Diversity Leader Shares Career Advice

This month, our African American Team Member Resource Groups (AATMRGs) are celebrating Black History Month. Read on to learn more from AATMRG chair, DeShaun Wise Porter, on the importance of diversity in the workplace.

1. Tell us about your career journey.

In school, I majored in Finance and Multinational Business Operations with a minor in Economics. I kicked-off my career in the financial banking industry. I knew a background in finance would develop key competencies that could later help me in my career. In the early years, I also served as a financial adviser, and then went into business development and corporate training.  The common theme among all of them was being in a position to help others develop in some way- financially, personally or professionally.  This is what led me to talent management, as it was a perfect pairing of business acumen and helping others.

After my years in banking, I accepted a role at Kimberly-Clark where I served as a Global Talent Management Consultant with a keen focus on Learning & Development for their international business. This role allowed me to travel the world- I was gone 70% of the time and worked several short-term assignments abroad. This experience sparked in me not only a love for travel, but a passion for corporations’ international communities.

In 2014, I relocated to DC to be closer to family and after a short stint at Rosetta Stone in Change Management, I was recruited to Hilton. I started as a Director of HR consulting and have been loving #TeamHilton ever sense! In my role, I’ve supported Commercial Services and Brands- the engine of our company, and I am now driving the talent initiatives for our corporate functions: Corporate Affairs, Hilton Supply Management, Legal and HR for HR.

2. Tell us more about your current role with Hilton. What does HR Consulting do?

As Senior Director, HR Consulting to the corporate functions, my work centers on enabling our workforce to deliver on the key strategic priorities of the company.  Through our Team Member Value Proposition, I partner with business leaders to attract, retain, and develop our talent to achieve superior results.

3. What do you love about working for Hilton?

I love the fact that every day is different. Each day, each team, and each task brings a separate set of challenges that allows you to be a problem-solver and an innovator. I’m always learning new things and pulling different levers to unleash the potential of our talent. It is fulfilling to know that the work we do– aligning talent to opportunities, developing strong talent pipelines, and maintaining a culture that enables innovation– positions us to achieve great business results.

4. You say it’s important to enable people to bring their whole and best self to work. What does that look like for you? What do you look for when investigating a company to see if it is an environment that embraces this ideal?

The key things for me in assessing the company are 1) the leadership 2) the team and their ability to adapt, connect, and collaborate and 3) the values.  At Hilton, our value proposition to team members is more than just a promise or a goal, but it is actually the way our leaders lead.  Being able to balance your schedule and make decisions for your day-to-day schedule that is suitable for your family, allows you to bring your best self to work, everyday!

 5. We understand you serve as the co-chair for the African American Team Member Resource Group (TMRG). Why are you passionate about making Hilton a diverse place to work?

Diversity is a key to success for any and all companies. It’s important to seek the perspectives of those that are different from us. The blending of race, gender, ethnicities and orientation propels us to different levels and educates us beyond what a classroom can teach.  Our resource groups help to drive awareness, inclusion and engagement. Additionally, they create a safe space for Team Members to share thoughts, ideas, and challenges. Being in HR, I desire to see people thrive and excel and our diversity initiatives is one of the ways to contribute to our employees’ success. I love our TMRGs, and my hope is for us to have more inclusion groups as we move into the future.

6. February is Black History Month. What is the African American TMRG doing to celebrate Black History Month and why do you think it’s important for us to celebrate these moments?

While one could take the position to celebrate all walks of life every day, February has been coined as Black History Month; thereby setting aside four weeks to honor and celebrate the contributions African-Americans have in the United States. To celebrate means to educate; we leverage this month to draw awareness not just to our achievements and contributions but also to continued progress of the community in the face of societal challenges.  The McLean AATMRG is hosting a networking event, a community service event, and a panel discussion focusing on minority leaders in hospitality.  As we focus on this month and educating others, we should easily discover we have more in common creating a sense of unity going forward.

7. Why is it important for Hilton to hire diverse talent?

To be a good Team Member, you have to be able to collaborate and innovate with all Team Members, not just those who look like you. To be a good leader, you have to be a leader of all people. Hilton is in over 100 countries and we should always represent the people we serve- our guests. Walking side-by-side with individuals brings deeper understanding that can only come from engaging with different people. We need to heighten our level of cultural dexterity to soar to greater heights- that’s why diversity is important.

8. What career advice do you have to offer job seekers?

First, be open– to new projects, new experiences, new positions. Don’t be scared to take a chance on yourself. Someone may be taking a chance on you. Second, don’t be afraid of lateral moves. A career is not a vertical ladder today. The broader you can expand your scope, the more value you can bring to your role. You’re going to have a broad range of experience. Thirdly, do what makes you happy! There’s truth to the old adage, “if you love your job, you never work a day in your life.” Even in your hardest days of work, if you feel you accomplished something, helped someone, solved a problem– you will find meaning in your job. Figure out what makes you whole and happy and do that!