Allie Foote (she/her) likes to say she has both a day job and a “gay job.” She is currently the director of digital product strategy at Nike and in addition to her formal position, she is also heavily involved in DE&I at Nike. In this episode of the Crossroads Series, we talk to Allie about how she has brought her personal life into her professional work, the importance of authenticity in the workplace, and how to create a more inclusive office culture for all.
Why she decided to get an MBA:
“I needed to take a little space to think about what I wanted to be doing. And honestly, when I decided to go to business school, I still had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew that I wanted to go and learn more and continue to round out business skills so that I can think about what I wanted to do next. And I knew that business school would be a great way to do that reflection and figure out ultimately where I wanted to go.”
“When I visited Haas, I was just in love with it. The students were so diverse in their backgrounds and careers. I felt like I would learn a lot and get exposure to new people, careers, ideas. Everyone was so excited to meet me and wanted to tell me how amazing the school was. And so, yeah, it made it feel like home.”
On following her gut instinct:
“I don’t know if it’s like me being competitive or just being very driven; if I know what I want, I’m going to go after it and try to get it. That’s just been how I’ve been since I was a kid. Once I know and have it in my gut, I’m pretty clear that’s the direction that I want to go, and I’ll do most things within my power to make that happen. That feels pretty accurate with how my career has gone.”
How she prepared herself for her new role in the digital world:
“I relied on my strengths, which I think are curiosity, strategic thinking, seeing kind of a broader picture, and relationship building, to just come in and learn as much as possible. And I’ve continued throughout my time to seek various opportunities to enhance my education. Being able to just kind of bring that rigor to things that I was doing was super helpful.”
The importance of representing minority groups in the actual office space:
“Many people are spending so much energy and time, and brain space in the workplace hiding pieces of themselves. And it just doesn’t make for, honestly, a productive or happy employee. Being able to bring your authentic self to work is so critical for both your mental health and your team.”
“I’ve been so lucky that I’ve always felt like I could show up authentically as myself. I try to do that because I’ve just heard so many stories and so many people who have not been able to do that or have that opportunity or feel scared. And so I think that allowing people to come out of their shells and show them that it’s accepted and it’s okay. My goal is to show up who I am at work the same way I am outside of work.”
- LinkedIn Profile
- The GenderCool Project
- The Trevor Project
- Athlete Ally
- Out Foundation
- Basic Rights Oregon
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
[00:00:00] Sophie Hoyt: Hello. And welcome back to the OneHaas podcast, the Crossroad Series, where we discuss the critical moments that shaped the lives and careers of Haas alumni. I’m your host, Sophie Hoyt. And as I’m sure you all know we are right in the middle of pride month. This is the month that as a collective, we set aside space to amplify and affirm the LGBTQIA experience and history.
[00:00:31] Today, we’ll be talking to Allie Foote. Her pronouns are she her, hers. And she’s the director of digital product strategy at Nike, but that’s only half of it.
[00:00:40] Allie Foote: My gay job or my queer career, the new term, is as a co-chair of our pride network. And we’re thinking through, for that, you know, ERG or employee resource group.
[00:00:52] How do we show up for our queer employees across the company and allies, and thinking about how do we kind of shape the culture, help develop those people, and then how do we engage in the community? That’s been a really amazing part of my career at Nike and actually before as well.
[00:01:09] Sophie Hoyt: And even in that before time, Allie pass tracks pretty seamlessly onto her life now. She’s even a self-professed jock.
[00:01:18] Allie Foote: Well, when I was a little kid, I was convinced that I was going to be an Olympic soccer player. And I told my parents that they had to do everything that they could to make sure that that happened. So, I remember when I quit soccer when I was 14, my mom sat me down and had a serious conversation to remind me of that goal. But we worked through it.
[00:01:39] Sophie Hoyt: After she cut ties with soccer, Allie rebounded with basketball. It was pretty serious too.
[00:01:44] Allie Foote: And I made the decision, my senior year of high school to choose the school over sports. So, I went to a small liberal arts college, Claremont McKenna, outside of LA, and I intended to play basketball, but got there and decided there was just so much else that I wanted to focus on.
[00:02:03] But I continued to play intramurals. It was super fun because I was a three-point shooter and so, whenever I played in the co-ed intramurals and played with the guys, you know, great double standard, but all my point is kind of this double. And so, I would score six-pointers, which is pretty entertaining.
