Cloudflare TV

Moving the Needle

Presented by Hady Mendez, David Roth
Originally aired on 

Moving the Needle on DEI is a Cloudflare TV show that features personal journeys and stories of individuals who advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and encourage others to do the same.


Transcript (Beta)

Good morning from New York City and welcome to Moving the Needle on DEI, a Cloudflare TV show that features personal journeys and stories of individuals who advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion and encourage others to do the same.

My name is Hady Mendez and I am a customer success manager out of our New York City office.

I am also the global lead for Latinflare, Cloudflare's employee resource group for Latinx employees.

This is our inaugural segment and we are very excited to kick off this much needed conversation.

Joining me today to do just that is David Roth, head of enterprise sales for our east region here at Cloudflare.

David, welcome to the show. Thank you Hady, great to be here. Awesome, so I like to kick things off by asking you to tell us a little bit about who you are and why you accepted my invitation to be here today.

Sure, great, glad to be here. I know it's a little rainy in New York so hopefully we'll bring a little sunshine with the conversation.

So I'm a head of enterprise sales in the U.S. I cover the east coast U.S.

and based out of New York metro region. So I head up the New York office which is the hub for our eastern region for Cloudflare enterprise field sales.

Hady and I have had some conversations over the course of time since I joined.

I've been with Cloudflare about, I think it's 14 months now, so it's been a pretty exciting journey for sure.

When the New York office was a lot smaller and we've probably doubled, we'll probably triple in size over the course of the next few quarters.

So we've had some conversations, clearly a lot that's been going on in the last year or so since I joined, socially, economically, in general.

I think the the conversations that we have in the office and some of what we're doing as a company to drive diversity inclusion initiatives, they're very important to me as an individual, as a leader in the company, and as part of the community.

So I thought it'd be a great opportunity to sit with you all today and maybe share some of my thoughts and things that are important for the business and for all of us in general.

Thank you, David. I'm so happy you're here.

So I wanted to kind acknowledge that a lot of white cis males, they learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and they kind of experience allyship from how they relate with other people.

But your experience is a little bit different because you've had some of your own life experiences that have led you down the allyship path.

And I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that. Yeah, absolutely.

I think allyship comes in different forms. There's advocacy, there's activism, allyship, and a lot of it really is based on your own life experiences, what you've gone through.

I think I have an interesting or unique background in regards to what I've been through, what I've experienced that has allowed me really to kind of have a different perspective, open the aperture in regards to social issues and what I've experienced.

So just a little bit of the background that probably adds some color to that.

I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor, which is kind of a unique and interesting perspective in general, having grown up with someone who experienced kind of the worst of humanity.

And that has an interesting and impactful perspective on how you see the world.

And sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad.

Folks who come out of that environment either try to see the world in a good way or a bad way.

So it gave me a unique perspective. I'm a product of the New York City public school system, high school, as well as college.

So I'm proud of that.

And where'd you grow up? So I grew up in Brooklyn. So I'm one of those people that are from a very diverse environment.

Ruth Gator Binsburg was a Brooklyn girl.

So it's an interesting melting pot, Brooklyn, in regards to what it allows you really to explore.

But it also can be very divided in a lot of ways.

I grew up in a time when it was somewhat divided, when there was a lot of social strife, economic strife as well.

But I think having been in a more diverse environment through my education in high school, as well as college, I had the ability to see a different perspective as well, and whether they were relationships or just social issues.

I'm married 26 years to a woman who is an immigrant who's Hispanic from South America, right?

So that in itself is a different perspective.

I have two daughters. So raising girls, sometimes a little bit different.

I'm really a big believer in empowerment of women and women's causes, because I'm filled with a house full of women.

So I'm really proud of the fact that one of the things that I focused on with my girls was making sure that they were empowered, that they were strong and could speak for themselves and speak up.

And I think they've done that. One's graduated college a few years ago, and one of them's in college right now.

The other thing is one of my daughters is gay.

My oldest daughter is gay. So there's another perspective that kind of opens your eyes to life and experiences and her journey.

And another kind of odd scenario in all of it is we're a Jewish family.

So there's a lot there that kind of gives me perspective on the world.

And it's a funny story. I'll tell you something that I've always said, which is when I travel around the world or I travel around the country, you meet a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds.

And as you know, if you're of a minority or in an environment that you're unsure of, you know, a lot of people sometimes have off -color jokes.

So you never know. It's kind of this funny little weird thing where I kind of have three or four things that can absolutely insult me just based on my background and my family.

