Thinking about a full-time career in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion? In this panel, you’ll hear the journeys of four current DEI practitioners and their unique paths into this career. We also discuss the transferable skills needed for a successful career and some of the highs and lows of being a DEI practitioner.
Andrea G. Tatum, CAPM 0:01
Hi, everybody who's just joining Welcome to those who are in the Bay Area, London, LA, New York. Kalamazoo, Chicago, Seattle. This is so exciting to have you all here with us. I'm going to go ahead and kick things off. It's just a little bit after after 10am my time. My name is Andrea G. Tatum. I use the pronouns she, her and her, I am based in the Bay Area. So hello to everybody who just popped in and said, You're from out here, I hope you all are doing well and staying safe. And, and I'm sure you all are thankful as I am that we have healthy air to breathe this week. I just want to first and foremost, say thank you to each of you all who taken time out of your day to be here to be a part of this, this is the first time that I am doing this type of event. And so you know, we're going to be hopeful that everything goes smooth and goes, Well, I'm playing it here. on my own. I'm used to having a crew when we do these events. But you know, if something goes wrong, if anything happens, please just rejoin if for any reason it hops off or shuts down. And we'll all just get right back on. So we are all working from home these days. We know how it goes. We just hope that that things go smoothly. I'm so I'm so thankful to my panelists for for being here with us today. I'm so excited for you all to hear their stories. The reason why I decided to do this panel was because nearly every day I found someone was coming into my inbox or reaching out via LinkedIn and asking me either How did I get into working into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? or How could they get into this? Because they were passionate about dei and and really wanted to have a career in this? And and to be honest, I didn't always have the answer for folks. And I was always a little bit overwhelmed because I didn't want to steer anybody in the wrong direction. Or I didn't want to just, you know, tell them that my story was the only path there. And so I came up with this idea that I wanted to get some folks together who are dei practitioners like myself to tell their stories. And then I'll tell you all a little bit about the end, at the end of this session, how I want to continue this conversation and opportunities that that I'm coming up with to help people who are really passionate about dei and believe that this is their purpose, get into it a little bit further. So with that being said, I would really love to you know, just start having an introduction from my panelists. You know, as I mentioned in my welcome, people often ask me, how, how did you get here? And and the answer is, there's no one path. There's no one journey to really get here. And each of us really has our own unique story. And so with that being said, I'd love to start with Sasha, if you could come off and tell us a little bit about your story, your journey to working in dei. Thanks, Andrea. Hi,
Sacha V.T. Thompson 3:39
everyone. My name is Sasha Thompson, my pronouns are she and her. My journey actually started back in undergrad. So I was a sociology major, and focused on cultural diversity and ethnicity. And really took a passion for understanding and learning different cultures. And so did that through my undergraduate degree, but also worked in Office of Multicultural Affairs on campus. And so really got exposed to other cultures, having conversations and heated discussions about people's experiences on campus, right. And it kind of started there. And I think what was unique about that I went to the College of Lincoln, Mary. So we were right smack in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. And so having those conversations in Colonial Williamsburg added another layer to the conversation. So from there, I got a master's degree in education and stayed in the college campus space for a while still doing diversity and inclusion in some aspect. But then realize how you read them really paint that well. So decided to look at other paths and went into the nonprofit space and work For the company that owns the G mat test, and so did diversity outreach for them for several years, where my focus was convincing undergraduates that while you're in testing mode to take the G mat, and so ended up drinking my own kool aid, and getting my MBA, and then getting into tech. And so spent a few years just learning tech marketing, I was doing marketing, no diversity and inclusion. But quickly came to realize, tech is probably one of the spaces where I do need to have conversations about diversity and inclusion. So then, you know, I did that for several years. And my last role was as an inclusion marketing manager at Amazon Web Services for several for a few years, until about a month ago, where I left and started branching out and now a managed my own company, which is a diversity consulting and coaching company called the equity equation. So very unique path here, but have been touching dei for nearly 20 years. And just love every aspect of it.
Unknown Speaker 6:13
I love it. Thank you so much, Sasha and tell me did you say this? Where are you based? Now?
Unknown Speaker 6:19
I am actually in the DC area. So I'm right. It's out right outside of DC in temple hills, Maryland.
Unknown Speaker 6:25
Awesome. Thank you for being here. Christina. I am I'm very lucky. So I had the opportunity to personally work alongside Christina. And I just love her journey and her story and her passion for this space. And so Christina, welcome. And tell us a little bit about you and your journey to dei.
