Diversity & Inclusion

Inclusive Excellence: How Lumen Technologies and India Sylvester are Redefining Corporate DEI Initiatives

In today’s corporate landscape, the emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is more than just a trend—it’s a necessity. Companies that prioritize DEI not only foster a more inclusive environment but also drive innovation, creativity, and employee satisfaction.

India Sylvester

One such company leading the charge in DEI initiatives is Lumen Technologies. At the helm of these efforts is its dynamic leader: India Sylvester, Lumen’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Through her insights and experiences, we’ll explore the transformative power of DEI and how Lumen is setting a benchmark in this domain.

Sylvester: A Journey Rooted in People

Every journey has a beginning, and for Sylvester, it started with a profound interest in the heart and soul of every company: its people.

“I started my career in Human Resources because I had an interest in helping companies succeed in a way that they had perhaps not considered,” she says. “It’s more than financials and products. It’s the people who make that happen. Success happens by attracting, developing, retaining, and supporting talented employees.”

Her transition to a role dedicated to diversity and inclusion at Lumen was a natural progression of her passion for people and her vision for a more inclusive corporate world. “When Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) made the decision to enhance their diversity efforts by adding a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer role, I saw it as an opportunity to really make a difference in the company and in employees’ lives,” she recalls.

Energized by the possibilities in the DEI space, she embraced the challenge, bringing her unique perspective and dedication to the role.

Lumen’s DEI Initiatives: A 3-Pillar Approach

Lumen Technologies, under Sylvester’s guidance, has developed a comprehensive strategy for DEI built on three foundational pillars. Sylvester elaborates, “Our D&I initiatives focus on evolving our talent processes, equipping our leaders to lead inclusively, and caring for our internal and external community.”

Fair and Equitable Talent Process

The first pillar emphasizes the importance of fair and equitable talent processes. By working closely with HR, Sylvester and her team ensure every step of the hiring and development process is free from biases, providing equal opportunities for all.


The second pillar is focused on leadership. It’s about not only having diverse teams but also ensuring leaders are equipped to manage and nurture this diversity. “We provide data, insights, and education to our leaders to help them lead a diverse workforce and increase inclusion and a sense of belonging,” Sylvester notes.

Community Engagement

The third pillar revolves around community engagement. Lumen’s employee resource groups (ERGs) play a pivotal role here, fostering a sense of community both within and outside the company. These ERGs not only are about internal support but also extend their efforts to the broader community, emphasizing Lumen’s commitment to DEI beyond its office walls.

Standing Out in the DEI Landscape

Ten or 20 years ago, simply having awareness of DEI issues might have set a company apart from competitors and other employers. Today, most large employers have dedicated at least some resources to DEI initiatives, but not all corporate DEI efforts are created equally.

What sets Lumen apart? For Sylvester, it’s the company’s unique approach to ERGs. “The number of ERGs, the range of their charters, and how they engage our people makes us very different,” she says.

One standout example is Lumen’s ERG focused on millennials and beyond. Recognizing the diverse nature of these generations, Lumen is proactive in addressing their unique needs in the workplace. “They are so incredibly diverse; we are supporting their unique needs in the workplace, providing an amazing employee experience,” Sylvester adds.

This forward-thinking approach, combined with a genuine commitment to supporting diverse workers through systemic changes and enriching programs, solidifies Lumen’s position as a leader in DEI initiatives.

Recruitment and Sourcing: A Multifaceted Approach

Attracting a diverse workforce requires a strategic and comprehensive approach, and Lumen Technologies has mastered this art. “Our recruitment strategy is multi-faceted, ensuring we tap into diverse talent pools,” Sylvester emphasizes. This includes forging partnerships with a plethora of diverse organizations that foster professional growth and networking within their communities.

By leveraging both in-person and virtual opportunities, Lumen ensures it reaches potential candidates wherever they are. “We post our job opportunities with over 200 diverse organizations, ensuring we cast a wide net,” Sylvester notes.

In addition, Lumen’s University Relations recruitment team plays a pivotal role, partnering with institutions nationwide, from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to women’s colleges, ensuring early-career talent is nurtured and brought into the Lumen fold.

Building an Inclusive Culture at Lumen

Creating a culture of inclusivity is a journey, not a destination. Lumen recognizes this and has been proactive in its efforts.

One of its standout initiatives is its partnership with Brené Brown to roll out the “Dare to Lead” program across the company. “This program is about more than just leadership; it’s about building courage, resilience, and understanding among all employees,” Sylvester shares.

The company has also launched listening sessions, providing a platform for employees to voice their concerns, aspirations, and feedback. The emphasis on ERGs, tailored training, and distributing resources like the Dare to Lead book to all employees showcases Lumen’s commitment to fostering a culture in which every voice is heard and every individual feels valued. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with employees stating that these tools have enriched both their work and personal relationships,” Sylvester adds with pride.

In the world of DEI, Lumen Technologies stands as a beacon. With Sylvester’s visionary leadership, the company has not only implemented robust DEI strategies but also created a culture in which diversity is celebrated and every individual feels a sense of belonging.

Sylvester’s closing thoughts resonate deeply: “Respect is fundamental, and the best way to earn it is to show it consistently.” Lumen’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of DEI, serving as a blueprint for organizations worldwide.

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

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