Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/876458

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Page 31 of 79

We Mean Business > 30 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Washington, DC, minutes away from the original departure point for the 1961 Freedom Riders. ose words charged me with the responsibility to act "today" and the opportunity in standing together. DW: What drew you to work at Lyft? TM: I didn't see myself transitioning to the private space. But I used to take Lyft, and I started to hear stories about folks who were using Lyft to close their family's wealth gap—to get to and from BART [public tran- sit] every day or using it for school. I became obsessed with this idea that ev- eryone had an ability to belong in a space. I traveled the country [with Lyft]. I orga- nized the voices of our drivers, passengers, and advocates and shared their stories with elected officials during city council hear- ings, etcetera. ere was tremendous pow- er in seeing people as people, and actualiz- ing their full potential through storytelling. DW: As head of inclusion and diversity, what are your goals? TM: My vision was that Lyft had a re- sponsibility to be a model for our peers of what a supportive community looks like. I wanted everyone, no matter what they looked like, to have an opportunity. We couldn't have a space where we were telling people that there was community in a car, but not community here. We have to do a deep dive in relationship building. People weren't going to drive just for the sake of it, especially after hearing the horror stories about our peers in tech. DW: What is your leadership style? TM: I'm a servant leader. I believe that you have to bring others along with you. I often get critiqued: "Tariq, you haven't been around for that long. How can you solve these problems?" I look at the chal- lenges through a lens of humility. I have a lot to learn, but our world has changed, and there are new systemic issues. I've been an outsider my whole life. As a young black man from a working-class family, I know what it's like to face bias. I can position myself in a space of empathy and bear witness to injustice, not only in our world, but in our industry. Not every- one is willing to do that. It can be draining, but it offers an opportunity to see things in a whole new way. DW: What is Lyft doing to address "bro culture" in Silicon Valley? TM: We need to have conversations about "bro culture" in Silicon Valley and also in the transportation industry. at's the reason why we had the pink mustache to begin with. We wanted women to feel safe on our rides and feel like they had a place too. We do an annual engagement survey that asks questions that are inclu- sion focused. All of our execs have gone through unconscious bias training. DW: Lyft just published its first diversity report. TM: It's about time! DW: What were the big takeaways? TM: We know that we have work to do. [Lyft leadership is 36 percent female and the staff is 63 percent white.] People celebrate small wins, but I didn't want to tell a story where we celebrated such small percentages. I wanted to be as humble as possible. We're not proud of where we are, but we're so ready to learn from our mistakes. Our two founders want to represent the changing face of America. e work isn't just by me, the one brother who has the title. I have an in- credible team who is so mission-aligned. DW: Does Lyft plan to collect data beyond gender and ethnicity? TM: We are also collecting data on LGBTQ, caregiver status, geography, reli- gious community, class, and disability so we can figure out how to report that out. DW: What initiatives at Lyft are you most proud of ? TM: I'm proud that my role was created. We signed the White House inclusion pledge and followed through within the year to publish our inclusion data. We met with every department head and worked on a diversity recruiting policy. Our ERGs are internal advocates for the communi- ties they represent. We wrote our first in- clusion policy for trans employees. DW: What are your biggest challenges? TM: One is pushing the industry to focus less on the numbers—although the num- bers are important—and more on the cul- ture. People overcomplicate my job. We're just community builders at our core. We want to create an environment where people can be exactly who they're supposed to be while be- coming who they're meant to be. DW: How can leaders help diverse em- ployees succeed? TM: Inclusion starts on the individual level. It's turning to the person next to you and letting them know that there's a place where they belong. Speak up fear- lessly. Be an advocate and push leaders to understand. Build bridges. Stand with each other and fight with each other. DW: What good book have you read lately? TM: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Bryan knows that everybody has a story, even the people that the world has turned its back on. DW: What is your favorite space in your office? TM: We have a room called the Willy Wonka Room. You push a door and you're brought to a room that looks like a grand library. It reminds me that if you push your imagination, you never know what you'll find on the other side. Everything's possible. DW Kimberly Olson is Diversity Woman's managing editor. I can position my- self in a space of empathy and bear witness to injustice.

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