Awareness, accountability and creating a culture of respect: An interview with Jeri Doris
2021 has only just begun, but it’s already been a busy year at Delivery Hero. Alongside the entire company, our People Operations team continues to grow rapidly, led by our Chief People Officer, Jeri Doris. We sat down with Jeri to get her take on the future of work, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and how to lead a team through hypergrowth. The secret to her success? Creating an environment of respect and leading with openness and authenticity.
This year has already been incredibly busy, and it is only March! How has it been going so far for you?
I mean, we started the year in a sprint, right? We are in a fortunate position where we’re still hiring and are in what many would consider a hyper growth phase. However, it’s a complex and challenging environment when trying to hire and relocate so many new hires from across the globe. So much has changed for all companies since the pandemic, and it’s highlighted the need to prioritize our people’s mental health to keep them engaged, motivated, and well (and doing it all in a hybrid work environment!).
What are your key priorities for 2021 and beyond?
In the People Ops team, we have three main priorities for the year: Drive data-informed decisions, strengthen our foundations, and expand our diversity and inclusion efforts. From a foundational and data perspective, this year, we’re doubling down our strategy of how we continue to scale as an organization, using data to inform and guide our decisions. As we continue to scale, we really need to be deliberate on how we do that – from systems to key people processes – from performance management to career development and benefits – all while fostering an equitable and inclusive environment. This is where our values really come into play, to ensure that we succeed.
What is your approach to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment?
At Delivery Hero, we know that diversity and inclusion matters. It is always top of mind for me. We’ve done a lot of work on this topic to date, but we continue to ask ourselves: How can we be more ambitious? It’s not an overnight fix, but we are taking active steps to ensure that it is a priority in the workplace. For example, we are launching the HeroAcademy this year, which is a new program that is fully funded by Delivery Hero and equips students with relevant knowledge and experience to start a career as a junior engineer at Delivery Hero.
In terms of inclusion, I believe our culture is a competitive advantage at Delivery Hero. For us, having equal representation is key. This goes beyond just having diverse teams, but we want to ensure our work environment is representative and respectful. We want to create an environment where people don’t make assumptions and are always coming from a place of good intent. This can be tougher to support in a virtual environment, but that’s why we have been deliberate about engagement and growth activities, as well as initiatives that make our people feel included but also empowers them to thrive.
Talking about hybrid workspaces and the future of work, how has Delivery Hero operationalized this?
It goes back to what I always say: Choice is important. We give our customers plenty of choice, so giving our employees a choice of where, when, and how they work best is essential at Delivery Hero. Therefore, in such a dynamic and fast-paced environment, hybrid work is here to stay.
We want to create an environment where people don’t make assumptions and are always coming from a place of good intent
When we think about the future of work, it’s also crucial not to assume that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. I don’t want to make assumptions; I want to be able to provide an environment that all of our people can thrive in by offering choice, benefits, and the flexibility to do your best work in a space where you feel like you belong. You do that by asking – not assuming you know what’s right.
How do you create an environment that people feel like they truly belong in?
To create a sense of belonging, you need to have awareness. We need to speak about Diversity & Inclusion and continue to educate people on the topic. The more we talk about it, the more we hold ourselves accountable. That is ultimately how we create a culture that we can be proud of. It goes back to our values. We put our values into everything that we do – from the way we communicate to the way we recruit and do performance management – so that it is embedded in our culture and processes.
That being said, we are aware that our values may change over time because we aren’t stagnant ourselves. As we keep evolving, we want to ensure that we continue to create an environment that fosters a sense of belonging and enables people to grow as our company grows.
As the company continues to grow, how has your perspective on leadership evolved?
My perspective on leadership has evolved as I’ve gotten older and also became a mom (of two). At Delivery Hero, I aim to be as authentic and transparent as I possibly can. In my role, I have an opportunity and responsibility to create an environment where people have a sense of belonging, equality, and where representation matters. It’s important to be open, honest and vulnerable.
Choice is important. We give our customers plenty of choice, so giving our employees a choice of where, when, and how they work best is essential at Delivery Hero.
It is also vital to empower our front-line and mid-level managers (not just the C-level) to truly create an environment in which everyone can thrive. That’s why we’ve set up our people leader principles to define what matters to us when it comes to leadership. We have eight principles – such as “be 100% you”, “champion inclusion”, “find potential, grow potential” – that define what qualities matter for leaders at Delivery Hero. We’re not perfect, but we are continuously thinking about how we can continue to grow our leaders and managers to build the best teams possible.
What other actions can help ensure that we are creating a culture of respect?
Simply put: You have to call out the things that are wrong. It can be uncomfortable, but we need to start having more of those difficult conversations to ensure that we are on the same page. You can’t assume to know how anyone feels, so the first step to creating a culture of respect is understanding and being empathetic.
From a management perspective, this year we will visualize what kind of company we are creating. It’s important to follow our north star and answer the question: Are we creating the best possible place to work in? How can we make it even better? How can we tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us?
And lastly, what is one final piece of advice you’d like to share?
The question I get asked the most in interviews is: How do I succeed in a male-dominated world? People are curious to know the best way to act in these situations. And I just want to tell people: Always be yourself. That is the key to success. When you try to emulate somebody else, you are not playing to your strengths. My advice: play to your strengths, identify where you are different and where you can excel, and focus on that. If you’re ever in an environment where you feel like you have to modify who you are, then you’re in the wrong environment.