Blog Article

Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Intention


Denelle Dixon

Publishing date




Looking back on my career, the times that stand out the most are those when I wasn’t the only woman in the room. Most of the scenes from my work life had me as the sole woman around the executive table. I was asked to be the notetaker many times, talked over often, and had my ideas repeated by my male colleagues in the room to much warmer engagement. It was notable, frustrating, and sometimes challenging, but that didn’t deter me – it just made me more determined.

My career trajectory was not linear and included a mix of hard work, good fortune, and privilege. I attribute my success in moving through various roles and levels of seniority to the values instilled in me by my parents and my broader family, none of whom had been to college, who believed success was achieved through hard work, maintaining a strong moral compass, and a commitment to not letting the small stuff get you down. They also often reminded me that the only person in a room that I could control was me – my reactions, my insights, and my voice. This knowledge and support helped me earn the opportunities I sought, and as I sit here today, I want to use my position to effect much-needed change in the workplace. I focus on dismantling barriers and supporting differences in the hopes that this will create more opportunities for everyone, but especially for women and people of color seeking to achieve their potential. My commitment to that is rooted in my own experiences.

I know that my voice at all of those tables over the years brought a new and different perspective to tackling whatever issues we were addressing. It should be more widely acknowledged and understood that prioritizing diversity increases ideation and innovation that is beneficial for more people. In my experience, when we became purposeful in our decisions to be inclusive, the richness of our conversations and decision-making grew as more voices with different perspectives and backgrounds contributed. Now, as I lead SDF, I recognize more than ever how invaluable it is to intentionally create an environment where people can bring their authentic selves to work and freely voice their opinions.

To foster this culture at SDF, we hire with intent and openness, seeking those who offer unique perspectives and insights thanks to varied backgrounds. In 2021, SDF’s employee count exploded by 45%, with women accounting for 47% of new hires and 40% of total employees. But we won’t stop there. We intend to further refine our hiring strategies so that we can continue to nurture an organization where all of our employees are actively engaged and empowered to contribute to our mission of equitable access to the global financial system. If we want to build better solutions that are accessible to more of the world, it’s essential that we build an organization and ecosystem representative of more experiences and perspectives. So we don’t just focus on building a diverse team at SDF – we also focus on the companies we invest in, the devs and builders in the ecosystem, and the SDF board.

There is still ample progress to be made in ensuring that everyone has access to what they need to realize their ambitions, and I want to re-iterate my commitment to that goal. With that, lets mark the start of Women’s History Month and the upcoming International Women’s Day. Throughout March, we look forward to sharing the career stories of individuals across SDF with you.