The summer of 2020 transformed many of our personal and professional lives. We saw how the outcry of racial injustice in the United States motivated companies to make anti-racist commitments and buckle down on their DEI initiatives. One year later, and some of us are noticing a decrease in the sense of urgency for change. While progress has been made by several companies, we are also witnessing resistance and outright denial of the ways systems of oppression are harming our communities and workplaces. For other companies, DEI managers and leads are trying to figure out how to keep the momentum going and see their goals come to fruition.
If you find yourself wanting to push for equity and inclusion in a company where you feel stuck, resistance or lack of interest, we invite you to watch this video! We discussed:
- Trends and impact of DEI changes in the workplace
- Organizational change and reasons for resistance and standstills
- Tips on how to implement and celebrate both short-term and long-term wins
- Ways individual contributors and team leads can push for change
Fatima: And Jillian, before we even jump into Q’s and A’s, how are y’all feeling? How are y’all showing up to today’s space?
Jillian: Good, I’m excited. And I like this new platform. The last time we did it, it was our little test trial. So it’s like cool and interactive. It’s like giving me life to be able to like see people interacting versus just like talking and not being able to feel that so I’m excited.
Fatima: Perfect, thanks. So Amaia, what about you?
Amaia: I’m also so excited to be a part of this event and a part of this conversation. I’m such a huge fan of She+ Geeks Out and all that you do. So I’m feeling so honored to be here and looking forward to yeah, the conversation ahead. And also, yeah, this is my first time doing an event on this platform and I’m really enjoying it as well. So it’s a very refreshing experience to say the least.
Fatima: Awesome, so thank you, thank you both. And Felicia’s showing us love. She’s like, I didn’t leave, I’m still here. Yes, you are. So thank you. All right, so we have a few questions for our speakers and like I said, if any question that I ask and if you wanna have follow-up questions or it’s not properly asked, feel free to add that to the Q and A, and we’ll try to get to it. So Amaia and Jillian, it’s been a year, right? We think about the title of our conversation today, sort of maintaining momentum around DEI work. There’s a lot that has happened, from pandemic to us really becoming more consciously aware of racial oppression. We knew those things existed, but it became part of mainstream consciousness right after George Floyd. We think about anti-Asian hate crimes and what not. And there’s so much that’s happening, just to highlight a few. I’m sure some of the things have changed in not just your personal life, but your professional life. So I first want us to talk about, what’s been front and center for you in the past year, both personally and professionally? And maybe we could start with Amaia first and then Jillian go for it next.
Amaia: Thank you so much. So personally, wow, just a lot. I mean, I think we’re facing the same thing that every other human is facing right now in the sense that we’re in this global pandemic and there’s so much uncertainty, but the dedication to the work is there and knowing that what we’re doing is incredibly important and needs to be done, I think also helps bring energy to it. So on the days where I’m feeling a little burnt out or I’m feeling like I really do wanna bury my head in the sand, because there are days where it feels like you can’t read a headline or don’t even wanna acknowledge what’s happening in the outside world because it’s a lot and burnout is very real. And so I think, especially in our space, acknowledging that for all of us is super important and that’s been a really important part of my personal journey over the last year, I think, and has enabled me to stay present in the work and keep going by allowing myself to be a human and recognize everything else that’s happening and giving myself grace with that. And then also just being more passionate about the work than ever and feeling, like I said, energized by and appreciative of the attention that it has been getting in the last year, it’s been incredibly helpful for me professionally. So kind of shifting over to that. We had a lot of our employees over the last year, really speak up and say, hey, we need to do better. We need to do more. And that was sparked by what happened last year and the racial reckoning and what happened after George Floyd’s murder. And so that has been helpful. It’s created a lot of momentum for the work and created different space for the work that I do that didn’t previously exist. And as the topic of today’s conversation, that energy is wonderful. And it was a lot of people who have not done this work before, or not really aware of what this work takes. They just know more needed to be done, which they were absolutely right about. And so I think since that first rush of energy, the delicate balance has been acknowledging all the stuff that yes we need to do with, and it doesn’t happen overnight. This work takes a long time. I say it all the time to our folks at ezCater, I would love more than anything to wave a magic wand and just fix it like, end systemic racism, end it. I would love to. And unfortunately that is just not, it’s just not how it works. And so figuring out how to acknowledge what needs to be done to make sure that people feel heard and seen, bounce that with the time it takes and the realistic work that takes to go into it, that dance has been a lot of my last year, for sure, while maintaining my sanity and not being burnt out personally. So that’s been it for me.
Fatima: Yes, all of that. Thank you so much. I made a few notes and we’ll come back to that. But Jillian, I wanna hear from you.
Jillian: Yeah, so for me, I think it was the realization that my professional work is actually personal. Navigating the challenges of doing DEI work as a person of color in a predominantly white space, working with a predominantly white community, that now has changing demographics. It’s been a lot to deal with. The last year has been a year of loss anger and loneliness, but also for me hope because of everything that you can’t ignore. And I think Amaia you kind of spoke to that a little bit that he can’t deny racial inequities are not real. They’re here. And so for me, that is kind of what keeps me going and reminding me of my purpose of why I’m doing this. Again, after the year that we just had, because that momentum is there and people are aware of that the change is needed. And so for me, I really started my role right before COVID hit, January, 2020. So I had no time to even kind of figure out where I was, what was going on before that uptake in anti-Asian hate, increased around April, 2020. And then the summer I call it the racial reawakening because we see this pattern, but I felt like the last year was different because that momentum hasn’t really stopped. It slowed down, but it hasn’t stopped the way we’ve seen it in the past. But right now for myself, I’m kind of taking the time to start to pause and institute boundaries, to make it clear that this work also isn’t sustainable when you’re going at top speed and when you’re very reactionary, which is what we’ve seen. So for me, it’s not helpful because you can’t map out how to properly do equity work when you’re constantly reacting to things and you can’t just get into the swing of a process, but it’s also just not sustainable because a lot of folks in my position, it’s a singular position. You are doing the work of an entire department and it’s a lot and it’s predominantly people of color who are leading that way. And so for me, it’s just been professional and personal have been really blended. And I’ve had to take those really long breaks where I can’t watch the news or read it and I know I should because it’s part of my job, but it’s exhausting to continuously see black and brown bodies being murdered or targeted. And so just taking those breaks and knowing when you need to and not feeling bad about it is kind of where I’m at and reminding myself that healing needs to be front and center in all of this.
