When diverse voices are at the table, we can create better outcomes for all. Research by Gartner found that 75 percent of organizations with diverse and inclusive frontline decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets. Diversity is a highly valued asset – it opens us up to different perspectives and new ideas to yield strong business performance and greater engagement within our teams.

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Our Black and African Heritage leadership team

Our employee resource groups (ERGs) are instrumental in helping us create a culture characterized by belonging, vibrancy, and happiness. ERGs not only engage our teams and provide development opportunities for all, but they help to build a sense of community and allyship for traditionally underrepresented individuals.

Todd Chapman, Global Carrier Managed Service Business Development Manager, and Terry Miller, Strategic Accounts Consultant, are a team working to amplify the voices of our colleagues with Black and African heritage through our Black and African Heritage (B&AH) at Ciena ERG. Todd and Terry have been with Ciena for a combined 30+ years and have seen the B&AH at Ciena ERG grow from the beginning. Now, they are co-leading the group together, they shared their progress and vision for the future of B&AH at Ciena.

What inspired you to take on these leadership roles for B&AH at Ciena?

Todd: I joined the B&AH at Ciena ERG three years ago and was spurred to action after attending one of its events. I was always passionate about advocating for diversity, generally, and specifically for Black employees, but one event resonated with me, and I decided to join the team. After joining, I led the group’s personal and professional development pillar. Over time, we had some turnover in leadership, so I decided to step up to lead the group on an interim basis last year and am now co-leading with Terry.

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Todd Chapman

Terry: I joined Ciena in 2000 and, over the past 20 years, have always been head down and focused on getting my work done. I traveled 80 percent of the time for my role, and when I wasn’t on the road, I was committed to my family. I felt like I had no time for anything else, but when the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to pause and reflect on my tenure at Ciena. I initially joined B&AH at Ciena as a member, but I thought I had more to offer regarding my career experience and became motivated to help others and make a difference. I thought there was some value in the insights and guidance I could offer to folks at Ciena, especially those of Black and African heritage.

As a co-lead, how do you support the B&AH community at Ciena?

Todd: In the B&AH at Ciena ERG, we have four pillars – Governance and Membership, Retention and Advancement, Recruitment and Hiring, and Community Outreach. I’m responsible for the internal aspects of governance, managing membership, and career development. Since Terry is in the Atlanta area, which is a hub for us, he handles everything we’re doing from an external perspective, like recruiting and outreach.

Terry: While we split the pillars, we also work as a team on things. We’re currently working with our executive sponsor and Senior Vice President of Global Customer Engagement, Jason Phipps, to have an extension for graduates of our Thrive Development Program, which was first piloted with the B&AH at Ciena ERG in 2021. Thrive is a six-month development program that is now offered to members of all our ERGs and focuses on professional development. We also hosted our marquee event for Black History Month internally with executive leadership about career advancement and growth, particularly for someone of Black and African heritage.

Todd and Terry with our panel participants from our Black History Month internal event

What is your vision for B&AH at Ciena in the coming years?

Todd: We’re focused on personal and professional development and how we can deliver that to our community. Now that our Thrive Development Program is offered to all our ERGs, it’s pretty exciting. I feel proud that we are providing more learning and development opportunities for our community.

Going forward, we are strongly focused on internal advancement and mobility, so I would like to increase participation in our Ciena mentorship program within the B&AH community. I also want to collaborate with other ERGs to amplify our reach and build a more inclusive culture.

Terry: We are very active and engaged with Ciena’s Talent Acquisition team to attract and hire more Black and African heritage individuals. We’re also continuing to grow our community outreach and bring more STEM awareness and opportunities to students by collaborating with local educational and community organizations focused on Black and African heritage underserved schools. We recently partnered with Digital Promise to support three Atlanta public high schools as they complete the Ciena Solutions Challenge.

When you’re not supporting Ciena’s sales organization or the B&AH community, what can we find you doing?

Todd: I’m an engineer at heart, so I love technology. I love gadgets, cars, and completing projects around the house.

Terry: I find myself in the gym, fishing, listening to live jazz music, and getting away by riding up in the mountains on my Harley. I also like to volunteer as a big brother with Big Brother and Sisters Metro Atlanta organization.Man sitting on a motorcycle

Terry and his Harley Davidson motorcycle

While Todd and Terry work to provide more opportunities for mentorship, internal advancement, and community outreach for the B&AH at Ciena ERG, we support them and all our ERGs through our commitment to allyship and fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging.