Alexandra Legend Siegel knows what it’s like to walk into a room and see no one who looks like you. Beginning her career as a woman of color in tech startups, she walked into these rooms over and over. Her radical empathy for other underrepresented people in this situation — and her desire to lift these people up — led her to trailblaze her own role at Salesforce focused on creating content that resonates with the diverse communities Salesforce serves: Equality Narrative and Content Manager. Now, as Director, Equality Content and Enablement, she continues to make elevating diverse voices her mission.
Siegel spoke to Fairygodboss about what inspired her to create a role at one of the fastest growing enterprise technology companies, the challenges she overcame while creating the Equality Narrative and Content Manager role, and the support she got along the way at Salesforce that helped make this huge change possible. Then, she shared the best career advice she’s ever gotten, shared a bit of wisdom for women who want to trailblaze their own path and follow their passions. Oh, and she shared what it was like to interview Stevie Wonder. Yes, you read that right.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been in my current role for about six months. I was in my role as Equality Narrative and Content Manager for two years. Before that, I was a research writer and content marketer across our products at Salesforce. Previously, I worked in content marketing for startups, as well as in journalism.
You were the first Equality Narrative and Content Manager at Salesforce. Have there been any unexpected challenges or rewards associated with creating your own role?
I feel very fortunate to have created my own role at the company. At the time, I was helping to lead our black employee resource group, BOLDforce, and was using my knowledge of storytelling, research, and reporting to help educate our company on racial equality, the business impact of diversity, and steps they could take to create a more inclusive workplace. I saw a need for an initiative and role focused on creating content that resonates with the diverse communities we serve and that helps to elevate diverse voices in tech.
One of the challenges of creating your own role is having to build your own roadmap. When you write your own job description, you decide what the priorities are, what tactics you’ll use, and how to measure success. Another challenge of creating your own role is the uncertainty. I essentially was asking the company and our leaders to take a chance on unchartered territory. Luckily, they were extremely supportive and saw the inherent value in having a role focused on inclusive content and empowering our employees to evangelize Equality. I remember the very first day I pitched the idea to our Chief Equality Officer, Tony Prophet, who at the time was less than a month into his job. Now, I help shape his narrative and, in turn, our company’s Equality platform in what I can now truly call my dream job. It is incredibly rewarding to be passionate about what I do, to continue to be excited to go into work everyday, and to see the tangible change we are making in people’s lives.
What inspired you to create this role? What kind of impact have you seen it make, and what about it are you proudest of?
As a woman of color, it is very apparent when I walk into spaces where there aren’t many other people who look or identify like me. And that causes me to empathize deeply with others who feel the same. It can be incredibly lonely at times. When I entered the tech industry, I noticed that I was in many spaces like this. When I began to dig deeper — leveraging my passion for journalism and research — I was struck by the systemic nature of the diversity challenges in tech. The lack of women and underrepresented minorities across the industry pointed to a much larger conversation and multi-dimensional problem. I felt an actionable way to start solving this was through the power of data, elevating success stories from these communities, and giving leaders the language they needed to start having often difficult conversations about Equality.
I’ve found that an overwhelming majority of people want to do the right thing — they just don’t always know how or what to say or even what problems they should be paying attention to. I am most proud of the moments where I saw our content create meaningful change — the most recent instance of this being our first-ever Racial Equality summit Representation Matters. We brought together 700 Black, Latinx, and Native tech employees — along with their allies — to see themselves reflected on stage, in the c-suite, and in media. One of our speakers proclaimed to the audience “if anyone tells you there isn’t diversity in tech, I say look around the room,” to which the response was a deafening agreement.
Through my work, I have also had the opportunity to interview and learn from some incredible Equality heroes — and help them to amplify their message and learnings to our industry. This includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech writer and advisor Clarence Jones, Civil Rights Activist DeRay Mckesson, Humanitarian and Sports Icon Billie Jean King, and Multi-Grammy award winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Stevie Wonder. Their journeys and lessons help us to carry their work forward in our workplaces and in the world around us.
How has Salesforce been particularly supportive?
Salesforce is special in many ways. We celebrate those who we call Trailblazers — people who think outside of the box to build their own paths and influence meaningful change. And part of that means creating an environment where employees are empowered to innovate and try something that has never been done before. When I was thinking of creating my own role, I talked to other mentors who had built their own programs within the company before me, including many amazing women who trailblazed their own careers. I’ve never worked at a place that was so supportive of this non-conventional path.
The other is our commitment to Equality. Equality is one of our four core values, and our company was founded on this idea that the business of business is to make the world a better place. I believe that this separates Salesforce from other companies. Equality is part of the fabric. At Salesforce, I’ve been able to host conversations about today’s most challenging societal issues, live my passion for driving change at work, build my leadership skills through our employee resource group program, and have been supported by so many incredible mentors along the way.
What initially drew you to Salesforce? And what’s one of the most amazing things about your workplace that you didn’t learn until working there?
I attended Dreamforce one year as a customer and sat in on a session with our CEO and Chairman, Marc Benioff, on Equal Pay. He was telling the story of how two women leaders — Cindy Robbins and Leyla Seka — came to him with the idea that there could be a pay discrepancy between men and women at the company. He empowered them to go get the data. And when it showed that there was in fact a gap, Salesforce spent $3 million that year to ensure equal pay for equal work, and continues to audit and adjust. I was so amazed by this story. I had never heard of a company or CEO admitting wrongdoing that way followed by such swift and innovative action. I felt that this was a company that stood up for me as a woman and that was also not afraid to stand up for what’s right.
What are three things you make sure to do each workday before you disconnect?
Each workday I make sure to ask those around me how they are really doing — it seems simple but it’s easy to get caught up in deadlines and day-to-day tasks and miss these human moments. I also write down any big ideas that came up during the day, and review my calendar for the next day so I can start planning ahead.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
I remember the day I met with one of my mentors, Meghan Gendelman, and I told her I was thinking about focusing on a career in diversity and equality, but that I was afraid. “Maybe I should just stick to marketing,” I said. “There’s a clearer career path there.”
She said to me: “you are the best version of yourself when you are talking about these issues — it lights up the entire room. Follow your passion, the rest will come. Don’t be afraid, I will help you however I can.”
She taught me two valuable lessons about authentically following my passion and accepting help. After I spoke up about my interest, she was able to open doors for me that eventually led to my current role. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and trust those who believe in you.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are navigating uncharted territories at work?
Do not ever dim your shine, and lift others as you rise. There are going to be times when you feel you need to conform or shrink to succeed in spaces where you might be one of few, but you begin to learn what makes you shine is your biggest asset. When you lean into this, that’s when the real magic starts to happen in your career. No other person can replicate what’s unique to you. Shine bright and be proud of your accomplishments and what your bring to the table — but always be graceful and humble. At the same time look for other opportunities to help lift up other women or underrepresented people around you. I am grateful to all those who saw a spark in me, believed in me, and took a chance on me. I am committed to doing the same for others in any way that I can.
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