Candice Dixon | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Candice Dixon

Director of Development
NPower Command Shift Coalition

New York, NY

“Countless studies have shown that diverse groups of people who bring different and unique points of view, experiences and backgrounds, help a company, or an entire sector like PR, become more creative and innovative.”

A longtime nonprofit leader, Candice Dixon’s professional life is currently dedicated to diversifying the tech industry with Black and LatinX women, who hold only 5% of US jobs in the sector. To that end, Dixon helped develop and launch NPower’s Command Shift Coalition, a consortium of business leaders, corporations, nonprofits, and community organizations supporting the advancement of young women of color in tech, particularly those from underrepresented communities or non-traditional backgrounds.  

How do you define innovation? 
Innovation is a vital strategy in creating long-term solutions to help solve today's most pressing social issues, especially as it relates to under-resourced populations. 

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months? 
Digital resource hubs or toolkits that are rooted in research, informed by experts, and provide guidance to public and private sector businesses on helping to implement positive change that benefits society. 

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing? 
FINN Partners 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative. 
I helped to develop and launch NPower's Command Shift Coalition, a vision that became a national movement, supported by leading Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits, to help increase representation of women of color in tech. 

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
I admire women of color today who are changing the tech workforce landscape to be more inclusive of women of color, including Timicka Anderson, Co-Chair, Command Shift and Managing Director and Head of Consumer Products & Retail for Citi. I also admire all of our NPower graduates, many from under-resourced areas and without 4-year college degrees, who worked hard to change their lives through tech training, and today, they are working in good paying tech jobs that bring positive economic mobility to their lives and the lives of their families. 

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
I talk to my inspiring colleagues at NPower and Command Shift. I also read our groundbreaking research report, The Equation for Equality, Women of Color in Tech, to remind myself that today, there are 2.6 million women of color working in tech-similar jobs, and with more tech training, could transition into full tech jobs and the stability and security that they can bring. 

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
Innovation is rooted in diversity and inclusion. Countless studies have shown that diverse groups of people who bring different and unique points of view, experiences and backgrounds, help a company, or an entire sector like PR, become more creative and innovative. 

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
My passion has always been to innovate solutions that support and expand opportunities for under-resourced youth who are Black,Latinx and/or Native American and I would be working in a position that enabled me to do this. 

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year? 
I have always been inspired by Michelle Obama's books and I am looking forward to reading her latest one, "The Light We Carry." 

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve? 
I'd like to focus on work culture. Our work at the Command Shift Coalition is very focused on supporting the recruitment, persistence and advancement of women of color in the tech industry and in tech-enabled sectors. While hiring is a critical first step in increasing representation of women of color in tech jobs-- workplace cultures must change and evolve to support their retention and advancement. A few considerations on this front is to ensure managers and above are acting with intention and inclusivity to ensure people of color are receiving equal consideration for reviews, salary raises, bonuses and internal project opportunities, for example, that enable them to demonstrate their talent to a wider group of senior managers. It's equally important that workplace culture shifts to ensure that the perspectives and insights from diverse individuals are being included and integrated into work discussions, creative brainstorms and problem-solving opportunities equal to their peers. Finally, it's also imperative for workplace managers who aren’t individuals of color to create a culture where advocacy and allyship is prioritized across the enterprise. This must be a core principle of the company's commitment and put into action in an authentic way that delivers results. 

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion? 
Be innovative in thinking about the skills required for the PR and communications industry. Do all recruits need 4-year college degrees for all positions b/c this prevents many young people of color from consideration for entry level positions? We recommend strategies such as paid internships and/or apprenticeships where young people of color are able to learn about this sector while also getting paid and are also considered for salary increases and promotions over the long term. Supporting people of color through mentorship, internal advocacy and allyship are also imperative.