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The 92 Report

Oct 23, 2023

Show Notes:

Cristina Hernandez, a graduate of Harvard Law School, shares her journey since graduating. She went to law school for three years and graduated in 1995 then went into private practice. After getting married and having two kids, she became a law firm partner in Wisconsin. Cristina decided to move to California and started working with Renee Meyers in 2012. She still practiced law, but she began working as a consultant on diversity, equity inclusion, and eventually became her VP handling all of her clients. Six years later, they were working with Netflix, where they started the Diversity, Equity Inclusion practice at Netflix. They worked at Netflix for four and a half years, and later became the chief diversity officer at Synopsis, a semiconductor company with 18,000 engineers and employees all around the world.

Christina's journey has been marked by the rapid pace of change in her life and the world in which she works. She has experienced both personal and professional growth, and is now looking forward to continuing her journey in the legal profession.


Cristina explains what DEI means outside the U.S. and talks about the challenges of addressing diversity in the US, particularly in terms of gender, LGBTQ, and disability rights. She highlights that while efforts may work towards more women, African Americans, black, and Hispanic individuals, there are also other forms of diversity that exist globally. Gender oppression is a global issue, manifesting differently in different countries.

Cristina highlights the importance of being curious, thinking critically, and being open to experiencing differences in various cultures. She shares an example from her time working with Netflix colleagues in Japan, where she had to listen hard and be humble about understanding gender differences playout in various workplaces. She talks about the global implications of Black Lives Matter and explains that colorism is a real issue worldwide, manifesting in different ways and affecting people of color, and how it is crucial to learn from each other's experiences.

She also touches on the need to understand the complexity of different perspectives and work together with these differences. She mentions that caste oppression is another complex issue, with socio-economic differences playing out in almost every country differently. Disability rights are another area where companies like Microsoft have been pushing for improvements, but accessibility varies greatly around the world. Cristina emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting diverse perspectives in order to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

How to Integrate DEI in the Workplace

Cristina offers background information on the DEI space and goes on to explore the adoption of DEI in the workplace. She explains that employee resource groups and bias training are important for creating fair workplaces, but they are not the only factors to consider. Companies need to invest in their systems and practices, as these are the sticky things that last for a long time. Companies often get involved in these efforts for defensive, curious, or customer-based reasons. Systems that impact people include hiring, development, promotion, and mentoring. She mentions Joan Williams, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, who has written an amazing book about bias interrupters and various practices around hiring. Cristina emphasizes the importance of writing down evaluations to mitigate recency bias and ensure accurate recall. Onboarding and promotion processes should focus on understanding generational differences and taking down barriers to welcoming employees into teams. Development and promotion systems should be structured around development and selecting high potentials, and ensuring everyone gets access to mentorship. Cristina explains that sponsorship is vital for progression and can be either explicit or implicit. It involves leveraging personal capital to ensure success, but it cannot sponsor someone or move their career along.

In terms of mentorship, Cristina identifies the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and why one size does not fit all. She talks about the various different ways of making this work.

Singing as an Opportunity to Transcend Division

Cristina shares her lifelong passion for singing, which began with her father who was a choral conductor. She sang throughout her schooling and college. After moving to Los Angeles, she joined her husband's choir, which brings her joy and a sense of fulfillment. She now commutes to Silicon Valley three days a week, and she finds herself enjoying being with other people. Cristina also shares her experience of transcendence in choirs, where she feels a sense of unity and hope. Choirs are generally made up of people from different backgrounds, and the only thing used is their voice. This moment of transcendence is a testament to the power of human beings to come together and create something beautiful. She believes that this opportunity to transcend through art is sorely lacking in today's divided society. She takes this inspiration into her work, as it gives her hope and inspiration to be with people from different backgrounds making beautiful things.

Cristina's passion for singing has been a significant part of her life. She believes that the opportunity to connect with others through music is a valuable skill that can help bridge the gap between individuals and create a more inclusive and meaningful world.

Influential Courses and Professors at Harvard

Cristina mentions Bernard Bailyn’s class on Constitutional History and how it offered transformative debate and discourse in a different kind of way through the lens of history; she also loved Greg Nagy’s The Ancient Greek Hero, and professor Julian Bond.


07:17 What DEI means outside of the U.S.

09:32 The definition of colorism

13:06 Caste division and disability inclusion

15:53 Business drivers that drive companies to hire a chief diversity officer

24:48 Systems and processes recommended to clients

26:09 How to mitigate recency bias

30:08 Formal mentoring programs and measuring success

36:61 The power of singing in a group