Leaders on effective DI&B efforts, in their own words

At Balloon, we designed our platform to amplify voices that too often go unheard in traditional meetings and organizational structures—these are the voices of new hires, introverts, team members with marginalized identities, and more.

Our Flight Template authors are industry leaders, culture builders, and workplace trailblazers who care deeply about DI&B in the professional space.

This Pride Month, we want to share five quotes from five passionate leaders on why supporting and celebrating team members’ unique experiences, ideas, and identities is so critical to effective collaboration, enduring productivity, and team happiness.

Let’s continue to support and celebrate each individual’s uniqueness so everyone feels safe to share their most innovative ideas, during Pride Month and beyond.



Set the foundation for belonging.

“Belonging is a feeling, so it’s hard to measure on its own. When it comes to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, I like to think about it like a pyramid, similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Diversity is being invited to the table, and that’s the lowest tier. Inclusion is next, and that’s being allowed to join the conversation once you’ve sat down. In the pyramid, belonging lives right in the middle. Diversity and inclusion are really external factors, but belonging, that feeling of connectedness and sense of support in your role, is internal. People need to really believe that they belong at the table as much as everyone else. That’s the filter you have to pass before you can actually reach the top of the pyramid, which is producing, innovating, creating, and really working in harmony.” – Katelin Holloway, founding partner at venture capital firm Seven Seven Six

Build a team with cognitive diversity.

“It’s very simple: You can't survive as a business without cognitive diversity, and that only comes from building a team of individuals with different backgrounds, different identities, different experiences. Without cognitive diversity, your blindspots will never be revealed, and that will ultimately lead to deep rooted issues within the business.” – Alex Lieberman, co-founder and executive chairman of Morning Brew

Assemble a creative team that represents your target audience.

“If you're creating content for a specific audience, then, by any means necessary, make sure someone who’s in the same demographic as the audience is in the room. This is one of the biggest content missteps I see companies make. I don't know what business is not in the business of selling to diverse customers, and it’s not just about race. If your core audience is female, your executive board better not be mostly men. If your core audience is tweens, then I hope you have a tween panel. Whoever you're trying to speak to, make sure that, from idea conception through execution, you have kind of the voice of that customer represented in your creative team.” – Bernadette Aulestia, former President of Global Distribution at HBO

Prioritize psychological safety to surface innovative ideas.

“Companies with cultures of exclusion will never win, because how can you do your best work if you're on a team where you don't feel psychologically safe? If you’re on a team where you don't feel comfortable sharing your ideas because you might be attacked for the experiences that led to the idea, or even for who you are, you’ll keep your boldest ideas to yourself. That helps nobody, and it blocks innovation before it even starts. But when people feel safe to ideate, the sky’s the limit.” –  Sally Thornton, founder and CEO of leadership consulting firm Forshay

Expect an iterative, ongoing process.

“There will never be quick fixes for unconscious bias, or shortcuts to genuinely inclusive cultures. It would be irresponsible of me to just take something like an inclusion training out of context and hope that the culture changes. Of course we should have workshops and trainings, but it has to be more than that. We have to have conversations constantly, and challenge our assumptions about how inclusive we are as an organization all the time. It’s all part of a process that helps us build that muscle. And the only way we build the muscles is by learning and practicing and sometimes making mistakes.” – Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer at VICE Media



Happy Pride 2021 from all of us here at Balloon!