Fatima: Yeah, thank you both so much. So much there to unpack and we’ll have a moment to talk about how the person and professional is blending. Felicia and I often talk about that a lot, especially when we facilitate workshops and we’re like in people’s homes in many ways or wherever they’re residing, wherever they’re staying. And oftentimes those of us in DEI space, like say the personal is political and the personal is professional. You don’t just walk into the workplace and like, I’m gonna leave all of me at home and just become this work person. Some of us do have to code switch, which that’s a whole other story, but what both of you were alluding to is like what was happening in our society was coming into our work place and we could no longer ignore that, the ways we probably had before. And so I’m wanna talk a bit more about the workplace. Each of you are in different fields, yet there are so many similarities in the work that you do as DEI practitioners. So what I want you all to do is to sort of give us a high level overview of where your organization was last summer and where it is now, and maybe sort of talk about some action items that you’ve probably even put in place since that time. So Jillian, happy for you to kick us off this time around.
Jillian: Yeah, so actually before I joined the Town of Arlington, the leadership had already made the commitment to advancing and prioritizing racial equity work. So it was before my position was created, which was great because if it wasn’t then I probably wouldn’t have gone there. I mean, if they weren’t taking it seriously. But they joined GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity and they started the process with the National League of Cities to do their race, equity and leadership training program and working with the community consultant. So all areas were kind of covered and it was great to have that base and support, but with the summer, the sense of urgency just skyrocketed. And so for me, having started basically not really in a place to know how to lead, I had to learn everything very quickly and just be very responsive, but the town’s support was really phenomenal. And so what we did was we started last summer with a series of community conversations that were spaces for public forums, for the town to discuss and make it public and let folks know that they’re aware of the role that they play and the systems and policies that are racist. So really calling out the issues and laying out steps of how they’re going to address them. So after that, the demand for my DEI input and the need for me to be kind of touching every facet of town government skyrocketed, and that was not, again, not sustainable. So with that, they realized that I cannot alone fix everything. It’s also not my job. It’s to be able to support and provide resources so that everyone can start to apply this equity lens that’s needed. But in turn, they put funding towards being able to hire an administrative assistant for me. And so my role actually very quickly developed into a division. So by November, I was a Director and now I’m at the point where I’m really pausing in being given the time to put in the structures and boundaries that are needed to actually be successful and map out what the next few years and plans are gonna look like. And I just constantly have to remind folks that DEI work is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. So the sense of urgency that everyone had, that in itself is a characteristic of white supremacy culture so like let’s not do that. Those little reminders, like here’s this list, let’s not do that, thanks. And I have no problem these days just saying that out loud to folks, like, they’re like, well, you need to do this now. No, I don’t. It’s gonna be here tomorrow. Racism doesn’t get solved overnight. You’ve got like over 400 years of unraveling to do there. So for me, it’s just about slowing it down, thinking through processes and building capacity in trying to work on an equity plan. That’s what we’ve been doing. And the momentum is there. I’m really glad that our employees are eager to learn and ready to make changes, but it’s also difficult too working with community members who are not always so eager, but the town that I work for, I will say they are ahead in so many ways. So the fact that I’m constantly talking to other towns and cities, because they’re just starting this work, is refreshing to know that we’re in a good place, even though there’s lots more to be done. But that instant gratification with racial equity work it’s not how it works.
Fatima: It’s not it. No, I hear you loud and clear. I think a lot of us hear you loud and clear, I’m getting some reactions there, but yeah, we talk about that a lot with our workshops, especially those of us who facilitate, I don’t know if other people are in the DEI space facilitate, but people expect workshops to sort of just change everything. And it’s like, no, we are part of your journey and your strategic plan so we’re planting seeds and hoping that you nurture those seeds. You bring in the light or the water, whatever the case may be. You can’t look at us to do that. And so that’s a part of it as well in keeping momentum. Thank you so much for such a rich answer. Amaia, what about you? Share more about what’s happening at ezCater.
Amaia: First, can I just plus one to everything that was just said, because I mean, yeah, wow. Like the nail on the head, . If the amount of times that I’ve had those same thoughts where it’s like interesting… It was actually not something that I said, it was a coworker who said that as much as this energy has been helpful, it’s so interesting to see how the thought process of being able to just jump into this work and think that you can just start to do it is a sign of privilege. And so, so grappling with that. So thank you so much for all of that. I think what the most significant change that happened in ezCater between like, pre George Lloyd and post, was DEI was really a nice to have. And I think shifted heavily into being recognized as a need to have. We were not doing nothing. I’ve been in the DEI space AT ezCater for years now. It’s always been under my umbrella. And it was a lot of focus on hiring, a lot of focus on partnering with specific networks and job boards. We have our like kind of grassroots efforts, where we had some affinity groups that were employee created, that I worked with employees to lead, creating a safe space. And we had started to focus on inclusion and there was… I don’t wanna make it sound like we were doing nothing. I think it was, when there was time and when there was someone to give it energy and effort, it was paid attention to. We did sign the Tech Inclusion Pledge in 2016 where we pledged to publish our DEI data every year. So that was our employee demographic makeup, which not a ton of companies are doing and still not doing. And so this is gonna be a half shout out that we, none of us in the tech space are great at this. Let’s just call it what it is. We are all white male dominated. Even the companies that are doing better are still white male dominated. So if like let’s all just let go of the fact that if we publish our results, people are gonna know, we know, everybody knows. So, but if we publish our results, we can learn from each other. And that is something going into what I’m about to say next, that none of us can do this work ourselves. This is not a competition. This is, we need each other to be better. All of us, everyone needs to be pulled into this work. So yes, this is a side plea for me that if you have not considered publishing your data, please do because we can learn from each other and help each other. So that is actually one thing that ezCater is one of the first companies in the Boston area, in the tech space to do. So we’ve been doing that since 2016. And that was an Obama era initiative that is no longer in place after the most recent administration. However, we have continued to do it. And so we were doing some things. And after last year it was really in our face that there was a lot more that we need to be doing. And it was really led by our employees. And so when I previously was speaking, I mentioned that there was space created to do this work that didn’t exist before. And I think what a lot of people woke up to was this work can’t be done in a silo and it can’t be a nice to have. It’s a need to have that everyone in the organization has to want to be a part of and contribute to. Jillian, like you said, if it’s just your org getting this laundry list of things to do, it’s not gonna go anywhere. It’s impossible. It’s impossible to do this work as one person and it won’t work. So even with what your seeing. Even if let’s say that I am a superhuman who can somehow get through all of these things, it won’t matter if other people are not dedicating themselves to this work as well, to the behavior change that’s necessary, to the constant learning and the constant journey that this work is. Everyone has to be a part of that. And I think that was the big shift that happened in ezCater. I don’t wanna use the umbrella term that now everybody recognizes that, but there’s significantly more people in the organization who, I like to call it, have like connected the dots and see themselves in this. Whereas I think previously it was like, oh, this is something that affects them over there. And I’m not a racist person. So I don’t play a part in this. And so I don’t need to be involved because I’m not racist and that’s enough. And I think that there was a big shift in that. And so after last summer, we created a dedicated DEI budget. We’ve had a handful of affinity groups of people who wanted to focus on anti-racism and continued learning in the organization. We have partnered and started doing our first DEI workshops and trainings for our managers. We’ve also done manager and leadership training that is led through an inclusive lens. So really trying to support the people who are leading our teams and give them tools in their toolbox to be able to lead inclusively, create that inclusive and equitable culture that we’re really striving for, and also recognize things like microaggressions and how to be an ally and how to see it when it’s happening. And even if they don’t know exactly how to handle it, they see, okay, that’s not right. Let me go to the people people who do know how to handle it. But even just the ability to recognize things like that when they’re happening in the moment, so that our employees of color do not feel so isolated and don’t feel… Which I think all of us from marginalized communities have felt before, which is, I don’t wanna say anything because I don’t wanna be the problem child, no one else even notices this. And so how can we like really working with our managers to recognize that and jump in. We are still really focused on making sure that we are accessing a hundred percent of the talent pool. So making sure that we’re partnering with the communities and the networks that we should be, that we are eliminating any unnecessary barriers to opportunities at ezCater. So our CEO has actually been a huge proponent of this, and we’ve never required degrees or anything like that for any of our jobs. So continuing that, but also looking at our job descriptions and looking at our interview process. Do we truly have an equitable process? Are we truly accessing a hundred percent of the talent pool and giving them an equitable opportunity to be hired at ezCater? So really looking at of all that critically. In addition to looking at our product and our platform, how we interact with our customers and our catering partners, is that equitable? Are we essentially putting our money where our mouth is? And it’s nice to say that we want to create this type of community, but are we really doing what it takes? And I think since last year we’ve taken the steps to really start doing that. And we’re not there yet, because again, Jillian, as you said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And so this work takes a long time to do, but we have shifted into the space, I think, where people are seeing themselves in the journey, as part of the journey, contributing to the journey. And we’ve started to make some forward moving steps, even if they’re baby steps, we are at least going in that direction.
