[HR Daily Advisor]: The Evolution of a DEI Leader: Jasmyn Farris

Jasmyn Farris is Chief Operating Officer at iSeatz, a leading loyalty tech solution provider, and stands out for her extensive experience and innovative approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). With over 16 years of HR experience, Farris’s journey from the bustling streets of New York in financial services and non-profit work to the vibrant world of hospitality, and finally to the tech industry, is a testament to her adaptability and keen insight into organizational dynamics.

Farris’s career is marked by significant stints with food industry giants such as Danny Meyer, Chef Emeril Lagasse, and Burger King Corporation. Her role at iSeatz, the company she joined in April 2017, encapsulates her strengths and passions: organizational effectiveness, change management, strategic planning, and people operations.

She has not only built Centers of Excellence in these areas but also thrives as a business partner to cross-functional stakeholders, demonstrating a profound understanding of the intricate balance between employee well-being and organizational success.

Early Beginnings

Jasmyn Farris’s career trajectory is as diverse as it is impressive. “I began my career in financial services and nonprofit work before pivoting into the hospitality industry,” Farris recalls. Her journey in HR started as an operations, strategy, and marketing leader, collaborating with renowned figures in the food industry.

This diverse background laid a solid foundation for her current role at iSeatz.

Her time working alongside Chef Emeril Lagasse, a celebrity American chef, was particularly transformative, she says. “While working with Chef Emeril Lagasse, I was deeply inspired by his organization’s dedication to providing transformative employment opportunities to underserved residents of New Orleans,” Farris says. This experience instilled in her a fresh perspective on the multifaceted aspects of her career, shaping her approach to HR and people operations.

This blend of experiences across different sectors equipped Farris with a unique skill set and a broad perspective, crucial for her role in leading the people operations at iSeatz. Farris’s journey underscores the importance of diverse experiences in shaping a leader capable of understanding and addressing the varied needs of a dynamic workforce.

Stepping Into the DEI Role at iSeatz

Farris’s transition into her DEI, role at iSeatz was a natural progression of her career.

When the company formally established its DEI practice, she was already serving as the VP of People Operations. “DEI was clearly meant to sit within our overarching People Operations Center of Excellence, which is how I came to own the function,” Farris explains. This move was a significant step for iSeatz, marking the formalization of their commitment to DEI under Farris’s leadership. It was an opportunity for her to authentically build and grow the practice, with the full support and influence of the CEO and the energy of an engaged workforce.

Farris emphasizes the importance of this initiative being a new one for the company back in 2020, indicating a fresh and proactive approach to DEI. “While there were unofficial champions of this effort, this was a new initiative for our company,” she notes.

This pioneering role allowed Farris to shape the DEI strategy from the ground up, ensuring it aligned with the company’s overall vision and values.

Promoting DEI at iSeatz

Promoting DEI throughout iSeatz has been a multifaceted endeavor under Farris’s guidance.

One of the key strategies has been to actively seek and incorporate employee feedback into the company’s culture. “We have made major investments in collecting feedback on our culture from our employees,” Farris explains. This feedback informs a roadmap of initiatives that are transparently tied back to employee input, ensuring that the actions taken are relevant and impactful.

Farris and her team have also focused on fostering live interaction and informal communication pathways, including satellite roundups, companywide meetings, and team-building activities. These initiatives are designed to create a more inclusive and connected workplace environment. “Action-oriented feedback loops including Culture Roundtables, pulse surveys, employee engagement surveys, and stay interviews,” are among the tools used to gauge and enhance employee experience, according to Farris.

Moreover, iSeatz has instituted monthly virtual all hands meetings for business updates and special event celebrations, daily stand-ups, and biannual full company meetings onsite in New Orleans. These gatherings are crucial for maintaining a cohesive and informed workforce. The creation of a Culture Manifesto, collaboratively developed with a subset of the workforce, further solidifies iSeatz’s commitment to a unified and inclusive employer value proposition.

In these ways, Farris has been instrumental in embedding DEI into the fabric of iSeatz’s operations, ensuring that it is not just a policy but a lived experience within the organization.

iSeatz’s Unique Approach to DEI

Farris’s approach to DEI at iSeatz is distinguished by its intentionality and innovation. The establishment of the iSeatz iDeaz Committee, an employee led group, approximately three years ago, is a prime example of this.

Farris explains, “The iDeaz committee assists in shaping and developing the company’s DEI structure.” This committee is guided by core values such as intentionality, diversity, equity, accountability, and zeal. It plays a crucial role in establishing the company’s DEI mission statement and influences DEI programming and activities, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.

What sets iSeatz apart in the DEI area, according to Farris, is the belief that diversity enables excellence. “DEI is part of the company’s overall strategy for excellence and innovation,” she states.

This strategic integration of DEI into the company’s ethos is what differentiates iSeatz from its competitors, ensuring that diversity and inclusion are not just add-ons but integral to the company’s identity and operations.

Inclusive Culture Development and Hiring Practices

Farris emphasizes comprehensive training and support systems at iSeatz, including mandatory DEI training and ERGs. The iDeaz Committee collaborates with People Operations, integrating diverse employee perspectives into company policies and practices, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.

Under Farris’s guidance, iSeatz focuses on inclusive culture development through feedback, DEI audits, and employee-driven initiatives. The People Operations team aims to surpass tech industry benchmarks in diversity, prioritizing equitable demographic representation in their hiring process.

Under Jasmyn Farris’s stewardship, iSeatz has become a model for integrating DEI into every facet of its operations, setting a standard in the tech industry. Her strategic and inclusive approach has not only shaped the company’s culture but also influenced its hiring practices, ensuring a diverse and vibrant workplace.

Farris’s leadership demonstrates the profound impact of a dedicated focus on DEI, creating an environment where every employee feels valued and empowered. 

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