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Building diverse and equitable organizations: Q&A with Loren Hudson, Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Cable

As part of City Year’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization, we are actively building Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, and Equity (DBIE) practices into every aspect of our work—from equity checks, to recruiting staff and AmeriCorps members, to collaborating with partners. Our organization was founded on the belief that diverse teams of idealistic young people can change the world for the better; DBIE is not only at the core of our values, but it is critical for moving our mission forward. Read more about City Year’s DBIE work.

Across other sectors, many organizations are on their own DBIE journeys and are striving to create more equitable and inclusive cultures. This exploration has reinforced relationships between City Year Philadelphia and our corporate community of supporters. Our Executive Director Darryl Bundrige recently spoke with Loren Hudson, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Comcast Cable, about her organization’s DBIE efforts and advice for other leaders who are looking to pursue this work. Read more below!

 

Darryl Bundrige: Why do you do this work?

Loren Hudson: I have the honor and the true pleasure of serving as Comcast Cable’s Chief Diversity Officer. And I’m the first-ever executive in this role. I have the opportunity each and every day to help drive meaningful change within our organization and our communities. I work to ensure that the processes, partnerships and programs we have help drive advancement throughout our organization and that the commitments that we made around diversity, equality, equity, inclusion are always happening in our workplace and in the communities where we live and serve.

I tell people all the time that this is my dream role. From the moment I said yes to Comcast, I saw their commitment to DE&I [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion]. I’ve been a part of the organization for 21 years, so this isn’t new for us; this has been a longstanding and significant piece of our culture, and one that really influences me and the impact I want to make in my role, in the organization, and in the world. I wake up every day kicking off the covers knowing that I’m going to drive DE&I, not only for my teammates who I care about and love, but within our business and within our operations. And I hope that people feel it and see it, and our children feel it and see it. I’m proud to be Comcast’s first Chief Diversity Officer, but I’m also proud to do work that I’ve loved for my entire life.

 

DB: That’s terrific. With that said, Comcast is a phenomenal supporter of City Year’s work, and City Year as an organization is working hard to address systemic and racial inequalities in our educational system. What about that work resonates for you?

LH: I would say for us, when you think about our partnerships and synergies with City Year, it’s around Comcast’s commitment not only to connectivity, but also to ensuring that our children are cared for. Over the last year, we have done some amazing things of providing spaces like Lift Zones, where children can go and have access to internet and computers. But we also know that we should be impacting the future for our children too, so thinking about skill sets that we should be focusing on as they progress through school, and eventually enter college and seek out roles within organizations. Education is key, building those future skill sets is key, and ensuring that connectivity is there is important because everything we do has some type of broadband or mobile connection. It’s necessary for our children as they move through school and transition into the world.

 

DB: Have you had to advocate for diversity and inclusion with colleagues who don’t understand its importance and, if so, how did you do so?

LH: I wouldn’t necessarily say advocate. I would say I’ve had to support leaders in their learning journey. I believe that most leaders are very interested in ensuring that they have diverse teams, and many leaders are raising their hands and asking more questions than they ever have before. They’re really looking for help in the journey and identifying resources to help their teams grow and diversify.

One thing we all know at Comcast is that diverse teams are more effective, more successful, more innovative, and more creative. People want to be a part of a team that inspires and helps bring your best ideas to life.

 

DB: It’s great that you mentioned the journey of leaders, because one of the questions that’s come up for us—for those who are in management or leadership roles—is how can they support their staff to build a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging on a daily basis?

LH: I think first it starts with empathy. Being an empathetic leader is really, really important, now more than ever. The world has felt heavy during the pandemic and with all the social injustices going on in the world leaders need to be able to listen and empathize. They need to get to know their teammates, and really understand who they are as people, what drives them, and what they’re dealing with. I think people feel closer to a leader when it feels like they really care about them and are there to support and develop them. The better we can do that, the stronger our relationships are, and the more successful a leader can be.

 

DB: Thank you. From my own personal experience, I think that’s all very true. What challenges would you say that you are working to overcome, either personally or as a department or team?

LH: Our challenges probably aren’t different from many others. For one, education, and ensuring that we are all continually in the space of learning and developing ourselves. Everyone is at a different phase in their journey, but we all have to continue to be open to wanting to learn and develop, and making that a part of who we are and how we operate. I don’t think the challenges we encounter will necessarily become easier, but the way we address them will be easier.

The other thing I would say is that it’s about helping all leaders and all teams ensure that we create a space where people can bring their authentic selves into work. That comes through having a growth mindset, but also from developing relationships, seeking to understand where people are coming from, and being curious. And knowing that it’s not always going to be comfortable. We are all going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. For me, personally, when I’m uncomfortable it causes me to take more action and to lean in a little bit more so I can work my way through it. For all of us, I think that’s going to be a key piece of how we learn and how we evolve.

 

DB: How do you keep people excited and engaged in the work and the learning process without DBIE being viewed as another corporate training initiative?

LH: In my experience, what a leader is excited about, a team is excited about. We found that sometimes leaders would go through DE&I training and be really excited about it, but they weren’t quite sure about how to communicate it to their team. So, we created huddle decks to make it easier for a leader to go through the developmental process and prepare to present and share it with their teams. If their engagement is infectious, it drives engagement among staff.

The other thing we’ve done that has been pretty significant and impactful is a day called “DE&I Day,” where our organization pauses and focuses on DE&I together. Our teammates get to learn about our DE&I initiatives and hear from our senior leaders, and we have a focused ask; this summer, we had a learning journey where we asked teammates to engage in reading from our Diversity Hub. We’ve seen an almost 200% increase in traffic on the site because people were inspired to go and check out the content. We’re trying to create this drive and energy, and we want everyone to know that our senior leaders are engaged and are saying this work is important.

 

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