Diversity, Inclusion, and Employee Experience (w/ Roeh & Kham)

Kicking off Living Corporate’s leadership spotlight with LiveRamp, Zach sits down with Khambrel Ward, head of DIB at LiveRamp, and LiveRamp’s Employee Experience Manager, Roeh Quisao, to talk about their journey on all matters employee experience and DIB. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Roeh & Kham and learn more about LiveRamp!

You can connect with Kham and Roeh on LinkedIn.

Find out more about LiveRamp on their website.

Read about LiveRamp’s commitment to DIB.

LiveRamp’s on LinkedIn and Twitter – connect with them!

You can check out LiveRamp’s Careers page on their website.

Want to know more about our LinkedIn Learning courses? Check them out!

Check out Living Corporate’s merch!

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TRANSCRIPT

Zach

Yo, partnership alert, partnership alert, partnership alert. Living Corporate has a partnership with LinkedIn Learning, an American massive open online course provider that provides video courses taught by industry experts across a wide array of subjects. Now, the partnership is because Living Corporate has courses on LinkedIn Learning focused on diversity, equity, inclusion for our leaders, career professionals, and anyone really looking to up skill themselves and be better allies. So make sure you check out our courses on LinkedIn Learning by clicking the link in the show notes. And let’s just say you don’t want to do that and you go to LinkedIn Learning on LinkedIn, search Living Corporate. We’ll be right there. All right. Peace.


Zach

What’s up y’all, this is Zach from Living Corporate, and I don’t know if y’all remember, but a few months ago we had on Kham Ward or Khambrel Ward. Khambrel is the head of diversity inclusion and belonging at LiveRamp, and we just kicked it off. Really appreciate our conversation on and off-mic, and I’m just really excited about this announcement, which is you’re about to listen to our inaugural kickoff of the LiveRamp Leadership Spotlight series. So, you know what I’m saying, I’m not even going to hold y’all super long, just know on this conversation that we had with some of LiveRamp’s senior-most leaders, movers, and shakers within their DIB realm and how they’re really impacting beyond that. Just very exciting, very inspiring, very encouraging conversations. I’m really looking forward to y’all hearing this discussion that we had with Kham and Roeh, and we’re going to talk a little bit about their roles and how they work together between the connection between DEI or DIB and employee experience. And there’s just a lot there. I’m excited for y’all to check it out. And before we do that, we’re going to tap in with Tristan.


Zach

Roeh, Kham, how y’all doing?


Kham

What’s up? What’s up? How you doing?


Roeh

Hello, hello.


Zach

So first of all, I just want to thank you, thank you both for taking the time to be here, to be on with Living Corporate, part of this LiveRamp and Living Corporate’s Leadership Spotlight series. Let’s just start with–look, you know, again, happy that y’all are here. A lot of folks, I know for me, I’ll be honest. I’ve heard of LiveRamp, but I was like, what is LiveRamp? Like what do y’all actually do? Like Kham, what do y’all do?


Kham

So listen, here’s the one-liner, right? LiveRamp makes it safe and easy to use data effectively. So you still might say, well, what does that even mean? Which is totally okay. Which is totally okay. Because Roeh has a human example of how to explain exactly what LiveRamp does. So Roeh?


Roeh

So here’s my example. So, you know, sometimes you’re shopping on the internet, like, looking for a pair of jeans, gonna look good this summer, and then you go on to another big website or another website and you’re like, Hey, now I’m getting ads for jeans. How did that happen? Well, LiveRamp is a company that helps utilize that data to personalize their experience online. So, I actually think it’s kind of neat because it used to be I would get like a bunch of ads for trucks. I live in San Francisco and I’m like, what? I don’t need a truck. At any point in my life do I need a truck. But do I want ads for incredibly cute pet toys for my pet rabbit Chubbie? I do. I do want those because then–I now have way too many–but, actually, maybe I don’t want as many of them because then I get too many of them. But anyway, that being said, that’s what LiveRamp does. It personalizes that experience on your phone or whatever, wherever you’re shopping or whatever you’re looking, so that what you’re seeing is really personalized to you and you’re not getting random ads.