Fatima: Yeah, thank you both so much. So much richness as well in what you’re doing. And just even thinking about where you’ve come. I really appreciate you saying like, DEI was like a nice to have, and I saw like some reactions where people were like, yeah. And while we’re really talking about race and anti-racism, we recognize that when we use an anti-racist lens, we’re hopefully also just using an anti-oppressive lens in general. Because we’re not just one identity, we are very intersectional and I was checking out the chat, which folks are not playing games in this chat. And just being honest about, even though the journey might look different for each of us, there are still a lot of harm that can be done, especially when folks are in positions of power. And it’s like, okay, Jillian talked about the sense of urgency, which is part of white supremacy culture. And I put a link in there and how do we also make sure we’re being urgent about matters that haven’t been addressed when they should have been and what that balance looks like. I also see folks just in the chat talking about the fear of companies wanting to publish their reports. Like Amelia said, we already know. And Jillian was like, this is old news. There’s nothing new under the sun. And who are we proving this to? Because most of us who sit within marginalized identities, we know this. And folks have been pushing for change for a very long time. And so I want us to broaden our lens when we’re thinking about DEI work, I think you all have done a great job in explaining what’s happened so far. In terms of the DEI work that you’re doing, what are some facilitators, meaning like things that are making it work, that’s moving it, keeping the momentum. And then what are some barriers or maybe some challenges that have impacted DEI work at your organization? So really what’s helping, what’s not. And this time we can go ahead and start with you Amaia.
Amaia: Thanks so much. I think what has helped are open, safe, brave conversations. So we have facilitated a lot of these at ezCater. Sometimes it’s me and anyone from the organization who wants to join, sometimes it’s me with managers. It could be any depending on who sets it up or what the question is asked, but where I have felt the most significant change happen in bringing people into this work is by telling people that it is okay that you are at the beginning of your journey and that you don’t know all the answers and that you will probably say something wrong. And all of that is okay because we’re all still always learning. So I talk about this like we’re all on the spectrum of our learning journey and all of us are in a different place there, but it’s ongoing. You’ve never done DEI, you’ve never like checked that box. Like I am now, I have completed it. I never need to learn another thing. I’m learning every day. And I talked to people who’ve been doing this work for decades. They’re learning every day because we can always be better, always be more inclusive, always be understanding. I think what’s happening, in addition to like to add onto that, is because there is the constant learning piece, people who are new to this feel overwhelmed by that. And so I think it’s kind of giving them space to be afraid, giving them space to say I’m overwhelmed. They acknowledging that the guilt of now I’m finally waking up to this and I could have been doing all of this all this time. I think just giving people space to be there and to know that you can say that, and we’re not voting you off the island immediately because… Now you don’t get to… Now your out, like you’re forever a racist person and that’s it. I think them realizing that that is not the way they’re gonna be met has helped a lot with them being willing to start. And there are a handful of people who have said this so much more eloquently than me, who I like to lean on. There’s professor Laura Jackson who talks about when someone is prepared… She talks about calling in and there’s something she says that has been so substantial to me in this work. And she says, “When people are willing to give up hate, we need to be ready to accept them when they are.” And I think what happens is the fear of, if I admit what I haven’t been doing right, I’m gonna be shunned. And so I’d rather just kind of stay on as I am versus admitting that yeah, I need to start my learning journey and here’s where I’m starting from. And so I think showing people that it’s okay that you’re starting now. Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know, better. And then when you know, better do better.” These are things that just like are so… These are the shoulders I stand on and I hold these incredible people’s words with me every day, because I see how it helps, how helpful it is to people when they are just starting their journey here. So telling them it’s okay that you’re just starting but now that now that you know better start to do better and let’s do better together. Those conversations, I have felt have been the most helpful. I think what has been the most challenging on the other side is what we’ve already spoken to, which is the idea that, well, now people have woken up to this, so just do it. Now we should just do it. Why isn’t it done? Why isn’t it fixed? And in getting people to understand that that’s not how it works. As you said, Jillian, we’re not just gonna fix 400 years of oppression overnight. And even if you look at, from the caste system and globally, this is thousands and thousands of years of oppression that we’re up against. It takes a long time to go through behavior change. It takes a long time to unlearn. And so I think there is this friction between the people who have had to live their life experiencing oppression and racism and are fed up with it, rightfully so. So their patience to this work taking longer is not always there and that’s okay. And that’s, and like, of course, right? Like that level of frustration, the anger, I mean, hi, like that’s me too at times. And for people who are just starting their journey, when they feel that frustration and they feel like they need to change and know everything and fix everything right now, it can be so overwhelming that they just shut down. So I think balancing, acknowledging that, yes, this should have been done yesterday. In fact, we shouldn’t have to do this work in the first place. Like the should conversation of, yeah, I would have loved to have been the person who like constructed history and we never were hateful towards any other human beings or felt that any one type of human was more important than another, that would be my way to go about it. No one asked me, unfortunately. So I agree, like we shouldn’t have to do this in the first place and it shouldn’t take as long as it does, but it does. And so giving people the space to be angry, to be hurt, to be frustrated while also trying to get them to understand the time this takes, balancing that with people not feeling so intimidated and overwhelmed that they don’t wanna come into this work when they’re in the position of power that we need them to come into this work. So that’s like a mix of the challenging with the helpful.
