With Juneteenth right around the corner, we are reminded of the importance of freedom, diversity, equity, and inclusion — and the dangers of a world without them.
Special holidays like Juneteenth give us the ability to celebrate race and culture together, and they are an example of the progress we have made in the fight for a better world. But there is still so much more to do, and progress comes from a year-round celebration.
That’s why PowerToFly’s All Year Long Series focuses on carrying the spirit of these dedicated times throughout the rest of the year. We are devoted to being a part of that progress and want to ensure that the underrepresented feel uplifted, heard, and included — no matter the day or month!
As part of our All Year Long Series, we are amplifying Black voices by sharing some past talks on race, inclusion, history, and equity.
These talks deliver powerful messages of movement and change and feature Black voices speaking up about racism and inequality in the workplace and beyond, the changes that have been made, and the changes that must still occur.
Check out our list to keep the progress and celebration going all year long, and to help spread awareness!
Sista Circle: Celebrating Black Women In Tech - Featuring Leaders From Meta, Google, And Bank Of America
If you want to learn from some of the top tech leaders, then this is for you! PowerToFly partners with Sista Circle: Black Women In Tech to celebrate, learn from, and be inspired by some amazing Black women leaders in the tech industry. This talk discusses the power of technology to create safe communities of solidarity, the need for mentors to help young Black women navigate the tech world, the racial and gender inequality in the tech industry, the importance of mental health and self-care for Black women in the professional realm, and much more. Featuring Lexi B (Founder of Sista Circle: Black Women in Tech), Michelle Mitchell (Strategic Communities Program Manager, Media Partnerships at Meta), Dr. Chyna Hill (Sr. User Experience Researcher at Google), Yan Lawrence (Quantitative Analyst at Bank of America), and Isabel Cespedes (Creative Director of Sista Circle: Black Women in Tech), this powerful talk shows both the rise in Black women leaders and the need for continual change in the tech industry to better achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion. This conversation is presented in partnership with Sista Circle and Pickens Creative.
In this riveting talk, PowerToFly’s Sienna Brown sits down with New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims to discuss her memoir Real American. In her book, Julie talks about her journey from self-loathing to self-love as a Black and biracial woman living in predominantly white spaces in 1970s America, and how in sharing her path to self-acceptance she also discovered the healing power of community in overcoming the hurtful isolation she experienced in being incessantly considered "the other."
History, race, and identity – three powerful words that can invoke different emotions. In this talk, Camille T. Dungy, author of the personal essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers, joins Nadia Owusu, author of the memoir Aftershocks, for a thoughtful conversation on how their works overlap on these three themes and the powerful testament they share for what racism looks like today.
Very little is more powerful today than the media. That’s why DeShuna Spencer founded KweliTV, a Black-owned video streaming service that showcases indie films, documentaries, web shows, news, and children’s programs dedicated to the stories, issues, and culture of the global Black community. But in this interview hosted by David Morgan, President of The Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association, DeShuna and Kweli’s Head of Comedy Programming acclaimed actor and comedian Lil Rel Howery, share candid insights into the challenges KweliTV faces trying to achieve sustainability and scale in the competitive streaming industry still bereft of culturally diverse content and content creators, and the overarching cultural importance of consuming diverse Black stories. This conversation is presented in partnership with MMCA.
Maybe you find out your white colleague is making more money than you, even though you've been working there longer and do the exact same job; or maybe you hear your boss commit yet another microaggression. Whatever the catalyst, you finally decide enough is enough. But when you talk to someone about your experiences, you’re told it's all in your head... What do you do? How do you respond when your lived experiences of racism in the workplace are denied or ignored? In this talk, PowerToFly’s Global DEI Strategist and Trainer, Noelle Johnson, provides space to acknowledge the harm these experiences cause and shares tools and tips for preserving your mental health and well-being while getting your desired outcome.
February is Black History Month and June 19th is Juneteenth – two times of the year that special emphasis is placed on the Black community in the United States. But how can we Amplify Black Excellence and Elevate Black Employees all year long? Join PowerToFly’s Senior Director of DEIB, Sienna Brown, and Thumbtack’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dionna Smith, as they discuss how leadership and professional development opportunities can amplify Black excellence. What pitfalls should you avoid when elevating Black employees? How does psychological safety play a key role in performance and retention? Learn how to create a better atmosphere of diversity and inclusion with two leaders in the DEI industry!
Thanks to Black Lives Matter, a powerful and necessary conversation has resulted in real change. But how do we keep that momentum moving forward? Join Dionna Smith (Thumbtack’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), Candace Ramirez (Founder/Content & Branding Export at Moon Honey Media), Suzanne Sheely-Walker (Facilitator/Talent Consultant), Andrea Hall (Senior Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific), and Mira Stern (Equity & Impact Consultant) as this impressive group of women leaders tackle such important topics as anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, women's rights, and mental health in the workplace, and how the momentum of Black Lives Matter can help continue to spur change.
Did you know that a recent survey showed that Black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination? Despite the continual push for diversity, equity, and inclusion today, there is so much work to be done. But how can we solve this problem? Moderated by Marti Allen-Cummings, drag artist and activist, this discussion features Aryah Lester (Deputy Director at Transgender Strategy Center), Diamond Stylz (Executive Director at Black Trans Women Inc.), and Carmarion D. Anderson (Alabama State Director, Project One America at the Human Rights Campaign) as they discuss the discrimination that the Black transgender community face, the effects that the anti-transgender bills of 2021 have on the transgender population and youth, how Black transgender and gender non-conforming people struggle to find work, and the continual need for support and inclusion that the community requires.
What does it take to organize a social justice movement? And how do you create change in a stubborn world? That’s what Alicia Garza, activist, organizer, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, is joining Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning Robin Givhan to discuss. Host of Lady Don’t Take No podcast, author of The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Garza continues to fight against racial injustice and inequity as the principal at the Black Futures Lab and the Black to the Future Action Fund. By offering power and healing in community, she talks about the importance of coming together, individual experience, and the willingness to stand against injustice. This conversation is presented in partnership with The Washington Post.
This past year has seen unprecedented numbers of women of color – specifically Black women – leaving the workplace. Greater still, many more are considering leaving their jobs by the end of the year. The cause? For many of these women, feeling burnt out and wanting greater purpose in their careers is the biggest underlying factor. But what does that mean for the future of the workplace and the women of the Black community? In this insightful fireside chat, Rha Goddess, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of nFormation, CEO of Move The Crowd, and author of The Calling, and PowerToFly’s Senior Director of DEIB, Sienna Brown, discuss how Black women have the power to reimagine the future of their work. So what does that look like in this new reality? And how can they have a comeback that is aligned with their purpose and values? What will that comeback actually take? Join Sienna Brown and Rha Goddess to find out!
For the first time ever, we have a woman of color as Vice President and a Black woman nominated to the US Supreme Court. But while these are substantial achievements that should be celebrated, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a ways to go. According to the Human Rights Watch, “Black, Latinx, and Native communities have been disproportionately burdened by the negative impacts of Covid-19, which has deepened existing racial injustices in healthcare, housing, employment, education, and wealth accumulation. While poverty fell overall due to stimulus checks and unemployment aid, the Black-white wealth gap, which is still as big as it was in 1968, persisted.” So how do we change this injustice? Global Policy Solutions’ CEO Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and APCO Worldwide’s Licy Do Canto sit down to discuss just this. In an insightful conversation about what’s truly working and what’s needed when it comes to racial equity in 2022, they share some steps that everyone listening can take to make a difference – even in your own backyard!
Stephanie J. Larosiliere has a career she enjoys in an industry she didn't even know existed when she was a kid—and the resilience to stay in that industry, even when she looks around and doesn't see many people like her in her field.
She has her grandfather to thank for that.
"My family has greatly affected who I am today, and my journey," says Stephanie, whose grandfather emigrated from Haiti to Michigan in the early 1950s to pursue a degree in agronomy, where he was the only Black man in his program. "Nothing I could go through today could come close… this helps to drive me to fight to be represented in spaces where I may not be welcome."
We sat down with Stephanie, whose long career in financial services has led to a role as the Head of Municipal Business Strategies & Development at investment firm Invesco, to talk about her personal and professional journey. Read on to hear why she decided to pursue a career in financial services, and her top piece of advice for other people who aspire to find success in a field they have to navigate on their own.
Paving the Way
Faine Jean-Baptiste, Stephanie's maternal grandfather, and his class at Michigan State University, then Michigan State College, where he ultimately received his degree in Agronomy from what was widely regarded as the best such program in the U.S. Photo circa 1953.
Stephanie's parents were born in Haiti. She is a first-generation American, but thanks to her grandfather, her family already had a history of attending American institutions of higher education. When it came time to decide what she was going to do with her life, Stephanie says she felt she had "no choice but to continue the legacy."
"Being Haitian I've always known that I come from a brave and bold people that established the world's first independent Black republic. Haiti has a very rich history; that history gives us a sense of ownership over our being, over who we are, and that has resonated in the way that Haitian people engage in the world."
