Rachel Spivey, google, women of power tech,

Rachel Spivey, Founder Of Google’s Stay And Thrive, Opens Up About Her Self-Starting Journey

At BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Women of Power Tech, Rachel Spivey, director of Stay and Thrive (Retention and Progression) at Google, shared with an ambitious audience that her 13-year journey was a slow, steep climb with twists and turns. But she channeled her passions and allowed them to speak for the leader within her.

On Sept. 27, the pioneering Googler dedicated her morning on the technology giant’s 25th anniversary to grace us with the space and opportunity at the inaugural in-person tech conference for women. She led us on a wild, self-starting exploration of her career at the place where she’d grown from an L2 employee to founding the retention and progression program. BE Deputy Digital Editor Selena Hill moderated the captivating conversation.

Spivey admitted to the audience that she wasn’t happy during her first five years at Google. “What lifted me up is that I had a couple of people pour into me at the right moment,” she said, adding that “finding your people and your place soon” is vital for your mental health.

Since then, Spivey has walked in her power, using her voice for passionate change and empowering all Googlers and women in tech to stay and thrive. Today, she oversees her department to ensure retention and progression rates are at parity across the company.

When there is passion, promotions come later.

“I always had a voice,” Spivey recalled about the lessons she had learned from navigating her first-ever corporate culture. “Once I learned how to combine my voice with the right moment, things really took off.”

She continued: “I did stop chasing promotions a long time ago, and they started following me.”

A pivotal moment for Spivey occurred in 2013 when Trayvon Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and acquitted of manslaughter. “I decided I wanted to do something,” she said. She leveraged her resources to spearhead a “hoodie march” during Google’s all-hands meeting on its TGIF stage. This solidarity moment sparked Google’s investment in racial justice efforts.

As Google began to increase HBCU engagement, Spivey, a proud Hamptonian, found her lane by following her desire to share a unique perspective as a marketing student at Hampton University. She devoted the last 11 years to the diversity team, which would propel her journey to help underrepresented Googlers and beyond find their happy place.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Black Enterprise (@blackenterprise)

Lean in instead of backing down.

From working with challenging peers and partners to speaking up in meetings, Spivey acknowledged that one of her biggest challenges is how people respond to her. “I find that just creating a personal connection with them and trying to also understand the climate around them” is useful, she said. “Instead of backing away, I lean in.”

As a Black director, Spivey was proud to announce that her powerhouse team of people of color makes a difference in progression. Google is now standing at an average of 86% retention rate.

“Over time, we see that it really makes a difference in terms of representation, not just to bring people in but to make sure that they’re staying,” Spivey said. “We stay with them until it is resolved.”

Why does it matter? Generational wealth matters.

“The Google stocks that I have been granted have not only changed my life. It’s changed my immediate family’s life. It’s changed my extended family’s life,” she explained. “And we get to help Googlers stay and start creating generational wealth.”

RELATED CONTENT: Women Of Power Tech 2023