From Covid-19 to the murder of George Floyd, headline-making events of the past few years have caused many organizations to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves if they’re truly a face of modern business.
Fortunately for Domo, it was able to answer that question with an emphatic “yes”—not just because it quickly developed resources and apps designed to help customers “get back to work,” but because it had a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and people like Nikki Walker helping to shape and steer DEI initiatives.
Building on her work over the past three years as Domo’s director of brand experience and community engagement, Walker was recently named director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
In that role, she’ll also lead Domo’s newly formed DEI leadership council, which was created to bring a more contextual application of DEI best practices and outcomes across the entire business.
I interviewed Walker about how the council plans to accomplish its main goal, what she’s learned most since joining Domo in 2019, what she’d like to hear people say about the company’s culture, and more.
Q: A lot has happened in this world since you joined Domo! From a DEI perspective, how has the business changed in that time frame?
DEI has always been important to Domo, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it helps us build a stronger business.
When I joined Domo, the primary focus was on gender parity and building awareness around blockers to inclusion such as unconscious bias. Over the years, however, we have expanded our focus on DEI with a much broader lens to ensure we are able to recruit and retain the best talent and to better serve our global customer base.
Part of this effort includes engaging more intentionally with community organizations. These connections have helped us learn where there are barriers to access for underserved communities, and helped us make strides to build bridges.
In conjunction with this deeper community engagement, we’ve also served more nonprofit organizations in our Domo for Good program, which lends the power of data and our platform with the expertise of our people and partners to help nonprofits amplify the good they do in the world.
Q: What do you attribute that progress to? What was the biggest challenge to overcome?
A: I attribute Domo’s progress around DEI to the fact that it is supported from the top down. With the summer of 2020 giving Americans a front-row seat to injustices in the Black community, our DE&I initiatives became more programmatic, which has helped embed DEI more firmly in our corporate culture.
The biggest challenge to overcome was that our former DEI practice could have been perceived as reactionary. Now, there is a DEI strategy in place that touches all parts of our business and propels company culture.
Q: How did you go about creating your initial role with Domo (director of brand experience and community engagement), and why did you feel creating such a role was important?
A: Fortunately for me, Domo is a company that is concerned about talent. We recruit the best, and our company is better for it. After speaking with Domo executives, I learned of the desire to be a thought leader in the DEI space. As a communications professional for more than two decades, I understood that inclusion starts with community.
So, my offer to Domo was a direct connection to the community pulse of Utah. It opened doors for us to amplify voices from within and support those working with the future leaders of tomorrow who will fill our employment pipelines. Diversity of thought is key in any business. Connecting with brilliance in diverse communities supports that need.
Q: What have you learned most over these past three years?
A: I have learned that with innovation and determination nothing is out of reach. We can change the world, one employee at a time.
Q: What excites you most about this new, expanded role? What are you aiming to achieve, both in the near term and long term?
A: I am excited for the opportunity to execute a strategy for Domo that will support its diversity and inclusion goals. Sharing the tech industry with talented individuals who need a hand up rather than a handout gives me joy.
The long-term plan is to continue to drive programs and policies that create a welcoming community for all Domo employees and those in the communities where we live and work.
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about the DEI leadership council. Why was it formed? Why does it stand to make an even more positive impact at Domo?
A: The council was created to ensure that we have eyes across the organization that can look at our business with the DEI lens. This group will advise on policies and procedures that will affect the company and our clients in a positive way.
The council will also work to prioritize and support specific opportunities in the community that promote inclusion. By immersing the entire company in DEI, we amplify our voices exponentially. The hope is that other companies will follow suit so that a culture of inclusion permeates Silicon Slopes.
Q: What would you most like to hear someone say about Domo’s culture (as it relates to DEI) in, say, a year or two?
A: In two years, I’d love for people to look at Domo as a microcosm of the best kind of world: a place that welcomes and supports authenticity and diversity of all kinds. We will accomplish our goals—and we will know it—by watching the halls become more and more inclusive.