Panel Discussion: How To Build a Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Workplace

Hear from executives who have successfully built teams that truly embody inclusivity.

Panel Discussion: How To Build a Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Workplace

Hear from executives who have built inclusive teams. What are their top practices and what were the obstacles they faced?


Easterseals Southern California

Easterseals Southern California's chief operating officer is Dr. Beverlyn Mendez. Beverlyn manages a team of almost 2,500 people who provide life-changing services to over 15,000 people and their families. She is passionate about advancing equity, respect and celebrating belonging at work.

Robert Brown is president of University of West Los Angeles and its schools of business and law. UWLA provides opportunities for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education. Brown has overseen a major overhaul of the university's business and legal education, which effectively democratized education.

Chief Diversity Officer
Riot Games

Angela Roseboro has been an innovator in human capital strategies for over 30 years. Roseboro has held leadership positions in diversity and inclusion, talent management and leadership development at Fortune 500 and mid-stage tech companies. Roseboro is well-known for her ability to navigate companies through difficult situations with her forward thinking approach and pragmatic approach to problem solving. As Riot Games' chief diversity officer, Roseboro led the diversity and inclusion team. This was a key part of Riot Games' overall strategy to find, recruit, develop, retain and promote the best talent.

99 Cents Only Stores

Mark Gunn serves as the chief human resource officer at 99 Cents Only Stores. He manages the equity and inclusion programs for the company, as well as oversees a staff of 40. He is a leader of transformation who leads critical human resource initiatives that lead to a happier workforce.

Sonia Nayak
Los Angeles Office Managing Partner
Nixon Peabody LLP

Sonia Nayak, Nixon Peabody's Los Angeles managing partner, leads a team of powerful attorneys from diverse backgrounds to make the office one of the largest, most inclusive, full-service, big law offices in America. Sonia's practice focuses on real estate development. This includes tax credit finance, affordable housing, and commercial lending. Although her practice is nationwide, she is involved in many tax credit-financed developments throughout the L.A. area and can see how her efforts have a positive impact on our community.

Sharing Insights from the Conversation

Dr. Beverlyn Mendez - Easterseals is the country's largest disability service organization. It interacts with all kinds of businesses and organizations. We know inclusive organizations incorporate DEIA into every aspect of their work because we are committed to leading the way to equity, inclusion, and accessibility through our services. What experiences are necessary to prepare future managers and executives for creating an inclusive workplace culture?

Robert Brown: One of the most important considerations, particularly from the UWLA standpoint, is that we are an elite university that's non elitist. We are an institution of higher learning that is committed to providing a rigorous education and teaching, but we want to be inclusive. We are committed to being opportunistic, providing opportunities for those who might not otherwise be able to.

Dr. Mendez, How can you make sure that all employees are aware of and actively participate in the DEIA efforts of their organization?

Sonia Nayak: DEI is a part of Nixon Peabody's firm-wide strategic plan. It is woven into our organization's fabric. DEI is considered in our recruitment, mentorship, sponsorship programs, professional development and coaching resources as well as our promotion and advancement decisions. Attorneys are required to spend at least 40 hours per year on diversity activities. Each month, we honor an attorney who has shown outstanding dedication to DEI advancement in their firm or community.

Dr. Mendez says that employers can use inclusive imagery and language to promote their existing offerings, such as EAPs, mental and wellness benefits, flexible work options and accommodations. What can your industry do to get the most from DEIA? For successful outcomes, what fundamental issues, whether cultural or operational, must be addressed? Angela Roseboro, I believe that as you scale and grow, you need to define what is best. You also need to have processes in place. The first thing to do is get rid of the playbook. This is something I've done for a while. I believe that many companies start with non-functional software programs. I need to ask myself: "What are we here for?"

Dr. Mendez, What advice would your HR executive give to an HR executive who wants to raise the issue of diversity within their organization with their senior leaders?

Mark Gunn: When people make mistakes, we want them to be demonized, to be put in a "penalty box." This automatically closes off the possibility of reaching the other side of an issue. If we can create an environment within our organization that is open to dialogue and provides a safe space for people, then we can help them to get to the other side of the issue. Do not try to stop it - let's talk and deal. Dialog is the best way to access what we are dealing with as a society about equity, diversity, and inclusion.