Inside Google Cloud

Women in leadership: A conversation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, and in recognition of its importance to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we brought together a panel of women in leadership at Google Cloud to share their perspectives on why proactively focusing on DE&I in the workplace, and together with our partners, is so critical—especially right now. In this blog, you’ll be hearing from:

Carolee Gearhart: Global Channel Chief and VP of Global SMB Sales

Aimee Catalano: Director, Global Partner Marketing

Nina Harding: Chief of Global Partner Programs and Strategy

Ritika Suri, Director, Database Technology Partnerships

Lindsey Scrase: Managing Director, Global SMB and Startups

Martha Cuevas, LatAm Channel Sales Director

Let’s get to the conversation!


Why do you feel it’s important for Google Cloud to prioritize Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives? And why is now the right time?

Lindsey: First and foremost, increasing diversity and representation is the right thing to do. Beyond that, the data and research show that diverse teams drive better business results, because diversity of perspectives leads to better problem solving and diverse teams better represent the users and customers they serve. And on top of that, I believe that we all lose out when we are existing and operating in a sea of sameness. 

Nina: The world is a complex fabric of different ideas, colors, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives and this needs to be embraced. And to better understand and really help our customers and partners we need to connect with them, walk in their shoes and truly hear all voices.

Carolee: I love what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr had to say: “The time is always right to do what is right.” The moral imperative argument always resonates with me. Lindsey also hit it on the head as well from a business standpoint, if we’re thinking about why Google Cloud, beyond doing the right thing. Our mission is to “Accelerate every organization’s ability to digitally transform and reimagine their business through data-powered innovation.” If we’re going to do that well, we need to be the most effective organization—and research, including McKinsey’s “Delivering through Diversity” found corporations that embrace gender diversity in their executive teams were more competitive and 21 percent more likely to experience above average profitability.

Martha: Having Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ensures a variety of different perspectives. People will have different characteristics and backgrounds and a variety of different skills and experiences that will reflect in a richer strategy and better outcomes.


What is your perspective on the role that women play for one another in the workplace?

Aimee: During a women’s conference, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, shared her now famous quote “There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." This made me laugh, but also made me realize there’s work to do to support one another. The top areas I’m now most conscious of is (1) ensuring women have an equal voice in meetings and decision making, (2) are coached to be just as proactive in managing their careers as their male counterparts. 

Lindsey: I have experienced what it’s like being the only woman in the room and with no women above me. This was a lonely place to be and it was hard to visualize myself progressing, nonetheless doing so and having a family. Today I am fortunate to work with many women—above me, around me, and on my team. I have many different role models and examples, underscoring why representation matters and can foster such a sense of belonging—and in turn accelerate performance. Women uplift each other just by being there, period. It’s even more powerful when these women bring and share their authentic selves and are proactive in being there for each other—as sounding boards, as mentors, as friends—lifting each other up and amplifying each other’s voices. Having women like this in the workplace has been core to my resilience and the sustainability of my performance. And while female representation has improved in many places, a lot more work needs to be done to increase representation of women of color in tech—at all leadership levels—ensuring that ALL women can look up and around and see others like them.

Martha: We bring so much fun!! (joking). As woman, we perform different roles: wife, partner, organizer, administrator, director, mother, teacher, doctor, all at the same time— this give us a different perspective, and over the years I’ve been very lucky to work with different women as leaders, co-workers and creating a women's network, which has helped me transition through challenging moments. Still, I think that we need to be more supportive and mentor future generations so they too understand the importance of women supporting women in the workplace.


Are there women or role models that have opened doors for your career or personal growth?

Nina: Clare Davis Parker, who affectionately was also my grandmother, has been a guiding light in my life. She was the first female lawyer to attend law school and pass the BAR in the state of Colorado (1930), joined her father's law firm, and challenged the status quo and rules of propriety with wit and intelligence. She championed the little guy and fought (and won) against the mining companies who were sending tailings into the streams that were adversely impacting farmers. When incredible artists such as Marion Anderson, or top athletes like tennis star Althea Gibson came to Denver for performances and competitions, when the traditional celebrations were not honored due to their race, my grandmother stepped forward and hosted parties and introductions honoring them at her home. She believed in equality, she pushed boundaries, and she committed to doing what was right even if it was unpopular. Clare Davis Parker fought for progress each day in her home, professionally, and socially and has been an example for all to follow. 

Ritika: There are many people from different walks of life, at different points in time, that have been both a source of inspiration and encouragement. However from early childhood I have been in awe of Jane Goodall. Jane, as you know, was a primatologist. She was committed to being not a great woman scientist, but a great scientist. She followed her passion and did not conform to the role and expectation of the role of a woman, and a woman in academia. Too often we get constrained in our gender roles. Jane broke all molds and showed how nature, animals and society are connected and everyone (inclusive) can make a difference. The path to excellence lies in following one's passion. So follow your passion, stay connected, make a difference and pay it forward. 


How do you think about supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within Google Cloud and your organization?

