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Spotlight Series: Nina Fleming, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Sovos

Nina Fleming, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Sovos

ARTICLE SUMMARY

As vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Nina Fleming leads the development and execution of Sovos’ strategy for a more diverse and equitable workplace.

Her business philosophy is rooted in the belief that inclusion is not a nice to have, but rather a business imperative that leads directly to a healthy culture, strong performance and an improved bottom line.

Throughout her career, Nina has helped companies understand that the differences between people make up the strength of an organisation. She believes that when employees are free to bring their whole selves to work, the business benefits through greater productivity and innovation.

When not in the office, Nina enjoys travelling and spending time with family and friends. Always up for a great comedy, her favourite recovery mechanism is laughter.

If Nina could offer one piece of advice to any business it would be the words she carries with her every day: to whom much is given, much is required.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

I’ve participated in diversity and inclusion work for years, both as a part of committee and independently. Something I’ve always worked towards is improving the diversity “at the table and in the room” and doing my best to ensure marketing and advertising budgets are spent equitably.  When I decided I wanted to go into diversity, equity and inclusion full time, the first thing I did I was form a plan on how I would get there. I formalised my training to boost my knowledge, built up my network and started taking on additional DEI work to increase my marketability. And here I am today! I was able to secure my position at Sovos because I was able to demonstrate the necessary tie between my understanding of business and my DEI expertise.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

Diversity, equity and inclusion touch every area of the business:

·       Diversity evaluates how we recruit, who we recruit, who we develop, who we promote, and who do we retain in addition to distribution of our vendors spends, how do we support communities, how accessible are our products, the list goes on.

·       Inclusion and sense of belonging points to whether everyone feels they have a place in the business, prompting leaders to consider the following: do we have inclusive practices to help people feel a part of our organisation, how do we communicate, how do we educate and expose people to lived experience that might not be their own, what is our culture, and more.

·       Equity relates to how we provide policies and practices that enable all our team to have what they need to be successful at Sovos.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL? 

I’m lucky enough to have had several role models and mentors from a variety of careers – I have long observed the careers of some of the leaders who have been pioneers in their field and have paved the way to ensure others followed.  I love seeing people successfully enhance the culture of their organisation and that’s exactly my goal at Sovos.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR?  

A lot of what I’m proud of hasn’t always been my direct success. I thrive in mentoring or managing someone in their development, helping them to progress and achieve their goals.

Knowing that I played a part in guiding their career deeply inspires me. 

In this role, I feel empowered all over again every time someone tells me that they feel psychologically safe or seen because of one of the DEI initiatives that we’ve put in place. The desire for others to feel included and/or recognised is what drives me most and is an undeniable source of pride for me.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

One of the reasons that equitable opportunities for development is so important to me is because I haven’t always had people to advocate for my development.  Many times, I’ve had to take the initiative to ask for formalised training and even when I asked, it hasn’t always been provided.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? 

Absolutely, imposter syndrome is real.  It’s challenging to believe you belong when you are the only one in several rooms that is like you.  Women are interrupted when they are speaking 2.6 times more than men so it can often seem like people aren’t interested in what you have to say, which can be incredibly discouraging. I lean into the fact that I’m in the room because I have a perspective that others may not, which is one of the reasons that diversity matters so much.  Our environments must be inclusive to give people the opportunity to use their voice and contribute their ideas, because our teams and organisations miss the benefit of having us if we don’t contribute.  

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?  

I encourage women to embrace the technology field, it’s a growing and dynamic industry. Seek out mentors who will support your development and your career.

Mentorship and sponsorship can be the difference between thriving versus surviving.

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