Amy Belmaggio – Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Three significant words often strung together with the power to shape a stronger company culture and workplace environment for all.
At Samsung, it’s part of our company’s heritage to push boundaries and defy barriers to achieve meaningful progress and power bold innovation. But innovation doesn’t just happen — it is designed by humans for humans. And a critical ingredient is our inclusive culture and diverse workforce. Our company is made up of nearly 270,000 people around the world of different ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, religious beliefs, and abilities. But together, we’re ONE global team united by Samsung’s purpose and values.
Action is another noteworthy word. Samsung is continuing to make progress on our journey towards driving meaningful change. And we want to spotlight the DE&I champions within our organization that have been and continue to be instrumental in enabling us to make an impact and helping to create a rich sense of belonging where everyone can thrive.
1. What does diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) mean to you, both personally and professionally?
When I was younger, I grew up on the less privileged side of town and only had my brothers and other boys in my neighborhood to play with. My brothers told me that I could do everything they could and always included me. I sometimes out boxed them, out bench-pressed them, and out-ran them. That inclusion my brothers gave me was inherent. I didn’t know any different – and I still don’t. Professionally, I have my work brothers and sisters who tell me what my siblings did back then, that I can do everything that they can do…if I want to.
2. What has been your greatest learning or most exciting experience in your career journey as it relates to DE&I?
Joining the Samsung Veterans employee resource group (ERG) has been a career highlight given the platform we have to build and enhance the lives of other Veterans. For example, Human Resources was willing to listen to our ideas when we approached them about expanding employment opportunities for Veterans. One idea was to broaden job descriptions of our requisitions to allow military experience to be in lieu of a bachelor’s degree. Adding that to job descriptions gives hope to other transitioning veterans that they are just as good, if not better, than someone with a degree. It gives them an opportunity to apply for positions they never believed they were eligible for.
3. What obstacles have you overcome as a LGBTQ+ woman Veteran in the technology industry?
I know that I am truly blessed to walk the path that was paved for me by so many other women, Veterans, and LGBTQ+. I have looked back on my career, and I can honestly say that I was never looked down upon because of my gender, orientation, or military experience. I was given every opportunity that was presented to others – from being a U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controller to a proud member of the Samsung DE&I Council, a diverse group of leaders from across Samsung Electronics America who are spearheading efforts to create an organizational culture that promotes inclusion and belonging.
In fact, the opportunities that I was NOT awarded were NOT because of a lack of DE&I. I either chose not to pursue those opportunities as hard as I could have or quite frankly another person was more qualified. What’s more is that I have been mentored by the best people from all backgrounds, cultures, identities, and experiences – and I have embraced their determination for helping to propel me forward.
I was taught to teach people how you want to be treated and, in turn, respect will prevail. Everyone I have had the pleasure to work with treats me with respect and I cannot thank them all so much for the support, guidance, and encouragement they give me daily. I have acquired countless business attributes by learning from so many different people.
4. How have you seen diversity efforts progress in the workplace during your career?
The onboarding process at one of my previous employers was extremely limited. I was the first person to raise questions about the onboarding process to add my domestic partner for benefits and associate my profile as a Veteran. It was definitely a head scratcher and eye opener for their HR department, but they embraced my inquiries and knew this was a fair ask. With my guidance on verbiage and other parts of onboarding, they quickly realized a lot needed to be changed. I am proud to know that I was a trail blazer almost 20 years ago and that that former employer was willing to progress so quickly with their DE&I efforts.
5. Do you believe that diverse and inclusive teams are the engines of innovation?
Of course. Everyone has the ability to create and innovate. We all must work together to catapult that creativity and innovation – and that starts with transformational leadership. I once read that leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights and outcomes. And diverse and inclusive companies greatly benefit from thought-provoking leaders with a passion for DE&I who want to continue to learn, clear the path, and lead the way for the company.