Mo: Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to this week’s everyday inclusion and belonging where we talk about everything DEI under the sun.

I am super, super excited to have Jessica Nava, Jess, joining me today from Qualtrics.  Jess and I have known each other since really, the beginning of Moxie. I say that we’re at Moxie 4.0 right now an she was with Moxie 1.0 when we were a peer advisory group for women. And Jess, you were living in Rochester, NY at the time. And now you’re in Utah and working for Qualtrics. So, a lot has changed.

And I’d love for you to introduce yourself because I never do people justice.

Jessica: No, you’re amazing, Maureen. Thank you for the time, I’m excited to chat today. So as Maureen said I’m Jessica Nava. I’m the global chair for the women’s leadership development employee Resource Group at Qualtrics.

That is, in addition to my day job.

Right which most of us living in the DEI space are doing this in addition to our other job. So, I’m also the global partner manager for Deloitte at Qualtrics. So, I’ve been a part of Qualtrics now for gosh, going on three years. I was a sales leader for two years and then moved to our partner ecosystem team where we with global consulting firms, are taking XM to the world.

Mo: Which is so fun, right. I can’t believe it’s been almost three years.

Jessica: Me either. To make the jump from New York to Utah was huge.

Mo: Right a little different.

OK, so let’s talk about everything that you’ve been up to with WLD, sort of where it was three years ago. Because you jumped into this group right away, yeah? And then you’ve been in a leadership role since the start Jess? I can’t remember.

Jessica: I have, yeah, yeah.

Mo: So, let’s even just talk about what’s the foundation of that group and how it’s evolved overtime?

Evolving Committee

Jessica: Yeah, so a big part of the reason that I came to Qualtrics, originally the person that recruited me was Dan Watkins. He was our global head of sales at that point and he was specifically recruiting for women. He was being intentional about recruiting women in leadership. Women in technology, right?

And I had come from a 20-year legacy of enterprise sales, enterprise leadership, and there are just so very few women in that space.

And so, during our conversations he was like, Jess I’m going to be completely transparent with you. Like this is an area that we’re trying to improve. We’ve got this women ERG WLD, which now has been around for about four years, and I’d love for you to be an active part in it. Like with the amount of experience that you have, I want you to come in and just like jump in. And I was like good, because that’s how I approach things, right? I’m going to dive in.

So, I started a Qualtrics in January 2018 and just started to attend like the monthly meetings that were happening at the committee level. I joined a discussion group. We do those two times a year, so I grabbed a daring greatly. And you know we get a bunch of people together, and so began my affinity for Brené Brown.

Right exactly total girl crush.

Mo: You got to interview her yeah?

Jessica: I did get to interview Brené.

Let me tell you like career defining moment to have Brené Brown say your name. I was like, oh I’m going to cry.

Mo: OK, so keep going. You started these conversations.

Jessica: Yeah, and so really starting to get active in the discussion groups and we decided to roll out a newsletter because WLD didn’t have a newsletter.

Um, so we got active and just kind of what the overall branding was of the women’s group and then got active in the working moms committee. So, a lot of the structure was already in place, right. We had these amazing subcommittees that just, they needed a little bump and a little bit of direction from a leadership perspective.

So, there were four amazing women that had founded this group. I had set up conversations with each of them and tried to capture what their vision was and then try to take this thing to the next level. And so, I got really active for like 6 months and then our then chair who did an amazing job, decided to move to Dublin.

Um, and when she moved, we opened up a vote for chair. One of my girlfriends, Vicki Tisdale, shout out to her was like, Jess, you should go for it.

You know, and like a lot of women, I was like, I don’t know, like, yeah right? Like I really doubted myself and like I, you know I didn’t study in DEI. I am passionate about it, but I don’t know a ton about it.

And she’s like Jess, you will be amazing. So, I went for it and now here we are two years later, and it’s been an amazing ride.

Mo: I think there are so many lessons in what you just shared. Sort of how it started with four women that were really committed to it. Understanding that there was leadership support for that. And then, really looking at different ways to engage right, and how to keep meeting your internal audience with things that they needed, right? Let’s have a book club, let’s have an E-newsletter. And you know, I know that because of Covid, your big conference had to be cancelled.

I even think about the fact that at that conference, you were going to have the equality lounge.

Jessica: Yeah.

