Watch: A Roundtable on Real Ways to Increase Diversity in the Workplace


"The time for inaction is over."

Such was the through-line in dot.LA's Thursday panel discussion on "Measurably Increasing Diversity in the Workplace."

Joining dot.LA host Kelly O'Grady was Oona King, VP of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) at Snap and a member of the UK House of Lords, and Kobie Fuller, partner at Upfront Ventures. The conversation centered on what organizations must do to ensure that this moment of acute awareness of the societal issues around DEI does not go to waste.

"I am grateful that white people have woken up," said King, who has also worked in diversity and inclusion at the UK's Channel 4 and YouTube. "But my gratitude will turn back to rage if they go back to sleep."


Four key points of the discussion are summarized below. You can view the full conversation in the video embedded in this article.

Diversity and Inclusion Must Be Embedded in an Organization's Culture

"Separate is never equal," King said. DEI cannot be a sideshow effort; it must be "built into the heart of what the business is doing."

That means setting clear goals that strike a balance between being audacious and achievable. And the goals must not be vague.

For example, King highlighted how Snap made one of its core values more concrete: rather than focusing on the importance of employees being "kind," the company went deeper. They added courage as a sub-attribute of kindness, thereby providing a clear parameter to show employees the importance of speaking up for inclusion.

Fuller emphasized that the culture of DEI must start at the top.

"Diverse leaders will disproportionately impact the diversity of people that come after them," he said. Companies must, therefore, prioritize DEI on their boards and the C-suite.

And while collecting DEI metrics is a necessary prerequisite to building the right culture, it is far from enough on its own.

Include Some Form of the 'Rooney Rule' in the Hiring Process

Fuller and King both pushed back against the common excuse that "we couldn't find anybody" to ensure a diverse candidate pool.

Often, the problem is that firms prioritize speed over inclusion, King said. They must instead understand that inclusive hiring is a long-term investment, and may require looking in new places, or rethinking the specific talents and skills being targeted.

You have to "look again, look harder, look further, look elsewhere," she implored.

King also cited data published by the Harvard Business Review showing that incorporating more than one minority candidate on a shortlist drastically increases inclusive hiring. She suggested the coronavirus pandemic is an opportune time for organizations to reevaluate and improve their hiring practices.

Fuller sympathized that startups face unique challenges in being inclusive, given their small size. But that this also presents an opportunity to confront the biases, assumptions and micro-aggressions that can lead to toxic practices, and to actively reject them from the start.

Representation = Hiring + Promotion - Attrition

"If you're only focused on the hiring, it's like filling up the bath with the plug out; you'll never increase your representation," King said.

"You have to solve this problem at all levels," Fuller added, explaining that it is incumbent on firms to ensure that they have black voices layered throughout their organization, and that doing so makes business sense to boot.

One crucial piece for incorporating DEI beyond the hiring process is giving employees the skills and training to be allies.

"The point about racism is it doesn't matter if white people think they like black people. It's a system, and it requires a systemic understanding of the barriers that are facing underrepresented groups," King explained. She added that this also applies to representation by gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and other forms by which people may be excluded.

"Inclusive leadership requires giving people the ability to see inequity," she said. "These last weeks have shown us that people do not see the same thing."

Helping people to see and understand the systemic impact on people who don't look like them will show employees what inclusivity requires, and enable them to accept the responsibility to bring about the necessary change.

Tech companies, in particular, have the power to reach billions of people. They should therefore approach product development with an eye toward inclusivity, King said, noting that this is an area that is often overlooked.

Bringing DEI into products means striving for inclusivity among the people developing the product and in the focus groups that test products and give feedback, and thinking from the start about how to ensure that underrepresented groups will use the product and receive support.

"I'm optimistic people will drive change and real action will take place. But it'll take time," Fuller said. "This'll take focused effort, investment, and doing things you're uncomfortable doing."

King called this moment the "chance of a lifetime."

"We're relying on you to speak up."

Strategy Session: How To Measurably Increase Diversity in the Workplace www.youtube.com


​Kobie Fuller, Partner, Upfront Ventures


Kobie joined Upfront in June 2016, bringing deep expertise in enterprise SaaS and emerging technologies including VR and AR. Over his career he has invested early in notable companies including Exact Target (sold to Salesforce for $2.5B) and Oculus (sold to Facebook for $2B). Prior to Upfront, Kobie was an investor at Accel and, earlier, was the chief marketing officer at L.A.-based REVOLVE, one of the largest global fashion e-commerce players. Earlier in his career, Kobie helped found OpenView Venture Partners and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners. Kobie graduated from Harvard College.

Oona King, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Snap Inc. 

Oona King is the VP of diversity, equity & inclusion at Snap Inc. Previously, Oona was Google's director of diversity strategy, YouTube's director of diverse marketing, and before that chief diversity officer for British broadcaster Channel 4. Oona is a member of the House of Lords (a life-time appointment as Baroness King in January 2011), and former senior policy advisor & speechwriter to the prime minister at 10 Downing Street.

Oona became a member of the House of Commons at 29, the second woman of color, and 200th woman of any color elected to the British Parliament. She became parliamentary private secretary to the minister for e-commerce, and secretary of state for trade and industry. Oona was voted by other MPs as "the MP most likely to change society." In the Lords, Oona's front bench roles included shadow education minister, shadow minister for the digital economy, and shadow minister for equalities.

