How I Drive Dual Impact: As a People Leader and a Leader of the Black Excellence ERG

Sponsored by Robinhood

Lisa Robinson

Photo courtesy of Robinhood.

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Fairygodboss
April 21, 2024 at 2:15AM UTC

Lisa Robinson, who is a Manager of Risk Transformation & Strategy within Robinhood’s Enterprise Risk function and leader in the company’s Black Excellence (BEX) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is passionate about making an impact and changing outcomes. In her role as Manager, Robinson leads efforts to identify and address potential complex operational, regulatory, and technology risks. Drawing from over 15 years of technology experience, “I engage with key stakeholders to drive Robinhood’s strategy and approach to monitoring and solving for complex risks that present enterprise-wide implications,” she explains.

“Having the opportunity to see my passion translate into action that results in meaningful impact is a great accomplishment,” notes Robinson. In addition to making contributions as a risk manager, Robinson also gets to see the impact of her dedicated efforts as it relates to shaping company culture.

Photo of Lisa Robinson. Image courtesy of Robinhood.

For instance, Robinson uses her skills as a successful leader as part of BEX, where she says she is glad to be “able to use my network to foster change.” And this exchange of skills goes both ways! Robinson’s ERG experience also benefits her day-to-day career. To learn more, we reached out to Robinson. Here’s what she had to say…

My ERG experience.

Why did you join the Black Excellence (BEX) Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

As a former senior regulator of financial markets, and expert in technology risk and compliance, I have led meetings with senior executives from some of the world’s largest financial corporations, oftentimes as the only Black person in the room. I recall instances where male executives would not shake my hand or in the middle of a meeting asked me to provide water for the entire room as if I were there to directly support them.  

As one can imagine, this is a dejecting experience. You start to question who you are and your value and then comes the manifestation of imposter syndrome. I say this as a woman who has worked out of the Pentagon alongside some of the country’s top Defense leaders. I've been given public recognition for my work for the department and other spaces. Yet, in spite of my professional experiences and demonstrated performance, I and many other Black women still encounter the same struggles. 

Women — moreover Black women, are constantly overlooked for leadership opportunities and told we don’t fit the mold, even when we exceed expectations. However, for every negative experience, I reflect back to the words of Shirley Chisholm: “If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This is personal for me, and, as such, I have made it my life’s mission to change outcomes for those like me, who carry the unwarranted burdens of overcoming negative narratives and systemic barriers to leadership opportunities.

How did you start supporting BEX? 

When I joined Robinhood, a former company executive suggested that I get involved in BEX. While I was new to the organization, I was actively involved in supporting ERGs at my previous employers, and BEX leadership was looking for someone to help with event planning — it was the perfect opportunity where I could use my network to support external engagements and other activities. 

Shortly after joining, I realized just how dynamic the BEX community was — the leaders were so invigorating, fearless and passionate that it motivated me to expand my support. I quickly began planning events, and was able to lean into my network to help host a range of educational events, a kick-back cultural event and was even able to support wrapping up the month with an impressive all-woman panel as a segue into Women's History month. 

It was beautiful to see how well we worked together. So much so that it mobilized me to commit to the ERG.

Could you tell us a little bit more about BEX?

BEX leadership meets weekly to discuss how we can support the community. We strive to celebrate excellence in all forms. Bex also has a Slack channel that we use to communicate with the community. It functions much like a social media forum, where people can come to discuss things impacting the community, which helps drive decision-making. 

To date, we have 626 members. In 2022, the BEX leadership team will provide more structure to the way we operate to provide more clarity, manage expectations and enable better decision-making. Also in 2022, BEX will roll out leadership development training to support creating a pathway forward to opportunity. 

BEX has also partnered across the organization with various groups. We hosted an intersectionality event in June of 2021 to shed a spotlight on some of the struggles of those who have intersectional identities. We have donated to various non-profits, dedicated to teaching financial literacy to underserved students. We also plan on working alongside several HBCU organizations this year to host a few special events.

What are your favorite parts of being in this ERG?

The ability to drive impact. There is something fulfilling about being able to reach people where they are, without judgment. I’d also like to add that as an industry innovator, the company has served as an example of what it means to encourage employees to be brave by empowering their affinity groups to be bold. 

How being an ERG leader has helped my career, and the careers of others!

How has being in this ERG affected your busy day-to-day career as a manager? 

As a manager, I’ve learned that empowering your team is important. Empowerment fosters the communication needed to drive innovation. I have found so much beauty in BEX, especially during the pandemic. The joy I receive from having a safe space, in-turn, allows me to be a better leader for my team.

BEX also motivated me to help co-create another informal safe space called “Pop of Color”. It’s a group of women who meet during their lunch breaks to talk about parenting, marriage, natural hair, beauty secrets and more. This forum was created as a way to cultivate organic relationships within a virtual environment. 

In BEX, have you made any connections or learned any skills that have aided in your career growth? 

I have learned how to be fearless and intentional. As the youngest of 15 children, I’ve always had to vet my feelings and actions against the approval of others. As a member of BEX, I’ve met some amazing people, many inspiring me to live within my full self. The company has also provided BEX with the tools to run with our mission, which allows me to become less worried about perception and more concerned about impact.

How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you?

I also work as an ambassador to the company, engaging with potential candidates currently undergoing an interview loop. To date, five out of six candidates have accepted their offers. I look at resumes to help women apply for internal promotions, and I meet frequently with the women on my team to discuss ways to support one another. I have made it my personal business to foster relationships with the women across the organization.

Why I love working at Robinhood.

How has Robinhood supported you both as an employee and as a ERG leader?

The company has done a good job at supporting the goals of BEX. The Inclusion, Equity and Belonging (IEB) group, in particular, has been instrumental in working cross-functionally with all of the ERGs. They work hard to ensure our voices are heard. I believe this has a tremendous impact on morale and contributes to the company reputation of being considered one of the best places to work.

Photo of Lisa Robinson and son. Image courtesy of Robinhood.

Why do you believe Robinhood is a particularly great place to work? 

At Robinhood, they are very flexible. I was able to move across the country to support my family as my husband decided to take a job in Washington. They also have great benefits, flexible working hours and are making a concerted effort to break down gender barriers. For women, there are various initiatives and groups created to support women in the workplace. 

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