[00:02:20] Sophie Hoyt: And through all these transitions from sport to sport and from high school to college, there was one consistent fixture, Nike. In the summer before college, Allie got a part-time sales associate job at Nike Town, Portland.
[00:02:33] Allie Foote: Which, I mean, if I’m being honest, it was really because I just loved the product and wanted to work there and get the discount.
[00:02:40] And I think I pretty much spent everything that I made at Nike in the Nike employee store. And then when I went to college, I found the closest Nike store, which was like 30 minutes away to go work at. But yeah, I went there because I just, I loved the product. I just wanted to be around it. So, it’s kind of a full circle to be at Nike today.
[00:03:00] Sophie Hoyt: And while the job didn’t last, because it’s hard balancing work with being a full-time student, she clearly never lost her love of the products. But it was time for her to tackle what I’d like to call the grownup starter pack. It’s a stage every college student goes through, trying to figure out what job will get you one step closer to being the adult of your dreams.
[00:03:21] Allie Foote: So, I decided maybe I should try the accounting path. And I had a professor who I was in his office one day as my accounting professor, who’s fabulous, and he was like, you should go to this event tonight. It’s going to be with, like, PricewaterhouseCoopers will be there. You know, the resume drop is tomorrow night, but you should go to just see if you like them.
[00:03:42] And I went and I had dinner with a couple of partners and people on the team in LA and I just loved them. And so, I think accounting is an amazing way to learn business, but I also just really felt like I was at home and loved the people that I was going to get to work with.
[00:04:00] Sophie Hoyt: And the job sounds amazing. Allie worked in the audit practice for four years. The clients were cool, which made the work cool. Something I never knew was possible with accounting. But the more variation in the clients, the more Allie got to learn about business.
[00:04:15] Allie Foote: And so, it was pretty cool because it was an amazing way to learn so many different types of businesses because, in order to, you know, attest or say that you agree with something on someone’s financials, you need to understand their business.
[00:04:27] Sophie Hoyt: And after four years in audit, she transitioned over to consulting still within PWC.
[00:04:33] Allie Foote: I was bouncing around different areas of the consulting practice at PWC, which was really awesome, to try to figure out if I was going to find my fit. And so, I think it took me a while to think about business school, something I could do.
[00:04:45] I was very much on a path that was outlined, you know, there’s a very clear path in these firms, which is amazing where I can see ahead, like, Hey, if I really want to do this and go for it, I could be a partner one day. And so, it was kind of scary to jump off of that, to think about doing something different.
[00:05:04] Having been there, you know, I was there almost nine years, so all my entire career at that point except for my short stint at Nike. And so, you know, I think that I needed to take a little space to really think about what I wanted to be doing. And honestly, when I decided to go to business school, I had still no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.
[00:05:24] I just knew that wanted to go and learn more and continue to round out business skills so that I can think about what I wanted to do next, whether that was staying at PWC or trying to find something new. And I knew that business school would be a great way to do that reflection and then figure out ultimately where I wanted to go.
[00:05:42] Sophie Hoyt: So, Allie set off to figure it all out, by way of doing. As we talked, I noticed the Allie is the kind of person who is committed to all of her decisions and lives by her gut instincts.
[00:05:52] Allie Foote: I decided that I want to do an executive program. And it ultimately came down to Haas and another executive program that I went and I did the class visits.
[00:06:03] And when I visited Haas, I was just in love with it. The fact that the students were so diverse in just their background and also their careers, I felt like I would learn a lot there and get exposure to new, you know, people, careers, ideas. When I actually wrapped up my visit there, I called my mom and was like, I want to go here.
[00:06:30] Like, do I have to go to the other visit? And she was like, yes, you do. And she’s like, but you did this when you were looking at undergraduate schools, too. So, I had a back-to-back visit at Claremont McKenna and another college that’s close by and I called my mom when I was on the way to go to their school being like, I already know, I want to go to CMC.
[00:06:48] Do I have to go do this visit? And the other thing was, everyone was so excited to meet me and wanted to tell me how amazing the school was. And so, yeah, just, it made it feel like home.
[00:06:58] Sophie Hoyt: Like I said, she’s committed to her instincts.
