From Designing a Good Life to Designing an Inclusive Culture

From Designing a Good Life to Designing an Inclusive Culture

This summer, I spent 11 weeks as a summer intern at Chevron through the Finance MBA Development Program. Even though this was the first time the company offered virtual internships due to COVID-19, the program manager and organizers dedicated a lot of time and effort to create opportunities for interns to bond, connect with colleagues, and experience the company culture. From social events like virtual wine tasting, pizza cooking, and trivia night to learning sessions including virtual refinery and oil field tours, I got to network with others outside of my work group and gain a better understanding of the different parts of the value chain.

The program also offered summer interns virtual networking sessions with executives including the CEO, CFO, CDO (Chief Diversity Officer), and VP of Business Development in small group settings, which allowed for in depth conversations. One of the executives shared this advice with the interns, “Don’t worry too much about the job itself, but pay attention to the people here. Are they the people you want to be around for eight hours a day? At Chevron, you will get different job assignments every few years, but really spend the time to evaluate the culture and see if this is the place you see yourself staying.” Prior to this, the advice I had received placed a strong emphasis on evaluating job function, so this stuck in my head as the summer internship unfolded. I realized that if I am looking for the place where I will establish a long term career, I should put culture at the top of my list.

A sizable part of any organization’s culture is its work on diversity and inclusion. Thinking about that work, and my contribution to it, is something that has always been very close to my heart, and I wanted to know more about Chevron’s investments and initiatives in diversity and inclusion—which is why I was so excited when the head of diversity and inclusion in finance invited me to join her group in developing a toolkit for managers to utilize in order to facilitate an inclusive culture at Chevron. When completed, the toolkit will include tangible actions that managers can perform to encourage more inclusion and empathy. Through this project, I was able to directly apply learnings from one of my favorite classes at Booth, Designing a Good Life. Professor Epley’s course taught me that in order to establish a cultural norm within an organization, all levels of management—not only top management—need to voice and uphold this mission. The fact that Chevron has such a program in place to ensure diversity and inclusion is emphasized and implemented across different levels within the company really resonated with me.

The course focuses on how to design an ethical organization based on behavioral science and statistics from behavioral studies. For example, hearing the positive impact our behaviors have on others is a powerful motivating factor, which encourages more of these behaviors in the future. Based on this insight, I recommended storytelling and sharing sessions in team meetings. I brought this idea back to my manager as well (also a Boothie!), and was thrilled when he facilitated a storytelling session in the weekly team meeting that focused on racial justice.

In a time when the macro-economic environment is uncertain and oil price is challenged, it’s encouraging to have witnessed firsthand all of the ongoing conversations within the organization. To know that Chevron still dedicates its effort in diversity and inclusion was a strong positive for its culture, but also for the broader landscape at this current moment in time. Someone shared with me in one of the coffee chats that “it always matters what you deliver, but at Chevron we care more about how you deliver.” I hope to embody that philosophy in all that I do.

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