SiriusXM Playbook

How this ​​SiriusXM VP thrives as a DEI practitioner

To thrive in your DEI work, you need to remain fluid and be open to bringing all employee voices and opinions to the table. This was a major lesson Nicole Hughey, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at SiriusXM, learned from partnering with Kunik. 

Below, Nicole passes on some more of these learnings and dives into: 

  1. Why DEI work is a constant balancing act
  2. Unpacking tricky topics like mental wellness
  3. How she leads a small DEI team to positively impact 5,000+ employees

“One major lesson Kunik drove home was that conversation is key. We need to be open to different opinions and thoughts within our company to ensure we bring all voices to the table.” 

As a DEI professional, you’re always balancing multiple agendas

In working with Kunik, Nicole and her team found that DEI work is most often a balancing act. 

You need to strike an even-handed approach to: 

  1. Delivering the topics, programming, impact, etc. that people ask for
  2. Testing people by delivering what they need — even if they don’t realize they need it

“It’s important from a leadership perspective to realize — sometimes you need to provide things that people may not even know they need. I definitely learned that from working with Kunik, since they do a great job balancing this.” 

In fact, the Kunik team applied that exact approach when servicing the SiriusXM team. “They didn’t only support us in what we specifically asked for,” Nicole explains. 

For instance, while organizing a session around mental wellness, she struggled to balance: 

  1. Driving home the core concepts — The conversation aimed to center how nurturing mental wellness enables employees to be at their best — not only in the workplace, but for one another as teams. 
  2. Not coming across as “mental health experts” — Nicole did not want any employees to get the impression that her team was made up of physicians. “That’s a dangerous game to play,” she admits. She also didn’t want the session to come across as pitching the company’s benefits offerings. 

With Kunik’s help, Nicole’s team realized the next best steps were to tie in the topic of mental wellness with DEI and anchor the topic in relevant data

In the end, Nicole successfully worked with Kunik to strike a balance of: 

  1. Honoring what research shows about mental wellness (both personal and professional)
  2. Helping SiriusXM employees understand the impact of how we manage change — as well as how to view it through the lens of DEI

“I struggled a lot with, ‘How are we going to toe the line?’ But Kunik helped us put things in perspective and align this topic with what we wanted to give to employees. It worked out terrifically and was wonderfully done.” 

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