Christina Tymony 6:46
Yes, thank you, Andrea, for having me here. And hello to everyone. I'm Christina Timoney. Based in Seattle, my pronouns are she and her. So yeah, just like everyone, I feel like my journey is a little unique. So I started off in school focused, originally, as a business student, and honestly just wasn't really passionate about a lot of the topics. I'm very much people driven. And, you know, I was having a conversation with my, one of my professors, and, you know, was kind of just laying out the fact that I'm in these classes, but I don't feel like I'm going to be able to make an impact the way that I would want to. And she steered me in the direction of indeed, industrial organizational psychology, right, and how you can take that pathway to get into HR. So I switched over. And, you know, it was amazing to see how different studies and research really could have an impact and driving organizations. When I first graduated from college, I went into the HR field, but kind of away from what I was studied and focused on because I graduated in 2008, when the economy crashed, so you know, he just kind of took a job, which I was very lucky and thankful to do. So I started off my career in HR in the benefits and payroll space. And then worked at Microsoft for a few years in benefits, but then left in a role that was l&d focus. So learning and development focused, and it was a little bit more of like a program, Associate Program Manager type role. And I left that position to become a recruiter. So I was actually recruited by a recruiter to join a recruiting agency focused on recruiting HR folks and talent and really just kind of fell in love with it, because it really got me back to why I went into HR, which was to connect with people. And in this instance, it was helping to connect people with great opportunities and great careers and great companies. So it worked in recruiting for a number of years. And in my previous organization, you know, I started to get more involved in the local DNI space here in Seattle. So just started going to events and, you know, started to go to my leadership to seek sponsorship opportunities where we could sponsor conferences, and we can show up in these spaces. And then my director at the time approached me with an opportunity to build out a diversity recruiting strategy for our Oregon. So naturally, I jumped at the chance because it's something I'm really passionate about. Because they're, you know, I looked around and I wanted to see more people, not that just looked like me, but that represented our wider communities. And just recognizing that there are different blockers and barriers in place. You know, it's a big passion of mine to be a part of helping to drive that change. So that's what I'm focused on. today. I'm currently at Tableau as a diversity recruiting Program Manager. And so this is a new role for organization and I'm focused on you know, building strategies and the thinking about how do we show up? Where do we show up? What processes are we driving internally to create a more equitable hiring process? So yeah, that's my that's my journey.
Unknown Speaker 10:10
I love it. Thank you so much, Christina. And Gary, I would love for you, you've got, like one of the most unique stories. So please share with everybody kind of how you've ended up where you are today. Yeah.
Gary Cooper 10:29
Well, literally I'm thinking Adria, like I'm literally here right now because of Sasha. Like, that's, we, we got to know each other and worked in similar roles at times, never on the same team. But But, but kind of cross pass a good bit. So I, I'm, I'm fortunate to be here. I appreciate being here. My name is Gary Cooper, he him pronouns. Like Andrea mentioned at the outset, I am so I'm from North Carolina. I live in Seattle currently. And I went to school and a small liberal arts college and in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Wofford college. So I guess the other piece that I would say, my journey to being here is to say that I'm white, right? Like, I think most of you could assume that by looking at me. But I think it's important to save those things out loud. It'll help ground sort of, like, where I'm coming from, and the answers that I give, it also helps ground the way that I operate in this space of the AI and where I see my role being in the UAE. But I was, you know, I played football at Watford I, I was a religion major. And so, you know, close to graduation, it it, you know, you have to make big decisions on what you want to do with your life. And I didn't, I don't know that I had the courage to go to Divinity School or to do something beyond that at the time. So, you know, like many people, I just went into marketing. And I actually worked for the Carolina Panthers. And that's not a shot at ustasha. But I, I worked for the Carolina Panthers for four seasons, had an opportunity to jump out to Seattle, I was in a place where I knew. For me, I knew if I didn't get out of the same circle that I was in, that I wouldn't be able to grow. And so for some reason I had that in my head, and I happen to meet a woman in Charlotte and she was from out here. And we ended up getting married a number of years later, but it was really up here where I think it started to hit what what a what a diversity inclusion with a focus on justice, what to focus on equity that I didn't have the language of that, then may may start to look like there are ways in which Seattle presents itself as a utopia. There's ways in which I heard when I came out here that like where I was from was the bad places. We were good here. And and it's not true, right? It's just in subtle, different ways. And so Seattle helped teach me and opened my eyes to the ways that you can think critically and see the critical analysis of what's actually happening versus what people are saying. So I was working for ESPN out here had an opportunity in the last four years of ESPN to get back into football and coach high school football.
