How This DE&I Leader Is Growing a Global Tech Company Into a Place Where Everyone Grows and Thrives

Sponsored by Intuit, Inc

Humera Shahid

Photo courtesy of Intuit.

Profile Picture
Fairygodboss

“My entire career has been focused on helping people achieve more than they imagined was possible,” says Humera Shahid, the Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer and VP of Talent Development at Intuit — the global technology platform behind TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma and Mailchimp. I’ve spent over two decades in the talent field, focused on innovative companies and fueled by highly engaged and diverse talent. In the early part of my career, most companies thought of DE&I as a small component of talent acquisition — now, we recognize it's a core strategic function.” 

As a DE&I leader at Intuit, Shahid and her team “focus on employees, customers and communities and listen to these voices,” she explains. Her team has had great success in continuing to make inclusion a priority at Intuit — where it has been a core value since the company’s beginning. “We have improved our representation of female technologists by multiple percentage points year over year and are making slow but steady progress on increasing representation for underrepresented groups, too,” says Shahid. 

That said, her work is not always easy — or finished. “Representation isn’t the whole story, and our work is far from done,” notes Shahid. Retaining employees, enabling them to bring their whole selves to work and combatting ingrained biases are key focuses for her team. Shahid's goal is to make Intuit a place where everyone can grow, thrive and belong — no matter who you are.  

Keep reading to learn more about Shahid’s role in DE&I, her advice for you and how she continues to grow as a DE&I leader and as an ally.

What’s your day-to-day like? 

I don’t think anyone would be surprised when I say “it depends.” Some days, it’s listening to an employee who’s come to work and is still processing a violent event in their community. Other days, it’s meeting with our partners in diversity across the company to review our diversity supplier principles. Or it’s looking at pay data for underrepresented groups and facilitating actions. And, sometimes, that’s all in one day.   

This role is about connecting personally with people, being a steward of our DE&I strategy and contributing to an external network of companies and professionals who are all trying to create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. A majority of my focus is on our employees. We can recruit as many people as we want, but if we don’t have a culture that retains employees, we lose that talent.  

 Yes, representation is a goal of diversity, but creating a truly inclusive culture is what drives the long-term retention of top talent and company success. I spend a lot of time focusing on DE&I programs, processes and priorities that drive employee engagement.   

What’s your favorite thing about working in DE&I? 

I love that it’s interwoven within so many other functions across the company. When we invest in improving all parts of our organization, our DE&I strategy is strengthened across the board. For example, many companies our size deal with middle management pipeline issues — a lack of managers to promote and move up through the talent pipeline.   

Intuit’s approach is not just to fix our own internal pipeline system, but to look beyond our walls to break the perpetual cycle that’s contributing to the issue in the first place. Our team creates solutions with shared value — for Intuit and our community. For example, we’ve run a very successful returnship program, called Intuit Again, that helps caregivers return to the workforce after a gap in technical skills. The technologists, who mostly identify as females from underrepresented groups, are often retained by Intuit in full-time roles following the program.   

We are also heavily invested — financially and with our time and resources — in Girls Who Code and similar programs committed to getting more women into STEM jobs. These programs that we lead, along with a dozen others, drive true change in the lives of those lacking equity. 

How do you manage to be aware of your own biases? 

I’m constantly growing, evolving and learning to check my biases. I’ll never forget the time I walked into a team meeting with the head of brand marketing at my previous company to discuss an upcoming meeting. A woman sitting next to me made a comment about logistics so I assumed she was in an assistant or planner role, and I proceeded to talk to her only about the logistics of the event.  

I later found out that she had a business background and was specifically brought onto the project to drive customer data and analytics of this meeting. I was a senior leader and had completely minimized this person’s contribution based on an incorrect assumption. My bias had totally gotten the better of me.  

It hit me right away — my brain leaped to that assumption, and my bias took over. We all have bias, and it's shaped by life experiences, so it’s my responsibility to lead with inquiry and not make assumptions. This takes an enormous amount of effort — but it’s kept me honest and empathic toward leaders who might be realizing their biases for the first time. 

