6 Tips for Companies & 5 Tips for Individuals from Indeed's Group VP of ESG, LaFawn Davis
Earlier this month, LaFawn Davis, Indeed's Group Vice President of Environmental, Social, & Governance, joined us as part of our Diversity Reboot Summit to talk about the 'shecession' experienced by many women, and especially women of color, as a result of COVID-19.
LaFawn shared some great tips for companies and individuals looking to be part of "the great rehiring." If you're looking to find a new role, or to ensure that you help bring back diverse talent displaced by COVID, check out her advice below, and catch her complete talk here or by clicking the video above!
Q: What would your advice be to companies that are looking to step up their diverse hiring in 2021?
My advice: Good intentions are no longer good enough. Nobody wants to hear what you meant to do, wish you could have do, intended to do. Nobody wants to hear that you can't find Black Women or any other dimension of diversity. We're obviously out here.
My squad and I have a saying "Impact over intentions." So, if 2020 was the year of good diversity and inclusion intentions, let's make 2021 the year of actions and impact.
So, now that we got that out of the way. If you're looking to step up your diverse hiring. Stop and get your house in order. Because you shouldn't just want to hire a diverse workforce, you should want to grow and keep them too. So there are 5 things, ready?
1. Focus on long-term systemic change.
There's a lot of momentum — and need — for change right now. It's not just about a message of support or donating to a cause one time. Take a look at your own systems. How do you hire and grow employees? Do your succession planning, talent reviews, recruiting and other processes have built-in biases? Is equality part of your core values? Are you actively working toward change? Recognize that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Above all, hold yourself accountable for the way things are, then work to improve.
2. Take a close look at your data.
Share it internally to be transparent with employees of where you are now. When possible, share it externally to be visible and accountable (I'm happy to announce that Indeed will be releasing its own diversity data this summer). Use it as a baseline for comparison against what you hope to achieve.
3. Change behavior.
Focus on behavioral changes throughout the company with an emphasis on coaching, training, and having crucial conversations with managers. Leaders and managers set an example for the entire workforce. If employees see the behavior of managers or leaders in a negative light, a true sense of belonging is difficult to achieve.
4. Representation matters.
If leadership roles are perceived as exclusive to many members of the workforce, then a broader sense of belonging will continue to elude many employees. People in leadership roles should reflect the diversity of a company's workforce. Observing someone "like me" in a leadership role helps attract and retain talent and motivates workers to pursue roles with greater responsibility.
5. Create Policies And Procedures Reflective Of The Entire Workforce.
As you work through new or existing policies and procedures, be aware of barriers experienced by different populations. Take, for example, the case of caregivers. More scheduling flexibility for calls can go a long way for employees who share their home workspace with others and must tend to family responsibilities while working remotely.
Q: Do you have advice for individuals that are looking for new career opportunities, especially women of color who might have lost their previous jobs during the pandemic?
Adaptability has always been an important part of an individual's career progression - even before COVID-19, it is especially important now.
It is important to show a potential new employer how your abilities adapt to a new role or a new industry. Focus on skills more than just experiences because skills can be applied in so many different ways. So… I'll give you 6 things for this one.
1. Perform a professional audit. Taking some time to understand your qualities, qualifications and values can help focus your career transition and narrow down your career path options if you haven't already. Doing so can also help you understand how you might position yourself during the job search.
2. Identify your hard and soft skills. Soft skills are often the most transferable, so identifying them early can help you understand the ways you might bring value to a new role or industry. Taking inventory of your hard skills will help you identify if there are certain industries that might be easier to transition into.
3. Highlight your biggest career wins. Communicating the impact you've made throughout your career can help employers quickly understand the value you'll bring to their organization, even if you come from another role or industry.
4. Utilize online job search to your advantage. Pay close attention to the requirements and duties of jobs so you can evaluate whether the career would align with your skills, interests and values.
5. You just need to meet "most" of the qualifications. Try to focus on positions for which you meet at least 60% of the qualifications with your transferable skills. Meeting 60% of the qualifications isn't a hard rule, but it's a good general guideline to help you determine whether it's worth applying for.
6. Get a sense of the company. Before interviews, do some research to learn how inclusive a company is. Peruse the organization's core values, its social media accounts, and any recent statements in support of marginalized groups. Pay attention to the interviewers themselves. Is the panel diverse or are you likely to be an early "diversity hire"? If the interviewers seem to be emphasizing "cultural fit," ask what that means. Basically, be an active participant in the hiring process. You are also interviewing the company, as much as they are interviewing you.
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
As a Black woman, I could feel the eye rolls and groans from my ancestors.
Lately, regardless of their role, Black professionals are having very uncomfortable conversations about race. Some of these conversations spark organically or out of necessity, but regardless, it can evoke a lot of emotions. So how do you handle these tough conversations with your non-Black coworkers?
Know that you don't have to say anything
You may feel inclined to say something to a coworker who is asking you questions about race or when she has said something out of line. However, if the emotional labor is just too much, know that you do not owe it to anyone, even well-intentioned people, to share your perspectives about race.
This sensitive topic should only be touched on by you to those you feel truly deserve and welcome your insight. Not everyone is there yet, but if you feel pressured to say anything when you don't want to, know that it is not your job to educate everyone on Black issues. To conserve your energy and keep your space safe, setting boundaries may help.
Here is how that conversation can play out at work:
Coworker: I have so many family members that are really struggling with the "all lives matter" versus "Black lives matter" philosophies. Do you have any resources I can share that I can send to them?