Fatima: I appreciate that Amaia. And what I’m hearing, even throughout your answers, is just like that balancing act, especially when you have a large organization or a lot of employees, obviously people are gonna be at various points and like, how do you keep the work going while letting people know like, okay, if you’re in your early stages, you’re a mess up. So you gotta be ready to get called in. You gotta be ready to receive this feedback because folks have been waiting on the other end for hundreds and hundreds of years. And so to get them along that way, and then how does that conversation even happen? And then how does that align with your goals on an organizational level? Thank you for that. Jillian, what are some barriers and facilitators in the DEI work that you all are doing?
Jillian: Yeah, so for me, the commissions that already existed before my position was created are phenomenal. Like our human rights commission has been around since I think 1993. So they’ve been doing that work and now they finally have a staff person to assist with that. But it’s definitely, I guess, a barrier, a challenge navigating government. There are a lot of rules and things that make it really difficult to actually do this work. So Amaia you were talking about conversations and safe spaces. I do that with a certain amount of employees, but when it comes to our elected officials and different types of folks, we can’t have those small intimate spaces because everything has to be open to the public. So that’s where I’m meeting challenges, because you can’t have an intimate conversation that’s gonna be difficult with elected officials and expect them to be open and honest when there’s 500 people watching and half of them are yelling at them in the chat. And like it’s not a great scene and that’s not how I want that work to be done anyways, because I don’t think it’s gonna be helpful for anyone. So that’s one of the bigger challenges I’m currently facing that I still haven’t been able to figure out, but the support of community members has been wonderful. But with that, there’s also been resistance. So different things that are new to town, like putting up a Black Lives Matter banner, why didn’t we do this last year? Why are we doing it now? Why can’t we put a blue lives matter banner up. Every single thing, there’s some type of counter reaction that we then have to respond to and deal with in the right way. So for me, it’s some of those things that it’s positive, but it’s not. It’s positive because we’re having conversations, but then it’s not positive because it’s inhibiting me from being able to keep moving things forward. But one of the things that I most recently have done, because again, my position’s been around now for a year and half and a lot of them are now popping up in municipalities, myself and the new DEI director for Beverley a couple of months ago, started a coalition of DEI practitioners, who basically have our role or there’re towns and cities in Massachusetts that are looking to start it. And so now we meet like twice a month to just basically have a support network and brainstorm and share our challenges so that we can start to work together. Because, as you said Amaia, there’s no blueprint for DEI work. And especially when our hands are tied because of state laws and federal, we don’t have the flexibility to work like an organization that can just kind of go do something. There’s a lot of red tape. And so finding out ways how to work together and almost create some best practices, so that we’re all kind of doing this work, even though all of our communities are different. We still end up having some of the same exact challenges. So having that group just the last, I’d say it’s been six months, has been phenomenal. To be able to work with folks, and again, it’s another network of more people of color, which I don’t have in my everyday work, but community members and employees have been wonderful, but also the resistance is there, the complaints I have to field. If it’s a complaint, it’s a complaint, I have to deal with it, whether it’s something I agree with or not. So it’s been interesting, but for me, the support has been great. So I keep that in my mind and that’s my reminder for continuing on with what I’m doing.
Fatima: Yeah, perfect. Thanks so much, Jillian. I wanna quickly highlight that we’ll be transitioning to the audience Q and A maybe the next minute or so. So I’ll ask you all a quick question to quickly wrap up, so we have enough time to answer questions. So if you haven’t put your questions in the Q and A section, now is a good time to do so. A lot, you all have shared a lot. There’s a lot that we can keep talking about, but what I would like you all to do, and I’m probably gonna combine these two questions. First, to just share that one thing that your company is doing, and like that thing that’s the thread that’s holding or DEI work together. Maybe it’s that once more action item, you all have a highlighted, a few things from conversations to looking at policies to addressing community needs, but what’s that one thing, what’s that one ingredient at the Town of Arlington, that one ingredient at ezCater that’s holding the momentum? And then how do you celebrate small and big wins? Because part of keeping the momentum is like, we’re not there yet, but here are the small things that we’re doing and here’s how we’re gonna celebrate. So if you could take a minute to sort of wrap that up each and then we’ll switch gears. So I think this time we start with Jillian, yeah? Okay, awesome.
Jillian: Yeah, so for me, I mean, we were trying to dive into making this equity plan and I said, we’re not ready for that because we don’t even have the right data in information from our underserved community members that we need to inform us on how to do better. So I’m really at the stage of putting our focus on listening, active listening, and understanding different perspectives and having those conversations, and again, navigating how to get kind of around them for certain folks, but really just we’re in this normalizing stage of talking about race and inequities, like it’s things we don’t talk about because they make us uncomfortable, but I’m pushing it. I want you to be uncomfortable. You’re gonna talk about it so that we can start to address what’s really at the root of all of our problems. And with that, for me, it’s really programming and education that I’m trying to provide. And the small wins are, if I have a program and it’s low attended, I know that it still mattered for some people or that people are reaching out and saying, I just went back and watched that recording. I realized it was months ago, wow. I’m now exploring all these resources. Like those little things, positive pieces that I get from folks help me realize that every little thing that I am doing does make a difference to at least someone. And I think that’s what counts. If you’re having a little impact, eventually people are gonna talk to each other. And that’s really the goal for me is that… I did a series of racial justice teachings and that was 50 people. The expectation is that those 50 people are now gonna go have those difficult conversations with family members, with friends, with coworkers. So that trickle effect, but really it’s all about, we all need to take the responsibility to listen and actually understand, not listen to respond.
Fatima: No, I love all of it. And folks are like dedicating some questions to y’all. So we’re gonna continue that. Thank you, Jillian. Amaia, what are your last thoughts? Or one of your last thoughts because you’re gonna have some more thoughts after this.