Chief Host & Correspondent and Head of Video Strategy at dot.LA

Chief Host & Correspondent and Head of Video Strategy at dot.LA 

Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, New England's premier sports network, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.

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Today:

  • Fidelity Seeking to Unload Bird Shares at a Loss
  • Warner Bros.' 2021 Films Will Be Released in Theaters, HBO Max Simultaneously
  • Plug-In South LA Opens New Accelerator Cohort for 2021

    Fidelity Reportedly Seeks To Unload Bird Shares at a Loss 

    Escooter Unicorn Bird Seeks to Unload Santa Monica HQ upload.wikimedia.org

    Fidelity Investments is attempting to unload some of its shares in Bird Rides Inc. at a loss, according to a report published Wednesday night by Business Insider.

    The move comes after dot.LA reported in October that the mutual fund giant has marked down the value of its Bird investment by 17% since the beginning of the year.


    As a private company, Bird does not have to share its financials. Nor do the venture funds that hold most of its shares. However, Fidelity is required to account for shares at their fair market value so it provides a rare glimpse into the company's health.

    But a source close to the matter said the sale should not be seen as any indication of Bird's financial performance. The shares represent less than ten percent of Fidelity's position and the intended sale is the result of a new portfolio manager taking over who does not want to invest in pre-IPO companies, the source said.

    Neither Bird nor Fidelity would respond to dot.LA's request for comment.

    Bird became the fastest company in history to reach unicorn status in 2018 and achieved a $2 billion valuation less than a year later. But as the pandemic hit, it abruptly laid off 406 employees via a Zoom call and was forced to remove its fleet from city streets just as it was gearing up for its normally lucrative summer season.

    dot.LA reported in October the company put its Santa Monica offices up for sublease less than a year after completing a costly renovation.

    Bird has maintained the pandemic has been a positive as riders prefer scooters over crowded buses and subways. It says it is seeing riders take longer trips than they did before the pandemic.

    Last month, Bloomberg reported Bird is looking to go public via a blank-check company. Bird said it had no plans to go public "this year," which did not exactly rule out a SPAC sometime in the near future.

    ​Plug-In South LA Opens New Accelerator Cohort for 2021

    Plug In South LA's Accelerator Program is returning in 2021. The outfit is looking for 10 Black and Latinx founders who have proof of product-market fit and traction. The organization, founded in 2015 by Derek Smith, aims to build a network for Black and Latinx founders in South Los Angeles.

    Last year was the inaugural accelerator program funded by Verizon, Silicon Valley Bank and Nike. The 2019 cohort hosted five startups including Spooler, a tech-based clothing design startup that credits the program with helping to increase revenue two fold since March. During the program, the company received a contract to launch a Sesame Street active wear product line.

    The last day to apply for the program is Dec. 9

    Warner Bros.’ 2021 Films Will Be Released in Theaters, HBO Max Simultaneously

    Warner Bros. will be streaming all its 2021 theatrical releases on HBO Max in a blow to already struggling theater chains as the pandemic continues to reshape Hollywood.

    The AT&T-owned studio's 17-film slate, including "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Mortal Kombat," "The Suicide Squad" and "Matrix 4," will be available on the streaming platform exclusively for one month, starting when they are released in theaters and then will disappear from the platform.The move comes shortly after the company announced it would bring its expected blockbuster "Wonder Woman 1984" directly to HBO Max.


    "We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, in a statement released on Thursday. "No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."

    Sarnoff said the model is a temporary one, but the decision will reverberate across an industry that has taken away screening exclusivity from theaters and reshaped how studios function.

    "With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren't quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films," Sarnoff said. "We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors."

    AT&T's decision to favor its streaming service over theaters comes in response to the pandemic, but it also aligns with CEO John Stankey's public comments that he wants to center his company's strategy around streaming. It's part of a broader blueprint meant to goose AT&T's broadband business, which led the company to acquire Time Warner in 2018 for $85 billion. Comcast, AT&T's chief broadband rival, is pursuing a similar game plan with its own streaming service, Peacock, which falls under its subsidiary NBCUniversal.

    AT&T last month announced layoffs at WarnerMedia to focus the company around HBO Max. Elsewhere, Disney — which logged nearly 74 million paid subscribers to its Disney Plus streaming service last quarter — has refocused on that format. It's another example of a shift toward streaming that was already underway but which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

    CrowdStrike shares surged more than 13% Thursday after the Sunnyvale-based cybersecurity company once again reported blockbuster earnings. The stock is now up 184% this year, eclipsing the 38% gain for the rest of the Nasdaq.

    CrowdStrike's blistering performance is a big win for March Capital, the Santa Monica venture firm focusing on enterprise software founded by Jim Armstrong, Jamie Montgomery, Gregory Milken and Sumant Mandal in 2014.

    Read more Show less

    Warner Bros. will be streaming all its 2021 theatrical releases on HBO Max in a blow to already struggling theater chains as the pandemic continues to reshape Hollywood.

    The AT&T-owned studio's 17-film slate, including "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Mortal Kombat," "The Suicide Squad" and "Matrix 4," will be available on the streaming platform exclusively for one month, starting when they are released in theaters and then will disappear from the platform.The move comes shortly after the company announced it would bring its expected blockbuster "Wonder Woman 1984" directly to HBO Max.

    Read more Show less
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