So I'm always kind of sitting there going, well, when's the first one going to come out?

You know, when's someone going to insult me in one of four ways?

I love that story. And it's perfect.

I can I can understand why it makes you aware. It makes you knowledgeable.

And it makes you someone who can really empathize with other people because of all those experiences that you've had.

I love it. That's such a good story.

Yeah. And coincidentally, my dad grew up in a household with four daughters and my mom.

So five women. So he beat you up by a little bit. But I know. Yeah, he had his own set of challenges, you know, kind of navigating through that experience.

So I can hear you. Tell me a little bit about, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Obviously, it's like something deeply personal and individual. You know, it's like everyone experiences it a little bit different.

But I'm curious because I'm a firm believer that it's being an ally, embracing diversity and equity inclusion is important for business.

And I'm kind of curious kind of how you see that.

Like what's your perspective in terms of why is it important for business and why is that?

Why is it important? Yeah, I think it's important for business in a lot of ways.

I think, you know, certainly studies have shown that the more diverse your organization, the more you have people coming from different backgrounds, different environments, different life experiences, whether it's gender, sexual orientation, you know, parts of the world, that richness of experience really adds to what an organization can really live up to from its fullest potential.

You know, it's, you know, you need to look around the room sometimes and recognize that, you know, you know, to your point, being a white cis male, you know, is the room look like me or should it really reflect what is the environment, the environment we sell to the environment that we socialize in, we work in.

And that's something that's important. I think, you know, from a standpoint of being in a leadership position, I think, you know, in many ways, I have an obligation to try to make sure that the organization does truly reflect the real world.

You know, the other thing is in Silicon Valley, you know, we have a tendency sometimes to think that it's, you know, that that's really not happening, or we believe maybe it is happening to a degree that it isn't.

If we look at our board, if we look at other companies boards, I mean, that's a great example.

And there's a lot of initiatives today that are driving inclusion, diversity amongst boards.

And I think, you know, in a leadership position, you have a responsibility to really kind of step back, kind of have a perspective, listen and see other views and other viewpoints.

I've always been a big believer that when you hire, you want to hire people that bring a richness of perspective, and that's going to make you a much better organization as a whole.

And that's what I think we strive for here.

And that's what I've always tried to strive for in any position I've had in any organization.

Yeah, that makes total sense. I hear a lot of the comments that you said are really important.

In terms of like the board management team, you know, the teams at large, they need to reflect like, like you said, real life, like what's really happening out there.

Um, well, and kind of as a follow up to that, though, so, so, you know, you, you arguably are someone who can really influence, you know, what happens, what takes place, especially in the East region.

How do you feel like, what, what are some things that you've done?

Or how have you influenced others as it relates to embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, understanding how important it is seeing the value, you know, bringing it to the business?

So So what are some things you've done? Or how have you influenced even other mindsets?

I think it starts with leadership, by example, you know, I follow kind of a mantra of what they call servant leadership, which is trying to really serve my employees and be in a position where I listen more than I'm talking kind of understanding perspectives, communicate openly, I think we do that.

I think I encourage folks to be very open and communicate. If there's problems or issues, bring them to the table.

We have a very open door policy in regards to any issues or concerns.

I want to be able to encourage and create an environment where there's no shade, there's no ability to kind of, you know, people don't feel uncomfortable, you know, you don't want them uncomfortable, bringing a problem or an issue to bear.

And I think that's the environment we really want to foster continuously at all levels of the organization.

You know, I think what we've done in regards to hiring and looking at candidates beyond kind of what we traditionally in the IT industry have seen, opening up broadening that pool of candidates is something we've done.

I think our organization reflects that across the spectrum, whether it's gender or whether it's culture or race.

That's something that I think is really valuable.

So, you know, the hopes is that I sit back and I look at our, you know, we have a meeting that's an offsite and it's 50 people in a room and it really doesn't honestly reflect an environment that people are comfortable with, that people come to work and they know, you know what, this is a safe place for me to have a conversation.

I can have an intellectual disagreement.

But at the end of the day, it's someplace where I feel that this is an environment that embraces diversity inclusion.

And that's important because I think people want to work for organizations like that.

They want to work for leaders like that, people that drive that and care about that on a daily basis.


I know when we talked prior to today's interview, one of the things you told me is that it's your goal to create an environment where allyship is not even a question, which, you know, I really respect that as someone who's, you know, maybe not directly in your organization, but certainly indirectly part of your organization.