Stephanie sees that ownership in her grandfather's story. He came to the U.S. when he was 45, a married father of seven daughters, and was the only Black man in his class. "There was somewhat of an audacity on his part to think that he could leave Haiti and go to Michigan. And why not?" says Stephanie.
Why not, indeed?
Stephanie asked that same question of herself when it came time to plan her own career.
No one in Stephanie's family knew anything about financial services. She only found out about the industry through the cooperative learning program offered by her New York City high school.
Through the program, she was matched with a company during the summer between her junior and senior years of high school. Stephanie was matched with JP Morgan, and stayed working with them through her senior year, switching off weeks at work and at school.
"As a 16-year-old, I knew you went to the bank to deposit money, and that's it. I'd heard of trading, but I didn't quite connect how that even worked," says Stephanie. She soaked in everything she learned on the job—especially when it came to the incoming class of post-college analysts.
"These were people who were five years older than me. They were not so old that it felt like a far reach. I remember looking at them and saying, 'I want to do what they do,'" says Stephanie.
So she kept working for it. When her manager at JP Morgan asked her to stay on during college, Stephanie withdrew from the out-of-state school she was planning to go to and enrolled in a NYC program so that she could stay employed during undergrad.
"Now that I think about it, I have no idea how I did it, but I worked 40 hours a week and I had a full-time schedule at school," says Stephanie, laughing. "I just ran around the city. I would take early morning classes, go to work, take evening classes, get home at 10, do my homework, and get up and do it again. It's the benefit of being 20 years old. And I would do this all in heels, which is insane to me."
Stephanie's hard work paid off. After finishing school, she was offered a full-time role at the bank. She was proud of what she'd accomplished, but it didn't come easily, and entering the world of full-time work in financial services was a whole new challenge.
"Not only was I a woman, a Black woman, but I was also the child of immigrants," says Stephanie. "I always feel like I don't belong here. I happened to have broken my way through to get here, but I'm not the person that is supposed to be here, based on how this normally goes."
Two things have helped Stephanie deal with those feelings. The first is remembering her grandfather's story.
"Whenever I feel like an outsider, or when someone treats me with less respect than I think they should because of the color of my skin, I think back to him and his bold choice to educate himself in a country that made it clear he was not welcome," she says. "He was so brave to do this and it makes me wonder how much he dealt with as the only Black man in his class. Nothing I could go through today could come close… this helps to drive me to fight to be represented in spaces where I may not be welcome."
The second thing is leaving environments she felt she couldn't change.
Finding a Place to Grow
Stephanie stayed at JP Morgan, and later JPMorgan Chase, for six years. She struggled with figuring out how to take up space, especially when an early manager told her that she was too outspoken. But Stephanie realized that was more of a comment on the manager's leadership skills than it was something for her to deal with. "I have always made it clear that I had a voice. I have value to add. I've made it my business not to let people quiet me and silence me in rooms where I feel like I should be speaking," she says.
When Stephanie realized risk management wasn't for her, she decided to switch to a smaller firm. That was "less of a rat race," she says, but also felt like a fast-path to "a cushy life and a mediocre existence." So she went back into big banks for a job at Goldman.
"My time there molded me and shaped me a lot into the person I am today," she says. But her time there wasn't without its challenges: "There was a hierarchy in place. You know, 'you don't speak before your boss' kind of thing. Although I loved the company, my career path felt unclear, and I knew it was time for a change."
When an opportunity at Invesco came up, Stephanie took it. She hadn't heard of the standalone asset manager, but was interested in the opportunity, particularly in the chance to do something completely new to her: be client-facing. When her boss's role, which required plenty of client interaction, opened up, Stephanie decided to go for it. "I kept thinking that if I have to report to someone new, I'm always going to know that I could've been that person, but because I let fear stand in the way, I'm not," she says. So she overcame that fear and now is both a senior client portfolio manager and head of a team of product managers and client portfolio managers covering the Municipal Bond business.
And she gets to do it in an environment that really works for her.
"Invesco has been extremely supportive of me, and of women in general, having a voice. That's not something that I necessarily had in my previous roles," says Stephanie. "At Invesco, I feel like I have much more ownership of my narrative than I ever had, and that has allowed me to progress in the way that I have in the last decade."
Looking back on her career, Stephanie has one piece of advice for others who are trying to build a career that fulfills them, especially in places they don't feel welcome: you don't have to have all the answers.
"People assume that I have a very specific vision," she says. "A lot of the time, I just know what I don't want. And by knowing what I don't want, it allows me to see the things that I want. So those things kind of shine a little bit brighter, and help to attract me to the things that make sense for me."
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.