When I joined Micron a little over a year ago to lead our Manassas manufacturing fab, I was excited about the state of our technology and the investments we were making to grow our status as a world-leading provider of memory and storage solutions for all. But I was equally excited about the tremendous opportunity I saw for us to invest in our communities. Manassas is home to a diverse mix of people — so many talented women, people of color, veterans and more. I saw enormous potential for us to tap into this diversity, not just for recruiting but also for learning and growing as a company.
This Black History Month, which ended Feb. 28, I had the chance to reflect on the promise and potential that so inspired me. I’m one of the executive co-sponsors of Micron’s Black Employee Network (BEN) employee resource group (ERG) — my co-sponsor is our CEO, Sanjay Mehrotra, which is a testament to his personal commitment to fostering inclusion.
In my career, I’ve seen a lot of Black History Month observances. Too many only touch the surface — a company event in the cafeteria with food, T-shirts and some sort of cultural celebration. Such events are fun, but our team members also need to feel seen, especially when issues outside work affect how they show up at work. Awareness months like Black History Month provide opportunities to discuss issues openly and vulnerably, and to create a common understanding that connects us, builds empathy and enables us to truly act as one — both at work and in how we engage the communities where we work, live and play.
I’m proud that this Black History Month, team members at Micron engaged in some of these hard conversations. I had the honor of hosting a discussion with poet, activist and professor Nikki Giovanni, who fostered a lyrical and moving dialogue about what ties people together. “Being on Earth is a responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to get rid of the fear,” she shared.
Notably, this event was sponsored by multiple teams across Micron, including our Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) team, BEN, our Micron Women’s Leadership Network ERG and our Tenured and Experienced at Micron ERG. It was one of many other joint events held this month, from a panel discussion about Black and Asian solidarity that we jointly offered with Flex, to an enlightening discussion about being Black and a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Idaho. These events demonstrated that Black history is American history — it’s all of our history.
I’ve seen firsthand how this shared understanding empowers Micron to show up differently in our communities. In this past year, Micron has invested in a 6,000-square-foot cleanroom at Norfolk State University, a public historically black university located three hours from our Manassas site. Our partnership with NSU has so far resulted in 50 hires from the university. It’s also created opportunities to partner with other universities in our region, from other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) like Virginia State, North Carolina A&T and Howard University, to non-HBCUs such as George Mason University and our local community college in Manassas, Northern Virginia Community College.
As Micron extends its footprint into the southeastern United States through our new design center in Atlanta, we can build on the activities and lessons we’ve learned here in Virginia. The talent opportunity in Atlanta and across the Southeast is immense, and we aren’t the only ones who see the opportunity in that region. It’s competitive, but fortunately we have some strong relationships and experience from the other areas in which we operate around the world that can inform our efforts in Atlanta.
I was excited that several of our leaders attended a high-profile event on Feb. 24 hosted by Clark Atlanta University. Speakers detailed the importance of fully funding the CHIPS Act and investing in STEM education to build the talent pipeline our industry demands.
I’m gratified that Micron is leading the way in its commitment to DEI, and I’m eager to see what strides we make in my second year with the company.