That makes me feel good. I wondered if you could talk about some, provide some other specific examples of how you're creating a culture on your team that allows, you know, that allows people to feel like, you know, maybe that they're going to have an opportunity to grow, that they're going to have an opportunity to have their voice heard, that people, you know, that you're going to be looking out for their best interests.

What are some other examples of things that you might be doing to foster that?

I think it starts with, you know, deeds in a lot of ways instead of just the words.

You know, I mean, we can, in a position of leadership, sometimes what happens is we kind of fall prey to, you know, what we say and people will just follow.

So there is some responsibility in all layers of the organization to make sure that we're actually doing things that are actionable.

So when I think about recruiting and opening up resumes and candidates to a more diverse pool, that's absolutely something we need to do.

When we think about our management and managers, we need to be able to have diversity in management so that folks that are in kind of whatever position they may be that's on a management level, feel that there is a path.

There is, it's open to them as well. You know, there needs to be an environment where you're, there's no barriers.

In essence, it's kind of, that's not even a thought, you know, someone is rewarded because the work they do, not because of who or what they are.

I mean, that's really kind of the best way to execute on that.

So I think there's, there's still more work to be done.

I think being an ally and supporting people's want and need to be active in these organizations and ARGs is important.

I think making sure that we, as an organization, you know, we think about when we get back to normal, you know, I was a big believer in having our organization be involved in charity events, raising money for a cause, volunteering time for a cause as a team.

You know, it brings the team together, creates an open environment, but it also allows us to really extend ourselves as an organization and individuals to being activists and engaging in causes as well.

So, so I think those are the things that we can do specifically.

And in the end, the goal is to make it an environment where we foster that continuously and people feel comfortable with that.

Yeah. I love this.

You know, I really appreciate you and the things that, you know, some of the statements you've made today, like are so important, you know, to hear from someone at your level, David.

So thank you for your candor and for your support. Like, you know, happy that, you know, someone like you is here with us.

I'm curious to know what kind of pushback you've received from your efforts.

So, so this is what you bring.

You bring this place where it's like, allyship is not even a question.

You know, people can be, can have their voices heard. We're going to support people.

We're going to, we're going to help build people's, you know, talent, you know, cultivate talent, whoever you are.

If you have talent, we're going to build it and we're going to cultivate it.

What kind of pushback have you received though, as you've been, as you've been, you know, doing that?

I don't know if I'd say I received pushback as much as I fear complacency.

Because I think we have a tendency to rally together with causes.

If we look at what happened with Black Lives Matters early in the year, there was a lot of activity, a lot of momentum.

And I think sometimes when it's not in the news cycle, we have a tendency to kind of sit back a little and say, you know, there's not a problem, or, you know, we did what we could do, or people's belief that, you know, if it's a point in time and there's action, that's enough.

I think there's, you know, I don't think I've experienced in my organization, people saying that, you know, they don't want to, you know, there are individuals that are not as vocal, you know, and candidly, there are individuals, diverse individuals in our organization, some of which have spoken up very actively.

And some of that, some of that I've actually spoken to one on one, who feel that, you know, it's very important to them, but they don't, they're, that's not their personality.

They're not a outward motivated activist in that way.

You know, I think the outreach is really important to really understand someone's personal perspective on it, too.

Now, there's certainly no room for things that are, you know, unequal, things that are unacceptable, things that, you know, support anything that's, you know, a lack of equity.

And that behavior is never tolerated. You don't want to be in an organization where someone really has a feeling that this is not, this is an environment that, you know, is too progressive from that standpoint.

You know, you can be, you know, you could be of a different opinion, but the reality is, you need to kind of think about it from our standpoint of, we need to continue to move forward.

Progress needs to happen. You know, I point out that we don't really, you know, we've made some progress, but there's a long way to go.

I mean, clearly we live in an environment in a world where there's still a lot of inequity, whether it's social, economic, political, there's a lot going on around the world that, you know, I think you can read any newspaper every day and see that it's happening.

Now, do I believe that we live in a society in this country that's a little bit better than most?

Yeah. I mean, I'm an individual that feels that, yes, in the arc of history, we're in a much better place than we were 20, 30 years ago, but we still have a lot of work to do.

And I think, you know, that's just a question of continuing to wake up every morning and thinking that, you know, we need to do a little bit better each day.

So, yeah, I appreciate your comments there.

One question that comes to mind for me, so I talked, you know, we talked a little bit about kind of where your position, which is like, this is what it is.

Nothing else is, there's not an alternative.

