Last year, SalesLoft made the commitment to actively grow our organization with diversity embedded in all levels of leadership, including our Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team. We established a renewed focus on employee resource groups (ERGs) to provide safe spaces for employees to make their voices heard and foster a diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace. We also expanded our employee donation matching program to double donations for organizations focused on social justice.
We’re moving full steam ahead with the commitments we’ve made, and our latest development is our most exciting yet. After an exhaustive search, we’ve found a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader to pave the way for SalesLoft to continue to be a rewarding place to work for all employees, no matter who you are. We’re thrilled to introduce our new Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Cherie Caldwell!
Cherie is a Human Resources thought leader and industry veteran. She has more than two decades of experience working with Fortune 100 corporations and start-ups.
Cherie will also lead SalesLoft Cares, a company-wide initiative comprised of ERGs and employee-led groups that focus on building company culture, increasing awareness and education, and engaging in the community. SalesLoft Cares exists to foster a more inclusive world and ensure SalesLoft remains a company where everyone can be their authentic selves, diversity is celebrated, and inclusion is expected.
We sat down with Cherie to get to know more about her passions, her professional and personal experiences with DE&I, why she settled on Atlanta as her homebase, and so much more.
Cherie, we’re thrilled and honored to have your deep expertise and incredible talents at SalesLoft. Why did you feel SalesLoft was the right company for you at this stage in your professional journey?
Last summer, our nation’s social justice and equity issues reached a boiling point and I decided I needed to be more intentional with my work. It took on an intensity around being deliberate, owning DE&I fully, and being in a company that was really open and ready to lead the way and forward the conversation in its own community – not just in itself. I think the passion is here, throughout the whole company, so it was a really strong connection right upfront.
You’ve worked in a few different cities. What brought you back to Atlanta?
Atlanta was the place to come to, it’s like the Mecca of the South! It’s known for having a strong African-American culture, so I never felt alone. A previous company assigned me to South Carolina and the cultural difference was so huge — even though geographically it’s not that far. I had friends here, I had a network here, and I wanted to come back!
What brings you the most joy outside of work?
I’m a big amusement park person. I’m a bit spoiled as I have easy access to some of the best parks in the world, with Disney World and Universal Studios just a short flight or drive from Atlanta. Beyond that, I like skiing and I love to travel and explore different cultures. I’m a big reader and, truth be told, a big Star Wars fan.
What personal experiences led you to a career in DE&I?
Like many people of color, I grew up being told I have to work three-times as hard as my white counterparts and with the knowledge I may not be treated fairly due to skin color. Education was emphasized and encouraged as the one thing that could never be taken from me.
In college, I was a Resident Assistant. I remember an incident where a couple of the women went downstairs to complain to the Resident Director that I always had Black friends in my room. And so I called a meeting and said, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m Black! So yes, I have Black friends, but you missed seeing my redheaded friend, you missed seeing my other white friends, you missed seeing my Jewish friends. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being confronted with unconscious bias.
Professionally, I’ve walked into a room of leaders and been the only woman, the only person of color, or both. Others assumed that I was the administrative assistant or even on the janitorial staff versus seeing me as the leader. I’ve even taken my team to lunch and the waiter gave the white male in the group the check. I found myself coaching people to change their perspective, to see things differently, and to acknowledge me for what I was bringing to the table and my expertise, and not just look past me because they’re used to looking past Black and brown people and women.
What advice would you give to someone who has never joined an employee resource group before?
An ERG is a networking and shared culture opportunity. It’s a place to gain connection and feel like you’re not the only one, where you can look around and see other faces that look like you. It gives a sense of comfort and connectivity, and it also says that there’s hopefulness in the organization and they hear you and acknowledge that you could feel a little bit lonely. They want to make sure you feel warm and accepted — just as you are. In addition, ERGs provide leadership opportunities and a chance to grow leadership skills.
SalesLoft’s ERGs are open to all. It can be uncomfortable to join an ERG focused on elevating a group you’re not a member of, but there’s a special opportunity here, too. An ERG is a place to build better allyship and a place to have those tough conversations that might come up in daily work life. It provides a space for understanding and for the culture to morph and change, just from having the experience of getting to know each other.
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity already exists because we’re all multi-faceted beings with many social identities. So the question actually is: “What is inclusion and equity?”
To me, inclusion is respect, acceptance, and openness with myself and others. It’s engaging with each other, listening to each other, and gaining perspective from each other despite differences in our appearance, values, beliefs, talents, or other identifiers.
Equity is fairness. No one is disadvantaged or advantaged because of their differences. To me, DE&I is wisdom, knowledge, visibility, and perspective because we connected and accepted one another as we are.
Keep reading for the official announcement about Cherie joining the SalesLoft leadership team.
SalesLoft Announces First Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Industry veteran Cherie Caldwell to spearhead company’s DE&I strategy
Atlanta, GA — Feb. 16, 2021 — SalesLoft, provider of the only complete Sales Engagement platform, today announced the appointment of Cherie Caldwell as the company’s first Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I).
Caldwell will join the SalesLoft Executive Leadership Team to shape, drive, and execute the company’s ongoing D&I strategy. As part of her role, she will lead SalesLoft Cares, a company-wide initiative that builds upon SalesLoft’s strong existing culture to foster a more inclusive world. Caldwell will be a key sponsor of SalesLoft’s Employee Resource Groups to advance and champion DE&I initiatives across Black, LGBTQ+, and female Lofters. She will also promote awareness and education programming, and encourage engagement within SalesLoft’s communities.
Caldwell joins SalesLoft with more than two decades of experience working with Fortune 100 corporations and startups, leading successful workforce adoption that drove exponential growth. Previously, Caldwell served in leadership roles at Comcast NBCUniversal, The Home Depot, and Delta Air Lines.
“These last 12 months, as challenging as they were at times, have been full of growth for SalesLoft, especially around our DE&I commitment,” said Rob Forman, Co-founder, President and Chief Strategy Officer at SalesLoft. “SalesLoft is dedicated to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Cherie and to support her as she executes on our D&I strategy, and helps us build upon the grassroots efforts in the organization.”
Caldwell holds Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, and PROSCI Change Management certifications. She is an active advocate of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Cool Girls, whose mission is to empower local girls by breaking the cycle of poverty, low self-esteem, and inspiring them to change their world. She is also a co-founder of the Black Women’s Career Council.
“It’s incredibly important to me that I’m working for a company that’s open and ready to lead the way when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. That’s why I’m thrilled to join SalesLoft,” said Caldwell. “I look forward to partnering with leaders across the organization to launch initiatives that create meaningful change.”
Caldwell represents SalesLoft on Metro Atlanta Chamber’s (MAC’s) “ATL Action For Racial Equity,” a multi-year effort through which the company is coming together with other Atlanta-based businesses to address systemic racism, inequity, and immobility.
Caldwell also joins SalesLoft after an explosive year of company growth. In January, the company announced it raised $100 million at a $1.1 billion valuation. Since last year’s fund raise, the company has more than doubled recurring revenue and established itself as the only complete provider of Sales Engagement in the market.
SalesLoft is the provider of the only complete Sales Engagement platform, helping industry-leading companies like IBM, Shopify, Square, and Cisco generate more revenue and deliver better experiences to their customers. SalesLoft is frequently recognized for its award-winning culture with recognitions from Fortune’s Best Workplaces, Comparably’s Best Places to Work, and Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces.