Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Three significant words often strung together with the power to shape a stronger company culture and workplace environment for all.
At Samsung, it’s part of our company’s heritage to push boundaries and defy barriers to achieve meaningful progress and power bold innovation. But innovation doesn’t just happen — it is designed by humans for humans. And a critical ingredient is our inclusive culture and diverse workforce. Our company is made up of nearly 270,000 people around the world of different ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, religious beliefs, and abilities. But together, we’re ONE global team united by Samsung’s purpose and values.
Action is another noteworthy word. Samsung is continuing to make progress on our journey towards driving meaningful change. And we want to spotlight the DE&I champions within our organization that have been and continue to be instrumental in enabling us to make an impact and helping to create a rich sense of belonging where everyone can thrive.
1. What has been your greatest learning or most exciting experience in your career journey as it relates to DE&I?
I have been blessed to travel to forty-two US States, over twenty countries, and work for two Top 5 Brands and smaller growth companies. I have encountered people from every social class, a number of religions, and different value systems. About the best lesson I can take away is to just relate to people on a human level. You are never going to be best friends with everyone, but if you show and give respect, you will almost always get it back. And you learn so much.
2. How have you seen diversity efforts progress in the workplace during your career?
When I was growing up in the late 1970s, my mother returned to work as legal secretary to help make ends meet at the Patz household. She took steno, and fulfilled a lot of the typical legal duties, while still being an incredible mother to my sisters and I. She never was able to fulfill her younger self’s dreams of becoming a lawyer, held back mostly by economics but a bit due to the times. Yet she was able to chase her dreams later in life in a different way. She showed me what was possible.
When I started at Microsoft in the early 1990s, my first skip level boss, the District Manager, was a woman, a role my mom never could realistically aspire to. And I experienced many great examples of friends and colleagues and from female and diverse talent during my time there.
And when I joined Samsung in 2019, there was not a woman higher in Display than the Director level. Three years later, we have been able to attract, develop, and promote female talent so that we now have several Executive Director level females. And I suspect some of them will be VPs or higher soon enough!
3. Can you share a little about what’s shaped your passion for creating a more equitable workplace?
I selfishly want the best talent to win, grow our business, and satisfy our customers’ needs better. We simply cannot have the best talent to do so if we don’t have a diverse workforce reflecting our society and customer base, as well as challenging conventional wisdom. Talent wins ball games, and those with the best talent create and extend dynasties.
4. Do you believe that diverse and inclusive teams are the engines of innovation?
General George Patton, a World War II legend, is one of my heroes. And among his many well-known quotes, this one is my favorite: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Teams that do not have diversity of thought, and are not encouraging diverse perspectives, will never be able to innovate fast enough to meet a dynamically changing business world. It just won’t happen. One of the greatest sins we can make in business is to “do it the way we always did it.” There is always a better mousetrap!
5. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have been asked this prior, and my answer is fairly consistent: How bad do you want it? The best people starting out are hungry to learn, roll up their sleeves to do whatever it takes (no task is below you!), and try to be a helpful teammate. Read, read, and read more. Read all about your product or service, read about your industry, and read about other industries. Absorbing The Wall Street Journal every day should be like brushing your teeth.
Lastly, have fun and enjoy life. These “salad days” will be among the most lively and vivid in your career. You will make lifelong friends well beyond your tenure at whatever company you’re at.