10 Questions with Aaron L., Senior Director of DEI

From shoppers to members to engineers, marketers, and our shopper appreciation team, it’s the people who make Shipt, Shipt. For Black History Month, we’re spotlighting the members of our diverse community.

It is always the right time to advocate for a more inclusive and empowering workplace. And you can’t have that without people who bring their true selves to work every day. One of those amazing people is Aaron L., Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Since day one, he has brought a passionate drive and creativity to help keep our value of authenticity front and center. Keep reading to learn more about Aaron’s plans for inclusivity.

 1. What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why are they important?

Diversity means representation. Equity means giving people what they need to perform at their best and succeed. While inclusion means, making people feel valued. People need to see themselves reflected in our world and deserve to be judged and treated fairly. For me, this life changing work because for centuries, people have been marginalized. We have to change that.

 2. How did you get started in this career path and why?

I actually received my ‘corporate’ start in DEI through employee resource groups (ERGs). I was able to explore other interests that I had, which were more connected to my passions as an individual. After understanding corporate value in serving the community, building equitable systems, and ensuring all people had access to opportunities; I was determined to make this my career path.

 3. How do you approach understanding perspectives from colleagues with different backgrounds?

One key to understanding is exposing myself to various lived experiences. Here’s how:

  • Try to listen more than talk.
  • Get to know people first as individuals.
  • Approach uncomfortable questions with positive intent.
  • Look things up on the internet! 

 4. How do diverse perspectives in the workplace help a company?

Diversity is required to unlock the full potential of a brand. It fosters more innovation, better engages diverse talent, boosts your reputation as a responsible company, and delivers a stronger financial performance.

 5. What are your top aspirations as Senior Director of DEI at Shipt?

One aspiration is to have one of the most diverse employee bases in all tech. Another aspiration is to be acknowledged as one of the top places to work in the US, based on our employee inclusion and engagement. In summation, I aspire for us to be the best.

 6. How can a company become more inclusive?

  1. Measure inclusion and enhance it by reviewing engagement scores and reporting on progress for accountability.
  2. Make learning and discussion the norm through resource groups, cultural celebrations, etc.
  3. Prevent exclusion by providing equitable resources, a safe way to report concerns, and establishing values.
  4. Build a muscle for inclusion by developing DEI plans, helping with employee career paths, and supporting equity through development programs.

 7. How can employees and leaders authentically approach inclusivity?

I think authenticity comes before the approach. Figure out why you care, then let that drive your approach. If you do not care enough about creating inclusive spaces or a positive impact for all, you shouldn’t be leading people. Which is okay; everyone is not meant to be a people leader. 

 8. Why did you choose to join Shipt?

Shipt has amazing, outspoken leaders who are focused on DEI. The company is young enough where systems of inequality that may exist can still be changed. I am also passionate about providing access to resources and eradicating food and pharmacy deserts, which is life-changing work. Lastly, Shipt is HQ’d in the south. And in the famous words of Andre 3000, “The south got something to say!”

 9. Do you have media recommendations for learning about diversity and inclusion?

There are so many ways to get content now so I’ll share a few names and people can research them through their preferred mediums: Bethaney Wilkinson, Meredith Talusan, Ibram Kendi, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Brene Brown, Ijeoma Oluo, Jennifer Brown, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, and Mike Hess.

 10. What is the future of DEI in the corporate world?

In the corporate space, we get to engage with all types of people. Therefore, companies must counteract divisive, societal norms and connect employees to equitable values and purpose. I think DEI will be the difference between the brands that flourish or those that remain stagnant and are left behind. 

We celebrate and support the Black community, not just this month, but year-round. For more Black History Month inspiration, visit our blog for new posts all month long.

Category: #ShiptLife

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