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Evolving the diversity and inclusion discussion

Damien Hooper-Campbell is chief diversity officer, e-Bay Canada.

I'll admit – I didn't grow up with a chief diversity officer "hero" poster on my bedroom wall, and didn't ask my college guidance counsellor about prerequisites for a CDO job.

It was entirely through my personal and professional life experiences that I decided to do this work.

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Today, more and more businesses are realizing that diversity and inclusion (D&I) isn't just a nice-to-have or a moral necessity: It's a business imperative. At eBay, it's the foundation of our business model and critical to our ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. For us, D&I is about making sure that our current and prospective employees and millions of buyers and sellers all have a fair shot at great opportunities. Yet, just like the vast majority of businesses, our D&I journey will be long term and iterative.

Diversity and inclusion are a strategic focus for our company, and we've embarked on a multiyear journey that will require the commitment of all of our people around the world. Our strategy ensures global consistency with a local fit.

For example, since joining the company, a large portion of my time has been spent visiting our offices around the world (most recently, Toronto, Madrid, London, Sydney, Shanghai and Seoul) to hear directly from employees about what diversity means and what inclusiveness feels like to them, locally.

The purpose is to offer a common starting place from which all of our people can join the conversation. What D&I means in our Israel office is sure to be different than what it means in our Canadian office. Only by giving our people opportunities to have open conversations about what D&I means to them can we get broader participation from them and, as a result, better outcomes from the programs we launch.

I don't impose rules or judgments on how employees should think about D&I, but I do guide discussions around three areas of focus:

Our work force

Who we hire and how we hire matters, so we're embedding D&I into our work force by focusing on our hiring practices and hiring decisions, the processes we undertake to evaluate potential employees and where we go to recruit them. For example, late last year we deliberately moved our university recruiting team to reporting to me.

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As a result, we've broadened the set of universities, career fairs and external partnerships we recruit from to ensure D&I is an inherent part of our student-recruitment strategies.

We're also looking at technology-driven hiring solutions to help our global recruiting teams and hiring managers mitigate bias throughout the hiring process. Things such as name-blinding résumés and facilitating structured interviews can be effective process improvements.

At its core, embedding D&I into our work force is about getting access to the best pools of talent out there.

Our workplace

Once we've hired great people, we want to keep and develop those great people, so we're focused on how employees feel within the walls of eBay.

Looking for ways all of our employees – those from both minority and majority communities – can feel more included in the workplace is something we spend a lot of time thinking about and working on.

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For example, we started by asking all employees around the world to participate in a survey focused on D&I so we could use the feedback to create better initiatives. We also enhanced our "Communities of Inclusion," which are employee-led, leader-sponsored groups that promote a culture of belonging at eBay.

Our communities focus on age, disability status, ethnicity, gender, religion, military status, parental status, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. With chapters all over the world, these communities provide a safe space for employees to discuss topics and participate in activities. Most important, all of our employees are welcome to join them, regardless of how they self-identify.

Our marketplace

Diversity and inclusion at eBay extends to the customers and communities we serve.

We're being more deliberate to ensure the diverse perspectives and needs of our current customers and communities are taken into consideration. This includes, for example, designing products or creating services for niche or underserved markets, or creating our first-ever multicultural marketing lead and seller diversity program manager roles to help us include a broader set of buyers and sellers in our marketing and business initiatives.

We're also focused on figuring out how to be inclusive of the customer groups we aspire to serve in the future.

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Taking a comprehensive, global and human approach, we've greatly evolved the way we talk about and approach D&I at our company. That said, we haven't cracked the code on this yet.

It's important to realize that there are no quick fixes here.

Diversity and inclusion challenges are complex, involve a number of factors and cannot be solved overnight. But if you start with real, honest and nonjudgmental conversations with your employees about what D&I means to them, you'll help to reposition your D&I journey from being seen as a challenge to being embraced as an invaluable opportunity to make your people, business and customers stronger.

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