In other words, like, you know, there's not even a question about the kind of culture you want to cultivate on your team.

And then we talked a little bit about some people might not be as outspoken.

Everyone kind of, it's an individual choice.

It is very personal. I get that. I'm kind of curious to know from your perspective, a little bit about what you think Cloudflare is doing well in terms of creating, you know, so we talked about your team, but creating a larger team that creates space for everyone.

So what do you think Cloudflare is doing well?

And then maybe a little bit about where you think Cloudflare still can maybe improve a little.

Yeah, I think as a company, we are, we're self-aware, which is really important.

It starts there, really taking a look, stepping back and saying and recognizing, are we improving?

Are there areas to improve and what can we do?

And much of that leadership from the top is really important. You know, we work for a pretty diverse group of executives.

I think that helps a lot because you can, they can lead by example as well.

And I think that we do a really good job of creating an environment where people feel comfortable that they can participate in ERGs.

They could be active. They could be as much as they want or as little as they want.

There's not, there's very little or zero tolerance for a lot of things that, you know, you know, maybe in other organizations would be acceptable or at least wouldn't get addressed.

So I think that's important. So Cloudflare does that. And I think through the process that we've gone through the last few quarters, we're doing things around recruiting, trying to change the process itself on how we look at candidates, you know, how we evaluate resumes or individuals in career.

That's really important.

So recruiting and hiring, because, you know, you're only as good as the people that are within your organization.

So I think that's really important in continuing to encourage a safe environment, an open environment, and a communicative environment where people feel that they can talk openly, they can get involved, they can be an activist in certain areas.

So I think we do, we do really, you know, a very good job at that as an organization.

And I can tell you that over the course of my career, much of it in Silicon Valley, I think we do better than most organizations.

A lot of folks talk about it, but we actually do, and we follow through on a lot of these things.

And that's what I'm proud of, of being an employee at Cloudflare.

What could we do better is I think we can continue to drive this, to really, you know, make sure that we're not complacent, to make sure that, you know, every few quarters or every quarter, we're looking at it, you know, looking at the metrics.

How are we performing against our peers? How are we performing against the metrics that we've set?

And that's the thing that I think we could probably do a better job of is just making sure that, you know, my view in some ways, maybe just as a business mind is what gets measured, gets done.

So you really have to kind of see, are you moving the needle?

You know, are you increasing the pool of candidates?

You know, is your board and your executive team more diverse?

You know, are there more managers of diversity? Are there more, you know, people in different positions?

And are we gathering candidates from a better pool? And advancing too.

So it's, so, so tell me a little bit about that, your attitude towards advancing.

So a lot of people, when they talk about DEI, moving the needle are focused on recruiting, which is great because we got, we have to get like really good candidates in the door.

What is your perspective or what are some things that you do around nurturing and kind of taking care of talent, diverse talent once it's in the door?

So once people are here, what are some things we should be doing to make sure that those people succeed in advance?

I think a lot of it has to do with having folks involved in different parts of the organization, different meetings, different cross -functional teams, exposing individuals at different levels of the organization to different areas of the business.

It shouldn't be an organization where there's just one path up the ladder.

You know, there's, you're an inside sales, you're a field sales, you're a manager, you're a VP.

You know, you're in customer success and then you go into, you know, managing CSMs.

There needs to be an ability to expose individuals to other parts of the organization, other locations, even internationally.

I think we can do a really good job of making sure that we have people that can be exposed to different parts of the org because we don't want to make assumptions as leaders and as an organization that there's a natural path for an individual.

You know, you know, I almost take it from the standpoint of, you know, GE did this really well years ago, where they actually had people rotate in and out of theaters and businesses every two years.

Now, I can't speak to the diversity aspect of it, but that's a business item that you can address to really help give individuals at the most junior level and even at the most senior level exposure to parts of the organization and businesses and environments and cities that they may not have even thought of at some stage of their career.

I'm a plus one on that one. I really like that idea.

I think I would love to go open up the office in Tahiti, but I don't know if we have one.

That's great. So I love this. I love that we're having this conversation.

I wish I could have this conversation with so many more people.

So I want to ask you, you know, we talked a little bit about people saying, you know, I value diversity, equity, and inclusion, but I don't like talking about it too much.

It's not my thing. How do we invite more folks into the conversation? I do think it's important when we don't talk about it, it kind of creates a little bit of like a space where maybe people feel like, well, if we're not talking about it, what does that mean?

So I guess, you know, I want to encourage everyone to dip their toe in and maybe, you know, dip their foot in and maybe, you know, kind of eventually kind of go all in.