Zach

That’s really cool. Thank you both. Let’s just start with LiveRamp’s journey to create a place where folks everyone felt like they could belong. Like, where do you believe this sentiment, this, I don’t even know what you want to call it, but like this journey. Like where do you believe it started?


Kham

So for me, it started with Roeh. Honestly, and she will be very bashful about saying no it didn’t, no it didn’t. So from our understanding—and Roeh, please jump in a second. I felt like this journey started with people like Roeh raising their hand, saying that this stuff is important and that the company need to take more of a focus. Now just prior, before Kham’s existence at LiveRamp–I was not here, but you have many people at LiveRamp where we empower people, which is one of our values, and Roeh exhibited that thing, when she stood up, stood up and said, Hey, we need ERGs, Hey, we need to focus more on this stuff. And I know I have an entire day job, but I think this is important. And I want to take this on as well. And that’s the culture here at LiveRamp, people leaning in even though it’s not their job, and I think that is what makes us pretty unique.


Roeh

So, I’ve been at the company for about four years now, when I started the company was pretty small. We were basically only one office. And there wasn’t a lot of things about culture that was super formal, other than our values, which a lot of them have kind of stood the test of time. But when I started, I was actually just an office manager. I managed the front desk. I made sure there was milk in the fridge, that kind of stuff. And one of the big things that I loved doing was managing all of the events in the office. I am Filipina, I’m a woman. And I identify as LGBTQ. So, during those celebrations and events, I wanted to highlight, like, my identity and my friends’ identities. And when you run events, you get the opportunity to decide who gets to be put on stage, who gets to be celebrated. And I wanted to do that with my friends. That’s why I worked at LiveRamp. And it was just that, it was just me and my friends wanting to celebrate the things that we love and having a place to do that. But I think as it evolved, people wanted more than that. They wanted developments, they wanted to be seen and heard more than just celebrated. They wanted some of their concerns addressed. And what was kind of started as, Oh, this is fun, came to, Hey, we need more than that. And the company wanted to–they kind of started seeing it, but I think the big turning point for us was summer . I think it was a big turning point for a lot of companies. But you know, the George Floyd protests really brought a lot out of people. I think it was the fire that the company needed to really invest in DIB, to make it top priority. I don’t think it wasn’t a priority. Again, like, they always wanted us to celebrate who we were, but I think that summer, everyone kind of got this fire to want to do something more than just enjoy the space. So it actually started moving really fast following that summer because we already had women, people of color, people from the LGBTQ community, they were already in influential roles throughout the company. We just never really talked about it much, but those people were already in the company. So they were invested, the business started to be invested in it, and they were just like, Hey, this is now important. This is important in our space, this is important in our identity. Let’s make this a thing. And by that fall, we hired Kham. That was what, what are you here, a year Kham? And at a year’s time, the team has already grown to three people. I mean, there’s a full fledged team in less than two years because the company cared about it and the business was ready to invest in it. So again, I think it really did start really organically, but as soon as the fire literally started lighting in our spaces, the business kind of just jumped in to really support that, which I think is a really special thing for someone working in tech. This is my first tech job too. So I didn’t really expect my business to do that, or a business to do that. So, I really love it.


Zach

You know, it’s curious, both of you even just very quickly into the interview, you talked very glowingly about each other. Clearly there’s synergy there in terms of how you both work together and you coordinate. I’m curious, I would love to hear from each of you, what your perspective is on the strategic through line between employee experience and diversity inclusion and belonging. How do those things work together tactically and practically at LiveRamp?