You: This is not something I'm comfortable speaking about. I know there is a lot of information online that you may feel is useful. I hope that you can respect this boundary for me.
Addressing coworkers who are "woke" when convenient
Right now, for wonderful intentions and opportunistic ones, fighting for Black lives is popular. Many companies are making conscious shifts to become more anti-racist and everyone from activists to celebrities to influencers have been sharing their stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Because being a part of the movement has been so monumental, people are getting swept in without first checking their own internalized racism. They intend on doing their part to be anti-racist, but are misguided on those actions or have taken actions that contradict them.
For example, I once had a White coworker who fought for diversity for the attendees at an exclusive retreat, and consistently challenged any inklings of White supremacy wherever she saw it...but once touched the hair of a Black coworker with natural hair without asking.
If you think there is a serious issue, definitely bring the matter to HR's attention, but if you think the person is under-educated about their unconscious bias, and know them well enough to call them out, talking to them directly may be the right option for you, but only if you have the emotional bandwidth.
Here is an example statement you can share with this coworker if you deem them open enough to share:
"Hi, Kimberly. It was great seeing photos of you at the rally. It seems like you are looking for ways to support the Black community and that's a good thing. With that, I wanted to point out something that I've noticed that you do, which makes me uncomfortable. This is something that you may not know that is causing me discomfort, but with seeing you out there trying to make a difference, I'm hopeful that you can be receptive to what you could be doing right here at work to make an impact. Last week when…"
Be honest about how you are feeling
While you don't owe it to anyone to share your feelings, it can really mean a lot when a non-Black coworker checks in with how you are holding up. Black women tend to feel pressured both externally and internally to be as positive as possible at work. This pressure can be too much to take at times, and being able to release with a coworker who has earned your trust may give you a small release on the relentlessness of always seeming strong and happy.
While you can't hand off all of the emotions you may be feeling now, you can start being honest when a trusted coworker asks, "how are you doing... really?"
Here is an example of how to do that:
Coworker: I just wanted to check in with how you are doing? I know it can not be easy to be working with everything going on like things are normal.
You: Honestly, not great. I'm doing the best that I can, but it's not easy.
This is a gateway to a good conversation. They can choose to stop the conversation there, and move on to something else. Or, they may decide to listen, to be supportive, and to be an advocate at work and beyond. But it all starts with being honest even when it's hard, to coworkers who are not afraid to show up authentically.
We know that we cannot claim to be committed to diversity and inclusion without speaking out against the overt and covert forms of racism faced by the Black community on a daily basis. To build diverse and inclusive workplaces, we need to start with equity. No workplace can be inclusive without making space for tough conversations and speaking up for what's right.
We're reading, we're listening, and we're educating ourselves on how we can do better. And we're working with the companies and leaders that partner with us to do the same—to not only speak out against injustice, but to take actions to create equity and combat racism within and outside of their organizations.
We shared some of the resources we've been using as an organization here, but we wanted to create this post to serve as a living document that we will continue to add to and update regularly. Have feedback or questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(And if you've read this far and find yourself questioning whether this strong of a reaction is really necessary, we'd like to challenge you to start here—and keep in mind that that article was written in 1989, but not much has changed since then.)
Coping at Work
- 44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country
- How to Handle Microaggressions at Work
- How to Deal with Racism at Work (When it happens to you, when it happens to a coworker, or when you hear about it as a manager)
Resources for Employers/Allies in the Workplace
- A list of resources to learn about injustice in tech and what you can do about it
- Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They're Okay — Chances Are They're Not
- Please Stop 'Checking In to See If I'm Okay': Whatever you think I might be feeling because of the news right now, it's not new for me this week.
- What Black Employees Want to Hear from Their Companies
- How U.S. Companies Can Support Employees of Color Through the Pandemic
- What Your Black Employees & Customers Need to Hear
- How to Be an Ally to Your Black Colleagues and Peers
- Being an Ally to Black Colleagues and Peers
- How to Foster More Inclusive Environments
- Getting Leadership Buy-In For Diversity Efforts
- How To Create A Diversity Scorecard For Your Organization
- Heart To Heart - Ladyship & DiversityUsing the I in D&I to Attract and Retain Top Talent
- Mitigating Bias in Tech Through Systemic Change
- Diversity Reboot 2020
- How Leaders Can Support Their Black Employees
- Being Black in Technology: Closing the Diversity Gap
Understanding Systemic Racism and White Privilege
Articles to Read
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying
Books to Read
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Asha Bandele, Patrisse Cullors
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (you can rewatch our book club discussion when you finish here!)
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
Films to Watch
- Destin Daniel Cretton's legal drama Just Mercy
- Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th
- DuVernay's Historical Drama Selma
Videos Under 10 Minutes
- Kimberly Jones Explains Racism + the U.S. Economy in Under 7 Minutes
- Emanuel Acho's "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man"
Talking About Race with Your Kids
- Oprah Winfrey's OWN special, "Where Do We Go From Here?"
Places You Can Donate
- The Bail Project: The Bail Project™ National Revolving Bail Fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent, and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release before trial contingent on paying bail.
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Black Lives Matter: Support the fight against state-sanctioned anti-Black violence and systemic racism.
- National Black Bailout Fund: Help end systems of mass incarceration and free imprisoned Black mothers..
- Louisville Community Bail Fund: Contribute to bail for protestors in Louisville.
- Black Visions Collective: Fund campaigns to empower Black communities in Minnesota.
- Reclaim the Block: Help Minneapolis community and city council members move money from the police department into areas that promote community health and safety.