Unknown Speaker 13:55
Unknown Speaker 13:59
there was a couple moments early on in that where I was at a very affluent neighborhood majority white The school was public, but it was affluent white. And I had never been on a football field based on where I grew up in where I went to college where there weren't black kids on the on the on the football team and we had to and not surprisingly, like they may have been maybe not surprising, but they were the the best athletes on the team. And there were a couple scenarios where it was clear that that the other young kids, the young boys, men weren't sure how to engage. Like, it was cool. It was exotic. It was nice to have the black friend. But then some things were getting said you know, by in closed doors and So our staff, all white men, but white men that that, you know, looking back on it had equity and justice as a mindset knew we needed to start something. And so we started a Wednesday night session with the young boys, young men and started to provide the space for them to, to ask questions, to engage in these conversations, and to really challenge them on why they believe what they believe. And so that that manifested itself through the last couple of years. And some things happened at ESPN where we knew that like, it was likely some roles were going to be cut, I was fearful that mine would be. I just my wife, and I just had a kid. And so I jumped over to Amazon and didn't know how I was going to translate the football stuff. What I had enjoyed most about engaging with people in those hard conversations to Amazon. But I went to a fireside chat. I started with prime video in a partner marketing role and fireside chat with Michael Denzel Smith. It was like three, six months in his memoir, invisible man got the whole world watching and it just been released. And at the end of his fireside chat, South Asia demand stands up and says, look like there's just so much to do. I want to help How do I get involved? And of course, that's the question on my mind, too. And I, Michael, at that moment said, Look, the black community doesn't need you to come save us, we need you to save your own people. And I just never heard of it that phrase in that way before. I had to like really be honest with myself and sit with myself for a minute. And ask like it is the mindset that I've always had as a white savior mindset, was I there to be supportive and in advance and amplify the work? Or was I trying to be the work? And then what does it mean to save my community in that language, and I looked at as the white tech leader, and so I ended up trying to squeeze myself in in a number of areas, I happened to get connected with a member of our black employee network who wanted to run a black history campaign on prime video, that was a first start to like, sort of the What are you doing? How are you engaging with other communities to bring something to life. And then I was fortunate to be on the founding group that brought our conversations on race and ethnicity, our core conference to Amazon. And, and that was all outside of HR that was all outside of traditional dei work. But it had gotten to a place then where I knew that I couldn't go back to talking about first streams for prime video, like I had to, I had to do this full time. And so fortunately, I met folks like Latasha, Latasha Gillespie and Sasha, who were willing to just sit and chat with me on a number of occasions and and help push me. And there was a role that got opened up to own the core conference and because of my engagement with it in the past, it was a natural transition into the into the work full time.
Unknown Speaker 18:36
Awesome. Thank you for that story. And and just for the, the honesty there and then opening up I really appreciate your your view. And it's so helpful. And so I'll tell a little bit about my story, and then we'll jump into a few other questions for the panelists. So as people were coming in, I mentioned, you know, I live in the Bay Area, but I'm actually originally from Nashville, Tennessee. And just out of college, I started working in nonprofit arts organizations, and I got my degree in advertising and public relations. And I really thought one day I'd end up working in some big like advertising firm. But I ended up getting an internship while I was in college, and I fell in love and with doing marketing in the arts. And it really opened my eyes to a lot of things. One, by being in the south being in a place like Nashville.
Unknown Speaker 19:39
The people who were coming to the theater, were not people who look like me. The arts can often be a very elitist area. So we would say, you know, it's primarily older, very fluent and white. And so I was like, how do we think about getting people into the theater? who are younger? Who are from different backgrounds who may not be able to afford a typical ticket who can't afford a subscription package at the price level? They are? How do you get college students in? And and I was really fortunate that I had a CEO and head of marketing who were open minded to to that thought process. And we started thinking about ways to bring in more diverse audiences. And, you know, on top of that, I also started thinking, how do we, how do we make sure that the people on the stage are also not all just white people? How do we make sure that the, what we're bringing here is of interest to a really broad set of of people and help to bring in more audiences. And so in that time, though, we were also looking at how do you make sure that the physical environment in which people are coming into is accessible. And so I got a chance to work with bringing in ASL interpreters to our performances on the weekends, I was working really closely with our operations team to ensure that we were going above and beyond the ADA standards. We had, we went through this whole process and install Braille throughout our building, we were printing Braille programs. So that was really my first introduction into really fighting and advocating for something to be different and more expansive than what it was. Fast forward a few years, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, still working in the arts, same conversation, even then, working in a place like Atlanta, where it is, you know, more diverse, we're still having the same conversations, how do we bring in younger audiences? How do we bring in more diverse audiences. And so everything that I did was, as a marketer, who's my only job was just to sell tickets. That's all they were paying me to do. But I never felt like that was enough. I always felt like I needed to push the leadership and push those around me to make sure what did our marketing look like? Did our marketing actually even communicate to people that they should be here, because if we only put a certain type of person on our commercials or on our brochures, it feels very limiting and very exclusive. And so I continue to be what I kind of call a gatherer of skills, I just have been collecting skills and experiences over these years, I became a certified project manager when I moved to the Bay Area and started working in tech because I really saw that one of my really great skills is for kind of getting people from A to Z, like I like, I love a process, I love getting through things. So I really figured out how do I take all of these skills and experiences that I built over the years and and put them to work and so I ended up going to work at at tableau. And on the side was doing several dei initiatives and on that had the opportunity to you know, in the in the way that many people do get to kind of help start our er G's do a lot of our cultural events. And come at it from a lens of what do people see outside. But I knew that that wasn't enough. And it felt performative for me to say that this is what we're doing. But it was my end. It was my it was the area of influence that I had. And it was very important, but it wasn't enough. And so I literally wrote a job description, based on all of the experiences and skills that I've gathered over the years and and I looked at job descriptions and looked at job descriptions, I said, What is it that they're looking for when they're asking for dei practitioners? What is it that these people are really trying to accomplish? And I wrote a job description that took my skills, my experiences and said, here's how I can help push the needle for tableau. I brought that to our head of HR told her here's what I'm gonna do for you and made that very bold move and and you know, the kind of the rest is history. And, you know, Now am I my full time work, I have the opportunity that I get to kind of consult with several different organizations day in and day out and help them look at their dei strategies and how they're, they're moving the needle and making their workplaces more inclusive, more equitable, and and more diverse. So as you can see, you know, we all have very different journeys, and we've, you know, I've heard, you know, a say that we had a background where we did some learning and development, we've probably all dabbled in marketing a little bit, but a career in sports and you know, just really seeing all these different paths. These skills and experiences and how they shaped us into wanting to do this work. So with that, I want to jump kind of to my next question. I'm going to share my screen for just a second here. There's this research by a company called Russell Reynolds and Associates. And they say, you know that a chief diversity officer kind of has these these five key attributes or there's these the skills that a chief diversity officer has.
Unknown Speaker 25:33
And they kind of named them strategic executer, data savvy, storyteller, influencer champion, savvy, authentic communicator and a pragmatic disrupter. And I just found that so fascinating. When I thought about man, what are the attributes that make for a really successful dei practitioner, and full disclosure, but the truth is, right, there's no one, there's no one dei practitioner job. As you've heard, there's so many different career paths within this, this area of work. And so I thought it was really interesting, though, that these kind of bubbled up because I felt like across the board, in a lot of the various aspects of Dei, these attributes still felt very relevant. And so with that, you know, I would love to just ask my panelists, I'm starting with Christina, as an Ei, or and someone who interacts with other dei practitioners, what's one skill or experience that you actually think is really useful or helpful for someone who's, who wants to be in this this line of work?
Unknown Speaker 26:53
Yeah. So like, like you said, I think there are so many different areas, and so many different important aspects that goes into it. One area that I lean on a lot is the data savvy storyteller piece, because I think, you know, for this work, you have to bring people along the journey, right. And I feel, you know, we have to start with education, right, and bringing people into the why behind what we're doing. I often in talking with other people in this space, especially for those that are starting out, you know, they typically kind of jump to, you know, we're going to start going to recruiting at an HBCU, or we're going to go to this event, which is great. We want to do those things. But before we get to that step, it's important to think about the people who are going to be involved with those candidates. Do they understand the why behind what we're doing? No? Do they understand? Why HBCU? Why does it even exist? why people go to HBCUs? So I think the data piece is huge, right? It starts with, you know, educating your hiring teams and educating leadership and thinking about data and research that you can leverage externally to showcase the why behind what we're doing, right. And, and part of that, begin it makes sure that we're all kind of centered on the same goals. But it also I believe, helps to inspire and galvanize people to take action. I think a lot of times in the dei space, sometimes the way that things are, the way that the work is portrayed is it's almost like charity work, right? Like, how can we help these communities? How can we give them an opportunity, when really what we're talking about is dismantle dismantling systemic racism, or sexism or ageism, whatever the ISM is. So it's really not charity work. We're trying to do equity work, we're trying to level that playing field. But until you bring people along the way, and give them those historical context to why things are the way they are today, it's hard to get to that piece and make sure that people are in passionate about it. So I really lean on the education piece, I lean on leveraging research that can be given and showcase to leaders into the hiring teams. And then also thinking about how are we going to measure this moving forward? So you know, what systems we have in place to track? What tools do we have in place to show the ROI at the end? So again, the data piece, I think is huge.
Unknown Speaker 29:32
I love that. Gary, I'd love to hear hear your thoughts, because we've had some interesting conversation about this, like what what do you think in terms of skills or experience are really helpful to someone getting into this career? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 29:49
So, Christina, the isms that you wrapped in there, the systemic piece of it, you could also just say it's dismantling white supremacy and we could all be cool with it.
Unknown Speaker 30:01
Essentially, that's, that's, I mean, I say that to set up like, especially if you are white coming to this work, it is critical in my mind that your, that your lens be on dismantling the system that benefits you.
Unknown Speaker 30:27
And if you're not, then it's all performative. In my opinion, you know, I, Andrea, we talked about this, I, I keep going back to a tweet from Leslie Mack. And she's a practitioner, or consultant out here in Seattle, you know, her and a partner of hers that created the safety pin box resource for white people and a number of years back, and she has a tweet that that says, white people, making a living in diversity inclusion and equity work in consulting is a manifestation of white supremacy, that that I get to benefit from the system. And then I can go make a living off of teaching people about that system. And so I, I sit with that. And I struggle with that on a pretty regular basis. And so the skill that I have to keep handy, or super central to like, what I do is courage and trust, right like that. There's this idea that I have to be willing to risk the privileges that I have to risk any benefits that I might have in any of those meetings that I'm in. And on the back end of that is trust that like, if I sit with communities that do not look like me? Do I have their trust that I'm actually if if I'm the face in that meeting, if I haven't opened the door and move spaces and open up seats and power and voice for that meeting room, and I'm the only one in it? Do I have the trust of the community that I'm actually driving those those those justice oriented? conversations?
Unknown Speaker 32:21
Yeah. Now and you actually you kind of laid me into the next question that I want to open up? Because I think, for all of us who do this work, you have to kind of figure out like, why are you really here? What is it that you're ultimately trying to achieve? And one for me, as a woman of color, it's very easy to go into a space and say, right, like, well, I don't see people who look like me, and I want to get into the AI work because I want to make that better for them. And that was one of the things that I have, like you right? Like, you have to kind of go back to this, this grounding moment. And when I got into it, you know, full time as a career, I had to stop thinking about just me. And that was probably one of the pieces of advice that I wish someone probably would have, like really sat me down and said upfront, it's not about you at all. It's actually how are you creating these spaces and opportunities and making more equitable systems? for everybody else? Who is also marginalized? And it's not just black women? How do you make sure that, you know, all of these other communities, whether it's LGBTQ plus, or people with other with disabilities, or whatever that may look like? How do you also make sure you center them? And even as a woman of color, right, like, That's such a broad strokes term, I always say I'm a black woman, but I needed to think about how do I think about indigenous people? How do I think about my Latina and Latinos or Latinx? How am I making sure that I'm also creating space for them to have a voice? And that we are creating the same kinds of practices? And and that is something that I always go back to is like, Am I centering this on me? Or am I making sure that it's it's a more broad goal here that I'm looking at? So with that, Sasha, I'd love to hear from you. Maybe what is one piece of advice? Or you know, maybe like, What is one thing that you wish you knew, before really saying like, I'm going to take a full time job working in Dei,
Unknown Speaker 34:37
in addition to what you just said, because I was just like, yes, yes, yes. I wish somebody would have told me all of that. Um, and this is just full disclosure, I think because I come from several marginalized communities. I wish somebody would have told me that I could be a victim of the same thing that I was fighting and I often talk about, you know, This work is, you know, pushing a boulder up a hill while having daggers thrown at your back. You're not protected in this. And particularly as a black woman, you're not protected in this. And so I wish I would have had the fortitude or understanding that just because I'm an advocate and speak up and try to talk about marginalized communities being from one or two, three, plus how many boxes I'm checking. I'm not just speaking from for others, I'm speaking for myself, right. And knowing that the same challenges that we're facing, we're facing as well, too, right. So when we talk about the isms, it's not just this external thing, it's something we've probably dealt with ourselves also. And so I think somebody I wish I would have had the ability to protect myself a little bit more. And coming into this space, the biggest obstacle that I had in this was a D II, leader that went into it because of passion. Because she was focused on gender and nothing else. And when I would start to speak up about these other challenges. I'm about to get real, because it's after five o'clock, and it's a Saturday. The white women tears came on, right, and so then she became the victim. And I had to then deal with those challenges. So those are the things we're not necessarily prepared for. But I think it's something that if you go into this, you can build up your armor, you can start thinking about ways to protect yourself, and sometimes that stepping away from the work, sometimes that's understanding who your true allies are in this space. I mean, there have been times where, you know, I've hit Gary up on the side, like, can you jump in? Can you help with this? Because I knew I couldn't take it on. Right? Or I have another, you know, former co worker, that I would quickly say to her, like, hey, I need you to get to people, because I can't take this right now. So knowing what resources also are available to you, so you can protect yourself, because this work is hard. Who is that a whole work? Go ahead here.
Unknown Speaker 37:32
Sorry. I just like I want to reiterate that that piece of sausage just landed in terms of like, if you are white, or can pass or align with whiteness and this work that like, it ain't just a passion like, this isn't, this isn't a space for passion, you have to have it Don't get me wrong. But that ain't, that ain't the only piece that you have to have. And so what ends up happening, and what I experienced, what I see is what Sasha was saying, right? Like there are, there are people that that look like me that when it gets tough, we have a place to go. Because we're not also the data. See, there's the there's like, what do you do when you are both trying to fix the data? And you are the data? And and for somebody like me, I'm not, right. Like I'm, I can I can disconnect from this if I want to because my child's life isn't on the line, my like, so what are the ways in which you wanting to join? I guess like, I'm just stuffing it like if what I wish I knew or without the advice I give is like if you if you look like me, and you're trying to get in? Where are those moments that you're willing to pick up the things from Sasha, you're taking the things off her back, so that you carry it not because you're a savior, but because you need her to survive in this work, because it's important that she's in this work.
Unknown Speaker 38:58
Yeah, oh, um, oh, echo that, and I think this summer, in particular, really highlights what it's like to be doing the work, but also be a part of the communities that are impacted by the work. You know, with the George Ford protests in June and all of that, that sparked It was a very just emotionally draining time, right and bringing up just a lot of experiences that, you know, I've seen in my family has gone through and people I know have gone through and, you know, those are those moments where you just want to de plug. But at the same time, this is when your teams are counting on you to show up in need. And for me, as exhausting as it was and as emotionally draining as it was. I also knew it was time for me to capitalize on the attention to drive that momentum into making change. So that it's tough, right when Again, you just want to step away and just be like, I want to take that emotional break like everyone else. But in this instance, I have to show up. And I have to lead because we need to take this moment and make it teachable and turn it into action within our organizations to make change.
Unknown Speaker 40:17
Yeah, and I, you know, you just hit on something which is so very real. The work is hard. Making Change is hard. convincing people to do things differently, is hard, is incredibly hard when you are a part of that group. And to Gary's point, like you can be passionate, but going even back, right, what are those skills? What are those experiences that you lean on that you really need to push past the passion, because there are going to be days that it just it takes everything out of you. And it takes it takes like, you've got to build a community around you to help lift you up, you've got to be able to go back. And you know, I love that in that that first slide was showing right, like strategic executer, I have to go back to my strategy, what is it that I'm trying to do? Because right now, it's really, really hard? And why am I doing this? Like, there have been days that I've asked, like, why am I doing this? Like, what if I just went back and did some other job in which I didn't feel like I was like, What is Sasha say, going up a hill with a boulder on my shoulders, and daggers and daggers coming at your back, right? And so you have to really think about that, that in the midst of having passion for this work, because it's important, but that alone won't carry you in those moments. So I would love to kind of pivot on to that, because I think we've all at some point experience highs and lows in this work, high highs, low lows. So I'd love to hear you know, if you could just quickly hit on very, very, very quickly, if you can name one, hi, hi. And maybe one thing that you use to push through when you hit those low lows? And for me, the answer is almost one in the same. For me, there have been moments where I felt like, maybe this work doesn't matter, right? Like maybe I'm just talking out into, you know, just to a wall and I'm beating my head against the wall, and maybe it doesn't matter. And you know, you do something and you say, okay, we're gonna get this out the door, we've done this thing. And there's some days that you feel like you did a thing, and it felt this small. Because really, you want to do this laundry list of things. And I had to learn to be okay with some of the small things. So small wins add up, and they they do make a difference. And you may not know who it's impacting in that moment. So I found that I was very fortunate that I, you know, maybe have done something and have a low, low day or again, I'm having that thought and be very fortunate that I would have maybe an email come from someone out of the blue that said, Hey, you don't know, but this article that you wrote about this, this conversation or this highlight around autism, or this highlight around using pronouns in our signatures or right, like these things that don't necessarily seem like what's moving the biggest needle, the impact that it has on someone? Is what says, Okay, then we got to keep driving forward, because I am making change, I am being able to impact people's lives. So that for me is the the highs and how I manage the lows. So yeah, yeah. Anybody else want to jump in on that one? Yeah, yeah. I,
Unknown Speaker 43:59
I agree. You know, I've I've had some conversations with maybe the recruiters or people with the business and, you know, sometimes it's, it can be frustrating when, you know, folks talk about, oh, top school is like, we want to recruit for them. And like, you know, we want to do X, Y, and Z. And so, you know, we're going through those conversations to break down. Why, like, what, what is the problem with saying top schools, right, and trying to recruit exclusively from those, and you walk away from those conversations, you know, drained and hoping that it lands. But to see those same people come back, you know, a month or two later, and their mindset has shifted, right. I had one person in particular who, you know, said that they had been recruiting for 30 plus years, and they have learned more from me in the last few months and they had their entire career. And they were one of those people that I had one of those tough conversations with riot. And so you have those low moments where it's just like, Oh my gosh, but then to see the journey of people and you know, that person became one of the top advocates for pushing change and pushing thinking within their own team. So sometimes those things that are that seem frustrating, they're actually little tiny seeds that will bloom and blossom and start to make that progressive change within organizations. It's just so important. But now you have to push through those. And that's why again, I really lean on the education piece. Because I think it's tough to, it's hard to assume that we are all coming to the same place with the same education and the same understanding of what's going on with the world. Because people are taught different things at home, they're taught different things in their textbooks at school, even you know, our social feeds are different based upon the algorithm. So what I'm seeing can be very, very different from my colleague, I actually had a co worker that said, when they we connected on LinkedIn, they started to see a ton of things that they had never seen before come through their feed, right. And so I think it's important that we, we never assume what people know, and what they don't know, as dei practitioners, we have to take that step to understand that we have to educate people and bring them along the journey to
Unknown Speaker 46:28
I love that anyone else, because I do want to make sure I leave some time, we've got some questions in the q&a, that I want to address too. But Sasha, go ahead, and then we'll, we'll jump into the q&a section,
Unknown Speaker 46:39
I actually gonna piggyback on what you said, too, it's, um, you know, those little small things that you just don't think it's going to pick up can really bring you joy. And it goes back to those with, you know, the, what to look for in a CMO or CDO, and that often the authenticity, what is in the storytelling. And so for me, it really is like, I need to use my voice. I know that. And that's where my lows and my highs come in. Because low sometimes people don't want to hear what I have to say. But I'm also saying the things that people don't feel like they can say. And so those of the inbox questions or comments that I get a lot of it's thank you for posting that, thank you for sharing that, you know, I've experienced that I thought it was just me, like, I needed to hear that. And so even though I may be venting. And it's always a strategic vent, when I do it, it is I know there's an audience that I'm reaching, because they've felt that and so though that's my low, my high is knowing that there are others out there that will no longer feel alone, in whatever they're dealing with.
