Tasha Woodley always wanted to do meaningful work and touch people she came in contact with. She credits her position to someone seeing something in her she didn’t see in herself and has now found the perfect position for her. “ Diversity & Inclusion is a passion for me, I live and breath it in my personal life also, I have realized that during my work at Bank of America D&I is universal. Not just within the world but everything we touch, see and feel. I never saw myself in this role growing up as a diverse woman.”

Tasha Woodley SVP of Diversity and Inclusion, at Bank of America, graduated from UNC Charlotte as a Computer Science major. At the time the technology wave had just kicked off, and she found an interest in it. Once she got in the field, she realized she was missing the human connection and the real impact of the fruit of her labors. Her introduction to Bank of America came 17 years ago as a Summer intern through their INROADS program an organization for talented minorities in college; they introduce college students as a pipeline for corporate minority jobs. Typically when the Summer ends you go back to school because Tasha was based in Charlotte, she was offered to work part-time, and when she graduated, she was offered a permanent position in global tech as a project consultant. She went back to school to get her MBA and was then put in the place to operate Bank of America’s MBA program to recruit students.

When the company saw growth in Tasha’s abilities, they moved her to the HR department and her last three years have been spent in the global diversity and inclusion organization. Just within a year and a half, she was able to grow the “My D&I learning” program to 117 thousand employees the companies largest program designed to increase cultural awareness, knowledge and promote inclusive work and engagement. In 2014 1/2 million training employees completed this voluntary training. Tasha says it is the “Pull vs. push.” Her team continues to partner with D&I experts who join a monthly broadcast to continue to educate their employees around the importance of D&I. Part of the problem is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be the same thing, but Tasha describes the difference as “ Diversity being the mix, all human differences mix [ this would include ] race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age Social class, physical ability, religion and political beliefs [ and ] Inclusion: [ is ] a mix of human differences coming together where you deliberately create environments where all humans can thrive, succeed and come together”

Tasha credits D&I to being “the top driving force for success. [ in the workplace ] It is good for business, [ and ] yielding higher financial returns. With diversity, there are more innovative that leads to better ideas, technology, and the impact on a company’s performance. The ideas and innovation leads to better solutions” Due to the major effect, success, and competitiveness that D&I has on a corporation Bank of America is also making sure they include this in the corporate culture by “Focusing on three pillars: People, Inclusion and Clients, and Communities
We have over 200k employees at Bank of America. More than 50% of our global workforce are women. More than 40% of our global management team is female. More than 45% of our Board of Directors is female or racially/ethnically diverse. More employees than ever are involved in Employee Networks, with more than 120,000 memberships across 11 Employee Networks.” “It is important to mirror the clients and communities that we [ Bank of America ] serve.”

I was inspired to know Bank of America was making it a priority to be inclusive, and also to learn about their technology initiatives for women, Tash starting as a woman in tech herself. “ There is a lack of minority talent in general in tech, [ a ] bigger gap in women, however I am proud to say through a lot of stem initiatives ( Girls who code for example ) of women going into stem early with these different programs there has been an increase of women in tech majors. Bank of America has many different initiatives where they go partner with campus women in tech and partner them up with women in tech already in the workplace to be a mentor for them.”

With all that Bank of America is doing and the fantastic work environment they are creating it made me realize the importance of D&I for the everyday employee. Tash correlates it to. “[ That ] Everyone wants to work where they feel valued. Their voice matters and they have a seat at the table. This leads to employee retention and employee engagement. “

After doing research, I found that some, not all people who hold this title for other companies are older white men or women. As an outsider looking in, I couldn’t image what they would know about diversity and the struggle of the minority. “It’s not a bad thing for non-diverse people to be in D&I roles” Tasha states. “We want to ensure we have sponsors and people to speak on our behalf, and that helps when they can understand what we have experienced.” There are benefits however of being a minority in this position “I have walked in the shoes of being a diverse woman. Through personal experience of having to prove myself or being ” The risk” that someone would take for me puts me in the position first hand in teaching diversity and inclusion. Nothing like your journey.”

Closing out the conversation with Tasha she left me with some advice for young women hoping to pursue a corporate position or in their last year of college: “Put your goals on paper, what is important to you? If you are interested in moving into a corporate role, make sure that the company matches your goals. Ensure you are aware of the recruiting cycle, and full time hire recruiting schedule. Contact your college’s career centers and assure your resume reflects all of your experiences not just work experience, volunteer work in the community or private sector.”

It was a pleasure being able to speak with someone who has so much passion for their job and the people involved. I gained a new outlook on D&I and the effect it has on my day to life and the importance of educating everyone around me.