Amaia: Well, first of all, yes, to everything that Jillian just said. I think that our one thing that keeps us going is transparency. We are a radically transparent organization across the board, with everything that… From like from the DEI stuff to the business stuff, to the number, to everything. And so I think how transparent we are with the progress we are or are not making, how things are or are not changing, that accountability is super important. And I think that you can argue a lot. You can’t always argue with numbers and sometimes the data shows us things we don’t wanna see, but that’s really important to driving the change that we need to see. So I would say that our dedication to being as transparent as we really can be, has been helpful throughout this process as well, and we’ll continue to be helpful as we continue to set other metrics and other goals, to make sure that we’re not losing momentum. The data doesn’t lie. So when we’re getting this feedback and we’re seeing the inclusion scores on our DEI survey, when we’re looking at our employee demographics and maybe the numbers aren’t going the way that we wanted them to, it’s there. So that and Jillian, you exactly everything that you just said with how to celebrate the small wins. If you have you… You said it so perfectly. I can’t even say it that well. I always go to the seashell story because as much as I love everything you said, I’m literally just like, ah, go read the seashell story. If you haven’t read the seashell story, it is essentially what Jillian just said so beautifully, which is that every little thing you do matters to somebody. And so to not be overwhelmed by the… I mean, this work can be overwhelming, even if you’re doing it every day. To feel like, I feel like I’m pouring my heart and soul, everything I have in this, this is so challenging. And am I even doing anything. And so to remind yourself and the others who are in this work, that yes you are. You never know what seeds you planted. You never know who overheard you. You never know who was there and you finally said the thing that changed the way they think about something. You never know, keep going. Any progress is progress. No matter how small. Baby steps are how… I think I tell my group at the time that we meet, baby step by baby step, you climb a mountain. So we’re climbing massive, massive mountains but forward is forward. So yes, just essentially everything that Jillian already said.
Fatima: Love it, love a good co-sign. And also, yes, we climbing mountains and probably breaking them too. Because like some mountains we will need to climb. I love all of that. Amaia, Jillian, thank you so much. Appreciate you all for just all your wisdom and just sharing your knowledge and practice. I’m gonna go ahead and switch gears to the Q and A, and it looks like Airmeet has updated their features, where you can show questions on the stage. I don’t know what I’m doing y’all, so I’m gonna try it out. And if everything crashes, I am very sorry. But our first question is, our company has made significant, oh, it does show, look at that. Okay, we are alive. Our company has made significant DEI efforts over the last year, but it’s not fully transparent what those efforts or initiatives fully involve in terms of specific goal set, metrics that hit, et cetera. What is inappropriate way to ask for more data? Who wants to answer that? Y’all are both like…
Jillian: Well, I just, I feel like I in the same boat, so it might not be really an answer you want, but for me it’s… Well I guess I have a clarifying question too. If you’re looking from our data, like to be put into kind of for employees to see or for the public, I guess that’s my question. For me, it’s really, I’m at that point with our town where we are trying to out specific goals, but the data that we need isn’t there. And even discussions around how to get the data is difficult because we have our census, we have surveys, but like we need to start to think outside of the box in how to get things for the people we’re not reaching. But I think transparency is… That’s the best policy. Is share what you got. And again, I thin we said it earlier, there’s not gonna be really surprises because we kind of know what the reality is. And so you need that information to be able to actually make informed policies on how to improve things. I don’t really know if that was a helpful answer.
Fatima: No, you got some applauses. I’m also not in my head because that’s something Amaia highlighted with transparency. Transparency is scary. Like it can be very scary because some of you highlighted earlier that sometimes we don’t know what’s happening and I just wanna highlight this comment around, like, the question is great. And folks are also struggling with defining even like what those metrics are, because not everything feels tangible or quantifiable. But Amaia did you have anything else to add to that? Any thoughts?
Amaia: Yeah, I can try if I… If I’m not understanding the question precisely I apologize, but I think what, yeah. Twice a year we have our diversity, equity and inclusion survey and in the survey we’ve spent years perfecting it. We do ask demographic information questions, everything from what race do you identify, sexual orientation, what culture do you identify with, all the way to asking questions about do you feel included? Do you feel accepted being yourself here? Do you feel that you can bring your full self to work? Do you feel that DEI initiatives are important to the company and at each level? And so that’s one way of collecting data and it is fully anonymous. By design, we really want people to feel as comfortable as possible, answering as honestly as possible. So that’s one way that we collect data and then we publish those results internally. Completely, so it’s anonymous and as long as a comment doesn’t name another employee at the company, it’s all published for people to see. So we can’t really hide from that as far as when I mentioned before about being transparent and using data to help drive our initiatives. That’s one way that we do that. We also, when looking at… So the other side of that, what metrics do we wanna hit? One place that we started was we’ve said multiple times it’s important to us that we reflect the communities that we’re a part of. And now that we are remote hybrid, ezCater pretty much has employees all over the country. So a lot of our data, our demographic data, we benchmark against the US population data. And so we align a lot with Pew Research. They’re fantastic. They have a ton of great data available for us to benchmark against. So we essentially say, if we wanna represent our communities, and we’re seeing this type of representation that exists in our communities or at the US population, then that’s what we need to look like at ezCater. So that’s one way that we’ve used data to kind of benchmark and to help set goals. And then we also use data that’s available around who is historically underrepresented in our fields. So I work for a tech company. That’s gonna be very different than maybe like a healthcare company or a different type of like food company, whatever it is. So we then look at industry specific data to benchmark against just who is historically underrepresented, not just at the employee level, but at senior leadership in respective departments. So who is under underrepresented in customer service or in sales may not be the same people who are underrepresented in tech. So just a lot of research. And then we use what we are benchmark it against population data. I hope that was helpful. I think I could talk more about that later too, if it comes up, if whoever asked the question, Aaron, if there’s more you wanna know about that, but yeah.
Fatima: No, I think that’s awesome. I’m seeing folks sharing things in the chat and I love that you just shared all of that and also the benchmarking piece, because sometimes people don’t even know what are the questions that we’re asking? Like, so sort of doing an assessment and seeing what’s happening or what’s not working. I know Culture Amp has also been a company that’s been featured many times in terms of their surveys. So I think they recently updated their survey. And now they’re asking demographic questions, which is interesting because they have like an inclusive way of looking at culture. But then also it’s like, we also need the demographic information because we need to see if folk within the LGBTQIA community or identify as disabled or with disabilities, depending on the language and also it is disability pride month or disability awareness month. So I wanna also recognize that, but there are various questions we can be asking. And then from there figure out what it is that you need to work on once you have a better sense of what the issue actually is. I think very often we rush into assuming what we think the issue is, and we’re measuring for all the wrong things. And still we don’t have an idea of what we need to address because we weren’t as general. You sorta have to start off general first before you get really specific. Okay, awesome. I know we have a little bit of time left, so I’m gonna go ahead and go to the next question that is asking about elected individuals. And maybe this is specifically for you, Jillian, but elected individuals are a challenge, Jillian, could there be a reverse mentoring introduced for these people that could allow for intimate conversations?
