Change Catalyst: Armor Hero Cheryl Gant
For Armor Hero Cheryl Gant, diversity and representation has always been important. And though she has followed an unconventional path into her technology career, this Armor Hero has made herself at home and taken up the call to help move Armor’s diversity and inclusion efforts onward and upward.
As Lead Scrum Master, Cheryl embraces her diverse role, acting as facilitator, motivator, and coach to her team. With a host of coaching and a CSM certification under her belt, and a background in project management, Cheryl’s six years at Armor have given her room to maximize her professional opportunities.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps into corporate and be a sales and marketing executive. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.”
Cheryl thought about journalism as well and even earned a degree in graphic design. But after a job referral landed her in the tech industry, she has not looked back. After spending 15 years working as a customer experience manager and an IT manager for an IT outsourcing company, Cheryl came to Armor after being referred by another Hero.
“Coming from a company with 10,000 employees, Armor was a huge change, but challenging in a good way,” she said. “And I feel good about where I am in my career.”
The number of opportunities at Armor has long been celebrated as one of its greatest benefits. And though the tragic, high-profile death of George Floyd happened nearly 1,000 miles away from Armor, the effect it had on Cheryl made way for an opportunity for Armor to re-examine it’s diversity and inclusion efforts and put a plan in place to give all Heroes a voice.
“The anger, the hurt – I watched the video in disbelief,” she shared. “Between meetings, I was crying. It was not a productive week. But something came to me and I reached out to Heather on our HR team.”
In reaching out to Heather, Cheryl found an ally who listened and was understanding. After more discussions, Cheryl voiced that she wanted to be a catalyst for change and work to change the culture at Armor to one that would be open to being more accepting and bringing awareness to social issues.
“I had to come into work and be in an environment where people didn’t understand why I was angry. Who still felt like everything is justified. I was getting into heated discussions about incidents like these and I was not ok.”
The “change” that spurred from Cheryl’s outreach was the creation of Armor’s Diversity and Inclusion team. Comprised of volunteer Heroes, the team has placed an emphasis on celebrating cultural differences and sharing diverse stories, while exploring training on implicit bias and diversity training. The group is also planning on more “Courageous Conversation,” a series of frank and supportive “safe place” discussions on social matters that impact Heroes’ lives.
The creation of the Diversity and Inclusion group is just a first step. But it is an important one that Cheryl sees as one of Armor putting support behind current Heroes and showing new ones that all are welcome to the company.
“Over the years, I have seen Armor’s shift in culture, and it tells me that they take diversity and inclusion seriously,” she said. “I’m grateful to see the progression because everyone needs access to opportunities and to be treated fairly. And we cannot remain silent, regardless of our gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Because what most of us will find, is that we’re more alike than different.”