[00:07:00] Allie Foote: I don’t know if it’s like me being competitive or me just being very driven.
[00:07:06] And if I know what I want, I’m going to go after it and try to get it. But that’s just been how I’ve been since I was a kid. But once I know and have it in my gut, I’m pretty clear that that’s the direction that I want to go and I’ll do, you know, most things within my power to make that happen. That’s feels pretty accurate with how my career has gone, what I’ve done
[00:07:27] To just think about what do I enjoy in my job, right? Where do I want to be going next? What kind of company that might be? So, you know, am I really purpose-driven? Which is something that I totally am. And really just do that self-reflection.
[00:07:47] Sophie Hoyt: The Haas executive program was on a 19 month and for the first eight months, Allie, wasn’t living in the bay area. Portland was her home base, then Seattle for Monday through Wednesday for work, and then to Berkeley through Saturday, then back to Portland on Sunday. And on Monday, it started all over again. It just wasn’t sustainable. So, at the eight-month mark, she moved to the bay area. It seemed like the right move for the long-term.
[00:08:11] Allie Foote: I moved down to the bay and then I did all that soul searching and then realized that Nike was really where I wanted to be. And so, nine months later I moved back to Portland, and everyone’s like, you just left. I even got a tattoo, like an ode to Portland thinking I wouldn’t be back for a while. And so, now, I just call it my San Francisco sabbatical.
[00:08:34] Sophie Hoyt: So, what did soul searching actually look like? Well, lots of conversations with lots of people. And career consultations. She just kept reaching out to people, lots of Haas people, and asking questions.
[00:08:48] Allie Foote: Then I was honestly super impressed with the response that I got. Almost every person said yes and pretty quickly. So, I had a whole list of who I was meeting with and what I learned and, you know, who else they think I should chat with or other areas they thought I should explore given my background. And so, I found those conversations to help me narrow in and target, hear from different people and say like, that’s great.
[00:09:14] That sounds like a great company for you, but that’s not for me or oh, that role sounds great, but that’s not me or, ooh, this sounds good, I like this, what other role, you know, does this kind of work? And so, that’s really what it came down to.
[00:09:27] Sophie Hoyt: And throughout the program, Allie was still full-time at PWC. But at the start of her final term at Haas and after nine years with the company, she decided it was time to leave.
[00:09:38] Allie Foote: I can say nothing but positive things about the firm and the people that I worked with and the partners I worked with. And when I ultimately made the decision to leave, they were all supportive. Yeah, I really can’t say enough positive things because they really did support me. And ultimately, I could tell that they all had my best interest in mind which is pretty amazing.
[00:09:57] Sophie Hoyt: And so, she reached this turning point. And Allie kept the momentum from her soul-searching going, asking questions and making connections, even when she was teaching. While at Haas, Allie was the TA for the turnarounds class with professor Goodson. And there was a student in the class who worked at Nike. They became friendly, and when she applied to Nike, Allie let her know.
[00:10:18] Allie Foote: Well, I think she sent a note to HR recruiting, just to say like, Hey, just flagging the resume so that hopefully someone read it. And like a week or two later, I had a phone screen.
[00:10:31] Sophie Hoyt: Allie explained to me that Nike does talent days that sent around certain functions within the company. In her case that would be for strategy. So, they bring in various recruits and interview them for multiple positions that are available.
[00:10:42] Allie Foote: There were a couple of different teams that I was talking with and ultimately decided to take the role within digital strategy as a senior manager.
[00:10:55] Sophie Hoyt: At this point, she had worked at PWC for nine years and was about to have an MBA. So, coming in as a manager felt like a lateral move.
[00:11:03] Allie Foote: Talked to a lot of friends about it. There’s so many, if this is something that you’re interested in and want to learn and grow, I would take, like take that like any day. And that was I think good advice and something I probably would have told the friend as well. And so, ultimately, you know, made that call and came over into the digital strategy team at the time.
[00:11:24] Sophie Hoyt: An incredible team, she tells me. And about a year later, she got promoted to director and was able to stay on with the group.
[00:11:31] Allie Foote: And a cool part of my job is part of it is the more strategic work that you think about, right?
