Living Corporate podcast: The Role of Data in Diversity & Inclusion


I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Living Corporate podcast. I really enjoyed the conversation I had with Zach Nunn and love the work that Living Corporate is doing to center and amplify Black and brown people at work.

At the end of the conversation Zach asked what three things executives should be reflecting on now.

Here’s my list:

  1. Figure out what personal work you need to do around DEI and make a plan to do it–block off time on your calendar. This important work to do on a personal level, so prioritize it and make the time.
  2. If there’s not clear accountability goals around DEI, ask your peers why. Then partner with your Head of DEI or Chief People Officer to figure out what the goals should be. Make them part of the regular goals framework in your company so they don’t get lost.
  3. If you don’t know who the Black and brown leaders are in your organization find out. Reach out to them and ask for time on their calendars to learn what their goals are and really listen to them. Then sponsor their work by speaking up for them when they are not in the room.

Living Corporate has so many amazing episodes with leaders I admire like Dr. Erin Thomas, Michelle Kim and Tema Okun. Check them out!

Setting your direction for 2021

a small silhouette of a person looks up at a big multicoloured night sky
Photo by Greg Rakozy

In 2016 a Hawaiian crew piloted the Hokule’a, a voyaging canoe, around the world, using the traditional Polynesian technology of using the stars for wayfinding. This story inspired in so many ways and–one of them was to learn more about my cultural traditions around the stars. I took the fall off to rest and reflect on the impact I want to make in the world. I’ve been thinking about the following questions: Where am I? Where do I want to go? What is my North Star and how do I navigate where I want to go? 

For the past 10 years I’ve done some kind of looking back on the last year and setting goals/intentions/directions for the next one. I really enjoy this type of reflection and goal setting and it’s helped me move my life and career in a direction that I want to go. Here’s some free tools I’ve used to help structure that reflection. This was a post that I originally published in December 2019 and updated for 2021. 

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Names: respect, inclusion and belonging

"Hello, my name Is" sticker and pen on table

Diversity, equity and inclusion is not about just revising HR policies and processes to be more inclusive and equitable, it’s a lens that you need to view everything through. For product organizations it’s a key lens to look at the product and customer experience. 

I’ve been thinking about personal names and how those are a point of inclusion and belonging, or not. Names are personal, and for many of us, an important part of our identity.

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Thought leaders in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion you should know

many lightbulbs handing down, the middle one is biggest, clearest and brightest

I can’t think of any company, country, or industry that has diversity, equity and inclusion all figured out–it’s an emergent space where we’re all learning how to do better. We can always learn from the people leading the work and from the research. I am sharing this list of nine thought leaders who I admire. I admire that they center their values in their work, drive results and are generous in sharing their thoughts and ideas. It is weighted towards women of colour and queers in the tech sector. I think these people’s work experience, formal credentials and lived experience, makes what they have to say extremely valuable. 

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Diversity Equity and Inclusion workshops and courses that I’m excited about

photo by Jacob Lund from Noun Project

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a growing business. There are numerous DEI tech startups, DEI companies, DEI consultants and DEI certifications. I’ve been underwhelmed by the certifications offered by academic institutions as they are overly theoretical and don’t seem to equip learners with practical skills to do DEI work. Here are some trainings and workshops that are coming up that I’m excited about.

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Glassdoor’s D&I ratings: What does 4.6 out of 5 even mean?

close up of star shaped glitter
stars by Darko Pevec, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I learned that Glassdoor recently added diversity and inclusion metrics to their company rankings. My first reaction was excitement–this could drive accountability and increase transparency on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We know that many many people care about DEI in an employer’s brand, so this seems like useful functionality for candidates researching potential companies.

Glassdoor launched these user submitted D&I reviews with 12 companies. Salesforce scored the highest, with 4.6/5. That’s great! But what does it mean?

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Some diversity and inclusion best practices in hiring

After 3 years leading Diversity and Inclusion at Mozilla I’m looking for my next job: Director or Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at a tech company that’s hungry to make systemic change. At Mozilla one of my key partnerships was with our Talent Acquisition team to debias our hiring process and improve the candidate experience. Now I’m on the candidate side looking for jobs. Here’s some of my observations.

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visual representation matters

Recently I read an article on CBC about a project by Nicole Hill from Six Nations of the Grand River to create modern stock photos of Indigenous people because they couldn’t find representations of people like them to promote development projects.

There’s been a bunch of awesome photo projects where people have created their own visual representations of their communities.

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Ally is a verb, not a noun

Jeremy Dutcher‘s music is so beautiful and powerful. The way he talks about hearing his ancestors singing and laughing on archival recordings moves me in a deep way that I have a difficult time explaining with words.

His Juno acceptance speech for best Indigenous Music Album was badass: he thanked his family and team, he asked the other nominees to stand up and praised their work for creating space and defying a single genre, then he called out the Canadian Prime Minister for supporting pipelines, for sending in militarized police forces into unceeded territory and for the boil water advisory that exists in many First Nations communities. He was interrupted by the music playing him off.

Later the Arkells, who won the Rock Album of the Year, said a quick thank you and stepped back and invited Jeremy Dutcher to finish what he was saying. Before yesterday it was outside my imagination that a rock band would step back and give a two spirit Indigenous opera singer space their time and space on the stage.

I think of allyship as a verb, not as a noun, and this was a beautiful example of this. All of this is such an inspiration for me to speak truth to power, to use some of my time to hold up my colleagues’ work on the stage, and to think about where i can step back and literally create time and space for others.

blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition

Being asked to keynote code4lib was a literal dream come true for me. I shared some of the diversity and inclusion work we’re doing at Mozilla, called out whiteness and racism in libraries and shared some personal stuff.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve cried while giving a talk, but this was the first time the tears weren’t about trauma. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of what is possible when you are loved and supported by friends and community. I had some of my dearest library friends sitting in the front row holding space for me.

In my 20s and 30s my work was often fuelled by anger and I was all about burning systems down. Now that I’m in my 40s I’m exploring what it means to be fuelled by love and interdependence. I’m exploring what it means to have privilege and responsibility, and the type of work it takes to build the systems that are liberatory. It’s a new kind of vulnerability that is terrifying, yet incredibly freeing.

Here’s my original deck. I deviated a bit from the slides a bit in the actual talk.

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