Mo: Right? An all the speakers, I was so bummed that I was supposed to be on one of the panels there. But you know, even how you pulled that into your big conference and your big user, you know everyone was going to be there in just a few short years.

Jessica: Yeah, and that’s actually a really fun story that I think would be motivational to people listening. So, we partnered with the female quotient lounge, just an amazing resource. They do all kinds of amazing events and create these spaces for women that has now evolved into what they call their Equality Lounge.

And so that first year that we did it, I kind of went rogue.

Mo: Better to ask forgiveness.

Jessica: Right, and so we had just been acquired by SAP and their team you know, they’re heavily involved with the female quotient lounge and so we decided to partner with them. And they sponsored, they got us connected with Deloitte Digital who is a huge sponsor of the female quotient lounge right. And it was just a lot of networking to make sure that we could pull it off.

And so, the space was like, it was amazing, right. Like you would step in and just feel like it was a feminine space. Yes, right? Like white couches, flowers, signs all over talking about diversity, equity and inclusion measurement, right? You can only change what you can measure, and then the panel discussions that happened all throughout the day.

And the best part Maureen was the feedback from our customers. They were like thank you, thank you, thank you for recognizing right, that this is a challenge. I mean specifically, when you look at the market research world, it is dominated by women, right? It’s like 70% women.

Right, so a lot of the attendees that we have at X4 just dove in and they loved it, and we were so excited to have it this last year, and of course it got cancelled.

Mo: Well, and I think there is always that, that idea of holding space. Holding space for you know, for the conversation for the energy. And this I would say is for any group, it is to hold space.

It was interesting because back when I started Moxie there, you know people would say, well, why just women? And I would say, you know there is space that is necessary across the gender spectrum, right, for us all to be together. There’s space that’s necessary for men to be together. And then there’s time when it should just be women.

Because you can have different conversation There’s different energy and they’re really important things that happened here that thread through all of them. So yeah,

Jessica: I couldn’t agree more, and you know, we get asked that question all the time, right. And I think it’s a good question right, for men to ask right? Why? Why only a women’s group or any you know, potential ally, right?

Like why do we need this? And I think this year we’ve recognized more than ever that these conversations need to be had, and I think there’s a time and a place for joint conversations where we have to bring men into the conversation. Absolutely necessary. But there’s also a time and a space needed just for your under represented group to get together and talk about the challenges that you’re experiencing.

Mo: I think that brings me to my next question. Let’s talk about executive sponsorship. Are men involved? How are they involved? You know, not in the Equality Lounge, but overall for WLD.

Jessica: Yeah, so it starts at the top right when these four women founded WLD they talk about the conversation that they had in one of our favorite conference rooms overlooking the Wasatch Mountain Front. Which is absolutely stunning. I miss it so much, but they pulled Ryan Smith our cofounder into the room and said, right like we have these issues.

We’ve got a struggle in getting women into sales and engineering and then promoting women into leadership and so we need your executive sponsorship. You’re buying into number one, allow us to have this group right, and then to back us visibly and audibly throughout the organization.

And so, Ryan has been just an amazing supporter of ours. He is involved in a ton of our events and is still a voice today for WLD.

But then we’ve had to go and get additional executives on board.

Mo: Of course.

Jessica: Amazing to get Ryan involved, right, but now we need to go and get like the rest of his staff to be completely aligned and so, they’re all on board. But you have to be intentional in the ask, and that’s one of the things that I learned about being the chair of this group is, our executives are so busy running the business that they don’t have time to necessarily stop and think about these initiatives.

Importance of ERG Leaders

It’s our job as ERG leaders and chairs to be like, here are the five things that we need from you organizationally. And so that intentional ask has taken us to the next level.

Mo: I think that like, I want to do a full stop, pause.

Did you all hear what Jess just said? First identify the need, what you’re going to ask for, what support you need, and then ask yeah. I think sometimes we make up these stories about executive support and you nailed it, they’re busy, right? They’ve got a million things happening, when they’re asked with specifics, they are always willing to support.

Jessica: Exactly, and so same with men, right? Because you asked about, or talked about ally ship, right? And so, I think most men want to get involved.

The thing that I hear from them is, you know, we don’t want to take a woman’s seat at the table. We don’t want to attend and preclude women from joining, right? So, there’s this like, this ambiguity around when and how to engage, right. And that’s true of all of our five employee resource groups.

