As we continue to work toward diversity, equality, and inclusion in every aspect of our company culture and beyond, we’ve learned so much from our employees’ unique perspectives on allyship. One such employee is Suzy Tonini, a Talent Researcher with a globe-trotting childhood. Growing up with parents who worked for the U.S. State Department, Suzy had the opportunity to hop from country to country with her family, experiencing a variety of cultures.
Suzy shared that she knows her upbringing was not like most, and that it was one of privilege. But it also allowed her to gain a tremendous sense of openness and acceptance of people who aren’t exactly like her.
“Every few years, we would move to a new country. I learned different languages, discovered ethnic experiences, and adopted many different points of view,” Suzy said.
With each new country, she was able to easily transition into and embrace its culture—something she very much enjoyed doing.
However, Suzy’s transition to the United States wasn’t as easy.
“Our periodic returns to Washington, D.C., for my parents’ State Department language training were always the most difficult adjustment. It felt like there was a lack of experience and diverse culture in American society and schools, especially compared to what I was used to.”
Though the schools were very different, Suzy attributes her passion for being a great ally to these experiences. She learned to be more open, flexible, and fearless because of what she witnessed. She was taught through her upbringing to act on her sense of justice, to befriend all kinds of people, and to love people and cultures different from herself.
“I’ve been a long-time advocate and ally because it’s just who I am at the core of my being. My career has traversed many paths, but one priority remains the same: I stay involved in all things diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Today, Suzy has a massive hand in keeping our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) thriving and informed.
These groups connect employees and build communities within Cloudera. “Anyone who knows me knows that I am super passionate about all things ERG,” Suzy said. “I feel that all voices need to be heard, all cultures need to be celebrated. That’s also very important for the workplace, where we spend most of our waking time. I love that our ERGs are getting more active and we’re starting to really shine a light and taking action on diversity and inclusion!”
We couldn’t agree more when it comes to the importance of these groups and how necessary each individual within the ERGs and at Cloudera as a whole is to the success of the organization.
Suzy left us with some parting advice on what it takes to be a good ally.
“Get to know others who don’t look or act like you. Listen to their thoughts and stories. Nurture inclusivity, as my parents did, and encourage kids to be culturally conscious, to be respectful of others, and to demonstrate empathy and understanding for people from all walks of life. It’s really not that complex. We just need to be good humans. And to get into “good trouble”, as the late and great U.S. Senator John Lewis always said.”
She continued, “The world today is facing continued social and racial injustice and strife – it’s even more important to not only educate yourself, but to get involved at the grassroots level.”
Get to know other Clouderans by checking out our blog page, including more stories about what allyship means to them.