As chief people and diversity officer at Twitter, Dalana Brand is passionate about cultivating an inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible workplace for the company’s 7,500 employees. She is leading with a bold vision to truly transform Twitter’s workforce by 2025 and has doubled down on the company’s DEI programs to accelerate progress.
“When you do the work you’re meant to do, all the other things fall into line,” Brand said. “You show up differently and you feel fulfilled.”
Brand grew up along the banks of the Red Cedar and came to know Michigan State University’s campus well as her father was a faculty member in the Broad College of Business’ marketing department. MSU was the natural choice for her education, and she earned her finance degree from Broad in 1995. Soon after, she faced a turning point in her career that helped uncover her passion.
“I was interviewing for my dream job and the interviewer asked, ‘Why would a woman be interested in this male-dominated industry?’ I was furious that, despite all of my skills and experiences, at that moment the only thing he seemed to be concerned about was the fact that I was a woman.”
Brand didn’t let the comment deter her focus as she believes in the maxim “Never let them see you sweat.” She got the job and quickly excelled, earning recognition for her capabilities and contributions.
“Even though everything turned out positive in the end, that moment has always stuck with me,” she said. “It was career defining in a sense because it was at that moment that I vowed to make sure I open doors for other women and commit to doing my part to ensure that no other woman felt the way I did that day. That was the beginning of my journey toward workplace advocacy for equality, diversity and inclusion.”
To get the edge she needed to make a difference in the workplace, Brand returned to her alma mater and earned an MBA in finance and human resources in 2001.
“My life changed and a spark was lit,” she said. “I realized that I cared deeply about the experiences that people have in the workplace. Broad was instrumental in my early career development.”
Before landing at Twitter, Brand spent nine years in various senior leadership positions at Whirlpool Corporation and then served as vice president of Total Rewards for Electronic Arts.
Leading the flock
Today, Brand is making a difference for one of the world’s most recognized social media platforms. She’s making DEI soar at Twitter by focusing on transparency and accountability.
“Twitter’s mission is to serve the public conversation, and there is no conversation more important than advancing progress in this particular space,” she said. “We’re on a journey to become the world’s most diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible tech company — it’s key to serving the public conversation.”
Over the past three years, Brand served as the vice president of people experience and head of inclusion and diversity at Twitter. As part of the company’s People team, she led many of the critical, global functions that created and supported what they feel is truly a unique experience for the “flock.” With her promotion to chief people and diversity officer this year, Brand has the unique experience of bringing her knowledge to Twitter’s leadership team and continuing to help improve the work experience for Tweeps — Twitter employees — globally.
Brand believes this work is accomplished by collaborating deeply with all organizations at Twitter. She has applied her business education to think strategically about how DEI could most positively impact the people and the work they do. She has successfully worked with the company’s leadership and its external board to make diversification progress one of five criteria used to determine executive bonuses — elevating diversity goals to the same level as other business goals.
She also has regular “health checkups” with top staff to monitor progress, and these outcomes are shared internally and externally to ensure transparency and accountability at every step of the way.
She is steadfast in her efforts toward achieving Twitter’s 2025 vision for a global workforce that will comprise at least 50% women, and, in the United States, at least 25% of Tweeps will be from underrepresented communities (10% Black, 10% Latinx, multiracial and Indigenous).
“We have seen tremendous strides in these over the past year,” Brand said. “We attribute the progress we have made to a combination of increased efforts to attract talent from diverse backgrounds and doubling down on programs that ensure a culture where everyone can be their authentic selves #UntilWeAllBelong.”
Recently, Twitter has shifted to quarterly public reporting on representation and annually sharing results of promotion and pay equity data. In addition, the company has implemented diverse slates for open roles requiring that at least one woman (global) and one candidate from an underrepresented community (specifically Black/Latinx) be considered by hiring managers. Finally, they’ve launched new initiatives, such as an engineering apprenticeship program, to generate a diverse talent pipeline.
Helping fellow Spartans spread their wings
Brand’s dedicated efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Most recently, she was honored as a 2022 AACSB Influential Leader, among 26 other business champions of diversity and inclusion. She was also honored as a 2021 Top 100 Diversity Officer by the National Diversity Council, chosen as one of Diversity Woman magazine’s 2021 Elite 100, named to ColorComm’s top 28 women making an impact in communications for 2021, featured as one of Business Insider’s 10 most influential diversity leaders and selected as one of Adweek’s 2020 Women Trailblazers.
Through it all, her connection to MSU has remained strong, and she serves as an inspiring role model for current Broad Spartans.
In October, she returned to campus to speak at two events: the college’s biannual Advancing Women in Business event and its inaugural Broad Teach-In: Be Bold. Be Broad. event. These events were a platform for faculty, staff, students and alumni to have critical conversations on topics like advice for women in the workplace and how MSU and the Broad College can bring DEI front and center.
She was also a guest on the Full-Time MBA’s student podcast Spartan Stories, which aired in November. In the episode, she discussed strategies for expanding Twitter’s diverse workforce, going beyond representation and taking a holistic approach toward DEI progress and how every person can contribute to DEI outcomes.
“It is very important to me to give back to the students at MSU and others who are trying to pursue knowledge in areas that typically are underrepresented,” she said. “Having diversity of thought and experience in the workforce is how we create an inclusive work environment and, in the end, a richer experience for the companies and teams they will be a part of.”
As far as advice goes for Broad Spartans today, Brand said that success is a journey, not a destination.
“Success can look very different at different parts of your life and career. So, my best advice is to continue to be intellectually curious in all aspects of your life and be fearless in the pursuit of that growth.”