“People stay silent or don't engage because they don't want to make a mistake,” says Tina Bigalke, Global Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at PepsiCo. “But you’re going to make mistakes — that’s part of the learning process.”
Tina has spent her more than 20 years at PepsiCo ensuring that the company feels like a welcoming place for all. In her current role, she advances PepsiCo’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, including helping drive progress on its Racial Equality Journey by, as she says, “providing a voice for those whose voice may be missing at the table.” That can mean carving out more paths for women in leadership roles to help achieve PepsiCo’s goal of 50% women in managerial positions by 2025 — or advancing initiatives that support the company’s diverse community of associates.
This work has implications far beyond PepsiCo’s walls. “Our Racial Equality Journey extends to our business partnerships and communities,” Tina explains. The program, part of the company's pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) agenda, has a core goal: “driving towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”
As she’s been a champion for creating inclusive and cultural transformative practices, Tina has also had to find ways to confidently share her point of view. Here, she offers her advice for making your voice heard in a way that feels supportive of everyone.
“In large environments, you have to be able to have the confidence to use your voice, so that people are aware of your contributions and accomplishments,” says Tina. A job well done may not automatically earn recognition, so be your own cheerleader, always emphasizing the ways your contributions enabled the team to deliver. Schedule a connect with your manager to discuss your recent contributions. Keep track of your successes to include in an annual review. “I think women in particular are more apt to let their work speak for itself. You have to be able to articulate what you are doing and the overall impact on the team. Trust yourself and trust that you're adding value.”
“Throughout my career in HR, I’ve witnessed people who are willing to do whatever the company needs without really considering the long-term effects,” says Tina. It’s important to understand that for most of us, business and personal priorities have ebbs and flows. There may be times where you want to be all-in on career aspirations, and others when you step back to focus on personal obligations. As a single mom of two daughters, Tina has often had to reprioritize her career to be present for her children — passing on a role that would require relocation, for example. “Maintaining a pulse on your priorities over life stages and clearly communicating and accepting those changes are crucial over the long term.”
The insight from a support system can bolster confidence, increase and deepen your knowledge, and help with career development. “Having a network of good mentors and sponsors will help you gain another perspective and aid in shaping and sharpening your problem-solving skills,” she explains. “Look at PepsiCo’s Employee Resource Groups. These are groups that provide a natural network of colleagues at different levels of the organization. For instance, our Women Inclusion Network (WIN) has many senior women leaders who are open to mentoring and have developed great mentoring relationships over the years.”
Making decisions from a place of empathy can help you be more authentic and more confident. It's important to find a way to connect and understand others’ motivations and experiences. Some people may hesitate to engage with others who are different than they are because of fear of the unknown. “When you overcome that fear, and engage with empathetic curiosity, you go beyond the surface and start making real connections, which in turn, helps relationships grow, and therefore inspires teams and people to deliver results.” Tina was raised in a household where engaging with different people and broadening horizons was important. And that ideology continues to guide her throughout her career: “People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”
One of the most powerful ways to confidently use your voice is to make a commitment to inclusion, Tina says. Her advice is to start by seeking opinions different from your own with genuine curiosity. “You have to have an authentic, personal commitment to inclusion and to wanting to hear others’ voices,” she says. “Purposefully and visibly make it a priority. Speak up for people, challenge the status quo, and engage in courageous decisions.”