A Q&A with DE&I 101 Honoree Granite CEO Rob Hale

"I challenge us all, in the tech industry and beyond, to continue to be examples of that commitment to DEI," says Hale.

Raul Medina, National Relationship Development Manager

October 26, 2023

5 Min Read
Rob Hale DE&I 101 2023

Channel Futures has noticed. Forbes has noticed. Granite Telecommunications CEO Rob Hale is repeatedly recognized for being a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in tech. Granite’s many DEI initiatives and employee testimonies confirm Hale’s deep dedication to DEI as a priority in life and in business. Why does he believe so strongly in DEI? We went straight to the source to ask.

Q: Why are you so committed to DEI at Granite?

A: Making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work is ingrained in the fabric of Granite’s corporate culture. When everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential, we accomplish great things. That is true at Granite and in the community as a whole, but to be a force for good, it is imperative that Granite lead by example. This starts with embracing diverse perspectives and backgrounds and forever striving to be more inclusive and equitable. Granite would not be successful without its people, and I want to make sure every teammate understands they’re valued, welcomed and encouraged to celebrate their individuality. Our diversity and our wide range of experiences and viewpoints is what makes Granite a great place to work and a catalyst for positive change.

Q: Where do you see the greatest impact of Granite’s DEI efforts?

Related:2023 Channel Futures DE&I 101: Dedication, Determination and Drive

A: Returning to the idea of empowering individuals to reach their full potential and driving positive change, the impact of Granite employee resource groups (ERGs) cannot be overstated, particularly in their commitment to advancing Granite’s mission to better the community through philanthropy, volunteerism and community involvement. We have three main ERGs at Granite: CANDID, which stands for Community Awareness Networking Diversity Informational Development; WECAN for empowering women at Granite and beyond; and ROCKOUT for our LGBTQA+ teammates and allies. Despite their distinct focuses, each group shares a common commitment to creating a brighter future for all. This dedication is palpable daily at Granite through the multitude of fundraisers, events and initiatives organized throughout the year.

And, of course, the impact of Granite’s DEI efforts can be felt across our entire business, starting with our best-in-class team. Granite has always been committed to fostering the growth of our internal teammates. By creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive, we see greater employee engagement and loyalty, and it signals to new recruits that Granite is an environment where they are encouraged and supported in their pursuit of success. In doing so, we not only retain our top talent but also attract new, exceptional individuals to join our ranks, contributing to the ongoing innovation and success of our organization.

I pride myself on the strong sense of team that we’ve established at Granite over the years, made possible by a culture that embraces diversity of background, thought, ethnicity and perspective. This culture is not only vital to our success as an organization but also the broader community at large.

Q: Why should companies prioritize DEI?

A: I think the “why” is clear to most people, but many businesses struggle with the “how.” The only way for a company to really make DEI a priority is to make it part of the company philosophy. Embracing diversity, ensuring equity and championing inclusion must be part of your mission and vision — not just a KPI on your to-do list. Get leaders involved. Put budget behind it. Then, act. Show, rather than tell, your team that DEI is a priority.

Q: How do you think Granite’s DEI efforts will evolve?

A: We will constantly evaluate, realign and recalibrate. Granite is dedicated to ensuring our teammates consistently feel valued both as individuals and as contributors to our shared success. Sana Sheikh, our chief people officer leading Granite’s DEI strategy, is diligently setting benchmarks and aligning our goals. Recognizing that DEI is inherently a people-focused initiative, we meticulously measure and monitor our progress in this area, treating it with the same rigor as any other critical business initiative. After all, our DEI efforts are an integral part of our broader business strategy

Q: What do you think about being called a DEI champion?

A: I’m honored to be recognized, but truth be told, we should all champion diversity, equity and inclusion every day. I was fortunate to have been influenced by great leaders before me, particularly in my family and in my local community.

I am also influenced by Granite’s champions of diversity and inclusivity. Over the years, there have been many who have left a lasting imprint. A few of our DEI leaders have passed and left a legacy that we honor by lending their names to initiatives that encourage others to follow their lead. For example, our former receptionist, Julie Epps’ commitment to inclusivity and serving others inspired the Julie Epps Service Award. Similarly, we pay tribute to Allison Ordway, one of our most successful sales reps ever, by naming our Pride Leadership award in her honor. Another significant figure is Danny Hernandez, after whom we named our internal job fair, owing to his remarkable career growth at Granite and unwavering support for his teammates. Each of these champions showed us in their own way what it means to stand up for diversity, equity and inclusion.

I’m continually inspired by our team and how diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced across all departments, locations and job levels. While my personal dedication to DEI is intrinsic, I understand the importance of consistently promoting these values to keep them at the forefront of our collective consciousness. I am encouraged by the active participation of our team members, making the commitment to DEI more organic. I challenge us all, in the tech industry and beyond, to continue to be examples of that commitment to DEI. Let’s hold each other accountable for fostering love, respect and service for all.

About the Author(s)

Raul Medina

National Relationship Development Manager, Granite Telecommunications

Raul Medina serves as chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for the company's LGBTQA+ employees and co-chair of the Granite Corporate Advancement Networking Diversity Inclusion and Development (CANDID) organization. The goal of both groups is for all Granite teammates to feel welcome and enjoy their work environment.

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