Creating Inclusion and Belonging: Insights from a DEIB Leader in Tech

May 10, 2024
Photo of Shola Agoro

In the fast-paced and ever-changing tech industry, the journey toward embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) is both challenging and crucial. At the heart of this transformative journey is Shola Agoro, a DEIB leader whose dedication over the last four years has illuminated the importance of creating inclusive spaces in tech.

Shola’s roles as a mentor in the AHF Fellowship Circle for the last three years and as a DEIB leader in the tech sector highlight the power of community and the impact of leading with empathy. Shola’s story isn’t just about professional success; it’s one filled with lessons on the power of connection, the importance of self-care, and the relentless pursuit of equity.


Building Bridges Through Mentorship

Shola’s involvement in the AHF Fellowship Circle began through a referral from a colleague, a platform that transformed her perspective on mentorship and community support.

The Fellowship Circle revealed the incredible value of a nurturing environment where individuals freely exchange ideas, experiences, and encouragement. Reflecting on her early days as a Mentor, Shola shares, “After the first orientation meeting, it was clear to me that AHF was the medicine that I did not know I needed. The AHF team set the groundwork for a safe and transparent space where there is no hierarchy – it’s a reciprocal space of supportive individuals at all stages of their careers looking to genuinely share experiences and offer coaching and advice where appropriate.”

This statement not only captures her initial realization of the Fellowship Circle’s impact but also underscores the profound impact of spaces devoted to Indigenous, Black, and racialized women to be in community and stand in solidarity with one another.

Shola adds that when individuals in a mentorship circle can share from a place of honesty and authenticity, it allows for deeper connection where we feel seen, heard and valued.


“No two paths are the same, and there is so much we learn and thrive from each other’s experiences,” Shola notes, encapsulating her philosophy on mentorship and the growth that comes from collective wisdom.


The relationships developed during the mentorship program extend beyond and a powerful way of growing your community.


Nurturing Empathy and Resilience in DEIB Leadership

As Shola transitioned into a DEIB leadership role in tech, her guiding principles of service and empathy came to the forefront. Leading with empathy has allowed her to advocate effectively for equity deserving groups and work towards creating a more inclusive tech industry. However, the journey has not been without its hurdles. DEIB work, by its nature, involves navigating complex emotional landscapes—both personally and professionally.

Recognizing the emotional demands of her work, Shola emphasizes the importance of self-care as an integral part of sustaining her drive and effectiveness.

She candidly shares, “DEIB is work that pulls in ‘all the feels’… I have recently felt the physical toll that this work can take, so I have reintroduced intentional physical activity each day.” Her commitment to self-care highlights the necessity of balancing purpose with personal well-being, a crucial lesson for anyone engaged in emotionally demanding work.


“For me, being intentional about self-care is not thinking about anything external to me. It’s a time where my focus and energy is solely on my well being.”


Towards a Future of Inclusion and Equity

Throughout her career, Shola has actively participated in DEIB projects and initiatives and Co-Chaired the Black Employee Resource group in her company for seven years. These experiences led Shola to her national role as a DEIB Lead. “There was a logical progression in where my passion met my purpose,” adds Shola. “I wanted to take the work I was doing into a formal role where I could have an impact on a bigger scale.”

Looking to the future, Shola remains hopeful and committed to advancing DEIB within the tech industry. She underscores the importance of deliberate strategies aimed at creating more inclusive work environments, especially for Black, Indigenous, and racialized women.


Her call to action for leaders is powerful and clear: “Be intentional. If your priority is to attract, recruit, and retain Indigenous, Black and racialized women, build holistic, tailored and long term strategies that do just that!”


Shola envisions a tech industry that not only values diversity but actively fosters an inclusive and equitable environment where every individual can thrive. Her belief in the transformative power of mentorship, allyship, and sponsorship serves as a roadmap for building a more inclusive and equitable tech landscape.

“Listening compassionately and leading with empathy help provide a unique perspective on the importance of using your privilege to center the voices and needs of employees facing the greatest barriers, amplifying key issues and injustices, and taking steps to address those barriers,” Shola explains.

Shola’s inspiring journey illustrates the profound impact one individual can have in fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the tech world. Through her dedication to mentorship, her empathetic leadership, and her strategic vision for the future, Shola is paving the way for a more inclusive tech industry, one step at a time. Her story is a compelling reminder that the path toward a more equitable tech ecosystem is paved with the efforts of individuals who dare to lead boldly with their hearts and minds.

Thank you, Shola, for your invaluable insights and ongoing dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment every day. Your contributions are deeply appreciated, and we are grateful to have you as an integral part of the AHF community!