Jillian: Yeah, so what that means is that it’s all just one-on-one conversations with me, which isn’t the best use of my time, but I have done that with individuals because that’s kind of the only way to start to get conversations going. When I think of like our select board, if there’s more than three of them, it’s considered, it needs to be open to the public. So if it’s been difficult to navigate that, but what I’ve been doing has just been making connections and building different relationships with the officials that we have. And even the other appointed commissions, it’s just being careful so that you don’t get caught by a law, but the reverse mentoring kind of makes sense, but it’s definitely… I mean, I always invite our officials to whatever programs there are and they typically do attend. Do they usually speak up? No. Which I understand, but attendance and support has been there, but navigating how to do a training, we did one training for our select board and it had to be open to the public. And it was just really… I don’t think it was the best way to get information across and have decent dialogue because it’s a mix of folks who support you. It’s a mix of folks who wanna rip you down. And so you’re gonna watch what you say, rather than really being open and honest and wanting to engage. And so it’s just been difficult, but those individual conversations, I have them all the time.
Fatima: Yeah, thanks so much for that. Amaia, I don’t know if you wanted to add to… I’m sitting here like yeah, uh huh, reverse mentoring, but did you have some thoughts? Thanks so much Jillian because I’m learning and I’m educated on that. I think the person who actually asked that question is just saying like what an environment to work in. And thanks for the answers. So that was helpful but Amaia, did you have, , we’re both like nope.
Amaia: That’s how I feel. I’m just listening to Jillian, like any day that I think I have a hard time at work, I’m just gonna be like, I don’t have to work with elected officials. That’s what you said about the red tape and all of the things you kind of have to like dance around. I mean, as if this work wasn’t hard enough to do.
Fatima: Amaia, you literally took the words out of my mouth. I’m like, this is already hard and then to think about mechanics and the politics around it. Yeah, it’s quite hard. But I appreciate…
Jillian: Please tell me that you’re taking like self-care days and spa days.
Amaia: I try.
Fatima: That might be our final question to log off, like how are y’all taking care of yourselves? This next question is an interesting one because I think we use words like safe and brave spaces a lot when we’re talking about DEI conversations and here we’re asking how important is it to work with white space, BIPOC space and brave space? I see both of y’all nodding. I have thoughts, but I invited y’all here for a reason, to give us the gems.
Jillian: I, oh, can I go? Okay, is that okay? So it’s a funny question. And I just think it depends on where you’re situated. Like I am in a white space, there’s no BIPOC space. I’m trying to create brave space within the white space, but there is not, it’s a white space. So I’m working in it and people are realizing and coming to the understanding of their whiteness and their privilege. And it’s a process, but I’m not here to help you get through that process. Like I’m not a therapist like you all have each other. So that’s part of what I’m helping facilitate is finding individuals within our organization that are able to step up for leadership roles, to be able to have these conversations with their colleagues, because I’m not gonna sit here with you and let you process like your white guilt. Like that’s not what I’m here for. And so being in a predominantly white space and dealing with predominantly white community members, it’s been very difficult to carve out spaces for people of color. Couple of months ago, I had a BIPOC workshop. I had two white women show up. I had to tell them, this is not the space for you, after they’ve realized it and then still had to break that down, why this space was created. So even just setting those spaces up has been difficult because not realizing that that’s not for you, is new to people and the brave space as well. Every program that I do, trainings that I do, I consider it a brave, or I don’t even always call it safe space because for some people it’s not because when it is all employees and there’s me and one other brown person, it’s not always safe because people aren’t going to say things that are absolutely hurtful, but it’s a space for them to be learning and to understand and process, but it’s still not safe. There are many days where I leave crying or I’m like, I need to take tomorrow off because that talk went so horrible, even though it was great for someone else to be able to start to process. But for me, it’s personally horrible as a person of color sitting through it and realizing like, oh, I have so much more work to do really that realization, but it’s definitely depending on where you are and what type of organization you’re with, the space can either be one way or another. And for me, it’s becoming very real that there’s a lot of work to be done to create spaces within white space for any marginalized group.
Fatima: Yeah, thank you so much for that, Jillian. Amaia I’m looking at you because I’ve also had an opportunity to like work closely with you and think about like these workshops and what that means and I wanna highlight something Jillian said, just like, hey, we can’t always be there to process. And I know that’s an example of like racial differences, but we can think about other areas in which some of us hold privilege and some of us don’t hold privilege and it’s like, I have to first process. And then the burden oftentimes of teaching is on the person with the marginalized identity. So it can be hard, but I’m curious Amaia, what your thoughts are on this. Thank you again, Jillian.
Amaia: Yeah, thank you for that, Jillian. And I think it’s extremely important to make, as I mentioned earlier, that I try to create space for courageous conversations and I do so very, very intentionally, meaning it’s very clear who will be present, what will be spoken about and what the purpose is of the conversation so that we don’t have any of our people of color who are walking into a conversation and then just like going through another traumatic experience, where they have to sit there and have their experience spoken about as if they’re not in the room and by people who don’t really understand it. And how damaging that is. So I think the intentionality around it is extremely important. And also, so there is an article, I don’t know if it’s okay if I put it in the chat, so I didn’t, but I’ll tell you all. It’s called “Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People”. And when I was first made aware of this article, because we have really intentional spaces, we have one of our channels that is our hub of intersectionality, if you will. So it’s for black and indigenous people of color. People who identify as being part of mental health community, people with disabilities, people who are part of the LGBTQ plus community and allies. I’m sure I’m forgetting one, but it’s our hub of intersectionality. And I paste things in there like this, where it’s a space where I know I’m reaching a broad audience. And we also talk about the importance of people learning on their own and recognizing that. So when they do come into spaces, they’re very aware of the space they are taking up. And without it having to be first in an open conversation that they’re hearing it for the first time. So I think it’s extremely important. And it’s just being very intentional around what kind of spaces, how people are aware of what kind of space they’re in, using opportunities that are not conversations always to bring people’s attention to, the space they take up, why their presence may or may not make others uncomfortable. Why wanting to learn is great. And it doesn’t mean you get to be wherever you wanna be, or a part of whatever conversation you wanna be a part of. I think that’s a huge… I mean that, so to your point, Jillian, the fact that these women and I wasn’t there. So of course, I’m just saying this right, but that these women showed up and then you had to explain to them that this is not a space for you. For a lot of people who are overrepresented or not part of marginalized groups, you said it perfectly, Jillian, everywhere is white space. All spaces are white spaces, especially in these communities. Having a community that is your own and a space that is your own is incredibly special when you’re a black or brown person. So I think that learning needs to happen and not at the expense of the trauma of black and brown people. So like with that white space and the articles and the learning and the support, I think creating a space for people to ask those questions is incredibly important because the learning has to occur, but being intentional around where and when that learning does occur. I dunno if that was… I kind of, I feel like I went all over the place there. But… Sorry.
