How Inclusivity Advocate Daisy Auger-Domínguez Shapes Cultures of Belonging and Dignity

After years of weathering unconscious (and deliberate) bias, Daisy Auger-Domínguez has made it her mission to make diversity, equity, and inclusion the core values of companies. And with more than 20 years building diverse and inclusive cultures for companies like Google, Viacom and The Walt Disney Company, Daisy shares what she believes are the real opportunities and challenges for change.

You’re on a mission to make “all workplaces work for everyone.” Tell us about that. 

I advise executives, founders and board members on how to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the core of their organization. Together we build a clear and effective diversity and inclusion strategy, train leaders and teams to shorten the time frame from ideation to execution and create the workplace culture all employees deserve. I work with clients at all stages of their journey because I believe that with the right capabilities, diverse perspectives, and inclusive practices, they will design better products and solutions, deliver better services, thrive in the future of work, and build a better world.

What led you to this career path?

I was imprinted by diversity and the complexity of identity from an early age. I was born in New York City to teenage parents of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent and raised in the Dominican Republic by my paternal grandparents. I studied at an international school where I straddled the privilege that comes from high educational attainment and proximity to wealth with the reality of working-class life. I also grew up with an identity tightly tied to my national heritage — I was very much Dominican and Puerto Rican. When I moved to New Jersey, I became “Hispanic.” All of a sudden, I was placed in this seemingly monolithic group that felt strangely limiting, and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it.

What pivotal moments did you face along the way?

“I soon experienced the insidious effects of everyday sexism and racism in the workplace.”

When I launched my career, I soon experienced the insidious effects of everyday sexism and racism in the workplace. All around me, talented women, people of color, LGBTQ and people with disabilities were quietly sidelined and marginalized. Stories of daily slights were commonplace like repeatedly being called the same name as the only other Latina in the department who happened to be a secretary or being asked if all Dominicans played baseball in the middle of a client meeting. These seemed to be a universal truth of the corporate experience for women and underrepresented employees that were to be suffered and unchallenged. I felt the toll it took on black colleagues when they were passed over for promotions twice over their white counterparts. I saw women secretly leave the office to pick up a child because they were afraid they would seem less committed than their single colleagues. And if you were gay, Monday morning conversations about your weekend were heavily coded to avoid being outed. The combination of these experiences motivated me to build thriving diverse workplaces and cultures of belonging and dignity, where innovation and opportunity thrive.

What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for women today?

The assault on reproductive and women’s health care rights is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our time. Women’s access to reproductive rights connects to their overall empowerment in the workplace and their economic security — it’s about gender equity, economic security, and the economies women support. Access and agency can allow a woman to plan and care for her community, pursue her education, grow her businesses, advance her career, and so much more.

@lgranatstein Lisa Granatstein is the editor, svp, programming at Adweek.