When Viviane Gomes de Souza graduated from Robinson’s MBA program in 2011, she pivoted out of a human resources role to open a LaVida Massage franchise. Nearly eight years later, she returned to corporate after realizing how much the diversity space energized her. She currently serves as senior global equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) manager at Boeing.
De Souza’s proudest accomplishment at Boeing to date is leading the implementation of EDI performance targets. Outcomes were included in Boeing’s first-ever global EDI report, published in 2021.
“These efforts drive a much deeper sense of accountability,” de Souza said. “By encouraging everyone to focus on at least one action, we can change our systems and internal procedures, and ultimately move the equity needle forward for the company on a global scale.”
Two actions were both intertwined and key: diversifying the candidate pool for managerial and executive positions and increasing competitive job postings. For high-level roles, existing leaders often share opportunities with members of their network who tend to look and think like they do. Even if the bias is unconscious, representation among candidates then drops. Many companies face this issue.
“When we post competitive requisitions, we discover talent we might not have known about, instead of basing decisions on ‘who knows whom,’” de Souza said. “Also, when executive roles are available for application, our colleagues are empowered to own their careers. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
De Souza also heavily considers how job posting language can automatically exclude entire demographics. For example, requiring 20 years of aerospace industry experience would rule out most women, since the sector historically has been dominated by men. An emphasis on benefits such as flexible schedules and remote options would appeal to qualified groups with different needs.
“Employers have begun to realize the workplace can’t be one-size-fits-all,” de Souza said. “They should seek diversity not for diversity’s sake, but because it’s a business case. Diverse teams perform better and achieve greater results.”
Boeing also took action when team members requested expanded voluntary self-identification for sexual orientation and gender. The company updated its benefits package to include domestic partnership support and gender affirming care. The latter is especially huge, as inclusive workplaces enable all staff to focus on job performance and ditch the mental toll of feigning heteronormativity.
De Souza believes that large, global companies like Boeing set the tone for not only businesses but also society at large. Because significant change can take decades or even centuries to crystallize, those working for progress must celebrate little wins along the way as opposed to the finish line.
“I’ll be long gone by the time we have a truly inclusive culture,” de Souza said. “To have the greatest legacy, I’m strategically slowing down so I can bring the most people with me. EDI isn’t a marathon. It’s an ultramarathon.”