TheBridge profile: Susan Gonzales
Name: Susan Gonzales
City: San Francisco, CA
Current job: Principal, Susan Gonzales Consulting
Past job: Facebook’s Director of Community Engagement; Senior Director of External Affairs at Comcast
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Blue Bottle Coffee, anywhere.
Q. Job advice in three words? Follow gut intuition.
Q. How are you currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation in your work? Diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of many issues including tech innovation. Without diverse representation at the coding level through leadership, technology continues to risk unintended discriminatory innovation. I work with organizations interested in continuing to encourage diverse perspectives at every level of tech.
Q: Diversity and Inclusion is at the forefront of many issues today. What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Diversity can be measured by headcount, programs, and community investments. Inclusion must be established and fostered within teams to create a sense of belonging. Inclusion directly impacts innovation, retention and team performance.
Q. What is the biggest mistake businesses are making when dealing with diversity and inclusion issues at their companies? Companies can easily get stuck in “awareness” mode. We have moved beyond the awareness conversation and bias trainings for individuals. Teams need to understand the value of different perspectives in order to actively foster inclusion. Inclusion impacts performance, retention and innovation. Employees need interactive opportunities to learn from each other to take action.
Q. What can Silicon Valley (innovators) teach DC (regulators)? They can learn from the pace of Silicon Valley innovators. Regulators can move too slowly. A lot of time is wasted on older tech systems and processes. My head spun when I moved from DC to Silicon Valley. Everything was at warp speed.
Q. What can DC (regulators) teach Silicon Valley (innovators)? Regulators can teach the value of experience and wisdom. These qualities are easily overlooked by innovators.
Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Their personal perspective.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? When I was in surgery for breast cancer. It was successful.
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. My five years at Facebook taught me to take risks while creating and managing something new. I’m using those skills as a consultant. Creating Community Engagement for Facebook was filled with endless experiences working with diverse communities, elected officials, influencers and company leadership.
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