This Innovator Is Ensuring That Representation Is at the Forefront of the Metaverse

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Robbyn E.

Photo courtesy of Meta.

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Fairygodboss
May 23, 2024 at 3:37AM UTC

“Representation matters because everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the media and marketing they consume. We are in a demographic shift, and in the next decade, America will be a majority minority culture. It’s time that we reflect the global community that we all live in.” — Robbyn E., Brand Marketing Manager, Inclusion, at Meta’s Reality Labs

Meta may be Robbyn’s first role in tech, but she has a proven history of making a difference and paving the way for positive change and increased representation. “For the last 15 years, I’ve worked to ensure that underrepresented people are reached and represented in advertising. I’ve spent most of my career proving why representation matters,” says Robbyn.

Reflecting on her career, Robbyn notes that, “I always had a natural affinity toward DE&I work and inclusive marketing based on my lived experience, including my experience working in an industry (advertising) that really was not reflective of me or my community.” She took a big step toward working in DE&I when, during her agency career, she was hired to lead Multicultural Media Planning for several brands at a global ad agency. At the time, “It was my dream role,” Robbyn says.

Robbyn’s career journey, however, had much more in store. At this point, she had been interested in the Tech industry for a while, but “it took me years to really feel confident about taking that step out of my own comfort zone,” notes Robbyn. She explains that this is because “as women, there are many times we don’t feel adequately prepared to take chances in our career, and it holds us back every time.” To push back against this feeling, Robbyn has this advice to share: “Being brave and taking calculated risks is critical for our success. I would highly recommend doing this early and often; as women, we aren’t taught to flex that muscle. So, it’s time to start flexing.”

And flex she did. Two-and-a-half years ago, Robbyn relocated to the Bay Area (now Los Angeles) in a successful career pivot to help the AR/VR team build Meta’s Inclusive Marketing practice.

Today, Robbyn uses her experience, affinity and passion to push her team to think differently and help remove the barriers people face in today’s world. “Our team's role is to ensure we’re applying an inclusive lens to all of our external marketing and communications in an effort to ship more inclusive, culturally relevant and industry-leading work that serves a global audience,” she explains. “We’re lucky to be present in an era where tech has become such a huge catalyst in changing the world for good. That is why it’s even more critical to ensure we’re encouraging the growth of AR and VR in inclusive ways.”

Robbyn took the time to share some expert advice about the benefits of a career in DE&I, why she loves working at Meta and how her work is changing the world for the better by building for diversity and inclusion in the Metaverse.

Advice for pursuing a career in DE&I. 

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

I would say that, for me, working in DE&I is a form of self-love. I’m lucky enough to be able to combine two areas that I’m passionate about into my life’s work. I am a marketer, but my life goal is and has always been to ensure that all people are seen — to make the invisible, visible and to celebrate that. So much of marketing is storytelling, and we must reflect the world that we actually live in and the people in it. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the media that they consume. If the only characters you see are the stereotypes, that's when they become stereotypes. But, if you show the nuances of people, with their multiple dimensions, then it's a person, not a stand-in for an entire community. So this is my DREAM JOB. 

Robbyn speaking at a conference. Photo courtesy of Meta.

What advice would you give to women who are looking to pursue a career in DE&I?

Your lived experience in this space is immeasurable. It is the currency required to show that you understand the importance of this work. So be confident in what you already know. Second, I would suggest identifying a mentor or mentors who can support you on your journey. 

You mention that you are inspired by Nobel-Prize-Winning author and professor Toni Morrison. Can you share how she influences you?

She was unapologetically Black, dedicating her life to telling stories of the Black experience in America. When she wrote her first novel, she was a single mom of two who woke up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to write while her sons slept. This is one example of her drive, passion and commitment to her craft. She paved the way for generations of Black creators to tell our stories.

Why Robbyn decided to join Meta, and why she’s stayed.

What about Meta made you join the company?

Representation and opportunity. The lack of diversity in tech is a global issue. The stats are very clear: women only account for 35% of STEM students and are woefully underrepresented in tech jobs. It gets worse when we look at People of Color — with Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans making up less than 5% of the workforce. And, most telling is that if we don’t do something about this, studies show that 86% of Black and Brown workers could be disqualified or underprepared for 86% of jobs in the future. 

As brands, how do we do our part to promote equality and diversity within the ecosystem that we’re building? Meta, and specifically Reality Labs, represented an opportunity for a Black girl from Detroit (myself) to be a part of this next renaissance of technology. For me, it is the promise of our tech’s ability to be a great equalizer for all people, no matter what background, ethnicity or culture.

What are your favorite parts about working for Meta? How has Meta supported you in your career?

Meta has given me the opportunity to not only take the next step in my career but to contribute to building amazing radically inclusive brands in a way that no other company or position has. It’s a privilege and honor for me to use our platform and voice to support and educate communities on the power of technology. We are proactively doing our part to amplify diverse voices, creators and developers in the space.  

A photo of Robbyn. Photo courtesy of Meta.

How do you help your colleagues think differently and focus on inclusion?

Our job as inclusive marketers is to push the team to think beyond the surface. For instance, there are more than one billion people with disabilities in the world, making them the largest minority group; however, they have the least amount of representation. We are working diligently to challenge our team to strive to include talent in our marketing with varying degrees of body type, age, cultures, ethnicities and varying abilities. Marketing gives people the windows to see themselves — everyone deserves that.

A photo of Robbyn. Photo courtesy of Meta.

How would you say that your work at Meta is helping change the world for good?

The work I am currently most proud of is our Community For All platform; this platform was built to make long-term and sustained partnerships with grassroots and non-profit organizations with the intention of creating a more diverse AR/VR ecosystem. 

Young, old and in-between people need to see themselves in tech, as well as the possibilities of tech and how it can be used for good. Underrepresented people want to know how this tech is being used to uplift their communities, and how it is being used to close the digital divide. So, the partnerships we’re building are focused on showing people — all people, no matter their background, income, race, culture or ability — the power of AR and VR. When we directly invest in underserved communities, it helps to close income and wealth gaps. We are striving to be a part of the solution. We’re really excited about building on that work and scaling it even further in 2022. 

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