My name is LeShawn Woods, and I’m a Senior Sales Operations Manager for NortonLifeLock. I’ve been fortunate to see diversity at all levels in my 13 years with the company. Over the years we’ve had a female CEO and a black General Counsel. I thought seeing diversity and people who looked like me walking the halls of the company was okay until last May …
May 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a now convicted ex-policeman kneel on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The world witnessed what many Black communities have understood for years—we still have work to do to repair our country’s relationship with its Black citizens.
NortonLifeLock addressed the civil unrest and protests that ensued last summer and took an inward look at our own diversity record and ways we could improve. The company partnered with McKinsey to invite Black leaders to a global business workshop. For the first time in my life, I found myself in a program with hundreds of other Black professionals. The program offered a valuable skills refresher, and I appreciated the fellowship with colleagues. For a Black woman from Arizona, who did not attend a historically black college or university (HBCU), this was my first time engaging with that many Black professionals at a corporate function.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama
Following the workshop, I was offered an opportunity to champion our company’s community group for Black employees, NOBLE (NortonLifeLock Black Life Empowerment). I was reluctant at first, but after some thought, I was encouraged by the chance to help create a space for my Black peers and allies in the company.
I knew I would need support, and luckily for me, I was born with a built-in best friend. My twin sister Meshawn Woods also works for NortonLifeLock. I called Meshawn to tap into her creativity and event planning experience. We then called upon our colleague and friend Syreeta McAuley to help. With the support of our company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, we planned our first awareness event for Juneteenth. We were amazed to see how many of our team members, including executives, from all around the world attended the virtual celebration. The event included a candid, open-minded discussion with respectful comments and curiosity. All this happened on the eve of Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday.
From these last few months, my takeaway is you’re never too unexperienced to be the change and take action. I never promised we’d be the perfect Champions of the resource group, but that we would commit to creating a space for Black employees to fellowship and support each other. I think we’re nailing it so far!
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