Kham

So I have this thought process about treating people like people. The only way you can treat people like people is through understanding that individuals are individual people and respecting them and treat them that way. And in that way, what you do is you treat people with respect. And that’s one of the missions of diversity work. Don’t lump people together, treat them like people. And then the whole culture piece around the employee experience is through diversity, is through a diversity lens. So my thing is to treat diversity like –the– thing, and not another thing, inside of any organization and any integration to that is, that holds true with employee experience. How do you treat employees with respect? How do you treat employees like they matter? How do you show up and show that you care? Is through diversity and do the work of diversity work, because we care about, do you notice that. We care about the hearts and the minds of the individuals every day. We are entrusted with the culture of the company. So we have to be in lock step.
And we do that through strategic programming. We do that through practices like Roeh team, and our team right now is game planning for the next six months, because we want to do it through a diversity lens. If more organizations looked at every business, and every team, and every model through a diversity lens, things like The Great Resignation would be awesome on a smaller scale, because then we’re saying that we care about people and we want to make sure people are treated fairly, no matter where they’re from and no matter who they are.


Roeh

I think for me, again, I came into this pretty organically. I have no background in DIB, no formal training, no formal education. The only thing that I’m here is I identify as things. So, for me, it’s not a vision, or a strategy, it’s just me or what I perceive. And if I feel like this is a way that I want to be respected and treated, that seems like the right thing for DIB. So the big thing, what happened when Kham came in, he brought in a lot of vision and strategy, and I got to be able to bring in the people side of it. And especially because I’ve worked here for so long, I’m pretty integrated with a lot of the people here. So, you need that vision and strategy to help guide the business and help guide where we’re going with DIB as a whole. But, for me, the employee experience part is–it matters even more how people act or engage with that strategy. Because you can put a strategy in place, but if the people who work at the company don’t actually follow those things, or they don’t believe in that, or it doesn’t really truly support the people that it’s trying to support, you’re not going to create that change that you want to see. It’s not going to really impact anyone or support the people that you want it to support. I don’t sit on the DIB team to this day anymore. Kham has his own team, and I have my own employee experience team myself, but that doesn’t matter because being on the DIB team doesn’t mean that they’re the only people that are running DIB. It has to be weaved into the company, it has to be weaved into people, because Kham and his team, like, they’re not going to make DIB successful at LiveRamp on their own. It has to be throughout the company with its people and how people experience and engage throughout the company. That’s how you’ll see the actual change. Otherwise, it’s just a really nice vision and strategy that you put on a website. The people’s–kind of what Kham said, like, their hearts and minds have to be involved in it. And they both have to work well together.


Zach

What has, I mean, again, you continue to talk about this synergy. And thank you Roeh. How has your collective employee experience and diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy evolved over time? And then how did the murder of George Floyd serve as a lightning rod moment or not? But was there anything that kind of helped facilitate that evolution?


Roeh

It was very grassroots, very the people doing things that the people wanted to do, and being in that place. But now, I think it has, it has changed so much because now it is a strategy. Like it’s not just the people doing things that we want to do, we’re really trying to influence the business, and creating a strategy that will create that change long-term. If it’s just grassroot people saying, Hey, this is important. We want to create change, and there’s not a Kham, and there’s not a strategy, it’s just going to be hard to actually create any type of change. So we’re in a corporate setting. I think that’s probably the case with anything, like you know, if you’re in a political setting. Unless you have the backing of the leadership, it’s not going to move the way that you want it. At least not at the speed that you want. So I think that’s one of the biggest evolutions, is it’s gone from grassroots to like a true business entity. And I think some of the challenges of that is just making those two pieces work well together. The grassroot and the business, the business and the people. It’s not that they can’t, it’s just, sometimes they see things a little bit differently. I don’t know. What’s your thoughts, Kham?


