DEI Beyond the Data: Interview with James Thomas

DEI Beyond the Data: Interview with James Thomas

The Strategic DEI Leader – Merging Head & Heart for Results

Diversio’s team sat down with some phenomenal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners from organizations of different industries and sizes to speak about DEI Beyond the Data. In these conversations you will hear from the people leading change in their organization, you will learn hands-on, tactful tips and tools, and you will be inspired to enact change within your organization.

In the first interview of this series, we have a candid and informative conversation with James Thomas. James is an incredible person and leads DEI at Alaska Air. James is a seasoned professional with over 22 years of leadership experience and over 13 years of leading DEI programs. His background spans fashion, food, wine, and now the airline industry. James joined Alaska Airlines as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion where he supports the Alaska Air Group, including Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines. He and his team play an important role in helping the company achieve their goal of building an airline people love by embedding inclusion and diversity throughout the company’s policies, programs, and practices to ensure that employees and guests feel safe, welcome, a sense of belonging, and a connection to the brand.

Now sit back, and be inspired by Jame’s experience with and passion for DEI discussed in the recorded interview Brooke Graham and James Thomas!

Meet James Thomas

Director Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Alaska Airlines

James is a seasoned professional with over 22 years of leadership experience and over 13 years of leading diversity and inclusion programs. His background spans fashion, food, wine and now the airline industry. James joined Alaska Airlines as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion where he supports the Alaska Air Group which includes Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines. He and his team play an important role in helping the company achieve their goal of building an airline people love by embedding inclusion and diversity throughout the company’s policies, programs and practices to ensure that employees and guests feel safe, welcome, and a sense of belonging and connection to the brand. Alaska recently announced bold goals to create a more inclusive workforce by 2025 which James’ role will be critical in leading.

James transitioned to Alaska from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates where he served as their first Director of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, supporting a collection of wineries across California, Oregon and Washington. Before Ste. Michelle. James worked in multiple roles for Starbucks. First, as a District Manager leading a portfolio of stores in the downtown Seattle market, and then as a Senior Manager of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility programs. In this role he supported the company’s U.S. retail business which included over 18,000 stores and 187,000 employees. James’ primary role was to operationalize and implement the company’s inclusion and diversity strategies throughout the retail business to create a more inclusive environment for both customers and employees.

Prior to Starbucks, James spent 20 years at Nordstrom in multiple roles that included being a Store Manager, for both The Rack and Full Line divisions, and ten years in the diversity and inclusion division, five leading the company program.

James is a Cornell University certified diversity professional and has his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a graduate degree in Legal Studies from Arizona State University.

He has served on several nonprofit boards that include Seattle Goodwill and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, Choices Education Group, and currently serves as a board member for City Year King County.

In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, hiking and riding his motorcycle.

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