[00:11:38] When you think of a strategy function, what we call writing the future. And then there’s another piece that’s, you know, more like chief of staff. And so, I’ve been able to kind of act as the chief of staff to two different heads of digital products for Nike and learn their different style and see their leadership and work with our leadership teams and watches that function evolve over time, which has been really cool, really powerful.
[00:12:00] Sophie Hoyt: Do you think that if you hadn’t just come out of a learning environment being, you know, a business school program, having gone through that process, it kind of primed you to be in a position where you were comfortable learning in a professional space?
[00:12:14] Allie Foote: Yeah. And I think the decision was really like, do I make a lateral move? Am I comfortable with that? And I think that being in the Haas environments where it is just so focused on learning and student always, yeah, that I did make that decision because I knew that I would come in and be able to learn a lot more. I like I laugh because I don’t know if I would call myself a digital product expert when I came into to Nike.
[00:12:40] And now I say that you know, I know enough to be dangerous. And it’s been really cool to just be able to like, completely come in, and learn a whole new side of the business. And I, you know, if I look at my career path, starting in audit, right, I used my skills in audit and understanding of, you know, tech and entertainment industry to then say, I think I can bring value to the consulting practice at PWC.
[00:13:06] And I made a move into the finance effectiveness space, which was thinking about like processes and financial words, et cetera. And I was able to kind of leverage those skills to come in and then be able to learn the consulting skillset, right, based on that. And in my time at PWC, was able to continue to use that basis and that grounding in the consulting skillset to then bounce around to different areas within the consulting practice.
[00:13:33] And so I feel like coming to Nike, I was able to use that framework thinking and the ability to come in and just like dive in and try to learn a new business pretty quickly and be able to make recommendations on it. I was able to use that to then make the transition into Nike. So, it’s tied like common themes.
[00:13:50] I’ve tried to pull over to each gig but make sure that I have something that I feel really strongly in and then something that I’m gonna learn by jumping into the new gig.
[00:13:59] Sophie Hoyt: And I think that’s pretty fearless to walk away from almost a decade with a company to try something new, to walk into a job and be willing to learn, and knowing that you can learn because you have the experience you have. And while digital strategy isn’t new in the lifetime of Nike, it kind of is.
[00:14:18] Allie Foote: Nike along with many other retailers, right, and companies that started out as more brick and mortar is continuing to evolve how we think about digital. And at that time, you know, it was, we had stood up a digital practice organization, which was only a few years old. And so, it is a really cool opportunity to be able to jump in and help continue to drive that and drive that evolution where we’re going.
[00:14:43] I mean, now three years later, you know, we just announced a new strategy which is completely focused on, you know, being digital-first, which is really incredible, and connected experiences for consumers. And so, it’s obviously become kind of the forefront of our strategy. But coming in, I’d say it’s, I’ve gotten to see a really cool evolution over the last few years of just how we operate and how we interact with the rest of the company and how we leverage our platforms to connect to consumers.
[00:15:13] Sophie Hoyt: So, now it’s not just about the clothing or the shoes or the sponsorships. It’s about creating an online space for the consumer.
[00:15:20] Allie Foote: In terms of the revenue commerce side of things, where our goal is to be 50% digital in coming years. So, you know, you have that, but along with that, that doesn’t just mean that transactions are going to get us there and that’s all we can do, right?
[00:15:35] We continue to want to serve our consumers, you know, one-to-one at scale. If you think about the origins of Nike, right, it was selling shoes out of a van, you know, at running events and talking to the consumers, what they need and what they like. And so, I think we’ve gone through this kind of evolution of a company where we’re trying to come back to that.
[00:15:57] Our mission is to bring inspiration, innovation, to every athlete in the world. And that athlete is asterisk. And it says, you know, if you have a body, you are an athlete. And so, we’re really trying to think about how to leverage all those different mediums to reach all of our consumers regardless of where they are on kinda in their athletic or movement journey.
[00:16:19] But it’s very true. It’s becoming table stakes across the industry to have something that’s more engaging and that a consumer wants to engage with more than just the couple of times a year that they go on to buy shoes, right. And we want to keep them, we want to continue to have these loyal consumers.
[00:16:35] And so, you know, Nike Run club is an amazing way that we can provide something for our consumers to help them reach their goals. And, you know, also then be able to say, Hey, we know you, we know you’re running, you know, this is, this could be a good product for you. But it’s really not focused on that. It’s really just about empowering all of our athletes and consumers.
