Building Inclusion: Ruby Sherman is proving there’s a place for everyone in tech

When faced with a new situation, sometimes our response is to shrink ourselves, minimize our personality or style to fit in, and make less waves. Ruby Sherman has the opposite advice and the experience to back up the claim that disruption leads to progress, especially in the tech world. As a Senior IT Group Manager

When faced with a new situation, sometimes our response is to shrink ourselves, minimize our personality or style to fit in, and make less waves. Ruby Sherman has the opposite advice and the experience to back up the claim that disruption leads to progress, especially in the tech world.

As a Senior IT Group Manager of Tech 4 Intuit and site co-leader of the Intuit Latino Network, Ruby offers her insights on how supporting diversity leads to more creativity and accelerates innovation.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Intuit.

I am Native American, Mexican and Jewish and the first and only person in my family to get a degree. After school, I moved to San Francisco, where Intuit recruited me from my previous position. I had a specific set of customer service skills they were looking for when they wanted to bring their Intuit service desk back in-house. Eventually I became the manager of the team and now I’m a group manager in the department that I started in.

Intuit aspires to be a workplace built on diversity, equity, and inclusion. How have you seen that play out in your time here?

What was cool to me when I joined was that there were other women on the team. It felt good that I wasn’t going to be the only girl for once. Plus the fact that all the women were diverse and our manager was also a woman. I’d never had a female manager in IT.

Also, it’s nice to see that diversity goes beyond our skin and what we look like to include the interests that we have. People are really open to talking about the different things they like. There are a lot of community groups out at Intuit, I know I’ve personally started a few, and made a lot of friends through that as well.

What does, “Bringing your whole self to work mean to you?”

One of my favorite things about Intuit is that being different feels like my superpower. I’ve always been a nerd, asking a lot of questions, and I grew up being bullied for it. At Intuit, I’m valued for what makes me different for the first time in my life. It makes me feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.

I don’t have to waste time or energy putting on a facade. Growing up, I heard you shouldn’t get tattoos, because no one will want to hire you. Or you should dress more feminine, because people will think you’re more approachable. At Intuit, I can be myself– have tattoos, dress in gender nonconforming style, wear my baseball cap and sneakers, and still be successful.

Now my mom always says, “Wow, you really found your place. All these things I thought would be barriers for you are what makes you successful at your job,” and that feels really good.

What inspired you to take on the leadership role that you have with the Intuit Latinos Network (ILN)?

When I became a manager, I had an employee who was really passionate about the Intuit Pride Network and wanted to take on a global leadership role. I saw firsthand how much value that added to her life.

A couple of years later, I moved to San Diego but didn’t really know anyone. I thought joining the Intuit Latinos employee resource group (ERG) would be a great opportunity for me to get to know other people at the Intuit office. Plus the fact there is so much Latin culture– we’re literally right on top of Mexico. When the previous ERG site leader left, I decided to apply. It’s been one of my favorite things I’ve done at Intuit.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to be an ally to the ILN?

If we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s that most of us surround ourselves with people who are like-minded. And so when you’re trying to amplify certain causes or make change, it can be harder if you’re living in a silo.

There isn’t anything specific that a network is expecting from an ally joining, other than to learn what you want from it and celebrate our culture with us. I think that’s the way that the world improves.

Don’t go in with the mindset of looking for differences. Once you start to connect to cultures, you realize at the human level, we’re all aligned. You start to see yourself in other people’s culture and values which builds respect and empathy.

What does celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at work mean to you?

I feel like the way Intuit has been working to celebrate the month, by highlighting all different parts of Latin culture, really represents the chosen theme of Unidos We Grow. We’re tapping into all the different places that fall under this ‘Latino’ blanket.

Some companies try to narrow it down to one, like “Oh, you’re Latino, it’s all the same thing.” That is where I find this theme to be really impactful. There is a feeling that Intuit cares about us as people, because they want to amplify our voices and celebrate our unique cultures.

Even within the broader Latin landscape, there can be a lot of animosity toward each other. And I think that’s something that has to break, because it’s actually like, “Hey, we’re all stronger as a united front.” And so this theme shows how we can celebrate the differences of our Latin cultures and how we move together forward. That’s very special to me.

What’s one piece of career advice that you’d give Latinos looking to develop their careers in the tech industry?

There’s a couple things I would tell anyone looking for a career: don’t be afraid to be the only person who looks like you in a space. Along with that, don’t short yourself in those environments. I didn’t see a lot of Latino women in tech and you still don’t. But there are awesome Latinas doing great work in this space. They just might not be as visible, but we have the opportunity to keep pushing that forward.

In our culture specifically, a lot of what we learn is to fit in. We’re taught to figure out how to make yourself invisible to the point where you don’t create any disruption.

What I would say to that is– disrupt. Go in and disrupt, because that’s how real innovation happens. It’s not from standing on the sidelines and following along. It’s scary, but I think it’s the most invigorating thing about being in tech. This industry is built on innovation and disruption.

And if Latinas and Latinos can have the, I’m going to use a Jewish word now, the chutzpah to just really put themselves out there, no one will be able to stop us. Go in there and be authentically you. Your superpower, or value, is tied into your unique perspective and the problems you know how to solve.

What are your thoughts on representation and inclusive hiring?

As Intuit has learned to understand more of its customers and lean into the Design for Delight (D4D) mindset, we’ve also applied that internally.

We’ve had new trainings, like overcoming unconscious bias or exploring the data-driven value of diversity. We’ve seen that our highest-performing teams are successful and do really great work because they’re powered by diverse mindsets, backgrounds, and cultures.

In regards to hiring, if a people manager is saying “I can’t find women or anyone from an under-represented group for my team,” you’re not finding them because they don’t exist. They exist, but you have to be very intentional about identifying what you’re looking for. If you keep getting resumes that don’t look like what you want, be comfortable enough to push back and ask for more diversity. These candidates exist in the world. They’re out there, I’m out there. We exist out there.

Grow your career as a disruptor

At Intuit, supporting diversity and inclusion is how we bring different voices to the table—with the focus of solving our customers’ greatest challenges. We’re passionate about making sure that everyone can show up as their authentic self at work. Through Employee Resource Groups like the Intuit Latino Network, we’re able to grow as a team and a company.

Get more info about our ERGs and the people who lead them in Building Inclusion:

How Eleanor Harvison is connecting the next generation of talent in the workplace

A spotlight on George Kousouros, global leader of our Pride employee resource group

If you’re looking for an inclusive workplace focused on creating innovative solutions that power prosperity around the world, visit our careers website to learn more and apply for open roles.