Fatima: You hit everything okay. Like just first, thank you. Just first defining, like who can be in various spaces, but then this idea of privilege where you don’t just get to move wherever you want. And if you’re used to operating and moving that way, you then ask the question, well, Jillian, why is this space only for… Because you’re so used to being centered. You’re so used to being normalized. And so I think you all answered the question beautifully. I think another piece of this, as we think about facilitating conversations is that that work together is also needed. That conversation together is also needed and we’re not gonna wait for you to get it. So how do you balance that while recognizing that some of the folks that are in white space are also in spaces of power and privilege within an organization, within the company and have the ability to make change. And I think someone highlighted that earlier. All right. Y’all are amazing. And I know that we said we would wrap up closer to 6:45, I think, on our agenda. So we’ll probably have time for about one more question. Because I wanna respect y’all’s time. So if you wanted to spend an extra 15 minutes on the platform, you can, if you wanna leave, you can. But one of the other questions that came up, let’s see, was really just thinking about the conversations. And maybe you answered this already, but this idea of, hey, Amaia, you’re talking about open and safe conversations, what were some of the topics or questions you used to frame the conversation? Did you find some to be more impactful in a positive way than others? If you could just quickly highlight a few and maybe we’ll have time for one more question, that’d be awesome.
Amaia: Yeah, so this was half employee led with questions that were submitted anonymously, like, hey, we need to talk about this. And so sometimes it was driven by what people wanted to talk about. Other times it was driven by… So we had this big initiative of people learning on their own times, who were picking documentaries like “13th”. “I Am Not Your Negro”. Other readings like the article I just referenced, “Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People”. And so sometimes I would throw that out and say, hey, this is what we’re gonna discuss next time we meet. So something like that, or sometimes it was more pointed of we receive feedback from our employees that they were disappointed with the lack of response to certain current events, why are we not responding? And so there was a conversation that then ensued in a slack channel around why we didn’t respond. And that turned into, hey, this is a really important conversation that we need to have. Clearly, there’s a misunderstanding between our leadership and our frontline folks. So like that would guide the conversation. So it was really about being open and listening first to hear what people wanted to talk about. And also from our people of color where they were feeling like people are not aware of this. So what questions did we hear from employees that they wanna know and they wanna do better. Where are BIPOC employees feeling like people need to really be aware of this. And then also what’s happening currently that we can pull and pay attention to and say, hey, let’s have a conversation about that. So it was a mix of all of that. I think this was also where what happened last year did help out because it was so top of mind for people that we were really never struggling to find a topic. It was kind of, something was always being brought up. And what I found with these conversations were that because the people who were showing up really did either want to have something to say or did wanna learn. The conversation usually started at one point and went, and we covered a lot of really important things along the way, because I think as anybody who does this work knows, I’m thinking about our calculus conversation, so many people want to jump in at a certain point in DEI and know how to do the hero work or the, hey, I wanna be able to have a courageous conversation. I wanna be able to call somebody in when I see them commit a microaggression and not realizing like you just asked me to teach you calculus when you’ve never taken algebra. And so when we have these conversations, sometimes folks are so ready to be like, well, I wanna learn how to do this. And then in the conversation we’re able to unfold. Yes, wonderful, I wanna be able to do that too. And we got to start all the way back here in the learning journey, because there is a lot to understand and to be aware of, and this is a very, very complex world that we are in, before we can just jump in and do this work. So that was typically how those conversations happen. And then I would try to just take advantage of them in a sense of like I’ve got people’s ears when I saw a good inflection point to pull in another important topic and more acting as facilitator of the conversation instead of leader, I think that’s another important thing here. Was letting everything come from what our people want and need, and then just guiding the conversation intervening when necessary, if necessary, but really just kind of like tossing in those nuggets when I see something else come up and just kind of, and throwing that in and letting people again, just learn as they went on in the conversation.
Fatima: Yes, snaps to all of that. Yes and yes. Like these conversations can look different in different times and helping people know like here, this is where you are and this is where you’re trying to get to. So let’s figure out what that process looks like. Thanks, Amaia. Jillian did you have anything else to add before we wrap up?
Jillian: I mean, I was looking at this question too, just because I’m thinking of like the different places, you and I are in a Amaia and like the big conversations I have done for community, like community facing, have been really interesting. And this year I will say there was a different level of respect, I think. Last year, the community conversations I would do, you could feel the anger of community members really coming through when we touched upon topics of housing, police violence, school, discipline data, lots of topics. I did actually way too many. I did like eight. This year I scaled back and did three. But again, retouching on fair housing. And next month we’re doing symbolism and its impacts because of the uptake and defacement of property and Black Lives Matter signs, but also anti-semantic things like just bringing the conversations that are real and happening in the community is what I’m trying to do. But it’s very, it’s tough to balance out the voices that need to be heard and elevated. I mean, I’ve done a few sessions where it’s been broadcast, but it’s called “Elevating Voices of Color” because those folks never get heard. So we did an “Elevating Indigenous Voices of Color”. We have an indigenous community in Arlington, like giving people the opportunity to speak up because they’re always spoken for or on behalf of. That’s my biggest thing. I cannot stand when people come and say, yeah, someone’s always fearful to come forward. Okay, well, you can send them to me. They can speak to me anonymously. And so that’s becoming more of a thing because I do handle complaints of discrimination and bias, but community engagement and community conversations is really a way to just kind of get everyone at least aware that you know their issues and you’re ready to talk about them. Oh, you’re on mute.
Fatima: It happened, I was like someone has to do it. Jillian I feel like you were excited to say it like, ha ha. No, I was gonna say, I appreciate your thoughts. And also looking at in the chat, Tiffany saying like it’s harder when you think about it from a government perspective and the politics that go into it. All right, y’all. I know we have a lot to say. There are two questions that I want us to answer in rapid fire, less than 30 seconds, if you can. I know a task, it’s a task because like we got to close out, but I’m gonna combine these two. One around accountability. How do you hold people accountable? Like how do we do that work? And then the second piece is, when someone isn’t doing good or you know they need to do better, how you make sure they do better? How do you call them to the table? And I honestly feel like those two questions work well together. So if y’all can make it quick as possible, I would love that. So who wants to start the challenge?
Jillian: I don’t want to because I need to like trim it down.
Amaia: I’ll just go and then Jillian, when you’re ready, you just tell me to stop and then you jump in.
Jillian: Perfect, I’m gonna be like stop!