So how do we start getting people to even take that first step?

What are some things you recommend? Yeah, I think it's a delicate balance. Like I said before, you don't want to force people.

You want to pull people along, right?

You want to make sure that you're respectful of the fact of how people's personalities are and how active they would like to be.

You want to be able to open things up so that it's available and everybody is aware that this is available to them.

And I think you'll see, you know, people take on things that they may not have done before by having organizations and having ERGs and having events and having activities.

So people feel like there's a different mix of things that they can participate in.

You know, one may be listening in on something like this.

One may be an active member or, you know, someone who started a group like you did.

You know, the spectrum is wide in regards to people's ability and want and need to satisfy their own personal desires about how active they do want to be.

But I think the onus is on us as individuals and organization to open up avenues for them, different types of avenues and activities.

It can't be single-threaded, can't just be a chat group.

It has to really be a lot of different things that people can kind of investigate on their own.

And when they're comfortable, they'll join to the capacity that they want to.

But I think in general, when you're moving the organization in this direction where it's more open and inclusive, you're going to get people just by the nature of it to feel more comfortable anyway in an organization like this than you would in an organization that wasn't as open.

Yeah, I like that. So lots of variety, you know, continuing to, I think also personal invitation is really important.

So that's one that I like to focus on is like, you know, I, you know, of course there's like kind of general invitations that go out to people, but I like personally inviting people.

And I'm glad I personally invited you to do this because it's been a good conversation.

Unfortunately, it's almost over. So I'm going to try and sneak in some quick questions.

I'm calling them the lightning round, and I hope that this is something we could include in all of our segments.

So my first question for you in the lightning round is, which female leader, either inside or outside the industry, do you look up to?

So I would say Christine Lagarde, who for some of you don't know, she is the head of the European Union Central Bank.

One little tidbit is that I'm a little bit of an economic and geopolitical nut.

So I follow a lot of these things. And she's amazing. Very, very bright woman's been in the industry for many years, leading a very diverse group of states through financial crisis and other, you know, general financial problems.

So she's very impressive. You have a chance to look her up and see her speech is really an amazing.

And what's her name again? Christina, you said? Christine Lagarde.

Okay, we're gonna look her up after this. Okay. Who has taught you the most about what it means to be a good ally?

So that's an easy one. And I could say my wife, but I would say also my daughters, my daughter.

Yeah, the reason why my daughters is because, you know, my wife and I are of the same age.

And, you know, we've been through our share of experiences as well.

And, you know, I can't hurt her perspective of what she's been through is very different than how I grew up, right, as an immigrant, as a Hispanic woman.

But my daughter's really, you know, they're, they're growing up in a very exciting time, and a very interesting time, and their ability to open my eyes and, you know, teach me how to be more empathetic and understand the acronyms that I didn't know when I was younger, and all those things that, you know, I think make you more empathetic and open minded and really understand the world from a different perspective.

I applaud them. Go David's daughters, you guys.

Awesome. I'm really good for them. So this next one is a fill in the blank.

It takes blank to be a good ally. Empathy. I think that is probably the most important thing.

I mean, you really need to it's, it's the classic, you have to kind of walk in someone else's shoes, you have to see things from their perspective.

And I'm a big believer that you do have to listen a lot more than you talk, because you really have to understand how people's what what influences someone had in their life, and what really made them who they are, to be able to have the conversation, and a really rich conversation.

Yeah, listening and sitting with the discomfort, because there is going to be a little discomfort that might come with that listening.

But I love that. That's so key. Yeah, we're all false.

Can anyone act as an ally to others? Well, yes, and no, that's absolutely true.

But I would say someone who's a diehard racist, probably no. Which is an easy answer.

But yeah, I think anybody can act like an ally. You know, I think, you know, we have to be careful of people that are ignorant and don't want to listen and just, you know, promote falsehoods.

I mean, that's a different kind of scenario.

And I think that's tough one. Okay. Yes, anybody can be an ally. We have 25 seconds.

Can you name three ERGs at Cloudflare, David? Yeah, Afroflare, Latinflare, Proudflare.

I'd even throw in Judeoflare. I mean, all the ones that I've been involved with.

Excellent. You passed the lightning round. Well, with that, we want to thank everyone for coming today.

Thank you, David, for kicking us, helping us kick off the show, being part of our first segment.

And we're going to be back next week.

So we hope all of you will join us. Take care, everybody. Thanks for having me.

Take care.