Cynthia Owyoung: Diversity and Inclusion Deliver Real Results. But Have We Made Progress?

The data show that diverse leadership teams and inclusive cultures deliver better performance and engagement. So why are so many diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives stalling out? My guest today, Cynthia Owyoung, shares where mistakes are being made and whether public pledges of anti-racism support and proposed changes to corporate culture have made a difference. We discuss what brought Cynthia to this work and how her experiences as a Chinese-American shaped her perspective. We also talk about the real-world challenges of DEI initiatives she outlines in her book, why change is hard even with good intentions, and the backlash certain company leaders have publicly had against DEI initiatives. We also explore whether the public commitments made after George Floyd’s 2020 murder have really made a difference to corporate culture

To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at

Key Takeaways:

  • Be the person who opens the doors to opportunities for others.
  • We are all human. Most humans are not able to compartmentalize life events from work. Leaders need to acknowledge that and not be afraid to have the tough conversations.
  • You need to keep your DEIB long-term goals in mind as you make the smaller, everyday goals. Without that, you will sabotage your DEIB goals without meaning to.

“It takes commitment and discipline. A lot of people can be committed, but they don’t necessarily follow through with the discipline to implement. That’s where it all can fall down because strategies are nothing without action.” —  Cynthia Owyoung

References Mentioned:

About Cynthia Owyoung, Founder, Breaking Glass Forums, Author of All are Welcome

Cynthia Owyoung is the author of All Are Welcome: How to Build a Real Workplace Culture of Inclusion that Delivers Results, a playbook for driving progress in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) inside organizations. She has established and led DEIB initiatives for 20 years as an executive at organizations across tech, media and financial services, including Robinhood, Charles Schwab and Yahoo!. In addition, Cynthia founded Breaking Glass Forums, a boutique agency developing strategies to accelerate diverse leadership and inclusive organizations. Entrepreneur Magazine recognized Cynthia as a 100 Women of Impact in 2021.

Prior to her work in human resources, Cynthia built a decade-long career as a Brand Strategist for leading global brands and advertising agencies, developing campaigns for Microsoft, Levi Strauss, and Apple. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for AbilityPath, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering people with special needs to achieve their full potential. She earned an MBA in organizational behavior from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and Bachelor’s degrees in marketing, finance and psychology from UC Berkeley.

Connect with Cynthia Owyoung

Breaking Glass Forums:




Her book: All Are Welcome: How to Build a Real Workplace Culture of Inclusion that Delivers Results, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and

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