Cloudera Cares Speaker Series guiding value: Diversity

With intention and creativity, we opened eyes and minds

What now seems like a lifetime ago, our worlds were upended. As the stay at home orders were extended again and again and we continued to work from home, many of us were faced with reimagining our work. 

For me, an unexpected challenge as head of Cloudera Cares has been redesigning the employee volunteer experience to continue engaging Clouderans even when in-person activities were no longer possible. The solution: a virtual nonprofit speaker series. Since April 2020 we’ve heard from nearly 20 U.S. and international nonprofits, covering a wide range of topics. Perhaps most notable about this program is that we’ve welcomed a truly diverse group of speakers. As I look forward to continuing the Cloudera Cares Speaker Series into 2021, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the values that led us to embracing a broad spectrum of voices and causes.

  • We made inviting diverse speakers a priority. This is a no-brainer. As a Latina in philanthropy, I firmly believe that anything I create should reflect my experiences and values. In all honesty, I take this personally. 
  • Be intentional. This doesn’t mean setting a quota. It does mean pausing to take a look at the makeup of a panel or the overall schedule of speakers. Have most of the speakers been male? Have we heard from any people of color? For me I simply ask, is there anyone on this panel who looks vaguely like me? (You’d be surprised how often the answer is no.) 
  • Cast a wider net. When thinking of organizations to partner with, look outside your usual network. Otherwise you’ll continue pulling from the same network, and oftentimes that network lacks diversity. Take a chance and reach out to an interesting organization even if you don’t have a direct connection. There are so many engaging, qualified people out there who would love to share their story.
  • Partner with smaller organizations. It’s natural to gravitate toward familiar, larger, well-known players in the field. I encourage you to not rule out smaller nonprofits. Many of these smaller, hyperlocal organizations are the ones on the ground, doing the real work in their communities and bringing about real change. And of course many of these organizations are Black- and Brown-led. 
  • Give folks a chance. We may be inclined to automatically rule out a presenter because they don’t fit our idea of what an expert looks like. We may not see a leader in someone who’s younger or someone who has an accent. Setting aside those notions broadens the available talent pool.
  • Finally, recognize their time and effort. We made a point of providing small grants to all of our participating organizations. 

Taking the time to write down these values has been a helpful exercise and will be top of mind as we continue the Cloudera Cares speaker series. I hope they’ll also serve you and your organization as you plan for 2021 and will set us all on the right path toward including more diverse voices. 

Lilly Giraldo
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Lilly is Program Manager for the Cloudera Cares program.

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