Unknown Speaker 47:59
Awesome. So I see a couple of questions that are a little bit similar. And so the first one I want to start off with is, you know, if you're really seriously thinking about a career and Dei, you know, people are what I'm kind of seeing is, you know, the criteria really rests on having an HR background, or, you know, people are saying like, how is it that I get more experience, everyone is saying that they want experience, you know, people with the Ei. So a couple of things that I'll you know, just kind of hit on one, you know, this is part of what I am wanting to help more people understand, which is as, as people who have experience you, if you've really been doing work, even if you've not had the title of D AI, if you've really been working towards certain goals, how do you translate those skills and experiences and I think sometimes it's very easy that you know, as your resume writing to get hung up on your exact title. And you know, there are some the different ways that you can approach creating a resume that is less about the title that you had, and more about the experiences and and things that you have achieved. So as I mentioned, when I kind of talked about my own personal journey, when I decided I really wanted to do this, the first step is figuring out what is it you're want to do, because there are so many different jobs that exist and the skill set for someone who may want to be an DNI analyst is very different than maybe this skill set of someone who wants to be, you know, a DNI recruiting Program Manager, very different skill set from someone who wants to be a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, er, g Program Manager, like those are very different specific jobs that drive different goals and strategies within the company. And so when you have a really strategic leader in your company, they need people who can work in those those various roles. So my advice to people is always to really look at what is the job that's going to, to give you joy? What is the job that aligns best to the skills that you have? And then start to kind of work backwards from there? And so what are the skills that are aligned to this? And how do I talk about that, and update my resume, so that I am really very much explaining that I have a lot of marketing experience. But I thought, when I started doing my resume, I pulled back on how much of the marketing talk about I can do a 360 degree marketing. Great, but that wasn't the work, the work that I was doing was creating, you know, programs and ways for having marketing that spoke to a diverse audience. And what I was able to do was this, this and that. So how do you talk about how you you use your skills to really make an impact? I'm gonna look and see. Oh, there's a really great question that just came up. I love this question. How do each of you utilize storytelling in this field? Any advice for those of us seeking to enter in the job market? I think storytelling is a huge portion of this. And Gary, do you want to jump in on that one? No.
Unknown Speaker 51:46
I think it depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Right? So who's your audience? And again, this is the marketer in me, right? Like, that's the first question I always ask who's your audience? And what do you want them to do? So if it's internal, if it's internal storytelling, are you telling the stories of your underrepresented employees? What are their experiences? What do you want management to do? Right? So how do you formulate these stories in a way that gets them to see like, Oh, this is the experience. And vice versa? If it's an external audience, you know, if it's, if you want them from a recruiting standpoint, to apply to come work there, right? You want to tell the stories of what your employees are experiencing? Or if it's your customer base? Right? What is it that you want them to do? So it really just depends on the audience. But I think stories are a great way to do that. When I got hired to Amazon, I managed the program. And that's what we did. We're telling stories of underrepresented technologists that weren't amazonians, right, like, how are you a startup founder? And what are you doing in that space? And how is it impacting? And so because of that, that representation matters, right? People were able to see Oh, I can do that, too. So again, it's really all about what do you want people to do? And then how do you align the right? stories to that to get people to move in that direction?
Unknown Speaker 53:13
Yeah, that's a perfect answer. Gary, I'm gonna I'm gonna pop to you, because I saw a question come up that I think you can kind of help us out with someone asked is the dei certificate from Cornell or Yale required in addition to needed skills or experience and, and I think some of us on this call will have various opinions. I know for sure one of us has gone through those programs. And my opinion, it really depends on what your education looks like coming into this. If I just said Jan, generally speaking, I would probably say, is it required? Not so much. But I will let Gary speak to this a little bit about his experience having gone through one of these courses.
Unknown Speaker 54:01
Yeah. Real quick. The other piece that I that I would add, about the HR background, like when you're looking at roles be clear about if you want to exist in HR, there is a difference. And I'm happy to talk to folks about that offline as well. But like there's, there's just a different world that that you have to also look up through the chain and be like, Okay, is there a chief diversity officer? If there is, is that the only person of color the only woman on that C suite? Is it a token position, like what power all these sorts of things like? Keep that in mind as you're as you're saying, like, I want to officially get into it the role because there's ways in which you can have impact in your position that you're in, in a business unit. So I did the Cornell HR, sorry, diversity inclusion, certification for HR course. And I'll be honest, I did it out of a need that I felt internally to continue to show how I'm continuing my education and how I'm putting in extra work, you know, we often hear again, as part of my whiteness and being in this space, and like I need to sort of justified to some degree or or to to have some level of like, Okay, I'm doing extra stuff because other people are having to do extra stuff just by living and breathing. So what am I, what extra Am I putting in it, I had no HR background. So that certification program was good for me to get a broad overview of the different pieces of HR, the different functions, roles, how they interact. The the actual DNI education in that course, is quite a beginner. A lot of the information and slides are from 2011 2014. And then like, we all know that the world has changed dramatically since then. But maybe it hasn't changed. But the way that we are able to see what the world has been has changed dramatically since then. So I would say like, it was a good, a good thing for me to put onto my LinkedIn that I went through this and I have it I think, I do worry that as these certifications continue to come up, that we are, we are creating the same barriers that we already have, in a lot of roles, hey, you have to have your MBA, well, why is an MBA really required for this? And we know what happens, like the MBAs are required, like, there's certain amount of access and opportunity and money that has to come with getting that. So like, the the requirement piece, I hope we don't trend towards that direction, my fear is that we are starting to see that it's not cheap, right? Like I was fortunate that the team that I'm on paying for it. So like there was a fortunate privilege that I had there. And so if you are someone who needs an HR awareness, if you're someone who is at a beginning stages of how DNI intersects with those functions, I think it's a good course if if not, then I'm not clear that it is.
