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Uber

The Road Ahead as Uber’s First Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Meet Bo Young Lee, Uber's Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Below is an article originally written by Bo Young Lee, the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at PowerToFly Partner Uber, and published on April 18, 2018. Go to Uber's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

The first thing I do when presented with a new job opportunity is assess an organization's potential for change—that's more important to me than the amount of change that's required. I look for a few key markers: a commitment from leadership, an understanding of the business case for diversity and inclusion (D&I), and a mutual agreement that D&I must and will touch every facet of the business. It cannot simply be a silo that lives within HR.

My interview process at Uber was unlike any I'd experienced before. Within two weeks of my initial phone screen, I had met with Uber's Chief Executive Officer, Chief People Officer, Chief Technology Officer, as well as several other SVPs, General Managers, and members of the global executive leadership team. All within two weeks. That was a clear signal that this was an important hire for Uber's leadership, and it demonstrated that Uber could move quickly when something was a priority. Throughout the process, I saw an organization that was clearly committed to change but could use help on how to accomplish those changes. Despite some uncertainty around the "how," when I spoke with Dara and learned about his passion for the "what" and "why," I knew quickly Uber was a company where I'd want to be.

That's not to say the process didn't come with its challenges. In many ways I'm a classic introvert, so when news of me joining leaked to the press, I wasn't quite ready for the influx of questions about me. I'm passionate about results, so I like to put my head down and do my work without distractions. The attention accompanying my announcement forced me to give some serious thought to whether I wanted to introduce that level of scrutiny into the work I was doing. Ultimately, I realized that the potential for change at Uber was worth it.

As someone that's been in the space for quite a bit of time, I'm thrilled that D&I is finally an issue that the tech industry is talking about, but I'm also concerned by some of the discourse. I see businesses trying to find a silver bullet that will suddenly fix their "D&I problem." Yet in practice, this approach tends to leave companies and people exhausted, jaded, and without much to show for it. Beyond that, it's simply not how the most diverse and inclusive companies have made the progress they've made.

In order to understand the dynamics of D&I, you have to look at the underlying drivers of exclusion. Organizations have challenges with D&I because society has challenges with it. You can't try to fix D&I in a company without addressing what employees carry with them from the communities and cultures they live in. I'm always reminded of the Aristotle quote, "Give me a child until he is 7 and I will give you the man." For so many of us, how we react to difference is based on early lessons we learn from our families, religious institutions, schools, communities and friends. Want to promote more women working in East Asia? You need to start with the history and entrenched gender norms women face in Korea, Japan and China.

On a practical level, it's important to not just redesign a system or a process, but to give employees real developmental opportunities that will help them expand their skill sets to promote inclusivity. Otherwise, they'll simply find ways to undermine the new system. Too often, we tell people to be inclusive without really showing them what that looks like. For example, many companies (Uber included) have expanded parental leave to create more equitable policies for mothers and fathers. While well-intentioned, when a company changes a policy without addressing the surrounding cultural norms, it can backfire. If fathers don't feel encouraged to take advantage of longer leave—but mothers do—these policies can have an unintended negative outcome and reinforce existing inequalities. To change attitudes toward something like parental leave, companies can (and should) do things like recognize managers that have promoted equality between male and female parental leave. This is how a company can address both policies and attitudes.

From my first few weeks at Uber, I've been encouraged by the amount of pride people take in what they do and their genuine desire to do right by fellow employees, drivers, riders, and cities. There's also a sense of humility at Uber that's unexpected; no one seems to be defensive about the past or makes excuses for what happened. I've also been encouraged by many of the efforts made over the past year - they offer a solid foundation for me to build upon.

My vision is to help make Uber a place where amazing talent from every corner of society can thrive and grow and where each employee has the ability to achieve to their highest potential. I want colleagues from different backgrounds feeling safe enough to share their real world experience. Whether you're an employee in the US that had a cop pull them over on the way to work because of the way they look, or an employee in South Africa that grew up during the apartheid—all of this impacts the person we bring to work and how we interact with one another. I want employees who are equipped to have tough, challenging, and constructive conversations with one another, and I want leaders who can speak truthfully to the fact that our diverse teams are our greatest asset and a competitive advantage—because they are what drive our innovation.

In order to do this, D&I needs to be something that every single employee at the company has a stake in. We talk about D&I in such abstract ways that teams don't have a sense of what they can do, but I want to teach every Uber employee that inclusion (or exclusion) happens every day, in both small and large ways. Simultaneously, I want to utilize data to make big, bold moves. Too often, companies try to address D&I by creating one-off programs. While these can be incrementally constructive, they often aren't enough. I want to integrate a D&I mindset into every process we have in our company, such that people are compelled to act inclusively by default.

Like many first-generation immigrant families, my parents wanted me to become a doctor, lawyer, or an accountant. When I made the choice to work in D&I after completing my MBA, my parents just couldn't wrap their head around the career choice. For many years my father would say, "so you fly around and teach people how to be nice to each other?" When I took the job at Uber, the announcement was picked up by Korean news and my parents were inundated with phone calls from friends and relatives.

I'll admit that I was happy that, for the first time, my parents understood what I do. Meanwhile, mainstream perceptions have also evolved during the nearly two decades that I've been working on D&I. When I finished my MBA in the early 2000s, the field wasn't considered a serious thing to devote your career to, and it certainly wasn't a role that would ever warrant a "Chief" in the title. And while we're still at the very beginning of creating real change, I'm proud that this is now a topic that's being prioritized.

