April 15, 2024

From ERG Leader to DEI Practitioner | Stephanie Hernandez (Highspot)

In this episode of Intent to Impact, Stephanie Hernandez, Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Program Manager at Highspot, shares her journey from leading ERGs at Zillow to becoming a DEI practitioner. She discusses the challenges and successes of this transition, highlighting the value of learning, mentorship, and leveraging ERG experiences for career growth. Stephanie offers insights into how ERG and DEI initiatives can profoundly influence both professional development and company culture, and she gives advice for ERG leaders looking to advance within and outside the DEI domain.

Stephanie Hernandez is a dedicated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practitioner with a dynamic background spanning over 8 years. Beginning her journey as an ERG leader, Stephanie quickly distinguished herself as a catalyst for positive change within organizations. Her passion for fostering inclusive cultures and innate ability to connect with individuals at all levels have been driving forces in her career journey.

With a mantra echoing Antonio Tijerino's words, "You are not lucky to be here. The world needs your perspective. They are lucky to have you," Stephanie is passionate about ensuring everyone feels valued and empowered. As a Global DEI&B Program Manager, she strategically guides executive sponsors and leads end-to-end DEI&B initiatives, driving positive change and amplifying diverse voices.

Stephanie's dedication extends beyond program management; she cultivates the next generation of ERG leaders, imparting her knowledge and passion for diversity and inclusion. Through her leadership, she embodies the belief that diversity isn't just a checkbox—it's an invaluable asset driving innovation and progress.

Key Takeaways

  • One of the main challenges faced by Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders centers around the difficulty of balancing their ERG responsibilities with their primary job roles. Many leaders report struggling to find time for organizing meaningful events and are often faced with the disappointment of low turnouts or lack of engagement. This balancing act is a common pain point that can lead to frustration and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • ERG leadership positions offer a unique avenue for career development by allowing individuals to demonstrate and hone key skills such as leadership, budget management, and stakeholder engagement. These roles provide visibility within the organization and can pave the way for opportunities in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) field or other career paths, underscoring the potential for ERG participation to significantly impact professional growth.
  • For Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practitioners aiming to support ERG leaders more effectively, recognizing the time commitment involved and aligning support with ERG leaders' career goals is vital. Establishing strong, trusting relationships, understanding their challenges, and offering opportunities for professional development are key strategies. This approach not only enhances the effectiveness of ERGs but also contributes to creating a more inclusive and supportive organizational culture.

In this episode we cover:

  • (00:36) Welcome to Intent to Impact: The ERG Podcast
  • (01:01) Stephanie Hernandez: From ERG Leader to DEI Practitioner
  • (03:07) The Transition from ERG Leader to Equity and Belonging Team
  • (06:30) Supporting ERGs at Highspot: A New Chapter
  • (19:59) Leveraging ERG Experience for Career Advancement
  • (23:20) Professional Development for ERG Leaders
  • (26:46) Advice for ERG Leaders Seeking Career Advancement Outside DEI
  • (31:10) Connecting with Stephanie Hernandez

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