A Conversation with Angie Montville, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
July 29, 2021
Q: How did you come to join Lineage at this pivotal time?
Angie: After a tenured career within another organization — I found myself feeling hungry for a new challenge. I’d gotten to wear a number of hats during my time there and had really found my calling professionally in my contributions to the company’s DE&I efforts. But, like many corporate functions, the nature of the work changes over time as companies mature in their DE&I journeys.
And as the company evolved, I found myself missing the work involved in the infancy stage, so to speak, of DE&I. The work during the early stages of DE&I in an organization makes you feel like a potter shaping clay — molding something out of raw materials and getting a little messy, but where you get to see something amazing take shape through your work.
So, at that point, I started looking for new opportunities. Soon thereafter, Lineage showed up on my LinkedIn doorstep and a beautiful relationship ensued. Each conversation with the team got me more and more excited about Lineage and the road ahead of us.
We are still early in our DE&I journey, but there is great potential for this work to have a huge impact both on making Lineage an even more awesome place to work and in really shaping the conversation across our industry.
Lineage is the clay. Great potential, great possibilities, and we have nowhere to go but up in our journey.
Q: Why you? Why this work?
Angie: The fact of the matter is that I have been doing this work my entire life. Before I even knew who or what Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was, or that it could be a career path. I have always been interested in pursuing fairness and equality for everyone and I’ve always been willing to ask the questions.
Part of that is my curious nature — ready to ask questions rather than judging someone from afar. My Mom would say that before she could even turn around, she’d see me walking across the room to ask anyone and everyone whatever question was on my mind. Not out of rudeness or with an agenda, but simple curiosity and a genuine interest in learning about other people.
It is so easy to judge or to dislike. It takes a much stronger person to engage and extend grace. That’s how I aim to behave and that’s who I believe I am.
Q: Lineage conducted a DEI survey and assessment earlier this year. What did we learn from the exercise and what are we doing with what we learned?
Angie: The main takeaway from the survey is that Lineage, as an organization, is definitely ready for — and supportive of — a DE&I journey. We found that, company-wide, Lineage team members are interested in broadening the diversity of our workforce representation. Now the question is how do we foster diversity within Lineage? How do we help it grow?
A big piece of the puzzle is focusing on creating a company culture that champions and celebrates diversity and inclusion. You can have as much diversity as you want, but if you do not have the culture that embraces them, supports them, advocates for them and provides them opportunities you will not keep it.
Part of that is drawing talented and diverse individuals into the organization, but we also need to look within ourselves and focus being more inclusive and accepting of the people we already have. We want Lineage to be a place where all our team members can grow their skills, passions and careers.
Being an international company presents its own challenges when laying the groundwork for our diversity, equity and inclusion policies. In their feedback, our team made it clear that we still have room to grow in terms of being a global-minded organization. Our European and Asia-Pacific employees are telling us that they want to be a part of the conversation — accordingly we are intentionally working to construct a DE&I strategy that empowers all members of our global team.
One of those first steps is looking critically at how diversity, equity and inclusion are perceived globally. A lot of racial and gender discourse is particularly US-centric and doesn’t necessarily translate on a global scale. Within so many areas of our international footprint, employees can engage with or are immersed in a different race or culture — this is not foreign to them.
So instead, diversity tends to mean something different outside of the United States, and what we have been told is that our team members want to see us discussing and addressing these issues with a global mindset.
Q: Following that—What are Lineage’s biggest DEI priorities right now? What are our steps moving forward?
Angie: With the Executive Leadership Team’s backing, we have aligned around four main strategic pillars for our DE&I approach:
- Workforce representation
- Global culture of inclusion and engagement
- Local community engagement and representation
- Global brand and market expectations
These will be the foundation around which we build our diversity, equity and inclusion policies. Part of this involves establishing DE&I Strategy Teams to help figure out the best way for us to move forward.
We wanted to make sure that our entire Lineage family – hourly, salaried, male, female, all races, genders and ethnicities were as represented as possible in these teams and area part of deciding the direction we’re going in and figuring out how we get there.
The DE&I Strategy Teams have been meeting over the past several weeks to develop concrete goals and deliverables for each pillar and to outline plans for how we can achieve them as a company. As we move beyond the planning and strategizing phase, you can expect to see opportunities to get involved to increase in number and variety.
It is important to us that all our team members feel seen, heard and empowered to help steer the ship, so to speak. Thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm from all of our team members, the collaboration of our Strategy Teams and the installation of our four strategic pillars we are on the path towards cementing Lineage as a truly awesome place to work.
Q: Why is it so important for Lineage to focus on becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace? And why does it matter to your average team member?
Angie: Overall, diversity lends itself to a more sustainable business. While homogenous teams might start out quicker in terms of productivity and the like, more diverse teams are able to leverage their diversity to create a dynamic and effective business. Diversity allows for a multitude of viewpoints and perspectives, thereby eliminating blind spots and fostering innovation which leads to increased growth.
Additionally, having an inclusive and equitable workplace creates an environment of safety. Regardless of what is going on in your external world, Lineage should make you feel safe enough to be bold, authentic, respected and inspired to contribute. This rolls over to our customers, business partners and our communities.
At the end of the day, DE&I is about investing in our people so they can invest it back into the essential work our team does every day for our communities and the world. Diversity, equity and inclusion not only strengthens Lineage as a business but has undeniable follow-on benefits to our industry and our communities as well.
"This effort belongs to all of us and is for all of us." - Angie Montville