[00:16:59] Sophie Hoyt: That’s a big set of values to walk into, and it’s a lot to uphold, but Allie was ready to problem-solve, to ask questions, to bring herself fully to the job.
[00:17:09] Allie Foote: I relied on my strengths, which I think is curiosity, strategic thinking, being able to see kind of a broader picture, as well as relationship building, to just come in and learn as much as possible.
[00:17:23] And I’ve continued throughout my time to seek various opportunities to, you know, enhance my education, understanding, you’re given a problem you got to like think through a framework and how you’re going to solve it. And so, I think being able to just kind of bring that like rigor to things that I was doing was super helpful when I personally was kind of getting in and getting going.
[00:17:45] And even if I, you know, brought a plan and an idea of how I wanted to get after something and I brought it to the manager and they’re like, oh no, this is completely wrong, let’s regroup. It, at least, allowed them to like react to something and see how I was thinking through it, to help guide me in the right direction.
[00:18:02] Sophie Hoyt: So, what does Allie actually do? I’ll let her explain.
[00:18:06] Allie Foote: Digital strategy at Nike, I think we have it laid out pretty clearly in the sense that we say that things fall into kind of three buckets. So, one being that chief of staff work. We have some central teams throughout the company but then we have a lot of strategists that are embedded and working with various leaders and leadership teams.
[00:18:25] And then, we have the quarterback the offense, it’s Nike, we have a lot of sports analogies, you know, so, quarterback the offense, which is thinking through like our business reviews, right? Like, kind of a look back on the previous period and how we did and how we measured up to our goals.
[00:18:42] And then the kind of final bucket is the “the future.” And that’s, again, those more, you know, standard strategy projects you might think of. So, that’s thinking about what’s our three years out for our digital product portfolio. What do we want that to look like, right?
[00:19:01] Or in this particular space, how do we need to think about this for particular products, whether it’s size and fit or activity or whatever it might be is being able to jump in and work on those different projects and deliverables.
[00:19:16] Sophie Hoyt: So, that’s her day job. But let’s not forget about her gay job. She’s also the co-chair of Nike’s pride network, supporting and engaging the LGBTQ community within and beyond Nike. But how did Allie learn to weave her personal life into her professional life?
[00:19:33] Allie Foote: The summer between my junior and senior year of college, at the time that I was interning at PWC. And so, I actually came out at PWC before like some of my family and friends. Sorry, mom and dad, it was literally just like circumstantial, and the timing. And the reaction that I got there, and just the love and acceptance, was something I felt so fortunate to receive that came out.
[00:20:01] Two weeks later, like our head of DNI for the LA office at the time had set up a lunch for myself and one other intern, good advices in the community, and like six different partners from PWC who all identified as LGBT and were out. And so, that was just like such an amazing opportunity to get to spend that time with them and see that it was not only tolerated but accepted and celebrated as well.
[00:20:28] Sophie Hoyt: That introduction to DNI stuck with Allie. And a year later when Allie joined PWC full-time, there was an opening in the LGBTQIA group now called Shine. It was a leadership position, chief of staff for the group.
[00:20:40] Allie Foote: So, I got to help lead our team in the LA aids walk. For three years, you know, we had started, we originally, I think had like maybe have like 30 people that would show up and raise, you know, under 10 grand.
[00:20:55] And I’m a planner. So, I came in with a very structured plan and we were able to, you know, by the last few years we were, we had a hundred walkers in it, we’re raising over 30 grand a year which was really amazing. And then that allowed me to continue on with that group.
[00:21:14] Sophie Hoyt: When Allie moved back to Portland in 2014, she transitioned into the advisory practice at PWC. And she had a client in Seattle and spent a lot of time working out of the Seattle office. Eventually, they asked if she’d want to lead the Seattle diversity network, overseeing the network and its partnership with HR.
[00:21:30] Allie Foote: And I was like, well, that sounds great. But I live in Portland, so I’ll do it if we can make it the Pacific Northwest diversity network and we can kick things off in Portland and make sure we have networks and support for that team.
[00:21:43] Sophie Hoyt: So, she scheduled a meeting with the head of the Portland office. She didn’t even know him.
