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Netflix’s ex-diversity head says U.S. election will only strengthen case for DEI. Here’s her advice for leaders

Marla Aufmuth—Getty Images for Watermark Conference for Women

Hello, Fortune leadership writer Lila MacLellan here, filling in for Ruth.

Vernā Myers, who left Netflix as head of inclusion strategy last fall, is back running her eponymous consulting company.

After five years as the streaming giant’s first-ever inclusion director, Myers is rebooting her previous role at a time when fellow professionals have to address the “ridiculous” anti-DEI movement, she says. Coupled with that is an election year that has corporate leaders worried about disruption and divisiveness in the workplace.

“We are not going to get to this election without more polarization, more anger, more hatred, more disunity,” Myers says. For that reason, she says this election will only bolster the case for DEI—no matter the outcome.


Myers urges business leaders to start preparing now for pre-election turmoil. “Don’t wait. You know this is happening, and people are freaking out and fearful,” she says. Before the election intensifies, remind employees of your core values as a company and stress to everyone—including leaders— the importance of treating people “fairly, with dignity and respect, no matter their choices or affiliations.”

The workplace is not an ideal place to have political conversations, says Myers. Nevertheless, politics are embedded in the policies that affect work and daily life, making the polarization that has taken hold in the country hard to escape. Leaders and managers, therefore, should model empathy for all while remaining sensitive to the fact that direct reports on the same teams who share the same business goals may hold vastly different views about the election’s hot-button topics.

For some employees, the potential outcomes of this election are direct and devastating, says Myers. Former president Donald Trump has already previewed some of his race-related talking points that might take the spotlight on the campaign trail, including his thoughts on the influx of migrants to the U.S., global conflicts, and diversity programs. Your employees’ well-being, or their family’s, may be at stake, says Myers. To business leaders, she says: “Remember that you may be far from the implications of certain policies, but it's not theoretical for some people.”

Lila MacLellan

Today's newsletter was curated by Ruth Umoh.

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