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Talent Innovation Summit Countdown: Uber’s Bernard Coleman Reframes the D&I Discussion

There’s no magic formula for building a diverse and inclusive culture. Ideas that deeply inspire other teams may not resonate with yours, and as you scale, you’ll also have to scale your most impactful initiatives. A fundamental part of D&I work is iteration, and continuously asking your team which resources they need most.

Yet Uber’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman has caught onto something powerful, and perhaps universal. Throughout his career – in leadership positions like Chief Diversity and Human Resources Officer of Hillary for America – he’s learned how positive psychology can help teams build inclusive cultures. Too often, he thinks, we become paralyzed as we react to microaggressions. Instead, it’s time to consider how we can best create a culture of allyship. We can’t wait to learn more from Bernard in only 6 days – at our Talent Innovation Summit. For a glimpse at the ideas he’ll share, read our interview with him below.

1. What compelled you to join Uber as their Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion? 

I joined Uber for the challenge and to be part of an amazingly innovative company. Uber is hugely impactful in so many people’s lives and I wanted to contribute to its overall mission.

2. When you join a company at that size and scale in such a pivotal role, it must be hard to know where to start. What’s your secret to not getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the task?

An undertaking of this magnitude can be overwhelming but I pride myself on being calm and I have a team of smart folks who help micro-prioritize what can get done today, tomorrow and in the future. It’s about taking a wholesale look at the landscape and taking on what makes the most sense in the short and long term. 

3. The title of your Summit session (live streamed from 4:20pm – 4:40pm PT) is: “The power of positive psychology in creating allyship”. What does “creating allyship” mean to you? 

It is understanding the being an ally isn’t nearly as complicated as it is made to seem and it’s really about being human and good to one another. It’s unearthing the lessons we learned as children and applying methods to aid in rediscovering how to be kind and supportive to one another.

4. In your experience, how can positive psychology create that increased allyship?

It gives people a starting point. Folks are afraid of offending one another or doing the wrong thing so they do nothing as a result. Positive psychology equips people to take the right, human actions.

5. You’ll also discuss the danger of focusing too closely on micro-aggressions. In your experience, what are the negative consequences of doing that?

You can get stuck, meaning emotionally hijacked and unable to move on from the emotional trigger that micro-aggressions can elicit.

Editor’s note: You can now watch the free recording of Bernard’s session here

Featured photo courtesy of Uber.