[00:21:49] Allie Foote: When I walked in and I was, we don’t have an LGBT group, we don’t have like these things formalized. I think they had had them and then they kind of like faded as I think ERGs can, you know, add and flow, in terms of participation.
[00:22:01] But I walked in and I said that, and I was like, we need this. And he’s like, yes. He’s like, I agree. And to his credit, yeah, he identifies as a straight white cisgender man and was just like, he was like, yeah, he was like, yes, like teach us, like let’s do it.
[00:22:17] Sophie Hoyt: That step pointing out something that’s missing is the first step to change. Having a plan to fix it as the second. And Allie was able to follow through.
[00:22:25] Allie Foote: I was able to, with the help of that whole partner group in Portland, was able to help stand up for different ERGs within that team, and then was able to bring everyone kind of under one umbrella, the Pacific Northwest diversity network, which is really cool and also helped kind of with the collaboration between the two offices.
[00:22:46] Sophie Hoyt: And just like that she was blending her work experience with her lived experience.
[00:22:49] Allie Foote: I was able to jump in and actually do a DNI consulting project for a Fortune 50 company, which is really amazing. And helping them think through how do they, you know, how do you staff the various teams? Like, where’s all the funding going.
[00:23:07] It was kind of an assessment as well as like the board had just given them a bunch of funding for DNI programming. And so, helping them think through, like, how was that used? Was it effective? I think like benchmarking and showing impact in the diversity equity inclusion space is very difficult. And so, it was helping them kind of get a handle on what they’d done and how that was impacting their employees and consumer base.
[00:23:31] Sophie Hoyt: And once she came to Nike, she wasn’t ready to give up that work. That she needed to take a beat, learn the lay of the land, find her place there, and it didn’t take long. About six months in, she applied to join the pride leadership team.
[00:23:47] Allie Foote: It just felt like the right time. I think if you look at the last year like I’ve obviously been in this space for a while.
[00:23:52] And so, doing this for, you know, since 2009, 10. And it’s just, it’s like a time I’ve never seen in this space and for, you know, the energy around diversity, equity, and inclusion and, you know, companies, yeah, I think Nike has always done a pretty good job, but I think there’s just a new focus and excitement and energy around it.
[00:24:14] And so I decided like, yeah, this is the time that I want to jump into this space and really, you know, see what I can contribute to this team at a greater level. And it’s been only been a month, I think, but it’s been so rewarding to be in this position. I mean, my, our pride leadership team is phenomenal and we have amazing support from the company.
[00:24:35] Sophie Hoyt: I think some people might feel like, well, why do we have to talk about these things? But I’d really like to hear in your own words why you feel like having those spaces, having those voices represented in the actual office space is so important for minority groups and experiences.
[00:24:56] Allie Foote: I think about this also from the lens of those that may have, you know, “privilege” in terms of, yeah, if they’re not part of the queer community, which I see being a part of as a privilege. But I think that a lot of my cisgender heterosexual counterparts have probably never had to play like the pronoun game, right, where you don’t really want to come out or say, you know, if I say like, oh my girlfriend, sometimes you’re like, oh, it’s just a friend.
[00:25:27] I had a client that asked if I had a boyfriend. It was early on in my career. So, he’s like do you have a boyfriend, I was like, and just like, what? No. And I was like, no, like, I don’t like, I was like casually, but, no boyfriend. I was like, no. And he’s like, oh, I want to set you up with someone like and like goes on and tell me all about this guy.
[00:25:44] And it really threw me off. And I think so many people are spending so much energy and time and brain space in the workplace hiding pieces of themselves. And it just doesn’t make for, honestly, productive or happy employees. And I think that being able to, you know, bring your authentic self to work is so critical for both your mental health and for your team, you know. There’s so much research out there that shows that diverse teams come up with the best solutions. I said, like, I totally agree, but I think it’s also when those diverse teams can bring fully themselves to the table, right? Because everyone’s just trying to like code switch and be the same, you’re going to come up with just some very generic solutions and not a lot of innovation. But yeah, I think for me, I’ve been so lucky that I’ve always felt like I could show up authentically as myself. I try to do that cause I’ve just heard so many, so many stories and so many people that have not been able to do that or have that opportunity and or who feel scared.