I have every reason to believe that Uber can evolve, and colleagues will attest to how relentless I can be in my pursuit to transform organizations and hold leaders accountable. I am stubborn and I will not be satisfied until I know that I have made Uber a place where every person feels more validated, seen, valued, and included.

popular

The Best High-Paying Remote Jobs

5 full-time work-from-home roles that pay seriously well

We—we being the internet in general, as well as PowerToFly specifically—often talk about remote work as this glorious thing: you can find professional fulfillment, friendly co-workers, and career growth potential from the comfort of your own home. All while collecting a check!

But where should you look if you want that check to be as big as possible?

Start with this guide to the best high-paying remote jobs. These career choices (and the example companies hiring for them) don't skimp out on paying remote workers well, and you'll still get all the work-from-home flexibility you're looking for. I've linked to specific job posts for each category below, but also look through the 300+ remote jobs on PowerToFly's always-updated remote job board for more.

As you apply and interview, keep these work-from-home interview questions in mind. If you find yourself with a salary offer that's good, but not quite as good as it could be, reference these salary negotiation tips for remote workers to advocate for what you deserve. And when you get the job with a great salary, make sure your home office is set up for success. And then send me a note to tell me how you're doing!

1. Senior Software Engineer

Business woman using laptop

Who It's Good For: Anyone who's a pro in programming languages (Java, Javascript, C++, Python, and SQL, to start, among others) and knows how to drive the development of products. If you like complex engineering challenges, have experience working with different systems and products, and have the discipline to program without a PM physically hovering over you (Slack hovering's allowed, though), this is for you.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Sr. Principal Software Engineer at Dell, Senior Front End Software Engineer at Plectica, Senior Software Engineer at CloudBees

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Like most heads-down-and-create work, developing software and programming are best done with minimal distractions. You'll collaborate with your team for check-ins and bug fixes, but you'll be able to focus on your project work from a home office.

Average Annual Salary: $131,875

2. User Experience Researcher Manager

Young adult woman working with laptop at mobile app

Who It's Good For: Proven researchers who know how to understand the behaviors and motivations of customers through feedback and observation, who have experience synthesizing insights into a brand story, and who have managed teams.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Research Operations Program Manager at Zapier.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: As UX researcher Lindsey Redinger explains in her helpful Medium post, remote research allows companies to reach users all over the world, not just within driving distance to their headquarters, and can be cheaper for companies and easier for participants.

Average Annual Salary: $105,810

3. Senior Product Designer

Female graphic designer smiling at desk in office

Who It's Good For: Creatives with technical chops who like the challenges of evolving and improving the production of current products, leading designers, and collaborating with other parts of the business.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Product Designer at SeatGeek.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: While design teams definitely need to share lots of feedback, there's technology out there to make that easy. The Help Scout design team has shared their favorite tools and tricks to collaborate remotely, which includes recording daily videos of new designs to explain features and ideas in a way a photo file just can't express. (They're also hiring! Check out open Help Scout jobs here).

Average Annual Salary: $107,555

4. Senior Security Analyst

Developing Concentrated programmer reading computer codes Development Website design and coding technologies.

Who It's Good For: Thoughtful, vigilant thinkers who enjoy identifying and fixing gaps in a company's security posture, including through ethnical hacking (hacking a company's system before outsiders can, and addressing the weak points found) and incident response (containing the negative effects of a system breach or attack).

Sound Like You? Check Out: Data Protection Security Analyst at Deloitte.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Not all security analyst positions are remote-friendly; sometimes they require working with very sensitive data that can be compromised if taken off-site or accessed from a VPN. But with the right data processing policies—like using a privacy filter over your laptop, only using secured wifi, and encrypting your data, all suggested by WebARX security's all-remote team—remote work as a security analyst is definitely possible.

Average Annual Salary: $108,463

5. Technical Project Manager

A strong wifi connection makes for a strong relationship

Who It's Good For: Tech-friendly jack-of-all-trades with a sweet spot for spreadsheets and other organization tools.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Technical Project Manager at Avaaz.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Project management can sometimes be like herding cats, but you don't need to be in the same room as your feline team members in order to direct them around. With collaborative software (and a highly organized home office, like PM pro Patrice Embry recommends), you can PM the most complicated of projects from wherever you're located.

Average Annual Salary: $95,129

Other Industries

Other high-paying remote-friendly jobs include certain roles in healthcare (like nurse practitioners and psychologists, who can check in with patients via video conferencing and phone calls), app developers for both iOS and Android products, actuaries and tax accountants, and data scientists.

And remember that even jobs that don't seem remote-friendly at first, could possibly be done from home or on the road. If you find a well-paying, exciting job that doesn't offer remote work immediately, it might be worth negotiating a more flexible schedule with a 1-2 day work-from-home option. Both you and the company can see what remote work actually looks like in action, and if it goes well, you can make a pitch to transition to remote work full time.

Other resources you may want to check out in your quest for meaningful, well-paid remote work:

6 Programs You Should Download Right Now if You Work Remotely

Productivity Tips for Remote Workers

Home Office Design Tips for Remote Workers

In Person Events

Build Your Network at the Next PowerToFly Event

Today we celebrate our partnership with Braintree! Check out this video to see highlights from our recent networking event.

If you missed the event, fear not! Stay connected by following Braintree on PowerToFly and email us at Hi@PowerToFly.com for future events near you.

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