Rima Qureshi

Qureshi is a key cornerstone of Verizon’s strategic move to fortify itself with in-house network tech business prowess in the era of 5G and beyond. Two years into the job, the former president and CEO of Ericsson North America leads development and implementation of Verizon’s overall corporate strategy, including business development and strategic investments. Qureshi salutes Verizon’s commitment to diversity, citing its unconscious bias training to help leaders “gain self-awareness and identify their own blind spots” and noting, “companies are more functional, more profitable and more innovative when their employees feel comfortable being themselves at work and are appreciated for their unique perspectives.”

What does your company/organization do to ensure all employees feel included?
Companies are more functional, more profitable and more innovative when their employees feel comfortable being themselves at work and are appreciated for their unique perspectives. At Verizon, we want to make sure all of our employees not only feel included, but valued. We’re committed to diversity and inclusion as a business imperative because it strengthens our culture, allowing us to innovate and serve our customers better, together. To foster those values, we’ve put in place programs like unconscious bias training to help leaders gain self-awareness and identify their own blind spots so they can effectively manage and engage diverse teams. We have several robust employee resource groups to develop and empower employees, so they grow professionally through the groups’ programs and leverage their cultural insights to help solve specific business problems. Most importantly, however, we are working hard to build a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up, asking for help, and being themselves.

How can diversity be better incorporated into the recruiting process?
The best candidates can only become our best employees when the process that identifies them is nuanced and goes beyond their resume. I think it’s important for organizations to have their Global Diversity and Inclusion team partner closely with Talent Acquisition, Diversity Recruitment, and the campus recruiting teams to develop a diversity recruitment strategy. At Verizon, we are intentional in our recruiting practices, working diligently to identify new diverse talent recruitment channels and best practices, execute recruitment programs, and track and analyze results.

But it’s not simply about going after a diverse set of candidates; it’s also about having a diverse slate of interviewers to evaluate candidates from different perspectives to curate the best team dynamics within groups. By including those different perspectives in the process, we can ensure those dynamics are reinforced the first day someone joins the team.

Can you share a successful diversity program at your company or one you’ve observed at another company or organization?
Our unconscious bias training is a great example. We used a phased approach with the rollout of the program, starting with senior executives and people leaders, because we knew that change has to start from the top. We then rolled it out to the entire company with different versions that best met the needs of different employee groups. From participant feedback, we know the training has enabled them to have more empathy for one another and be better leaders and colleagues.

By appreciating the value of our differences, we’re better equipped to innovate, collaborate, and gain insights about ourselves, our teams, and our customers. Of course, any training in and of itself will not solve real business issues, but as we continue to learn about and discuss the impact of unconscious bias, we can explore opportunities to ensure our policies, practices and systems evolve to reflect that learning.

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