A Journey of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at GitHub

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Hello! I am Demetris Cheatham, @demetris11 (she/her/hers), GitHub’s new senior director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DI&B) Strategy, and I’m thrilled to be in this new role. 

I am very passionate about increasing DI&B (with a heavy dose of racial equity) in the tech industry, especially within open source, but this role was not one that I actively sought out. In fact, when I receive inquiries from recruiters, I typically listen, offer advice, and make referrals for many of my colleagues who are focusing on this daunting but highly rewarding work. But this position was different.

GitHub recognizes that DI&B must be approached intentionally, and infused throughout its business strategy and across its internal functions in order to have the greatest impact. That approach, combined with GitHub’s recognition that DI&B are integral to its mission and high-performance culture are what made this opportunity one that I just couldn’t pass up. GitHub asked me to join the Office of the Chief Operating Officer (OCOO) to help achieve our mission to be the home for all developers. In this rather unique role, I am responsible for leading our long-term, global DI&B strategy across four pillars: People, Platform, Philanthropy, and Policy. I’ll be collaborating with exceptional DI&B leaders on our HR, Engineering, Policy, and Social Impact teams for a truly cross-functional approach to this work.

Looking back over the past two decades, I didn’t necessarily seek out a career in diversity and inclusion. After serving as the first woman and youngest executive director of the National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of Black lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students, as well as leading a team that authored some of the most progressive legislation in the U.S. around racial equity and economic inclusion, the work found me. I feel that I have something to offer to the many people around the world who want to work in industries that, as statistics consistently show, can’t figure out how to include us. As a Black woman and a first-generation college student with a computer science degree from a historically black college (HBCU), North Carolina A&T State University, my desire is to use my own career journey to help make the career journeys of others a bit easier.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, best aunt ever, and oh yes, a recovering lawyer, nonprofit exec, entrepreneur, and chief of staff to an elected official. I also have the distinct honor of teaching approximately 450 undergraduate students each semester the highly valuable skill of entrepreneurial thinking.

So with all of who I am, I’m excited to align DI&B to GitHub’s global expansion work, its growth, its business strategy, and the plan for the future footprint of its workforce. I’ve already discovered that GitHub is a place that values diversity. It seems that everyone in the company, including @nat and the entire GitHub leadership team, already know that the key to success includes a focus on DI&B. I was thrilled to discover that my job isn’t to convince anyone that DI&B is important, but rather to bring my education, work experience, and most importantly, my life experiences to help shape the strategy to fulfill our mission.  

I believe that GitHub—with its passionate, diverse global developer community—is uniquely positioned to create an environment where everyone, no matter who or where they are in the world, can contribute and feel like they belong. So during these first 90 days, I plan to explore the GitHub platform, connect more with the open source community, and learn from amazing GitHubbers around the world. Rather than wait until the end of those 90 days to pen a blog post introducing our new strategy, I thought I’d bring you along on the journey with me as I learn more about GitHub’s culture, the passion of its people, and the opportunity in front of us. Please keep an eye out for updates to come.

Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and well. 

Demetris Cheatham, Senior Director of DI&B Strategy at GitHub

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