Q&A: Talking with our VP, I&D
Q&A: Talking with our VP, I&D
On November 11, 2020, we welcomed Timitra Hildebrand-Jones to Albemarle. As Vice President, Inclusion and Diversity, Timitra will draw from 20+ years of HR and I&D experience to unite Albemarle employees in creating a culture that seeks to include one another, embrace difference and challenge our unconscious biases.
Recently, we interviewed Timitra to learn more about her first 30-days at Albemarle, her perspective on inclusion and diversity and more. Here’s what she had to say:
ALBEMARLE: How are things going so far? Tell us a bit about your onboarding experience.
TIMITRA: My onboarding experience has been different but great. Onboarding during these unprecedented times is interesting but I am thankful for the technology that has made it possible. During my first 30-days, I have had the opportunity to meet with over 100 individuals including the Executive Leadership Team and CONNECT (employee resource group) Steering Committees. These conversations allowed me to share a bit about myself and background, while also getting to know others. Additionally, I leveraged these conversations to understand how people felt about I&D at Albemarle and their perspectives on potential focus areas and opportunities.
What excites you most about your role at Albemarle?
When I was approached about the opportunity back in August, I must admit that I did not know much about the company. After researching it and having several conversations, it became clear that there were tremendous growth opportunities for the businesses and a true commitment to building an inclusive culture and diverse workforce where everyone has an opportunity to achieve their goals.
What inspired you to work in I&D?
While growing up in a small town in North Carolina, I wasn't exposed to many dimensions of diversity. At a very early age, as I traveled to visit extended family, I was always curious about the lifestyle of those in bigger cities. I recognized that diversity was much broader than race, age and gender. Experiencing those with different thinking styles, physical abilities, sexual orientation, religious views, etc. was fascinating. During my high school and college years, my academic curriculum allowed me to build relationships with those of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds which advanced that childhood curiosity. I was naturally drawn to the desire to learn and experience people and things that were different than what I was accustomed to. Reflecting on those experiences, I recall a plethora of feelings. Fear, excitement, discomfort and uncertainty were all present at times. However, I always led with positive intent and a desire to learn and grow. The curiosity turned into passion, the passion turned into a career and my lifelong I&D journey continues.
In your experience, what is the first step to building a culture that values diversity of experiences and backgrounds?
In my experience, education and awareness are the first steps to building a culture that values diversity of experiences and backgrounds. We must first understand that inclusion and diversity is much broader than gender and race. There are many dimensions of diversity – the majority of them are invisible. Second, we have to recognize our unconscious biases and how they may impact our decisions. We all have biases to things, people, personalities, etc. However, it is important to recognize and manage them in order to avoid negative or unintended consequences. Lastly, leaders must lead in an inclusive manner. Meaning, they embrace difference and create safe spaces for learning and development for all employees. Employees should trust that they can share different perspectives and opinions and be heard, respected and not unfairly judged.
What is your biggest hope for Albemarle's I&D efforts?
My biggest hope is that Albemarle will be recognized as an employer of choice through our I&D efforts. I hope that our I&D efforts will build an inclusive work culture at all levels, in all locations, that will attract and retain the right talent to drive innovation within our organization. Over time, our Inclusion & Diversity efforts will give us a competitive advantage.