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How to be a Better Ally: A Conversation with Oracle’s Traci Wade

By Colleen Cassity, Executive Director, Oracle Education Foundation and Corporate Citizenship—February 1, 2021

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) matters. It’s a commitment to the equal treatment of everyone.

Traci Wade, Oracle’s Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion, practices this commitment every day. She leads global programs that build awareness of the value and positive business impact of a diverse and inclusive culture at Oracle. She and her team engage with senior leadership to create and support strategies that infuse and elevate a culture of inclusion and equity.

Traci played a key role in establishing Oracle’s first diversity and inclusion team in 2009. Since then, she’s become a strategic thought leader and subject matter expert on D&I. Traci’s presence in our executive suite is more than essential, and is extremely important to me personally. She is the perfect embodiment of the importance of not just diversity, but of inclusion; her voice is a critical ingredient of Oracle’s ongoing success.

I am delighted to share an important conversation with Traci on D&I and allyship.

Colleen Cassity: What are the top three D&I initiatives that you’re most excited about for 2021?

Traci Wade: First, I am thrilled by the formation and launch of our Executive Diversity Council, led by Oracle CEO Safra Catz. This effort builds upon our many years of commitment to D&I. We kicked off our first meeting last month, bringing together diverse leaders at Oracle to develop strategies and solutions that address important D&I issues within our company—and the greater tech industry. The passionate and committed engagement of our executive leaders to accelerate diversity and inclusion at Oracle is energizing.

Second, I am proud and pleased about the innovative D&I work that’s happening across the organization. This year, we launched a new program that provides our top organizational leaders with a dedicated Oracle diversity and inclusion consultant to support their teams. My team is now on board—alongside Oracle’s decision makers—to create and implement customized D&I action plans that drive tangible results which we can see and feel.

Finally, our new Diversity and Inclusion blog went live last month, which is very exciting. This will be our dedicated space to discuss important D&I topics and trends; think deeply and critically on our own biases; and celebrate our employees who are making positive contributions to the Oracle community and beyond.

Colleen Cassity: Can you share how Corporate Citizenship and Diversity and Inclusion work together?

Traci Wade: Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to good corporate citizenship, and at Oracle, this is a shared belief. A good corporate citizen empowers a diverse and inclusive culture.

One important area of collaboration centers on Oracle Giving, specifically around education. We look for organizations that are developing and nurturing girls, young women and minorities to become future innovators and leaders. It’s clear that the technology industry needs more diversity, so it’s crucial that we provide support early on and broadly around computing education for a diverse next generation.

Our philanthropic efforts go beyond education. This summer, we experienced a global social justice movement that opened up honest conversations on diversity and inclusion at all levels—personally and professionally. As a result, we launched the “We Stand in Solidarity” campaign in partnership with Oracle Corporate Citizenship. Through our employee matching program, we raised nearly $200,000 for important organizations, including Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Another successful area of collaboration focuses on Oracle Volunteers, Oracle’s robust network of more than 36,000 employees who last year donated nearly 133,000 hours of their time and skills to worthy causes globally. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—which provide connection and support for Blacks, Asians, Latinos, military and veterans, LGBTQ, women, and those with diverse abilities, among others—team with Oracle Volunteers to engage in community efforts and initiatives that are important to our diverse communities.

In fact, we recently worked on an amazing project with the Oracle Volunteering program team. We developed training materials to help our Oracle Volunteers assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may need counseling and support. The project has enabled our volunteers to better understand working with diverse populations and have a greater positive impact.

Colleen Cassity: How can we be can better allies?

Traci Wade: Allyship is incredibly important for underrepresented groups across the spectrum—LGBTQ, Black, Latin X, Asians, women, disabled, neurodiverse, and the list goes on. Everyone needs allies. 

When you think about allyship, it’s about being an active listener. Are you listening to really understand? Are you engaging with Employee Communities and their monthly calls to understand what issues are important to them? Are you being open-minded to learn and understand?

I would also say that it’s important to get rid of any preconceived ideas. Take the time to talk with—and understand—the constituency. For example, instead of jumping in and saying, “I know how to fix this. I’m going to do this;” instead, approach with openness. A better way to create dialogue would be to say, “I would love to be able to help in this area and in this way, is this something that you think would make an impact on your organization?”

And, I’ll leave you with this: Great allies aren’t just great allies to your face. They’re your allies when you’re not there. Stepping up to say, “I am uncomfortable with this conversation. Have you taken time to better educate yourself on the topics that impact that community or individuals?” They advocate for those—who may not look like them. Great allies are courageous and speak up and speak out on the behalf of marginalized groups. That’s true Allyship. It’s about changing the dialogue in that moment, and encouraging a culture of inclusion and understanding through actions, and not just words.