Denise Dekker has several chapters of her memoir already planned. There's the story of her time as a line cook at a vegan restaurant in San Francisco, a section on her nine years as a buyer for an organic produce company, and definitely a chapter on "speaking two languages fluently: American English and Scots English," jokes the longtime Oakland resident who is originally from Edinburgh.
Denise is someone who has a lot of interests, as her future memoir chapters suggest, and the passion and curiosity to keep pursuing them. In addition to her professional pursuits, she's also an amateur DJ—"I love house music and 90s hip hop," she says—a masterful crocheter, and, thanks to quarantine, a newly-minted pro at making sourdough bread.
After a long career in sustainable agriculture, she decided she was ready for something new, so she went back to school. "I'd never finished my undergraduate degree, so I figured that was a good starting point," says Denise, who took an intro to programming class that she says "just sort of got [her]."
"I'm a maker," explains Denise. "I like to figure out problems, to be immersed in things, so I decided to go for a major in computer science." She graduated with her bachelor's in computer science from Mills College, where she focused on theoretical frameworks, and went on to do a stint at women-focused bootcamp Hackbright Academy to shore up her hard skills.
She found the right fit for her interests and values during an interview with cloud monitoring company Datadog. "I wanted to work for a company with a product that did something cool, that helps people improve their quality of life in some way, and Datadog felt like a really great fit from the beginning. Everyone I talked to was just the nicest, most welcoming person," says Denise.
And this year, two years into her tenure at Datadog working as a tier two solutions engineer in the company's technical solutions organization, Denise realized she wanted to make sure her workplace was welcoming for everyone.
Creating space for everyone to succeed
Denise is fully aware of the fact that while completely transitioning industries decades into her career required lots of hard work and determination, she had an easier time than other people might. "There's a lot of privilege in being able to do that," she says. "My husband was able to support us for years [of me] not working, and that's not available to everyone."
But Denise also knows that the best workplace is one that has pathways to entry and inclusion for people of all different backgrounds, from other women and late-to-CS applicants like her, to people of different racial and economic backgrounds. "Something I've learned on a very, very deep level this year is that for Black and indigenous people of color, having a work environment that feels safe and supportive is just so important and so necessary," she says.
Denise started talking to a few colleagues about how to make sure that her team's environment reflected that, and they decided to form an employee-led affinity group. It started with a slide deck and one-off conversations with senior leaders on the Technical Solutions team, and has recently become a group with regular meetings and an agenda that is on track to support DEI within the department by helping to build a welcoming environment for all employees, a pathway to hiring for diverse candidates, promotion support for diverse employees, and representation at all levels of the Technical Solutions team.
DEI work is something Denise has always supported, though she says it wasn't until she took classes in college on systems of oppression that she realized the depth of the injustice people of color were facing. "Having more of the details, it shouldn't even be a question of why we're trying to break down these barriers," she says. She gives an analogy from her background in sustainable agriculture that emphasizes the benefit in doing this work: "When you're growing crops, monocropping doesn't give anything back to the soil, it doesn't help with pest control. I am firmly in the camp that diversity provides an opportunity to work with different people, observe different ideas, and to have more empathy and humility in your work."
5 steps to starting a DEI conversation on your team
Wherever you and your company are at in terms of acknowledging gaps in creating an inclusive environment, Denise has a few ideas for how to approach those conversations.
1. Do your reading. Particularly if you're new to organizing and/or allyship. "There's some really great reading material out there that just takes you through step-by-step," says Denise, who recommends materials on how to lead and engage from the Anne E. Casey Foundation, Third Sector New England, and the voting protocol Fist to Five.
2. Network. Find other people who are thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, too, and figure out how you can work together to advance your goals. "The cool part has been meeting people across my team that I had never met before," says Denise.
3. Prioritize. Get your core group together and determine what you'll focus on. "What's important for us is keeping the scope of what we know and working locally to improve what we have and what we know we can affect," says Denise. For her group, they're focused on creating "an organization location," explains Denise, "or a place that people can recognize as somewhere they can come if they have questions, if they want to be involved, and to really elevate underrepresented voices."
4. Recruit senior employees to get needed buy-in and foster legitimacy. "For us, having the support of senior management has been really instrumental in moving the group forward," says Denise. She recommends having one-on-one conversations with leaders across your team or department. Ideally, those leaders would be thrilled to talk more about DEI, but if you're meeting resistance, Denise suggests that you "just keep building the bridges, keep talking, keep finding people who are equally as passionate as you."
5. Encourage everyone. Denise highlights how important it is to create a welcoming environment for everyone to come learn more about what DEI means at work, no matter how far along in their allyship journey they may be. "We want to welcome people with questions. There are no wrong questions. When questions are coming from a genuine place of not understanding and wanting to learn, then bring them; let's talk about them," says Denise.
If you're interested in learning more about inclusion and open roles at Datadog, go here.
💎 How to build trust in your team? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 How should you work to build trust in your team? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Veronica Setzke, Senior Director of People Ops at Pax8, who shares tips and tricks she learned through years of coaching.
📼 How to build trust with peers in your team? Tip #1: Relationships. There's no better way to start forming relationships than having regular one-on-ones. It doesn't have to just be with your supervisor. It can be with your coworkers. It can be with those people that you collaborate regularly with. And it's really important in these one-on-ones that we're spending time listening. Take the time to be present and listen. Also, spend time together not working. Have lunch together. Go for coffee. Take a five-minute walk around the building and just have a conversation. Relations are a key element to trust!
📼 How to build trust? Open yourself in your team Tip #2: Vulnerability. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Ask for feedback, whether it's feedback about a project, a process, or even maybe a leadership behavior that you're trying to master. This allows those on your team and those around you to see you as willing to be vulnerable. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. It doesn't mean that you’re weak, but rather that you’re open. It allows your team to understand that it's a safe place for them to also be vulnerable.
How To Share To Build Trust In Your Team - Tip #3: Clear Is Kind
Keep the team informed and say as much as you can about what you know. There are times that we hold information that could be shared. We could share that information that impacts others' work and have them have the opportunity to use that to do better. If you've learned something that could help your colleague make a better decision, share that! Try to ensure that your communication with others is clear. When you make the effort to be clear about your intentions, your work, and your roadblocks, it opens others up to do the same.
📨 Are you interested in joining Pax8? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Veronica Setzke
She works as a People professional because she sincerely believes that people want to be excellent, and it is her role to help move the obstacles to their achieving success. She believes the employees deserve a culture that values their work and will respond to such a culture by creating amazing results. If you are interested in a career at Pax8, you can connect with Veronica on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Pax8
The company simplifies the way organizations buy, sell, and manage cloud solutions, empowering its partners to achieve more with cloud technology. At Pax8, they know that they are only as great as their people. They realize that every individual has unique personal and professional aspirations, which is why they strive to offer a complete and competitive Total Rewards offering for their members and family.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.