[00:26:52] And so, I think that allowing people to kind of come out of their shells and show them that, you know, it’s accepted and it’s okay. My goal is to show up who I am at work the same way I am outside of work. And I found at Nike it’s been a very comfortable place to be exactly who I am and to show, you know, all pieces of me and kind of whatever that is.
[00:27:18] If it’s who I’m dating, you know, if it’s things run mental health, if it’s, you know, work styles, if it’s talking to them about my really cute pandemic puppy, like, I want to be able to just share that and talk about that. And if I have a partner and talk about that and just like someone else might be able to talk about, you know, what they did with their family or their kids over the weekend, like, I want to be able to have that opportunity as well so that I can show up and people can know me. And we can have a better work relationship.
[00:27:44] Sophie Hoyt: Right. And thank you for so concisely, you know, being able to outline like, that it’s not just about like company policy and, you know, it’s about creating an environment where every employee has the right to live their lives, be casual about their lives, you know, talk about their family and you know, who they share their life with and what that means without there being that like fear of either retaliation or ostracization.
So, with that being said, I’m curious, do you have any organizations that you’d like to shout out or that Nike is partnering with in support of the LGBTQIA community?
[00:28:30] Allie Foote: Nike is phenomenal, in my opinion, in terms of giving back to communities. We have a whole team that’s focused on that and thinking about how do we give back locally, as well as, regionally, internationally, to the communities that kind of represent our various employee resource groups. So, for pride, you know, we have a number of different partnerships and those that we give to and work with, you know, it’s across like Athlete Ally, GLSEN, you know, Out Foundation, there’s various regional teams as well.
[00:29:04] I think that you know, one I’m excited about, I really love, you know, Gender Cool which as we think about right now, all the bills that are targeting trans kids in sports, which I feel like is a fundamental human right to participate in sport, it was such an important part of my upbringing that I don’t want to see any kid left out just because of fears.
[00:29:26] You know, Gender Cool is a really amazing organization that’s focused on highlighting transgender and non-binary kids where the most unremarkable aspect of them is that trans or non-binary. So, like you’re hearing these kids and I, you know, they’re like med schools, like at these young ages or they’re phenomenal singers or they want to be president or whatever it might be and highlighting the kids for just like being these amazing, you know, kids in teams rather than like focus on that part of it and celebrating them for who they are.
[00:30:00] Sophie Hoyt: And one of Allie’s personal favorites is the Trevor Project. You might remember them from their It Gets Better campaign.
[00:30:05] Allie Foote: You know, I think for myself, growing up, coming out since like I’ve always had, you know, my own conversations and thoughts around like mental health and what that means to me.
[00:30:18] And so, it’s really important to me that, you know, if there’s a space for kids that are across the country to go if they need that support. And I think, especially right now when everyone’s, everything’s shut down, I think that it’s more important than ever to have those resources for those that are feeling really isolated.
[00:30:35] That’s just a personal one that I care a lot about. I also served on the steering committee in Oregon and Southwest Washington for the human rights campaign. And so, I’m obviously always following them as well as Basic Rights Oregon.
[00:30:52] Sophie Hoyt: We love Basic Rights, just like as a concept.
[00:30:54] Allie Foote: I love them. I love your core name, right
[00:31:03] Sophie Hoyt: On the nose, it is a basic right to be treated like a human being. So, I think it’s always important that when we have the opportunity to discuss how do we make a more welcoming work environment, like what are some basic steps that for anyone who may be listening who wants to do better and wants to make their work environment a better place.
[00:31:26] Do you have any advice on how to get the ball rolling and how to keep those committees going in an effective way? Yeah.
[00:31:35] Allie Foote: So, I had on the first, the, just the couple, like, I’d say easy, but “easier” low-hanging fruit that I see. Which the first one is the use of pronouns. I, you know, profile in my email, on my LinkedIn, I have my pronouns there that indicates to those, you know, within the community that like I am a safe space in person and then I see them and accept them.
[00:32:00] And it also allows other people to then offer what their pronouns are, they are comfortable. Cause it’s not something we can assume. I usually introduce myself, I say, I’m Allie Foote, I use she, her pronouns. And I try to go first also because then it forces the rest of the group to then introduce themselves with their pronouns. Good trick!
