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The Four P’s of DEI: How Headspace Is Tackling Diversity One Goal at a Time

Listen to our full podcast episode with Headspace's Cornell Verdeja-Woodson + Simon Perry on iTunes or Spotify

“Until Headspace is truly for everyone, our mission will never be complete,” explained Simon Perry, the company’s Head of Talent, Learning & Development.

Simon, along with Headspace’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Cornell Verdeja-Woodson joined our Chief People Officer, Tariq Meyers in the inaugural episode of our recently-launched podcast, “Untapped”. 

“We knew we had work to do, and we still have work to do” said Simon.  For him, the work of making Headspace—a company that offers mindfulness and meditation products to hundreds of organizations, as well as a guided meditation app—more diverse is a mission that he likens to being pastoral in nature, and as both caretaker and curator of talent, he feels a deep responsibility to pull good candidates into the company’s opportunities.

In order to help Headspace provide opportunities for more untapped talent, Simon and his colleague, Cornell, have worked with the company’s leadership to ensure that DE&I is not just a buzzword that’s thrown around the office or a box that’s checked off, but rather is truly a part of Headspace’s daily practices. 

“Our DE&I vision is to be an equitable brand, product, and workplace,” said Cornell, whose approach to tackling DE&I has been to first help leaders assess exactly where the company is in terms of diversity. 

“Many companies have such good intentions and want to do what needs to get done. I find that, in that desire to do something, they move really fast, and they don't step back,” Cornell said. 

“The four questions that I like to answer are “Where are we?”, “How did we get here?”, “Where do we want to go?” and “How do we get there?” Those are the four questions that I came into this role really seeking to answer.”   

As the company began to wrestle with these questions, Simon worked on his end as a talent leader to ensure that Headspace is accountable for its DE&I goals in its approach to hiring. To foster this sense of accountability,

Simon created the Four P Initiative, which addresses: Profile, Pipeline, Pool, and Panel. 

When it comes to the first P, profile, Simon explains that it’s all about ensuring that the company puts out job descriptions that have been reviewed for any potential bias to make sure that the widest possible pool feels comfortable applying for any given position.  

For the second P, pipeline, Simon describes the concept as, “pre-identifying and making sure that, in our sourcing and our searching for great talent, we are intentional about pre-identifying the role, the team, and the function that we’re hiring for—what are the underrepresented groups in that space based on the current diversity data and metrics and information that we have at our disposal—to create a level of intentionality around the search,” he said. “The intentionality is not to check a box. The intentionality is to create such an open funnel, and such an increased likelihood of diverse hiring, that you naturally and more organically achieve your diversity goals as an organization.”

The pool part of the equation, according to Simon, is about making sure that the company has intentional representation within the pool of candidates who have been shortlisted for onsite interviews, which is an indicator that the hiring funnel has successfully identified the kinds of candidates Headspace seeks to hire.

In the last part of the initiative, the panel piece, Simon explains that it’s all about making sure Headspace is as supportive and representative as possible so candidates can see themselves reflected in the work environment. In addition, Simon sees this process as the ability to bring different voices into the practice of evaluating candidates.

As such, he sees it as “creating space for folks to bring diversity of thought to our assessment process— maybe someone who wouldn’t normally be on that panel, we integrate someone with a different perspective to make sure that there's diversity of thought in how we hire as an organization.”

To get more insights about the ways Headspace is approaching how it hires as an organization, listen to the full conversation with Simon and Cornell in our “Untapped” podcast. 

Every week, “Untapped” will have real conversations with industry leaders about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and untapped talent. Let’s tackle DE&I together so we can all have a seat at the table. 

Learn more about Headspace and our guests 

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, they are well on their way. Headspace was one of the first meditation apps in the world and remains a leader in mindfulness and mental training. Headspace is committed to advancing the field of mindfulness through clinically-validated research, with one of the largest research pipelines of any digital health and wellness company. You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.

Cornell Verdeja-Woodson
Cornell Verdeja-Woodson is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Headspace. Prior to holding this role, he was the Global Head of DEI at Looker and then a Diversity Business Partner at Google. Cornell earned his B.S. in communications from Ithaca College, his M.S. in Education from the University of Vermont, and is currently working on his doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California. He lives in the Bay Area with his husband and their two dogs, London and Rome.

Simon Perry
Simon Perry is currently the Head of Talent & Development at Headspace. He is a passionate, multi-lingual People Leader with 15yrs of international HR experience across the US, UK, EMEA & APAC. Simon was born and raised in Northern Ireland, earning his BA Joint Honours Degree in French & Spanish from Queen's University, Belfast. He has lived in Ireland, Spain, Manchester & London - and now happily rooted in sunny California for the last 6 years with his fur-baby, Belle.

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Check out the entire podcast episode here

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