Kham

Yeah, so I would echo those sentiments. When I came on board about a year ago it went about like, let’s see what we’ve done already. Let’s evaluate, let’s look at the items, and thus, trying to figure out how to get those wins that are to continue the momentum of summer . ‘Cause we know summer was a very pivotal shift for diversity work in a corporate setting. Never has there ever been such a sequence of incidents in my lifetime that I’ve seen that really made a shift in corporate so quickly, good, bad or indifferent, no matter how it happened or why it happened, no matter the motivation behind it. We can all align on the commonality around diversity was the thing, right? No matter how we got there, it was something, right?
So, when I came into the role, it was more about let’s figure out what needs to be done. We’re doing some things, but we need to take it to the next level. . is what I kept hearing, right? Roeh is doing such an amazing job at the things she’s doing now, but how can we up-level? How can we make it a business thing? How can we create buy-in at the highest level and continue to keep that buy-in? Because Roeh knows that, that passion only gets you so far. When summer , fall , if it wasn’t [inaudible] passing, it would have died out, or it would have been another news cycle that probably would have disappeared. But now we have the hearts and the minds of leadership, and they wanted to get involved because they cared about their individuals.
So from there, we catapulted it into a space where we will now not just try to do feel-good programs, programs where people see individuals. Now we’re talking about programs that have strategic alignment to the bottom line. How do we continue to stay in the black? How do we continue to grow our business? How do we continue to drive the market in our space? And how does diversity sit at that table, if you will? Or sit in those meetings and make sure they conduct some type of diversity lens or challenge in every space? So you went from the, Oh, my God, this is a thing, this [feels good?], [let’s?] make sure people are seen and heard in the workplace, so let’s provide access, education, business model. Let’s provide an opportunity for us to pitch to customers and clients, future clients, about diversity and what we’re doing and making sure everyone is aligned.
And so Zach, for transparency, I have never seen so many diversity supplier requests from clients as I’ve seen this past year. I promise you that’s like a full thing now. You’ve got to answer these questions. Because now companies are more locked into the fact that diversity is important. So, if you have a diversity metric, diversity supplier, dah dah dah, it makes sense now. So, it’s awakening, like you said, it’s a lightning rod. It made us push more, and I’m excited about the future of it.


Zach

Yes. I’m curious, as we talk about all of this growth and change and, even now there’s people have put various points of view in terms of like, is this just a moment and not a movement? And there’s pessimism on what this really means. You know, my perspective is that this prioritization around workplace equity, employee experience, those things are not going away. They might not make headlines, but they’re not going to go away as points of focus and emphasis for organizations, company to company, especially as you think about really engaging and attracting top talent. I’m curious, have there been any growing pains as this space, both of you, Roeh, Kham, as y’all continue to evolve and LiveRamp’s footprint continues to expand?


Kham

So I think for us, and I’ll jump in real quick. I think for us the growing pain with DIB is how you scale it, how you’re going to continue to keep it top of mind and make people care about it at the highest level. Like, there’s some care, but you have to always care about DIB at the highest level, because it deals with the hearts and minds of individuals. Never have you ever a space in a company where you deal so much with the upgrading of individuals. Like, you can teach someone how to code, then you can tell them how to code certain things. You could teach someone a product and tell them how to product certain things. In DIB, you inherit what someone has been wired for however long they’ve been living, which is vastly different from any other thing, right? So you always have to care about DIB at the highest level. So growing pain for us is how to scale and how to move as fast as the company is moving, how to be intentional about our efforts around our strategy plan and making sure individuals, as individuals and leaders switch out, as we hire and as people leave and as people grow, how do we continue the messaging of DIB is –the– thing at LiveRamp and not another thing? How do we continue to make sure DIB is top of mind for everyone and everyone can see themselves at our table and everyone is actually being a teammate and a champion for our space? We have this saying internally that “We are all guardians of DIB,” right? Everybody plays a role in DIB. How do we continue to make that happen? Even through the transition of leaders, even through the transition of our workforce, and keep that culture strong? Those are the things that’s top of mind. That’s what keeps me up at night right now, Zach.