Unknown Speaker 57:34
Yeah. So I'm going to segue. So because we're right at at our time, and I want to thank everybody who has has joined us for this conversation, I hope that you found some value in it. And so I do want to just let you all know that as of today, I am actually an offering an online on demand course called introduction to diversity, equity and inclusion careers, you are able to take that online, and it's available through my website. And really what it is it is very much an introduction, it hits on some of the key topics that we talked about today. It gives you insight into five or six of the roles that you may hear about in companies right now that are for dei practitioners, and gives just a little bit of insight into how those roles are different. It comes with a workbook, the workbooks nearly 30 pages, and I created this workbook as a tool for you to think about your skills and experience and how do you start to translate them as you if you really are thinking about this career so that as you write your resumes, you are understand the hard and soft skills that go into this type of career. We even talked about what the trajectory of this world of dei looks like and how it's growing year over year. And and then I just talked about even how the maturity of a company can impact your ability to make a difference. And I want to just briefly hit on the fact that right? If a company is very early in their journey, most people are going to be doing this work off the side of their desk, they're not paying full time people for these roles. As a company continues to mature then they start to open these dei roles and depending on what it is that they need, and that may be some of the rub. Some of you are feeling depending on how early stage these companies are. They really do need people with more experience who understand maybe a holistic approach to the AI and because you're not gonna just do one portion you're not gonna just be doing er g events and cultural events because guess what, y'all that is not all the Ei work is. It is someone who can think about you know, a little bit of what Christina's job is in terms of recruiting program. Since a little bit of, you know what, in really, really mature companies, you have people who are looking at, you know, Dei, within the product Dei, from the external lens, the Ei within your supplier diversity. So I always like to tell people, you really have to be more specific about what you want out of out of a career in in dei. So I am offering that course you can find me online, I'm at Andrea de Tatum Comm. There's all my LinkedIn information and my Instagram information, it's just the best way as I continue to share more information about this. And I want to again, thank all of my panelists, and leave give you all a space to just say one last word, I've included all of their LinkedIn here, and then also for Sasha, her Instagram, but it's also the same for her the equity equation on on LinkedIn as well. So just you know, any parting words that you all want to give my friends?
Unknown Speaker 1:01:04
This is just a little plug of Andrea and I are actually doing a fireside chat at the end of October on a very similar topic for the dei tech conference taking place. So if anyone is interested in having more of those conversations, or being a part of that conversation as well definitely look into that. And Andrew and I were I think we're gonna hit some pretty interesting topics there, too. So thank you for this.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:36
And I will part with first just saying thank you so much for Andrea, for creating this space. I know when she first started thinking about doing it, I my immediate response was 100%. Yes, because this question is so relevant, there are more opportunities opening up in this space. And it isn't a clear cut path. So definitely, I would say just remember that, you know, and really start to dig into how you can get more involved within your organizations and start to demonstrate successes that will help transfer into potentially like a full time opportunity in this. So feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm happy to answer your questions there too. So thank you again.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:24
My LinkedIn was there. Same as what Christina just said, I i'm open, I'm always happy and happy to have conversations with folks. You know, the, the end, this is easier for me to say this, like, I would like to see people be more clear also with their current managers, like if there's trust there, that hey, I want to move into a particular role, part of a manager's role of people managers role should should be to help grow and develop their, their employees that directs. Now you have to know whether or not that safe for you to do that. But what are those opportunities for you to take things on, that your manager can also help pull things back on your current role, maybe because likely, the way things are set up now, if you're part of an ER G, if you're doing work off the side of your desk, you are, you're not going to get paid for the extra hours, and you're probably not going to be rewarded for the extra hours. There's not an accountability metric that is in your 360 review that may say like, Hey, you know, you did X, Y, and Z for diversity inclusion. So that means a new promotion for you. Maybe you can work with your manager on that. But that's all individual like experiences on your on your team.
Unknown Speaker 1:03:54
Now, that's such a great point. Gary, thank you for that. Yeah, absolutely. I am I am a huge advocate for having these conversations with your manager. Going back to those points of like, what is it that you can gain and the job that you have right now I always say everybody's job is a d e i job in the role that you are in you have the ability to make a real impact in you know, whether that's if you're a hiring manager, or you know, you're an IC, whatever that is, you really do have the ability to drive culture in your companies, you have the ability to help push the needle, say, you know, hey, maybe this is something we can think about, and how you can really push and advocate within your role to say, hey, maybe I want to build some strategies that will help me gain some more experience for the team that I'm on right now. You know, I, you know, as a marketer, maybe there's something I can do to gain some additional skills and experiences. So I think Gary makes a great point. How can you work with your managers gain these skills gain these experiences, so I really do say that. That's right. That is if DNI is, is everybody's responsibility even if it is not your job title. So thank you for that shine me. All right. Thank you all again, so, so much. We appreciate you being here. This has been recorded. I will have this up on my website in the very near future. please do check that out. And we will probably do these again at least once a quarter and continue the conversation. Thank you all so much for being here.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai