Q&A: Diversity Leader DeShaun Wise Porter Reflects on the Importance of Diversity in the Workplace
Conrad Hilton set out to “fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” Today, in our 100th year, our instinct is the same – to keep diversity and inclusion at the center of everything we do as we serve and employ individuals from every walk of life. Read on to learn more from Hilton’s African American Team Member Resource Group (AATMRG) co-chair, DeShaun Wise Porter.
1. Tell us about your current role with Hilton. What does HR Consulting do?
As Senior Director, HR Consulting to the corporate functions, my work centers on enabling our workforce to deliver on the key strategic priorities of the company. Through our Team Member Value Proposition, I partner with business leaders to attract, retain and develop our talent to achieve superior results.
2. Why is it important for Hilton to hire diverse talent?
To be a good Team Member, you have to be able to collaborate and innovate with all Team Members, not just those who look like you. To be a good leader, you have to be a leader of all people. Hilton is in over 100 countries and we should always represent the people we serve - our guests. Walking side-by-side with individuals brings deeper understanding that can only come from engaging with different people. We need to heighten our level of cultural dexterity to soar to greater heights - that’s why diversity is important.
3. We understand you serve as the co-chair for Hilton’s African American Team Member Resource Group (AATMRG). Why are you passionate about making Hilton a diverse place to work?
Diversity is a key to success for any and all companies. It’s important to seek the perspectives of those that are different from us. The blending of race, gender, ethnicities and orientation propels us to different levels and educates us beyond what a classroom can teach. Our resource groups help to drive awareness, inclusion and engagement. Additionally, they create a safe space for Team Members to share thoughts, ideas and challenges. I love our TMRGs, and my hope is for us to have more inclusion groups as we move into the future.
4. February is Black History Month. Why do you think it’s important for us to celebrate these moments?
While one could take the position to celebrate all walks of life every day, February has been coined as Black History Month; thereby setting aside four weeks to honor and celebrate the contributions African-Americans have in the United States. To celebrate means to educate. We leverage Black History Month to draw awareness not just to our achievements and contributions, but also to continued progress of the community in the face of societal challenges. As we focus on Black History Month and educating others, we should easily discover we have more in common, creating a sense of unity going forward.
5. Tell us about your career journey.
I kicked-off my career in the financial banking industry. In the early years, I also served as a financial adviser and then went into business development and corporate training. The common theme among all of them was being in a position to help others develop in some way - financially, personally or professionally. This is what led me to talent management, as it was a perfect pairing of business acumen and helping others.
After my years in banking, I served as a Global Talent Management Consultant with a keen focus on Learning & Development for international business. This role allowed me to travel the world - I was gone 70 percent of the time and worked several short-term assignments abroad. This experience sparked in me not only a love for travel, but a passion for corporations’ international communities.
In 2014, I relocated to D.C. to be closer to family, and after a short stint in Change Management, I was recruited to Hilton. I started as a Director of HR consulting and have been loving #TeamHilton ever since! In my role, I’ve supported Commercial Services and Brands, the engine of our company, and I am now driving the talent initiatives for our corporate functions.
6. What career advice do you offer job seekers?
First, be open– to new projects, new experiences, new positions. Don’t be scared to take a chance on yourself. Someone may be taking a chance on you. Second, don’t be afraid of lateral moves. A career is not a vertical ladder today. The broader you can expand your scope, the more value you can bring to your role. You’re going to have a broad range of experience. Thirdly, do what makes you happy. There’s truth to the old adage, “If you love your job, you never work a day in your life.” Even in your hardest days of work, if you feel you accomplished something, helped someone, solved a problem, you will find meaning in your job. Figure out what makes you whole and happy and do that!