Roeh

I agree with that. I think scaling for any company, but especially for ours because of just how quickly we’re growing. I mean, we’re hiring at a crazy rate, and there’s just people joining. We are up to like, what, over , people. Four years ago there was, like, people. So, I mean, the company is just growing at such a huge speed. And just because you have a team like Kham’s doesn’t mean that everyone’s at the same level of understanding too. You have people all over the country, all over the world, and their understanding of DIB is really, really different. So how do you get everyone on that journey and understanding that same thing? Yes, it’s hard to talk about DIB because people see it so differently when you’re a company of this size. I think scaling that is really tough. The other thing I think is really tough with scaling is, because again, I’m on the workplace team. So scaling when you have , people, offices, that’s hard to do because doing something for everyone now is a bigger budget. It’s a heavier lift. The perspectives are really different now. So it takes something like showing gratitude. When you’re a small company, you buy someone cupcakes, you give them a shout out, it’s all nice and dandy. But now, buying somebody cupcakes to show them appreciation, if you bought everyone at the company cupcakes, that’s several hundred thousand dollars.


Kham

Right.


Roeh

And showing gratitude means something really, really different for people all over the world. Some people love public shout outs. Some people hate public shout outs and want a personal note written to them. Gratitude and showing appreciation just vary so much. So how do you make sure you see people as people when there’s so many people? How do you possibly scale that? How do you make personalization a thing when there’s , people at a company that also is distributed and most of them never see each other? That’s a really tough challenge I think for a DIB workplace, kind of the working world now, is you don’t want to be a number, you want to be seen for who you are. But now you’re not seeing people in person, and there’s so many more people to know. I just think that that’s just going to be a scaling challenge for every company and every team. And then, my last point on scaling, because it’s super top of mind for me too, is when this started it was grassroots, it was the people. It was people like me who just took it on as my additional job. But now that this is big, how do you still involve us without burning us out? How do you involve the people to be part of the strategy, be involved in making the change, but they have day jobs?
They have other things that they’re doing, and they can’t–especially people of color, people in these communities, they can’t fully carry the burden of progressing that company forward or our company forward. So how do you give them support and power, and empower them to do things, but don’t give them the full weight of making the change that you want to see for that company? How you scale that I think is really hard, because you don’t want to take it away from them. They’re the ones who it started with, and those are the ones who it’s for, but you also don’t want to burn them out by asking them to carry that torch for you and make that kind of change. So I think scaling is the bottom line word challenge or growing pains for any company. But yeah, those are, for me, top of mind.


Zach

As each of you, you look at the next months, we’re talking about, let’s just say between now and the end of next year. What does the future look like for DIB and employee experience at LiveRamp?


Kham

Honestly, we’re going to continue to learn. We’re going to continue to be educated, and we’re going to continue to meet the needs of our people. And I say that wholeheartedly because that’s top of mind for me. Like. I thought about this question and I thought about, Do I want to give you my big five-year commitment strategy that I got and all this other stuff and continue? But at the heart of it, it’s about people. At the heart of it, it’s about hearing people, listening to people and meeting their needs. It’s not about what DIB can do. It’s not about what LiveRamp can do. Hell, it’s not even about what Kham can do. It’s about what we can do collectively as a human race, honestly, to take care of the individuals that are marginalized? So for me, I’ve tried to keep that top of mind and keep focused on that north star. And then, by practicing these things and making it purposeful, we will then enhance our community and hopefully make Roeh’s job a bit easier. Right? So that’s the thought process for us in the next months. Continue to learn, continue to listen, continue to be humble, and continue to be agile, because you’ve got to pivot. What you think will work this quarter might not necessarily work if you don’t necessarily know how to pivot. So you need to be agile and be what individuals need us to be within the company. That’s my thought process.