[00:32:21] And then the other thing I think is this is when we’re thinking about safe spaces for employees, you know, we’ve had a lot of, there’s obviously a lot of discussions right now and just the trans community and how do we support that community. We’re going to see more and more people that are out and proud and living their true authentic selves.
[00:32:40] And they need a safe space to go to the bathroom. And a lot of people now, like I hear stories of people where they have to like, hold it all day or they have to like leave their office and go around the corner where they can find a unisex bathroom. And so, I think it’s, you know, early, early things you can do.
[00:32:57] I know some companies are, you know, buildings that they lease where they can’t make structural changes at the moment. So, you’re putting up signs that just say like, Hey, you know, use the bathroom that most closely align with their gender identity, right, or that aligns with that. And then also making sure employees know where the option is for like a single-stall restroom. In terms of starting an employee resource group, for me, the way that I’ve found the most success is first, getting support from leadership in the company. So, you know, for me that in Portland that looked like walking into the head of the Portland office and saying like, Hey, we don’t have this, like I want to make this, this is what I want to do. And when I went in, I basically had a business case for it, which is what I like outlined, this is why we should be doing this.
[00:33:46] This is why it’s, it helps to, for those that need to make the leap kinda back to that question, like, why should we do this? There is a business case behind it. And so, being able to say like, Hey, this is gonna make you more successful in your job if I’m able to do this. And then outlining a plan and having very clear asks and like requests for that leadership to be involved.
[00:34:08] So, whether that’s like, I want you to come to like all of our events or I want, you know, someone that’s on this leadership team to be kind of our executive sponsor, right, and attending our meetings. But I do think that having a little bit of formalized structure around, who’s leading this, right?
[00:34:27] Like, how long do you stay in that position? Like do, if it’s a larger company, like, do you have applications to get involved? What does that look like? And then I think having, you know, clear goals from the start so that you then like in the first year, like maybe you’re saying, Hey, I want to have this many events.
[00:34:44] Like I want to, you know, focus on, I wanna focus on education. We want to talk about gender, whatever it might be, we want to have a fun event, something like that. And then at the end of the year, being able to come back to that leadership team and saying like, Hey, this is what we set out to do. We cross all this off, again, reminder, this is the business case, is what we want to do next year.
[00:35:02] And so, continue to treat it like it’s almost like a work, it’s a work project, right. And treat them the same way as they would see anything else and be able to say like, yes, I’m in great, keep going, making sure that, you know, one of the asks that’s to leadership is for those that are involved in this, making sure it’s not seen as like a side project, but this should be seen as a work project.
[00:35:23] Like it’s making it clear to like the leadership teams that we need to be supporting these employees that are doing this and doing this work. So, there’s not seen as a burden on them.
[00:35:34] Sophie Hoyt: So, as a recap, lead with your pronouns, we all know what they say about assuming, create accessible bathrooms. If you want to see change, have a plan for change, make your requests clear, and keep leadership involved. Be able to show your work. And remember, this work takes work. So, treat it like part of your job because it is. And after hearing such amazing advice that we should all carry with us as we move forward. Okay. I wanted to know what advice Allie might give to herself as an intern all those years ago.
[00:36:07] Allie Foote: Trust the process. So, I have trust tattooed on my arm. And that is just kinda what I was talking about of like, just trust the process that, you know, what you’re going through is going to shape you and make you a better human and employee and friend and coworker. And I think also just, yeah, be you, show up authentically, and don’t be afraid to let what you’re passionate about shine, and follow those things, and follow your gut. And I’ve just continued to follow what I’m passionate about and what I believe in. And being able to do that both from kind of my queer career and my day job has put me in a really incredible place with incredible company. So, I think just trusting the process, go with the flow, know it’s gonna work out, work hard, learn a lot. So. Those will be my advice.
[00:37:04] Sophie Hoyt: Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the OneHaas podcast, The Crossroad Series. And a special thanks to Allie Foote for sharing her story with me. If you want to check out any of the charities that we discussed in today’s episode, those will be linked in the show notes below level.
[00:37:17] If you enjoyed our show today, please remember to subscribe to OneHaas wherever you get your podcasts and rate and review us on iTunes. You can also check out more of our content on our website at haas.fm, where you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and check out some of our other Berkeley Haas podcasts. Until next time, go bears.