicity played a much bigger role here in the US than in other countries, and I developed a stronger passion for DEI. Enabling organizations to embed DEI into every corner of their business will always drive me, so I have yet to take on a role in my career where I am not working on diversity efforts in some capacity.”

Inclusion Needs to Be an Inclusive Effort

Like many successful DEI leaders, Mayers understands and appreciates the importance of the entire organization’s involvement in the success of its DEI efforts. “DEI cannot be done by the DEI team alone—it takes collaboration from everyone,” Mayers says. “The best way to deliver on that is through a strategic partnership with HR and partnerships across the organization.” And Seismic has done that in a variety of ways:

  • Partnership with the talent acquisition team, which, she says, has been crucial to improve diversity recruiting across the recruiting pipeline.
  • Work with diversity partner organizations and universities, along with other external partners, to ensure diverse candidate slates and review of internal and external metrics in collaboration with the HR data analytics team.
  • Collaboration with Seismic’s talent development and growth team. “DEI is embedded in onboarding and how we think about all learning opportunities throughout an employee’s learning journey at Seismic,” Mayers says.
  • Collaboration with HR business partners who provide valuable insight to embed DEI in internal talent mobility, to manage issues as they arise with a diversity lens, and to assist in business units’ HR processes.
  • Partnership with executive leaders to embed DEI in their business units through the development of DEI goals.

The Importance of ERGs

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are popular in many organizations, but not all of them fully leverage the tremendous value they can provide to employee engagement and morale. Seismic does.

“Employee resource groups (ERGs) should be at the heart of every organization,” Mayers asserts. “They play a critical role in Seismic’s DEI efforts and contribute to advancing our DEI strategy by leading bold conversations and impacting inclusion efforts for our customers, employees, and communities.”

At Seismic, ERGs are called Communities of Belonging (COBs) and represent several dimensions of diversity (i.e., women; African Americans/blacks, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI); veterans; LGBTQIA+; parents and guardians; the international community; those with disabilities; Hispanics/Latinx). Each COB leverages and develops the unique contributions of its members and allies to foster a culture of belonging and promote an inclusive work environment, Mayers says.

Organizational Reach of DEI Efforts

Just as the entire organization should support the company’s DEI efforts, the DEI team should be empowered to exert influence throughout the organization. This includes everything from hiring to talent development and employee satisfaction to compensation.

“Seismic encourages personal and professional growth and connects with employees from day one by providing an inclusive onboarding experience,” says Mayers. “Ensuring diversity of participants in the LEAD program, a program for high potential employees, and incorporating diversity topics in their workshops continues to grow. Our Communities of Belonging provide a shared sense of belonging, a safe space and support to a variety of identities. We also conduct pay equity analysis to identify any gaps within job functions.”

Seismic has also added diversity questions to its employee engagement surveys to gain insights from employees and ideas for actions to create change and promote inclusion. One of the company’s core values is “We are Inclusive,” Mayers shares. “Our mission, vision, and values are at the foundation of our culture and work environment to support all employees.”

Seismic also takes a holistic approach to recruitment and talent evaluation as part of its broader DEI efforts. “Again, our focus here is really on experience and expertise, rather than credentials,” says Mayers. For instance, requirements like 4-year degrees can keep otherwise incredible candidates from taking on a role that would be a great fit. Recruiters may also unintentionally let bias play a role when evaluating women who took time away from the workforce, she adds.

Seismic believes all candidates deserve equal opportunities and resources for career opportunities. “Seismic supports a culture of careers being a collection of skills and we support career pivots and diversity of thought and experiences,” Mayers notes.

Diversity as a Journey, Not a Destination

DEI is a relatively new discipline in corporate America. Just a couple of decades ago, most companies paid little, if any, attention to diversity, equity, or inclusion. Today, DEI is a key focus of top companies around the country. DEI’s rapid shift in importance, though, hasn’t slowed, and it’s a highly dynamic corporate competency. In this sense, there’s no end point to DEI efforts. It’s a constantly evolving subject matter.

“I think about DEI as a journey—rather than a destination,” says Mayers. “You start by mapping out where you want to go, but along the way, you may need to pivot that plan—or reroute to a new destination. What’s most important is that you keep progress moving.”

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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