Roeh

Yeah. For me, I’ve thought about this quite a bit. What’s most important for a company right now? I mean, I actually think what’s most important for people is just being able to create meaningful connections right now. That’s just hard. I think people are in a place, like, it’s been almost two years of COVID, summer of . I think people are still healing from that and will continue to heal from that. There’s fires, there’s global warming effects, there’s so much news and pain, and I think that people just need to find a place where they feel like they belong, that they connect with people, that there’s meaning in their lives and that they have a way to give back to things that are meaningful, that they can affect the changes that they want to see, that they have relationships and connections with people that are meaningful in general. And then just being able to actually find joy. Find other people that you love music with together, you love dogs with together. You love talking about what you made for lunch, because now you’re making yourself lunch instead of coming to the office and making lunch. Just finding joy and connection and meaning in any of the places that we can. That’s, to me, what’s going to be really important for DIB and employee experience just for awhile, because it looks so different than it did in the past. The way to find joy and connection used to be you show up in an office and you see a person and that’s how you connect, but that’s so different. Like, the world is so different. So how do you find that stuff now? How do you create that meaning? How do you find that connection with Zoom, with separation? With all of this news that’s not changing? Everyone just feels the weight of the world, how do you find a place where they feel like, Okay, like, yes, that’s still happening, but I’m with people that I feel safe with, I have people who understand me and I feel like I belong here, and at least I know that there’s a community that surrounds me. To me, that’s what we have to kind of do for the next, I don’t know, year, forever.
And you kind of talked about do you think that this is a trend, DIB, or even employee experience, Zach, and I think it’s only a trend if we allow it to be. And I think by putting people like Kham in a place of power, putting systems in place, putting a strategy into a company, it can’t dissipate because there’s people who are backing it. And you know, LiveRamp isn’t a company that has a mission to change DIB. That’s not what our company is actually for. We create a product, and it’s a great product and it’s a meaningful product, but people wonder like, Why wouldn’t you go work for a non-profit? Why wouldn’t you go create change in a different way? Well, I actually think that working at a company like LiveRamp that has so much influence, we can actually be a catalyst for change in a way that needs change and in a space that needs change, which is tech. So if we can create and make LiveRamp kind of like an example, a place where people really feel like they belong, that DIB really is thriving, other people can use that as an example and say, Hey, this is how we could do that. People could learn from us. And even though we’re still learning ourselves, we can start to be that example and create that change within our industry that then trickles throughout the world. If people only went into non-profit work and thought that that’s how you create change, I think that we’re kind of going on the inside by working at a tech company and saying, Hey, we can create change with something that is already influential, and the bigger that LiveRamp gets, the more influential it gets–and I have my stock money bet on that it’s going to get bigger and more influential–the more that we have a bigger responsibility and ability to change the way that people engage with each other in the workspace and the way that they treat each other in the workspace. So I think that we have a really awesome opportunity to create actual change and that we’re doing that by integrating it into something that exists and fighting it from within. So I don’t think that that was actually a part of the question, but I really wanted to be able to say that.


Zach

First of all, this is the LiveRamp/Living Corporate Leadership Series, okay? So it’s your question if you want it to be your question. This is great. I want to thank you Kham, Roeh, for being a guest on Living Corporate. Phenomenal conversation. Make sure you check out the links in the show notes. Learn more about what LiveRamp is doing and learn more about their leadership, some of their plans around DIB. And thank y’all both. We’ll talk to y’all soon.


Kham

I had a great time. Thank you.


Roeh

Thanks.


Zach

And we’re back. Yo, shout out to LiveRamp. Thank you so much for working and partnering with Living Corporate to really have these really dope conversations. Y’all listen, we’re going to be here for a second, all right? So check in with us on this particular series every other week, all right? But trust we’re gonna be talking about LiveRamp over the next six weeks or so, even if they’re not on that episode, all right? So just keep your ears peeled. And I’m just really excited. Look, this is really fun. We have some really dope conversations lined up if that doesn’t kind of give you a taste of what we’re really going be talking about with LiveRamp for the next few weeks. But look, make sure you give us five stars on Apple Podcasts, tell your friends about us. and we’ll talk soon. Also check out the links in the show notes to learn more about LiveRamp, learn more about just their leadership team and what they got going on over there, all right. So until next time, this has been Zach. Peace.

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