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CultureAug 16, 2021

Justin Bell and Nickoria Johnson Discuss Nickoria’s Appointment to Chief Diversity Officer

Credera Team

As of July 2021, Nickoria Johnson became Credera’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Justin Bell, Credera’s Global CEO, sat down with Nickoria to talk about Credera’s journey in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and her recent appointment to the role.

Nickoria shares about her background as a Black woman in STEM, her vision for impacting Credera and our clients in this new role, and what she hopes will be different in five years.  

An edited transcript of their conversation follows.

Justin Bell: Hi everyone, I’m Justin Bell, and I’m the Global CEO here at Credera. Today, I am sitting down with Nickoria Johnson, our Chief Diversity Officer, to talk a little bit about Credera’s journey in DE&I and specifically about her recent appointment as our Chief Diversity Officer. Welcome, Nickoria!

Nickoria Johnson: Thank you very much, JB. Happy to be here.

Justin Bell: Great, thank you. Why don’t we start with you. Tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background.  

Nickoria’s Background

Nickoria Johnson: I grew up as a girl in STEM way before it was called STEM. I had an internship as a young girl in high school that turned into me creating a passion for technology. Technology has always been at the forefront for me. I went to Howard University and that’s where I was lucky enough to be a part of their engineering program. Quickly, I decided I was a people person and ended up wrapping that with some other skills.

For me, technology is my passion, but also my passion is people. In my technology journey, I’ve had a chance to lead several different teams across many different companies and my main goal was to show up as the best leader possible so that my teams would feel equipped and supported. So, technology and people are my passions, which is why I’m very excited to serve in this role.

Justin Bell: That’s great. I had the chance to work with you for a number of years even before you came to Credera. You were a client, and a great client and leader on that side and have been a great leader at Credera. We’re certainly glad to have you in this new role.

Let’s shift gears to that. Let’s talk a little bit about DE&I and your journey with that, and why it’s such a passion area for you.

Nickoria Johnson: Sure. As I mentioned, STEM, Black woman in technology, there weren’t many of my faces around when I looked around. I went through my own personal journey of trying to just fit in as best I could to finally feeling comfortable in my own skin, even recently.

I think for me, DE&I, and the things we do to encourage DE&I are a heart issue. We like to believe that everyone is for you and not against you, but sometimes when you’re the “only” in the room it’s hard to know whether people really are supporting you or not.

I also went through several iterations of struggling to find my own voice. I would have a seat at the table, but sometimes I didn’t have enough encouragement to be heard. Fortunately, I had some great advocates and sponsors, but I want to create an environment where next generations feel free to be themselves and aren’t burdened with worrying about whether they’ll fit in. The uniqueness that everyone is bringing to the table is very important and that’s what we’re here to celebrate.

Credera’s History with DE&I

Justin Bell: That’s great. Really for me, it’s a different journey certainly, but as far as how it became an interest of mine, about five or six years ago I brought the diversity and inclusion initiative to Credera.

I first introduced it to our partner team, our executive team, around the importance that we begin to diversify our talent base and we become a more inclusive environment overall, both because it is the right thing to do, but also because it does help business outcomes. We have better discussions, we make better decisions, and it’s proven companies innovate more and get better business results on the other side of it as well.

Both sides of that were important to me–the heart side and the actual outcome side. It’s been a great journey, a hard journey, over the last four to five years of leading this, but we’ve made a lot of progress.

This spring, as we were updating what’s next for us with DE&I, we made the decision to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer. At first, honestly, I didn’t know this is something we needed to do because we had executive sponsorship in myself, and we had a strategy (we didn’t have all the right strategy but a strategy), but then came to realize that we really would benefit [from appointing someone to this role] and I’ve already seen that in the last 8 weeks or so since we first talked about that.

It makes a real impact in a hurry and I know we have a bright future ahead as we go forward.

Speaking of what’s ahead, why don’t you share a bit about your vision for DE&I here at Credera. What will look different one year or three years from now?

The Future of DE&I at Credera

Nickoria Johnson: Again, as you mentioned, a lot of the foundational elements were already here at Credera. Our core values mirror the things you want to see in DE&I. You want to see grit, you want to see tenacity, you definitely want to see people putting people first. So, I feel like we have a really great foundation.

The buzz and momentum and excitement about this journey we’ve been on since George Floyd’s murder has been accelerated, and I think all companies are seeing the same ramp up in terms of the activities, passion, and the voices that want to be heard.

So, what I’m most excited about doing at Credrea is really listening to the voices of the folks we’re trying to represent. I want everyone from the consultant up to the partner level to feel like they’re heard, they have a place, and they belong. That’s the first part of the journey.

The next part of the journey is being able to take what we’re learning and turn that around to our clients. There are a lot of clients looking to do what we’re trying to do now, and maybe even some who haven’t started their journey. I want to take what we already do great (strategic service offerings), and pair that up with our learnings from DE&I. All while being humble enough to say “we didn’t know, so we want to showcase and help you on your journey.” I think that’s very important.

In a few years, I’m really hoping we have representation at all levels. As most companies struggle, we’re also looking for leadership to look like our populations. We also want to make sure we’ve done a lot of self-reflection.

My measure of success is when everyone at Credera knows how they can uniquely contribute to the DE&I journey, their hearts are open, and we’re sitting across the table from people and valuing them at all levels and aspects of what they’re bringing to the table. I will call that a success.

Justin Bell: That’s great. I love that and really do look forward to partnering with you as we continue to take our next steps on this journey.

Nickoria Johnson: It’s going to be great!

Justin Bell: Absolutely. That’s it for today. More updates to come from us on this topic but thank you very much.

Interested in Working at Credera?

At Credera, we have a culture that values the many unique perspectives, backgrounds, and histories that our employees represent. If you’re interested in a career at Credera and beginning your journey, please visit our careers page.

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