Xiomara Wiley: Creating Universal’s Authentic Experiences
August 01, 2023
Xiomara Wiley is Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Universal Destinations & Experiences. As an active member of the Executive Inclusion Council, Xio aims to drive the culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion to strengthen the company’s senior leadership team. She provides key strategic initiatives including workforce planning, product development, and guest experience. Prior to this role, she held the positions of EVP, Sales and Marketing for Universal Orlando Resort and EVP, Sales & Marketing for Universal Studios Hollywood and has been with the company since 2009. Learn more about Xiomara in the interview below.
Q. Last year you were appointed EVP and Chief Diversity Officer. What drew you to this work and what is your vision for DE&I at Universal Destinations & Experiences (UDX)?
A. “Universal Destinations & Experiences has prioritized creating a culture that practices and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to be its first Chief Diversity Officer is an incredible honor. Creating this dedicated position shows the company’s commitment to DE&I and backs up our ambition to make UDX an employer of choice – an inclusive place where people want to come to work and are proud to work.
“From a personal perspective, I’m a mother of four, I’m Black and Hispanic. I was born in Jamaica and came to the United States as a baby, so I’m an immigrant. My own personal and professional experiences, as well as the ability to create meaningful change for all our team members, drew me to this work. Our vision for DE&I at UDX is to create and sustain an environment that enables team members of diverse identities to be their authentic selves, so they can contribute their best work and reach their highest potential. Ultimately, this will also drive engagement, innovation, and growth for our business.”
Q. What were some of your first steps to diving into the role?
A. “This specific role didn’t exist before me. There have long been DE&I efforts, but we are now a more senior, dedicated team. DE&I is a journey. One that we’re highly committed to. So, first and foremost, I had to gain alignment amongst our leadership teams. We needed to set the tone that leaders are accountable for creating our culture, living those values, and setting an example every day.
“Grounding leadership on some of our data was an important first step as well – benchmarking, conducting assessments, and researching across all dimensions of diversity. I’ve also spent invaluable time with DE&I leaders across the company like Dalila Wilson-Scott, Loren Hudson, and Craig Robinson as well as Comcast’s Corporate DE&I Advisory Council.”
Q. How important is identity in the workplace to you? And why?
A. “Identity matters greatly, and we should all strive to increase our competence in identities that are less familiar to us. It’s a critical component to great leadership. It’s so important to not only embrace but to encourage authenticity and to create an environment that enables it. Research in this space concludes that diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints lead to better outcomes and higher engagement. That’s wonderful and what we all need to strive for, but creating those environments requires intentionality and education for leaders. This continues to be a focus area of mine early in this role. I have personally learned a lot about identities less familiar to me in my first year, and this has presented opportunities for improving our business.”
Q. How does your team’s work translate to the guest experience at our theme parks?
A. “Our guests come from diverse backgrounds all over the world and we want to make sure each of them has an unforgettable experience every step of the way. We are developing strategies for greater representation in our experiences, so our guests see themselves reflected in what we deliver.
“For Pride Month this year, in both Orlando and Hollywood, we committed to donating 100% of the profits from our “Love is Universal” merchandise and apparel to local nonprofit organizations and their efforts supporting LGBTQ+ communities. This started in May and runs through the end of August and will result in more than $500,000 in donated profits.”
Q. What keeps you engaged at work?
A. “I love thinking about the possibilities to make our business better for the diversity of team members who work here and the guests who visit. It’s in those moments where a big idea or a thoughtful question opens a new line of thinking that really energizes me. I’m also enthusiastic about where our business is heading – it’s an exciting time at Universal Destinations & Experiences. In addition to becoming the employer of choice, we also aspire to be the destination of choice in each of our markets around the world – the theme park experience families know will bring them the thrills and shared memories they want. That takes a lot of work, but we’re a company that is pushing the boundaries of innovation while also focusing on the fundamentals of delivering a great team member and guest experience.”