By Sheryl Estrada
From the time she was a little girl growing up in Jamaica, Jackie Glenn enjoyed “figuring things out and building things from scratch.”
But when Glenn was approached in 2007 to fill her current position as a diversity-and-inclusion leader, she actually was not that interested. “It was not my aspiration at the time,” she said.
But after agreeing to take on the role “only temporarily,” she says she found her passion.
“I cannot see myself doing anything else,” Glenn now says. “It’s going to be eight years in November since I’ve been the Global Chief Diversity Officer at EMC. Sometimes people see things in you that you don’t see in yourself.”
As Global Chief Diversity Officer at EMC, she leads the diversity-and-inclusion strategy for the company’s global operations with a workforce of 60,000 employees. Glenn is also experienced in strategic planning, human resources and talent development.
She has developed several efforts at EMC, including the design and implementation of a mandatory D&I curriculum, institutionalization of the company’s Transgender Reassignment Program, and the launch and execution of its High Potential Women’s Program.
Global Chief Diversity Officer, EMCPrevious Position
Director of HR Operations, Sales Division, EMCEducation
Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, Emmanuel CollegeMaster’s Degree in Human Resources Management, Lesley University
Member, Board of Directors, The Museum of African American History, Boston
Member, Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Member, Board of Directors, Greater Boston Sickle Cell Disease Association
Glenn joined EMC in 2000 as the Director of Human Resources Operations for the Sales Division. She successfully provided strategic and tactical human-resources support to sales groups, comprising more than 2,000 employees at both domestic and international sites.
She is perceptive. She understands and communicates how to tie diversity into business practices and to a company’s bottom line.
“I have an extensive background in human resources, which I believe is a great prerequisite to being a chief diversity officer,” she explained.
She was able to make recommendations that were well received as colleagues trusted her judgment.
“They knew that I had a brand, and whatever I needed to talk to them about would at least be worth listening to,” she said.
Like in paying close attention to our country’s demographics.
“As a nation our demographics are going to continue to shift, and I think that corporations that don’t get ready for it will be left behind,” she offered.
According to Glenn, EMC’s environment is conducive to sharing ideas, which allows her to thrive.
“One of the things I love about EMC is that even though it’s corporate, it has the feel of entrepreneurship,” she said. “I love building. I don’t mind maintaining, but my expertise is always in building. And I’m never bored.”
Glenn admited, though, that as an executive there are days that can be challenging.
“I think that if anyone tells you they have a happy day every day, they’re lying,” she said. “You pick yourself up and you go on. I really believe that the work that I do is going to change this world, not just EMC, but it’s really world changing.”
Coming to the U.S. and Serving Her Community
Glenn came to the U.S. for college, earning an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Administration from Emmanuel College and a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Lesley University.
As a young Black woman coming from the islands, not knowing a lot of people, she said older women of color helped her navigate life in this country. Jackie says white males in professional environments encouraged her as well.
“I’ll be honest with you, a lot of my success has been steered by white males who saw a potential in me and were not intimidated at how I come across—real strong,” she said. “They took me under their wings and really guided me.”
Knowing mentors contributed to her career, Glenn believes in paying it forward.
“I always say that if I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living is not in vain,” she commented.
Glenn and her husband, Windsor, have two daughters, Nicole, 30, an attorney, and Alicia, 23, a salesperson. She serves as a board member and human resources consultant for Children’s Services of Roxbury.
“I go into communities where Black and brown kids are underserved and share my story,” she said. “I go in and I talk about being from the islands—a lot of the inner-city kids have island roots—I share how I came through, what I did, and how I built my career. A lot of young kids really can relate to me. I didn’t take the conventional way of getting to the C-suite or the chief diversity officer, but I got there.”
Glenn is also on the board for Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, The Museum of African American History, Boston and the Greater Boston Sickle Cell Disease Association.
“I usually do things that are near and dear to my heart, or I have a background in,” she said. “I’m just not sitting on the board but I’m adding value.”
Glenn offers two words of career advice: work hard.
“Jackie Glenn is a brand, and I’m very much certain I want to keep my brand intact,” she stressed. “So I continue to work hard in whatever I do.”
Despite all that she must accomplish in a day, Glenn makes sure to find time to center herself and relieve stress through yoga, meditation, listening to gospel music on the way to work, and exercise.
“Every day I do something,” she said. “Even if it’s only 15 minutes of riding my stationery bike.”