Pride Month and Beyond: Innovation is a People Solution

Cropped shot of a couple holding hands and wave in front of a rainbow flag flying on the sidelines of a summer gay pride parade

As a former policy consultant to the White House, I applaud President Biden’s proclamation of June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month, a Presidential tradition that dates to back to the Clinton administration in 1999. As our company’s Chief People Innovation Officer, I’m proud of Vertex’s ongoing commitment to organizational programs that advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

Those programs help me fulfill my responsibility of shaping our company’s global strategic workforce planning efforts. Although Vertex’s investments in DEI programs and activities will continue long after June ends, it’s worth taking advantage of Pride Month to reflect on DEI and what it means at Vertex.  

Put simply, DEI programs are table stakes for us. In order for us to meet our growth and innovation goals – whether those relate to expansion into new geographies or the development of new offerings – we need to be competent and fluent in today's dynamic, diverse, and transparent environments. For Vertex to be relevant in our many markets, we need to understand the different demographics and perspectives that exist throughout our ecosystem, whether those involve our partner companies, our collaborations with universities, our customer interactions, or our communications with any of our other stakeholders. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how people prioritize family and community, how they spend their time and where they work from. As Vertex executes our strategy, we’re developing our people in ways that align with our strategy as well as their changing priorities. As we expand our workforce, our goal is to capture the unique asset that is Vertex culture and make it visible and accessible through all our conversations – both in-person and virtual -- in a diverse collection of global markets.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen numerous DEI programs generate tangible business value. During my time with IBM, I helped our people with disabilities employee resource group (ERG) provide crucial insights on complying with India’s disability and gender laws. The group’s guidance served as the foundation of a new offering that helped other companies comply with the same laws -- and that generated millions of dollars of new revenue, and new business, in its first year on the market. I also worked with a Latina ERG within a customer company (a top greeting card brand) whose insights on the important bond between children and their grandmothers in Latin cultures led to the creation of a highly profitable line of abuela cards. 

I have loads of other examples across all industries. Suffice it to say that the opportunity to generate innovation, and business value, through diversity and inclusion programs is vast. The only question for Vertex is: How far can we go on this journey and what will it look like? I’ll keep you posted.

Blog Author

Yvette C. Burton, Ph.D.

Yvette C. Burton, Ph.D.

Chief People Innovation Officer

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As Chief People Innovation Officer, Dr. Yvette Burton drives business strategy through the power of data and people. In her role, she leads the company’s world-class, high-performing workforce and supports our growth and innovation capabilities, as well as advancing inclusion and diversity efforts through engagement with our global communities and markets.

As Professor of Practice Emeritus, Yvette designed and launched Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies Master of Science program in Human Capital Management. She currently serves as the Designer and Lead Faculty for New York University’s School of Professional Studies Global Diversity Equity and Inclusion Business Certification Program.

Yvette is a recognized expert and has provided testimony for the Senate’s Department of Homeland Security’s efforts on the Federal adoption of Domestic Partnership Benefits for the Federal workforce and served as a policy consultant for the White House U.S. Foreign Policy mission. She is also a partner at Deed Partners, a venture capital investment firm for non-traditional fintech start-ups. Yvette was selected for Crain's New York inaugural list of Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives in 2020. 

She holds a B.A. in psychology and minor in sociology from the State University of New York at Stonybrook, a M.A. in Human Development from the Fielding Graduate Institute, as well as a M.A. in Criminal Justice and Procedural Law from City University of New York at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Yvette received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Fielding Graduate Institute and completed the Advance Management Program in the Wharton Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

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