Preparation Meets Opportunity
There are times in my life that I wonder how I got to be so lucky. It was the Roman philosopher Seneca who said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, and I am excited all my preparation allowed me to embrace this opportunity to join the band to lead Equity and Impact. We are bringing together three critical teams, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Sustainability, and Social Impact. Our shared mission is to cultivate a more diverse workforce, continue to hone our inclusive culture and drive our impact as a company. We believe in building an equitable future for our band members while uplifting the communities in which we do business, driving sustainability, and building our global philanthropic effort that supports our values.
Fixing Systems, Not Individuals
There are numerous learnings from 2020: many of us have roles that allowed us to work from anywhere and proved to be very productive (albeit fighting for the wifi with members of your household or neighbors!); even introverts miss being in the office; in every video call, someone had to be reminded that they were on mute; and every day we adapt to a new aspect of this “new normal”. Most importantly, it became very clear for many that to create social equity we must fix systems and institutions, not individuals. Public and private organizations need to review their policies, procedures and practices through a diversity lens to achieve equity for employees of all backgrounds and the communities they serve. To foster real change, companies will be required to examine the cultural artifacts and rethink existing power structures. Leaders will need to be vulnerable and go deep into self-inspection of their own understanding of racism and what it takes to be anti-racist.
Data and Science Informed
To create systemic change, we need to rely on science and data. The social problems we are set to fix are complex and in constant flux. In social research there is not an equivalent to Moore’s Law, so we require expertise from many different disciplines to build solutions. For decades, researchers in Human Sciences, like those in behavioral economics, anthropology, sociology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, have been providing us with data that we can use to test our practices and policies. We now need interdisciplinary inspection and understanding of the fundamental issues and problems confronting our workforce, our society and our planet. At Spotify we can bring together technology, art and behavioral science to solve these challenges.
Global Reach and Impact
As a global company with thousands of talented professionals, we are uniquely positioned to influence real change, both within Spotify and the business at large. We believe that everyone should be able to live with dignity and free from fear, in a community where they can thrive, in a sustainable environment. We have an opportunity to influence outcomes as we reduce our own carbon footprint and focus on corporate social responsibility. We will continue to expand our relationships with strategic partnerships globally and involve band members from around the world to support our work, building a deeper sense of community, and belonging for employees from all backgrounds.
Asking For, and Giving Grace
I spent a good part of 2020 asking for, and giving grace, forgiving, and asking for forgiveness. With empathy, I engaged with those who were fearful because they did not have the ‘correct language’ to talk about cultural competency, anti-racism and social justice, those who were ready to learn and were asking for help and guidance. Myself, I asked for grace many times, for example, when I got caught up on deliverables and almost missed acknowledging the pain some of my colleagues were dealing with. I do believe that ‘Inclusion is everyone’s job”’ but real inclusion can only occur when we are ALL ready to learn, search for the truth, appreciate the hard work needed to build our cultural competency, and give grace when appropriate.
Intentional and Strategic vs Haphazard and Sporadic
Many organizations have looked at sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and diversity and inclusion as ‘side of the desk’ work, mostly responding to external forces, in a haphazard and sometimes sporadic way. Editor and author Elaine Welteroth wrote: “In order to change the stories, You must first change the storytellers.” That is intentionality. Without intention we can’t have real impact. And that intention needs to show up in everything we do. We want to bring music, podcasts and new forms of audio to more people in more ways than ever before, expanding the storytellers pool to build the world’s first true audio network. We will be intentional and strategic in how we reduce our environmental impact, putting our values into action. We will be intentional on how we support creators and partners and serving our fans of all backgrounds around the world.
The Growth Mindset
I spent many years leading Learning and Leadership Development, but I first heard of the concept of growth mindset at my daughter’s school over a decade ago. Carol Dweck’s definition of a growth mindset is the belief that a person’s capacities and talents can be improved over time. Some of the characteristics of a growth mindset are essential to the work within the Equity and Impact team. We need to Accept and Embrace Challenges, Take Action, Remain Positive, Drive to Help Others, Be Resilient, Have a Passion for Learning, and Take Risks. We assume our band members will push us to demonstrate our growth mindset in everything we plan. We are taking on the challenge!
Leading with Empathy
We expect all of us to take responsibility for the impact on others; building productive relationships across teams, disciplines, and backgrounds where all are heard and feel respected. Leading with empathy is central to the work in equity and social impact.
When leading with empathy we create spaces for those that have been marginalized in the past so they feel seen and celebrated. Progress for one group does not need to come at the expense of other groups. When we lead with empathy, we create an environment where we all win, no matter your background.
I am eager to learn as quickly as possible all about Spotify, get to know the HR community and build relationships with Spotifiers who want to partner in our team’s mission. I have been listening to the podcast How to save the planet and each episode ends with ideas on how to get involved, what can each of us do – big and small actions. My son and I have been picking up plastic from parks and beaches for the last year, what started as a community service weekend project for his school, has now become a family ritual – wherever we go there is always plastic garbage to be picked up!
I look forward to receiving your own ideas on how to make Spotify the platform that is known for being the most accessible, equitable, and inclusive, where we unlock the potential of human creativity – by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.