We are thrilled to announce Justin Bethune, Global Diversity Program Manager (People) at Dropbox, as a speaker at Greenhouse Open, our annual summit and networking event for those in the Talent Acquisition, People Ops, and HR space, taking place next month in San Francisco! (For more information, click here).
All about Justin
Justin Bethune is the Global Diversity Program Manager on the People Team at Dropbox where he is helping to create strategies to increase the hiring of underrepresented groups at both the new graduate and experience levels.
Previously, he worked in strategic Account Management for Dropbox for Business and developed Engagement and Monetization programs within Customer Success. During his time at Dropbox, Justin has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion as a founding member of the @Blackdropboxers Employee Resource Group, a leader of the Dreamcode Tour, and the lead creator and producer of Campfire, a short film highlighting the impact of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Prior to Dropbox, Justin spent more than two years with Turnitin. He consulted with secondary education districts on SaaS products that provide instructors with the tools to engage students in the writing process, provide personalized feedback, and assess student progress over time. Turnitin is used by more than 26 million students at 15,000 institutions in 140 countries.
We recently chatted with Justin to get to know him better. We were thoroughly impressed by his insight into how diversity and inclusion initiatives can change companies. Here’s what he had to say:
1. How did you come to start doing the work you're currently doing in diversity? And how did you get into the People space? (It seems like for most of your career, you haven't been in the People space). What inspired you to make that leap?
Diversity work is ingrained in my DNA, as I am the great grandson of civil rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. The first day I walked into Dropbox two and a half years ago, my lens for workplace culture began to sharpen, birthing a passion for cultivating a more inclusive place to work. As a company, Dropbox was facing a huge uphill climb to make cultural changes in an organization founded on very unique tech start-up traditions. I personally understood the need for these changes, feeling an intrinsic drive and sense of duty to contribute to this effort. I embarked on several projects with a focus on addressing major areas of need, strengthening cultural awareness, and promoting inclusiveness. Some of these projects include: founding and serving as president of the “BlackDropboxers” Employee Resource Group, founding a youth educational outreach program called “The Dreamcode Tour,” trailblazing the path to relationships with faculty at historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, and producing a short film leading to a sequence of talks entitled “Campfire” which address issues of injustice and inequities in the workplace. Once we hired a Head of Diversity I was offered the opportunity to be a part of a team to build out official programs company-wide.
2. How have your previous career experiences prepared you for your current role? What learnings have you taken to make sure you're successful now?
I was in sales and account management for more than six years and it has helped tremendously in my ability to communicate effectively, develop deep patience, and manage expectations. Diversity work is very personal because you are trying to change mindset and perspective. Understanding perspective is critical in trying to push agenda and influence change. The millennial mindset is built on a platform of self-interest so you must connect and show that bringing out the best in others will bring out the best in an individual. Many times companies want to put explicit numbers around success in diversity, but I believe the essence of this work goes much deeper and so we must keep that top of mind when managing expectations.
3. Complete this sentence: If employers want to get the best talent through the door (and keep them), they better make sure they’re focusing on / doing ___________.
This is a term that best represents what companies need to do. The millennial generation wants optimal control over their careers while feeling best prepared for success. They want to experience this control in the most inclusive environment possible, no matter their background or belief system. This is essential in making employees feel empowered to do their best work. At the same time, we work in a very competitive talent landscape that provides many options for tech workers. Companies need to work with employees to ensure they have a clear goal professionally while fostering a place of inclusion.
4. It seems like more and more companies are carrying out diversity and inclusion initiatives internally. How do you think this will continue to evolve, and how will it impact these companies?
I think you will continue to see more diversity and inclusion initiatives internally along with companies creating a position for Head of Diversity. We now live in an ever-connected world where the average person has a platform to express their views and feelings. Products and services are used by the world, and the world is a diverse place. For me it’s the clearest necessity to approach all levels of creativity and implantation with a diverse framework and outlook. You cannot sell products and services to the world without proper representation of the world when creating your products and services.
Engage with Justin and other professionals in the talent and HR space by checking out Greenhouse Open, May 25-27th in San Francisco.