Carolee: It’s my job to be visible, show my vulnerability and to use my role to elevate historically under-represented voices. Regarding visibility, this means being vocal about the importance of this topic for Google Cloud, for my organization, and our partners. One of the first steps in making this a priority is really publicly stating this intent. We’ve all experienced how important it is to say our intentions out loud to others—as it helps to keep one accountable. And when I say, “It’s critical to me that folks feel comfortable to show up as they really are on my team,” it gives permission for individuals to raise it directly with me when I don’t do that. Vulnerability is also really important, and I think vulnerability can be really uncomfortable for leaders—and in some cases even more so for women. As leaders we want to inspire confidence and be taken seriously, and admitting we’re wrong or showing that we’ve been moved to tears can feel scary. I want my team to have the safety to admit when they haven’t shown up the way they hope to, and to remain engaged in really feeling empathy towards our customers and others. I’ve found one of the best ways to do this is to acknowledge my own misses and attempts to do better, and to go ahead and let my teams see when something they’ve talked about has really touched me, even if that means some tears. It’s not infrequent for them to hear me say, “guys” and then “I mean folks, I’m going to get that right.” Part of supporting DEI in my org has meant opening the floor for team members, including those in historically under-represented groups to share their narratives on why DEI is important to them. Listening to individuals from the teams speak out loud about some of their experiences has frequently moved me to tears, and I’m not afraid to let that show. Their courage in sharing is so motivating to the team—we can be a part of the change in the world we want to see for these valued co-workers.


What role do Google Cloud’s partners play on this journey? 

Aimee: Nobody has the perfect answer for how to most effectively drive diversity, equity and inclusion throughout their organizations and communities at large. To get as many minds as possible working on this, we created an internal team that brought together partner marketers across Google and we’re very excited to launch the initiative this month. The intent is to embark on a journey of learning, growing and creating shared actionable initiatives that progress DEI with our partners. This is done through a series of educational content, engaging events and by creating opportunities for partners to share and collaborate directly with us. I often say DEI is the most important part of my job. I couldn’t be more proud of the working team who created this, and couldn’t be more excited to launch this new program with our partners this month.

Nina: Google Cloud partners are an incredible extension of Google into the lives and success of small and enterprise companies alike! Our partners are on the front lines with customers listening, engaging, and reimagining businesses and innovation. We want the best of ideas to fuel that innovation, not an echochamber of ideas. Our partners spark the imagination of what is possible and we are here to support them with resources along the way so that we can grow and learn together.


What advice do you have for women who are juggling work and family during the ongoing health crisis?

Lindsey: The pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on working mothers. In September, 865,000 women left the workforce in the US—four times more than men. This is driven by the fact that the demands of home—housework, kids, remote school, and even ill parents—have fallen more on women’s shoulders. And what I keep hearing from female friends and coworkers is that despite many working harder than ever before (and doing so amidst a global pandemic!), so many feel like they are failing at everything. This is not a good headspace from which to thrive. 

Having self-compassion is critical. It’s a marathon and self-preservation is key! Not everything will get done all the time. Figure out what’s important to you and what’s not both personally and professionally. That’s sometimes the hardest part for me. Beyond this, what’s helped me during this time is having a strong partnership at home with my wife. Being gay women, we are freed of traditional gender role stereotypes, but it still requires ongoing communication and support for each other to balance both of our jobs and the raising of our kids. We bring up small issues before they become big ones. We divide up not just execution of tasks, but also the conception and planning of them, to limit one of us carrying all the mental load. 

On top of this, it’s been immensely important for my well being to build in things to look forward to. Even just the smallest things like a ‘date night’ at home after the kids are in bed, a trip to a new park with the kids, or celebrating little successes. We always plan ahead at least a few things that provide a breaking point from our normal routine. This has been critical for my well being, how I show up as a mom, as well as the energy I bring to work every day. 

Carolee: As a wife, mother, daughter, friend and executive at Google—I wear a lot of hats. One of the key ways I manage the juggle is with the mantra of, “Be here now.” There can be so much mental space and energy taken up when you’re trying to think about and handle different things at the same time. I think about my time as my most valuable asset, so I’m intentional on where I’m spending it—and when I’m doing it, I’m in that place. I try and give my full attention for the time I’ve allocated, so whether its connecting with a customer, building a plan with a partner, making dinner with my significant other, helping my mom with her bills, working on a school project with my son, or even soaking in the tub that is what I am paying attention to.

Ritika: Learn to say “No” and leave the fear and guilt at the door. Saying no isn't shying away from hard stuff, stepping up, going above and beyond or helping others. I often say, I am not a supermom; I am both super and a mom. In trying to do it all or fearing to be left out, you almost always end up displeasing the most important person, yourself. I wish I could say I have perfected the art, but every day I work on it. Saying no helps you set boundaries and prioritize what is most important both at work and also in your personal life. Especially today when the boundaries of our personal and professional lives are even more blurred, taking the time to prioritize “you” is even more important. Like meditation or any other practice, the art of saying no is also a practice. So don't be rushed or harsh or drastic, give yourself a chance. Start slow but start and notice the difference and impact it has not just on you, but also on those around you. 

Martha: Define and respect your life balance. It’s super important to divide your workspace from your personal life. This is more critical now with the pandemic but this is an advice for life. I always have this clarity and respect it. As an example, when my son was little, I always had a schedule where I had at least three hours a day fully dedicated to him—that time really energized me! Finally, don’t feel guilty! If you feel vulnerable, ask for help!


With the celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, how is Google honoring this moment? 

Carolee: This year, Google kicked off a holistic campaign for IWD and WHM. We debuted a film celebrating the dimensions of women’s progress, highlighting achievements across major industries including science and technology, music, sports, business and politics. The company is also expanding tools for women-led businesses and job seekers, including the launch of Google Career Certificates, free virtual leadership workshops and 1:1 coaching sessions w/ 150+ Google coaches via Grow with Google. Additionally, we are also training over 80,000 female developers between March and April with 100+ global events from Women Techmakers. In fact, there’s so much great content and programs, if only we could have the time to experience it all! 


Do you have any other thoughts to share in celebration of International Women's Day?

Lindsey: International Women’s Day is an opportunity to hear from and support ALL women—whether gay/lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer—women who have often been absent from the conversation. We must use this as an opportunity to visibilize and lift up all women—particularly those who are most underrepresented.