Angela Roseboro wants to make sure that Dropbox is the top choice for talent everywhere.
After more than 20 years of experience working with major financial firms like T. Rowe Price and Jones Lang LaSalle, Roseboro pivoted to tech in 2017, where diversity and inclusion issues are top of mind as the Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at the file-hosting service giant, Dropbox.
Maryann Reid: What are some current inclusion topics or trends that you find most interesting?
Angela Roseboro: There’s so much happening in the world right now, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve noticed that employees are increasingly wanting to know leadership’s stand on social and political issues. I believe in order to maintain and foster an inclusive company culture, it’s important that folks are open to having candid and healthy conversations so employees are heard and feel like they belong.
Reid: Based on the current U.S. administration, some may say diversity and any efforts towards diversity are under attack. What are diversity leaders like you doing to prepare for that?
Roseboro: Regardless of the political climate, it’s imperative for a company’s leadership to remain focused on driving their diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts forward. That being said, there’s no doubt that the current administration’s agenda on legal immigration, the LGBTQ community and women’s issues has impact on the work that we, as D&I leaders, do. Employers must stay true to the inclusive values that their executives, employees and customers support. To help ensure this approach, we believe in communicating to employees that diversity and inclusion matters, and to have leadership reiterate their commitment.
Reid: What is it like making the transition from finance to tech?
Roseboro: With each transition, there were nuances and things I’ve had to learn about the company’s culture, its people and their collective readiness to move the work of D&I forward. From my vantage point, I have approached the transition to tech in the same way. When building a strategy, it is important to assess where the company is today, where they are trying to go, and the leadership’s commitment to that future state. That being said, there are material differences between finance and tech that are worth noting. In tech, the pace is much faster and the ‘war for talent’ is real. If we really want to make progress as an industry, we have to leverage existing D&I tools, but also be open to creating new ones, and that’s the exciting part.
Reid: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Roseboro: To be an effective agent of change, you have to be comfortable challenging the status quo, calling out practices and behaviors that don’t support a diverse and inclusive environment and inserting yourself in situations that may appear outside of your “swim lane.” Striking the balance between driving change and getting people comfortable with the change can be difficult, but it comes with the territory.
Reid: How do you implement “diversity strategies” at a global level? Especially in cities like Tokyo or Dublin, where the majority of people are from the same place?
Roseboro: Those parts of the world actually are very diverse in terms of nationality. So if I ask global offices to focus on defining what inclusion means for them and to then develop a plan to address the issues that impact them, then I’ve met them where they are. Globally, each region will be aligned to the same D&I framework, which allows us to measure progress and drive accountability companywide.
Reid: Diversity and Inclusion feel fairly new. Do you have any role models that helped to pave the way?
Roseboro: Although it may feel new, D&I has been around for a while. I think it feels new, because we are talking about it more publicly. When I first started doing this work, I read “Building a House for Diversity: A Fable about a Giraffe and an Elephant” by Roosevelt Thomas. Although that book is 20 years-old, I still think it’s relevant. His work truly influenced my thinking about diversity and inclusion. Other impassioned people that I admire are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gloria Steinem. They spoke truth to power with such grace and conviction.
Reid: As more millennials enter and thrive in the workforce, how will that impact the future of diversity and inclusion? Will it be any different than it had been for baby boomers or Gen Xers?
Roseboro: This generation knows what’s important to them. They want to work for companies that are innovative and mission-driven. They aren’t afraid to speak up. I love that! My job is to make sure their voices are heard.
Parts of this interview were edited for clarity and brevity.