What projects are you particularly proud of? 

Our previous leader created an updated strategy and built a team to do this work. I’ve built on that foundation. One of the areas Intuit is leaning into is what we’re doing to stand up and stand out in racial equity. 

While most companies took a public stance following the murder of George Floyd, Intuit created a dedicated Racial Equity Advancement Leadership (REAL) team to develop a detailed roadmap for how to improve equity for employees identifying as Black or part of an underrepresented group. This has had a ripple effect outside the organization because we openly share what we’re doing to drive change. 

We’ve set a goal to increase the representation of our African-American, LatinX and other underrepresented ethnic groups to 16% of our workforce by 2023, up from 12% today, and we’re looking to improve by 1% this fiscal year. The team has put so much dedication into having tough and honest conversations with employees to learn, assess and build trust. Now, as we move into the more pragmatic part of our company response, we know we’re implementing programs that are truly building equity and doing it right.   

How has Intuit supported you? 

When I first joined Intuit, I wasn’t in this role, but my path to get here is truly a testament to Intuit living and breathing its core values. In fact, I joined Intuit because I was attracted to our mission — to power prosperity around the world — and our values, which truly aim to put people and communities first.  

My manager, our CHRO, had conversations with me about my career progression and where I saw myself making the greatest impact. From the moment I stepped inside Intuit, I could truly be my whole self and felt that the company wanted what was best for me. When the CDEIO role opened up, I was ready for it and believed that Intuit was committed to doing this work. That’s what gave me confidence in taking on this role.  

What advice would you give to women who are looking to pursue a career as a Chief Diversity Officer? 

If you’re looking to jump into the DE&I career path, we’d love to have you. It’s still an emerging field that’s rapidly evolving, and it’s encouraging to see so much passion for this work, both inside Intuit and across the field. I think it’s important to realize that diversity and inclusion workers tend to carry a lot of emotion, and you must be ready to lean into it and help forge a path through it. You might have a passion for increasing DE&I, but are you ready to truly embrace different views, stay open to emotions and deal with pressing issues that don’t always have a clear-cut yes or no answer? 

To be effective in a DE&I role, you need to be you. This means showing up as your whole self — authentically — and staying vulnerable. For me, this means sharing openly and honestly with my team so they see me for who I really am — not perfect, always learning and willing to take risks when there are no easy answers. If you embrace this field of work, I can promise  that you’ll do a tremendous amount of growing personally, and the change-making is rewarding. 

How could other companies learn from how Intuit is managing DE&I? 

We’re all learning together. That’s one of the things I love most about the DE&I community. The practitioners in this space are well connected, and we’re doing this work together. There’s a general consensus that we should remain open to learning and sharing with one another, as we work to solve many of the same problems in different contexts across a variety of industries and companies. Intuit has always been committed to data and transparency — through pay equity processes, governance and reporting — and is always curious about what our peers are doing that’s working well. 

 Intuit also has had a long history of employee resource groups (ERGs) and is also one of few companies that support faith-based ERGs. We have 13 ERGs today, including our African Ancestry Network, Latinos Network and PRIDE Network, and continue to grow their scope and reach. Our ERGs are not only meaningful to employees, but they also serve as communities of discussion, whether about social issues or product feedback. They truly make an impact on our employees, customers and communities.  

I think other companies can learn from Intuit’s culture. We’ve always put employees first, which has created a company culture that prioritizes caring about individuals before the work they do. This has a positive impact on the employee experience, reduces burnout and emphasizes self-care. Our benefits and development programs are available to everyone, and we continue to invest in ways to improve the lives of our employees and allow each individual to fully be themselves at work. When you endlessly put your employees first, everything else falls into place. 

If you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities at Intuit, please join our Talent Community today. 

 

-- 

Fairygodboss is proud to partner with Intuit, Inc. Find a job there today!