So, we’ve got the five ERG’s, right, WLD for women, Q Pride, which is actually the shirt that I’m wearing today for our LGBTQ plus employees, then we have Q Salute for veterans. We have mosaic for our employees of color.

And as those Q Groups have grown, we decided to put an overarching inclusion council together. So, for all of those leaders to come together and share ideas. Because WLG was kind of like the furthest along, and so how could we share the way that we were successful?

Mo: I think it’s so good to have a best practice cohort of your leadership across those groups, because, gosh you can learn from each other.

Share Your Success

Jessica: So much. And so, like this thing has evolved over the you know, what, three years that I’ve been at the organization. We went from kind of each doing our own thing to this inclusion council and then getting an executive sponsor just for that group, right? And so that’s given us more of a voice, more power to go out to employees.

And then within that, that inclusion council, we’ve created an ally group.

Right, so specifically one of the biggest challenges that we have is ERG’s is getting people right, activating that 70 or 80% of the employees that are not under represented.

Mo: Right, right, right.

Jessica: And so, like that committee specifically, is a safe space for them to go you know, to have those, our mosaic group refers it to you know, clumsy conversations?

The like awkward things like I’m going say the wrong thing, I’m going to ask the wrong question, and that’s OK. Like that space is where you go do that and learn and develop as a person and then come back to your team stronger.

Mo: Oh, I love that, because you know the app? We created the app so that people had that place to go get the information and I love that you’ve activated that a step further. Like here’s a space where we can get together and have conversation about that.

And, one of the things that came out of all this is your Ember Summit.

Jessica: Yes!

Mo: So, let’s talk about that because I know it’s coming up and I get to be on a panel. I’m so honored, so.

I loved the story of how that started and how that’s evolved.

Jessica: Yeah, so Ember started, this will be our third year, our third annual summit. It started in WLD which I think for a lot of folks in ERG space’s, is like it’s the women’s group because we’ve got the most people that are like grass roots efforts start there. And then bubble across the organization. And so, it started as a WLD event and honestly it was like I think a 2-hour event over lunch.

Diversify ERG Group Thought

We had some people come in and do lightning talks and it was super inspirational. But of course, being the feedback company that we are, we got some feedback from our employees and the attendees and they said this was amazing, but it wasn’t intersectional enough. Like the lens was just too narrow. So last year we expanded it to include all of our Q groups.

And it just took it to a new level. Because you’re not, you’re not just one thing, right? You were made up of a mix of backgrounds and education, ethnicity and religion. So,– it was really beautiful how we brought in all of those components.

Mo: It’s not surprising, right that it started with WLD, because most organizations, their first ERG was a women’s group and the women’s group tend to focus on white women, right? And then it was really great to see. You name the five, and then hey, let’s even make this event intersectional, let’s get everybody involved. So, what did year two look like?

Jessica: So, year 2.

Mo: We’re just calling it the Ember Summit, but it’s your DEI summit.

Jessica: It is. It’s our DEI summit. And so, we really like did a better job of coming up with right inspiring people to create action of their own organizations. And so, it was really about inspiration last year. This year the theme is about driving action right and accountability within the organization.

Mo: Speaking in my language!

Jessica: Again, it was a highly inspirational event. It was much longer. We invited outside speakers. We brought in Judith Williams from SAP because we had just been acquired by them and so she was an absolute powerhouse.

But we were still limited to who we could bring into Provo, UT. We had a couple of satellite events that were smaller at other offices, so we did one in Sydney, in APJ, we had an event in Dublin, but it’s really interesting to see how this event is evolving this year.

Like I think a lot of us are talking about silver linings with Covid, and this is a silver lining. The event is 100% online. You know we can do this globally. We can bring in speakers from around the world that don’t have to pay for travel. So, we’re excited to take this not only to all of our employees into SAP, but to our customers as well.

Mo: And you know what I’ll do after this is, I’ll put the registration link, or you can in the comments. Because it was great. Because even when we were talking about you have two different tracks. You’ve got a track for leaders and managers. You have a track for individuals. You’re doing different time zones.

Right different sections that you can really, really make it global. Yeah, and you know just looking at who the keynotes are going to be an and the four different panels. I mean it’s going to be dynamite.

Jessica: The committee has done an amazing job with this.

