Amazon is celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing women who are embracing—and creating—equity. Our #SheIsAmazon series spotlights women at Amazon who have pushed past barriers to achieve their dreams while lifting up others along the way.
In the fourth installment in the series, we introduce CaSondra Devine, who leads supplier diversity and inclusion for Amazon’s Global Procurement Organization. She is also an educator, breast cancer survivor, and advocate for people who are not at the table.
Tell us about yourself and your role at Amazon.
I’m currently the head of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion (SD&I) for Amazon’s Global Procurement Organization, in support of Worldwide Stores. I grew up in a small town and witnessed the power of small businesses helping communities thrive. I have a passion for making a difference, and I am fortunate that in my work at Amazon, I have the opportunity to create positive impact for the global communities in which we operate. I am responsible for leading the creation and execution of a SD&I strategy that acts as a driver for economic impact locally. Our team aims to build a more diverse network of suppliers through increased utilization, development, and scale of small and diverse-owned businesses.
The theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. What does that mean to you?
After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis, I experienced firsthand the high medical costs for care. The cost for immune system boosters, required after each of my chemotherapy treatments, was in the thousands. Fortunately, my medical insurance covered most of the costs. My husband and I learned that those without quality insurance did not receive the boosters and were at risk for exposure. That day reaffirmed my commitment to fighting for fairness for all people.
So “embracing equity,” to me, means understanding that we do not all start from the same place. Each of us has a role to play in meeting people and communities where they are and providing additional resources where needed to address imbalances. It is doing mission work in South Africa with my church and dedicating wells for clean water; donating Kindles to the school district due to lack of access to books; and housing an exchange student. It is implementing a funding strategy to support a nonprofit facility for women in transition, and creating a disability etiquette toolkit for community awareness and engagement. It is housing and supporting a high school student with the necessary resources to get into college, and donating to social justice initiatives. We cannot exist by turning our heads away from the people who need us most. We must do our part to raise the bar and make the world we live in fair for everyone.
What advice would you like to share with women and other people reading this story?
When you are pushed outside of your comfort zone, or have to deal with a challenging conversation, it can be difficult to feel confident. My advice is to be courageous and lean into fear—regardless of what others or the negative voices inside of you may say. Even if you fall the first time, do not be afraid to get back up. Recognize and embrace the feeling, and believe in yourself. You will accomplish your goal and be well positioned for future endeavors.
Who is the woman or person you look up to most?
The person I look up to the most is Dr. Mabel Phifer. She is the epitome of a leader and most exemplifies what this month stands for. She is currently the chairperson and CEO of the Center for Leadership, Development, and Research. She is a respected women’s rights and community leader with a career that spans over 63 years in higher education, fundraising, telecommunications, and institutional advancement. It goes without saying that many look up to her and have benefitted from her leadership practices and wisdom. I have long admired the way she encourages others to develop and bet on themselves, and to become a force for good in the community. She is a mentor, friend, advocate, and someone who gives sound advice. Our deep, meaningful conversations always leave a lasting impression.
How would you like the world to see you?
At the core, I am an educator and someone who genuinely loves people and wants them to succeed and be the best version of themselves. I do not meet a stranger, am trustworthy, dependable, and a champion for social causes. I see myself as a global corporate citizen who strongly believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. I am a leader who is smart, resilient, strong, and humble. I am confident but check my ego at the door. I lend my voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. I bring hope and a smile in the time of need. I am someone who wakes up every day with an aim to leave this world in a better place.
Learn more about how Amazon is celebrating Women’s History Month.