A Career in Compensation and Diversity
February 24, 2022
In honor of black history month, I interviewed Dana Hall of Designer Brands for the NASPP’s Equity Expert Podcast. We talked about her career in equity compensation, her leadership role in Designer Brands African American business resource group, and the NASPP’s DEI Task Force. Here are highlights from our conversation.
Everyone Has a Unique Career Path
I always like to ask people how they landed in stock compensation because it’s always an interesting story. None of us expected to be here. Dana has been with Designer Brands for 15 years; she started at the company just after their IPO, back when they were DSW. She joined as a compensation analyst, which gave her exposure to equity compensation. And we all know that once you work in equity compensation, you realize what a great career path it is. Dana is no exception; she has been in equity compensation ever since and is now the senior manager of compensation for Designer Brands.
One thing that is interesting to me about Dana’s career path is that she majored in human resources in college. When I was in college, I don’t think I knew that human resources was even a thing, much less a possible career.
Dana says she came to decide on human resources as a major through a series of internships, conversations with different professionals, and prayer. She had two internships: the first, in retail management, helped her narrow down what she was looking for in a career (including that she didn’t want to work weekends) and the second was in human resources, specifically in benefits.
Dana’s experience really shows the value of internships for college students. Not only did it expose her to what turned out to be a great career path for her, but some of the professionals that gave her career advice were people she met through her internships.
The Art and Science of Compensation
One intriguing point Dana made during our interview is that compensation involves both science and art. A lot of compensation involves working with data. This is certainly true for stock compensation. You are benchmarking your awards against the market, managing plan expense, calculating tax withholding, managing burn rates and overhang, tracking performance metrics—everywhere you look in stock compensation there are numbers and data.
But compensation is also really about people. You are making decisions about individuals’ livelihoods; it’s personal. With equity compensation, you have to understand how the plan supports the company’s business objectives and the potential wealth it creates for employees.
Designer Brands Business Resource Group
Dana currently serves as co-chair of Designer Brands’ African American business resource group, which focuses on building awareness of the uniqueness of Black culture and incorporating that awareness into what Designer Brands’ does as an organization, specifically with respect to talent, community service and philanthropy, and business endeavors.
Dana says that the BRG has been able to help develop programs to attract and develop talent within their organization. They’ve expanded Designer Brands reach to historical Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for recruiting and internships and also offer professional development programs, such as interviewing skills, resume writing, mentorship programs, and networking. They also have been able to tap into their Black associates to get them exposure to these areas and help them advance their career within Designer Brands.
Returning to the subject of internships, Designer Brands’ BRG has been able to partner with the company’s talent acquisition team to help them expand their search and participation in career fairs to HBCUs. They’ve also provided contacts for Black student organizations at colleges and universities where Designer Brands recruits, to ensure a more diverse slate of candidates for the internship program.
Dana’s Involvement in the NASPP’s DEI Task Force
Dana is one of the members of the NASPP’s DEI Task Force, which oversees our DEI Initiative. Her background with Designer Brands’ African American BRG brings valuable perspective and experience to the Task Force.
Dana says she was excited to hear about the NASPP launching a DEI Task Force. She sees the NASPP’s initiative as an opportunity to expose the world of stock compensation to a more diverse population. I agree that the NASPP could be a catalyst to increase diversity in our field; I think the NASPP could really have an impact on the profession.
Listen to the Podcast
Check out my full interview with Dana, including our discussion of the many shoe-related puns at Designer Brands.
The NASPP's DEI Initiative
Sponsored by Bank of America
Through our DEI Initiative, the NASPP leads in creating a diverse and inclusive environment in the field of equity compensation. We aspire to better reflect the diverse workforces we serve and foster fresh ideas and perspectives that are inclusive and representative of all.