Utilize Your ERG’s

Mo: I mean this whole thing, we always talk about this is a journey and you’re always evolving and just the examples of the things that Qualtrics has done over the last three years. And then just think about that with you and what you’ve done over the past three years. Because I think you’re a great case study of how getting involved with your ERG’s is such a career accelerator.

Exposure standpoint from a learning standpoint from a stretching yourself and doing things. I just think about conversations you and I have had about this. I think it’s phenomenal.

Jessica: Yeah, not to mention it’s just it’s inspired me to find a different part of what I want to focus on in my career.

Right, so I know 5 whatever, 5-10 years down the road I want to live in this space permanently. I love it right. And I love the fact that I can sit in front of young women and people just getting started in their careers and say I’ve been in your shoes, right? I was in sales for 20 years where I was the only woman in the room.

Right, and so I just think that brings a different perspective that that validates their concerns.

Mo: And you get too interview Brené Brown.

Jessica: Right!

Mo: We’re just going to keep coming back to Brené. I’m wondering if you think about everything that’s been done it’s two years from now. What do you think might be happening? Whether it’s with your Q Groups or with the Ember Summit? Crystal ball forward. What do you think is next?

Jessica: Yeah, it’s so funny. Last year when Ryan Smith did our keynote for the Ember Summit, you know he’s a visionary. Obviously he’s created a new vertical industry, an experience management that wasn’t a thing right five years ago. That wasn’t an industry that existed.

And so, like I think he was prophetic and saying, this is going to be the world’s largest DE&I summit.

If any company were to bring this summit to the world, it should be the experience management leaders right, within the company, we have four pillars, so customer, brand, product and employee. And so, when you think about employee experience like we have IO psychologists that live in this space, right?

We live in the feedback space, so it’s just. It’s a beautiful way to kind of wrap a ribbon around what it is that we already do. It’s a natural fit, so I think the dream is that this summit just absolutely explodes. Yeah, cool tricks does an amazing job with events.

Obviously, with the speakers that we bring in for X4 with Renee, Oprah, Michelle Obama, right, we’ve got some amazing influential people that are in the DE&I space, so we’re all dreaming that this is going to be just as big, if not bigger than X4.

Mo: Oh, that’s awesome, right?

Jessica: I get goosebumps, goosebumps.

Mo: Boy, we have covered a lot of ground, so many good ideas in here. I love the idea of you know the ERG’s and then having the Committee and Allies Group and right just continuing to evolve and not stay stagnant and think about what’s next. What’s next?

I want you to leave us with one last truth bomb about DE&I or running an ERG, and you can even do two if you want, Jess it’s up to you.

Jessica: I got this from one of our founders and leaders of Mosaic. Her name is Tiffany Thurmond and she’s an absolute rock star.

And she talks about the power of telling your story. And I think we’ve all seen it this year with the black lives matter movement. And, you know, it’s become super real once you hear or see people stories. It’s hard to resonate with an under represented group if you’re not a part in it. So, people need to hear and stories.

So, I say to all of those that are in the DE&I space or leading a group or chapter. Nail your story, figure out what it is, why you live in that space, and why you want to be a voice for your community and the impact that you want to have.

Because that is what is touching people so deeply this year.

Mo: And that’s what gets people to move and to take action.

Jessica: Exactly.

So, I’m a firm believer that we start to address any of these issues way too late in life. I have three kiddos and part of the reason why I got so active in our women’s group was to have an impact on my kids and the future generations. And so, my challenge to all the organizations that are listening is go have an impact in your community. Go talk to the middle schoolers right.

Specifically, I look at young girls like my girls are 17 and 15 now, but when they were 10, 11, 12 getting involved in robotics programs or engineering camps, right, they already felt like they didn’t belong. So, we’ve got to do a much better job as ERG leaders of reaching out and helping pull up the next generation.

Mo: Yes, 100%. I mean, you know Jess that a part of what we’ve always done with Moxie is the Go Girl project. Where it’s you know, how do we bring this next Gen up? And I love the idea of using an already activated group who’s engaged, who is not just look within your own company, but your community.

Beautiful ending Jess. Thank you. I knew this was going to be a great conversation. You all get registered for the Ember Summit. I will. I’ll put the link to registration in the notes for this and Jess I will see you then at the Summit and thank you so much for sharing your brilliance.

Jessica: Thank you for the time. This was so much fun. We will see you November 5th!

Mo: Sounds good and see you all next week.

Jessica: Alright, bye.


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