Amaia: So we use data. The data that we collect, the data that people agree to. So this is where I like to lean on. Are you really bought in the way you think you’re bought in? Or are you just saying that you’re bought in and like that kind of conversation. And so we use the data that people agree to, like the metrics that people agree to and by people I mean our leaders, our managers, and they said, yes, I’m gonna… All right, this is important to me. I wanna be a part of this. I wanna do this. And when we show them that their team or they’re not based on the data, that’s kind of, it’s an objective entry point to the conversation, right? And so it’s saying, hey, let’s talk about how we didn’t meet these goals. And I think that in trying these conversations, it’s so easy for people to get emotional and defensive because this is a lot. So I think going about it in an objective way and saying, hey, this is what we talked about. This is what we agreed to together. We’re not meeting it. Let’s talk about what’s happening. What’s going on? Why are we not meeting it? And so a lot of the conversation I hear in this spaces, like let’s say around hiring, we just need to fill the role as fast as possible, or we just need to do this, or we’re so stressed or our team is overwhelmed. And so just starting by acknowledging what they’re experiencing as a leader, as a manager and walking through possible solutions, I think is a good way to call them in while still saying, okay, we didn’t meet the goal. Let’s talk about, let’s acknowledge everything that you’re experiencing because we’re in this together. How can we move forward and meet the goal next time. I’m gonna stop now because…
Fatima: No, it was great. I was like, I’m not gonna interrupt though. No, that was awesome. So what I heard is just like transparency, calling someone to the table and just be like, okay, what’s working, what’s not working. And then how can we move from there? And those conversations can look interesting. So, yeah, but thank you, Amaia. That was excellent, Jillian.
Jillian: So for me, at least, so it’s kind of split because it’s like community side and then internal side. So internal side, we, in our last larger training, we introduced a racial equity tool. So everyone is learning how to use it and is practicing. Like we’re not putting it in place until everyone’s comfortable with the practice. But for that, meeting the accountability pieces, when folks come to me with questions that I know they can answer if they’re using this tool, I put it back on them. Again, I said it before, I’m not here to fix this for you. Like I’m giving you the tools to do so. So don’t come to me when you have the tools in front of you to start to problem solve. So that’s one thing. And then I know people don’t really like it, but I’m saying no and stuff is becoming my biggest thing because I’ve been the yes woman for the last year and a half and I just don’t have the time. But for community side, it’s kind of similar. When folks come to me with demands or requests, I really kind of sit them down and ask, why is it you’re coming to me with this? Have you talked to your neighbors? Like you want support for this, but do you know that your neighbors actually want this? Who would it actually impact? So having discussions and kind of putting questions back on individuals is more so how, I guess I’m holding folks accountable because they’re having to stop and really think about what it is they’re doing and they’re asking and work through that process themselves. That self-reflection piece is key. It’s something I continuously trying to do that I’m reminding others to constantly do. Especially if you want to be involved with this type of work, self-reflection is key. So I kind of plant those in any way I can. It’s probably annoying. Like she’s not answering your questions. No, you can answer it yourself. Just look within. So, yeah.
Fatima: Look within. You know what? How do you maintain momentum? Look within. Facts, right? Like, but also curiosity. We talk about that a lot. Like no judgment, but just asking people, because sometimes people are afraid, they’re scared and or they know that you’re the person that’s always wanting to do the work and so people rely on you. And so you have to find balance for yourself as well. Like you’re the Director of DEI, but it doesn’t mean that like I’m the only one or this work is only on me. So that’s really key. Someone just said, no, it was such a powerful word so we’re gonna highlight that on the stage real quick, while Amaia said she has one more thing to say. Thank you, Jillian. Okay, Amaia, close us out.
Amaia: This is just my last plea for transparency around this data is just something to think about because I was seeing in the chat that people were talking about the fear of posting their data and people realizing that our organization is not very diverse or that, I think I saw something about, there are more people on the company page that are diverse than actually in the company or whatever it is. And something to just think about is that in systems of oppression, a lack of transparency tends to benefit the oppressor. And so when we are not transparent, when we do not show what is… Sorry, I’m trying so hard to say it, not like using the language I usually use out . When we’re not transparent, it’s so much easier to gaslight people, to perpetuate inequities, to continue to benefit the majority represented group. So as Fatima said, as we said earlier, if you’re a part of a marginalized group, you are fully aware of where you are and are not represented. So a company not posting their data is not the make or break for you when you’re looking at joining that company. And let’s say that you are in a very diverse company and so you don’t post your stuff, thinking you’re going to get more diverse candidates, it’s gonna be leaky bucket because they’re gonna join. They’re gonna recognize that they were fed a story that maybe isn’t the truth. And if they don’t feel accepted being there and don’t feel that they’re gonna be able to succeed, they’re gonna leave anyways. So let’s all… This is me saying transparency helps us be better. It really does. None of us are doing this perfectly. No one has this perfectly figured out, but if we can learn from each other and can hold each others companies accountable to being better, it will only benefit the marginalized groups. A lack of transparency does benefit the oppressor and we are in historically systemic oppressive systems. So that’s it. Sorry, I’m off my…
Fatima: Listen, okay. I cannot because they did this on purpose y’all so that we can keep going and I will not. The answer is no. And Jillian said, no is a powerful word. I kept that statement there. That was beautifully said. I don’t even know what quote you said because it just took me a back and I was trying to type it. And it just… Something about transparency is something for supremacy. I don’t know. But right, like when we think about all of these things in the ways that we continue to perpetuate harmful systems, that’s what y’all are telling us. How do you keep momentum when you’re doing DEI work? What I’m hearing today is first acknowledge the issue. Like not just the issue on an organizational level, but on a person level, like where is your work? Where are you on the journey? That’s like the key things that you all hit on today. And then secondly, thinking about how do you assess? So highlighting the areas that you’re doing well and the areas that you’re not doing well in. And then buffering those strengths and saying, like we said, this is what we were gonna do so let’s do it. But also find the answers. Don’t just depend on us as folks who were in the DEI space. But like, if you really wanna move this work and do this work, you have to be able to be transparent and be honest where you are and then hold yourselves accountable in so many ways that you all mentioned, whether it’s through conversations, whether it’s through how you’re hiring, whether it’s through you talking to community members, all of those gems, you all have brought to us this evening. And so I’m in gratitude for sharing this space with you. Time is a social construct, I know, but we still have to follow it sometimes. Amaia Arruabarrena, because I said I was gonna say your name. I did it, okay, awesome. And Jillian Harvey, y’all are amazing. You’ve been amazing. You kept a good audience. I know folks are probably like, we need to log off, but you kept most of us here tonight. And so thank you. Your LinkedIn is shared in the Eventbrite. But if you have anything to share around where people can find you or connect with you, feel free to unmute yourself and share that with the people.
Jillian: Yeah, I’d say LinkedIn is the best because if you email me, you might get an answer in like a month. Because it’s always flooded. So LinkedIn is the best.
Fatima: Because the answer is no. Amaia, What about you?
Amaia: LinkedIn is good, but I’m actually, I feel like I’m always in my email. So it’s my first name @ezcater. Feel free to email me anytime too there or LinkedIn. Whatever’s easiest for you. And I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. Always happy to connect and continue with the conversation. Thank you all for being here and for having me here.
Fatima: Perfect, y’all are amazing.