Request a demo
Back to Blog

Building the Snap Inc. brand through the 3 I's of inclusivity

July 22, 2021 - 7 min read


Jump to section

Allyship is the new mentorship

Inclusivity is internal, interpersonal, and institutional

Oona's three I's

Coaching leaders to implement DEI

Building inclusive brands today requires leaders to embed the principles of diversity, equity, and belonging in their business models at the onset. For Oona King, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Snap Inc. (and former British Parliament member of the House of Lords), that meant challenging managers to put DEI at the forefront of every strategic operation. Successful DEI-integrative strategies require executives and employees alike to recognize their role in reshaping their mental models, relationships, and organizations at large. 

Read on for three powerful takeaways from our conversation with Oona.


Allyship is the new mentorship

As the second black woman ever elected to British Parliament, Oona reflected on public perceptions of her as the House of Lords member to represent the interests and resolve the concerns of all black women across Britain. The former politician experienced a transformative mental shift under the mentorship of one of the busiest women in Parliament, someone who took time to support Oona despite a hectic schedule and constant pressure to perform under the public’s watch.

Oona no longer views mentorship as an opportunity for influential figures to provide assistance and encouragement. Instead, she views it as a responsibility for leaders of teams, networks, and organizations to empower their constituents to experience continual professional and personal growth.  

“If the most powerful, and the people under the most pressure, can do it [mentorship] well, so can we all.” 

 Oona King, VP and Global Director at Snap Inc.

In her framing, mentorship is a form of allyship: an opportunity for all of us to instill a sense of agency, resilience, and belonging in our work environment. Oona’s transition to her current role as a tech executive at Snap Inc. has allowed her to cultivate a three-pronged approach to fostering inclusivity at work. 

Inclusivity is internal, interpersonal, and institutional

When Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel asked Oona what steps every Snap employee could take to enhance the company’s inclusivity, Oona pitched the three I’s.

This three-tier framework encourages us to recognize the opportunities for growth at the internal and interpersonal levels, and the layered impact that they have on creating institutional transformations. As Oona has come to recognize, internal change for the individual is the driver of institutional change. This framing places every member of the collective majority at the forefront of creating an inclusive culture and relieves the pressure on marginalized groups to carry the burden of solving inequality.

“One of the reasons I think I failed quite a lot is because I was really focused on that third ‘I’ — institutional. I was all about change — the systemic changes… But what we've found is that if you do not change the way the people within those systems think, [it’s] not going to work.”

Oona King, VP and Global Director at Snap Inc.

Oona's three I’s

  • Internal: Change your thinking  
    • How we understand DEI and actively evolve our own understanding from an “other” approach to an “all” approach and take personal responsibility for tackling discrimination and exclusivity 
  • Interpersonal: Change your interactions 
    • How we act directly influences the implementation and maintenance of our company’s DEI policies 
  • Institutional: Change the system
    • The communication networks and political, social, and economic systems our organizations operate in 

Creating the most inclusive work environment requires us to transition from a state of complacency to a state of agency. Too often, the burden to create change is placed on marginalized groups and corporate departments directly involved in DEI. As highlighted in Snap Inc.’s Diversity Annual Report 2021, it shouldn’t be up to women to solve sexism or to people of color to solve racism.

Through their own behavior, each person in the organization can create micro-moments of inclusion and belonging that ladder up to systemic changes. To create these micro-moments, every person must recognize their capacity and responsibility to make the workplace a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. It is through the personal reflection and accountability of the collective majority that we can make institutional changes.

Coaching leaders to implement DEI

An effective way for leaders to tap into personal reflection, adopt a sense of accountability, and create a culture of empathy is through DEI coaching. DEI coaching provides an opportunity for internal development and workforce inclusivity.

As Oona has seen at Snap Inc, coaching enables leaders to seek out their own solutions to enhance DEI initiatives. They are able to recognize their involvement as members of the majority and take a DEI lens on their personal reflections, daily actions, and team environments. 

To effectively coach DEI, leaders must first be coached to address internal work (their own biases), followed by their behavior (their interpersonal dynamics), and then their level of connectedness with underrepresented minorities. In this way, organizational cultures and the macrosystems in which they exist can become braver, bolder, and more intentional about DEI. 

Most importantly, coaching leaders to embrace DEI includes helping them really see the interdependence of DEI initiatives and business strategy. DEI can’t be an afterthought to business strategy. It is the prerequisite enabling leaders to spark positive change in their mental states, interpersonal relationships, and broader organizational norms, visions, and values.

“The first thing [is to] be able to spot inequity and use your majority group status where you have it to reduce the inequity for under-represented groups. It is internal. And then the second 'I' is interpersonal — with that internal knowledge, how are you going to change your actual behavior?”

Oona King, VP and Global Director at Snap Inc.


New call-to-action

Published July 22, 2021

Read Next

Diversity & Inclusion
11 min read | September 2, 2019

How to foster belonging and inclusion in the workplace

A sense of workplace belonging and inclusion builds confidence — leading to greater flexibility, efficiency, and happiness at work. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
6 min read | February 26, 2021

How Anheuser-Busch InBev empowers new parents to thrive

Daniil Khomenko, Talent and Development Lead in Europe, and Anastasiya Volkova, Diversity and Inclusion Lead in Europe, discuss why and how AB InBev is partnering with... Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
4 min read | February 25, 2021

How inclusive leadership impacts your entire business

The importance of diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion has never been more salient. Discover its impact on your team and your entire business. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
13 min read | February 18, 2021

What makes an inclusive leader? These 6 behaviors are a good start

Regardless of industry, practicing inclusive leadership is a must-have for all leaders. Let's take a look at this leadership style and a few key behaviors. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
8 min read | March 4, 2021

Embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into Zendesk’s DNA

A conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion with InaMarie Johnson, Chief People and Diversity Officer at Zendesk. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
9 min read | April 15, 2021

Hard but meaningful: Creating an inclusive workplace through radical empathy

Diversity, equity and inclusion is top of mind for many businesses today, but it can be tough to turn ideals into action. Marc Wilson, EVP of Strategic Inclusion at FCB... Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
13 min read | October 4, 2021

What gender inclusive means, and why your use of pronouns matters

Creating a welcoming environment in both life and work means becoming gender inclusive. Learn what gender inclusive means and what you need to learn. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
16 min read | November 18, 2021

Diversity versus inclusion: Why the difference matters

The terms “diversity and inclusion” are often used together, but they're not the same. Explore diversity vs. inclusion and ways to promote both at work. Read More
Diversity & Inclusion
13 min read | August 29, 2022

For true inclusion and belonging, focus on the locus

Research shows inclusion is a predictor of whether DEIB investments will drive results, for your employees and your bottom line. Individual sense of control matters. Read More

Stay connected with BetterUp

Get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research.