Podcast > Culture Fit > EPISODE 6

The Work Ahead

So where do we go from here? How do we build a more inclusive future in tech? A good place to start is by listening to those who have worked to improve equity in Silicon Valley for years.

In this episode

Catherine Bracy

Catherine Bracy

Co-founder & Executive Director of TechEquity Collaborative

Chakanetsa Mavhunga

Chakanetsa Mavhunga

Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT

Y-Vonne Hutchinson

Y-Vonne Hutchinson

Founder and CEO of ReadySet

Jared Erondu

Jared Erondu

Head of Design at Lattice, creator of High Resolution, Playbook

David Dylan Thomas

David Dylan Thomas

Author, speaker, content strategy advocate at Think Company

Frances Coronel

Frances Coronel

Software Engineer, Executive Director at Techquería

May-Li Khoe

May-Li Khoe

Cofounder, former Design VP, Inventor, DJ

Sydney Sykes

Sydney Sykes

Blck VC cofounder, Angel Investor

Sarah Kunst

Sarah Kunst

Managing Director at Cleo Capital

Stephanie Lampkin

Stephanie Lampkin

CEO and Founder of Blendoor


“Don't think about allyship in terms of a noun, an identity. Think of it in terms of a series of practices.”

Y-Vonne Hutchinson

“At the end of the day, the venture firms will… need to understand their role in why the industry looks like it does because each venture firm has played a huge role in getting the industry to where it is right now.”

Sydney Sykes

“I think buy-in from leadership is by far the most critical aspect of whether or not diversity programs and initiatives succeed and fail.”

Stephanie Lampkin

“Call things out if they seem problematic… Don't ignore it, bring it up somewhere, basically be an advocate for those around you.”

Frances Coronel

Episode Links

Show notes

Dairien: [00:00:00] Business was booming at Uber in 2017. The company was on the verge of moving 3000 employees into the Sears building in downtown Oakland. 

Catherine: [00:00:08] And I happened to live across the street from that building. So I was interested in, in who my new neighbors were going to be. 

Dairien: [00:00:15] That's Catherine Bracy, she's the co-founder and executive director of TechEquity Collaborative.

Catherine: [00:00:21] But I was also interested in a protest that emerged to prevent them from moving in, called No Uber Oakland. And this [00:00:30] campaign kind of captured my imagination. You know, what did it mean for the most valuable privately held company in the world to announce they were moving thousands of good jobs to a place where the median income is $25,000 a year. And for the community to not see value in that for them. 

Dairien: [00:00:48] Crowds of Oaklanders had gathered to prevent Uber from moving in. It's common to see local communities resist when the tech industry makes big plans, unwelcomed. Catherine wondered if the relationship between big tech [00:01:00] and local barrier communities could actually be repaired.

Catherine: [00:01:03] So what would need to change in order for a tech company to make a similar announcement for the community to celebrate it, to see value in it, to see that growth as bringing benefits to everyone, especially in these communities that have been under invested in for decades, if not centuries. 

Dairien: [00:01:21] Maybe there'd be a sense of change if Oaklanders actually believed that a big shiny new office would serve the community. Oakland's population of Black and brown folks [00:01:30] is five times higher than what's represented in the tech industry.

Catherine Bracy could see that the relationship was deteriorating between the tech community and her home of Oakland. And she knew things didn't have to be this way. So she decided to become part of the solution. You might remember Catherine's voice. She was in episode three of Culture Fit. She helped us go in-depth on affordable housing.

She's one of many examples of people who work tirelessly to make the tech industry more inclusive. Throughout the Culture Fit series, we've examined the [00:02:00] painful lack of diversity within tech. The origin of the problem, how it manifests in the products that we use and why. When we blame pipeline problem, it's completely ineffective.

We've heard from dozens of voices that frame the problem of racial inequality in tech. Now let's talk solutions.

I'm Dairien Boyd. And this is Culture Fit: Racial Bias in Tech.

[00:02:30] Let's get back to Catherine. Her work in TechEquity Collaborative, it's one of many stories that we're going to listen to in this episode, stories from people that they're building a brighter future, and they can help us take steps in that direction: the direction that we want to see the industry go.

Catherine: [00:02:47] We are mobilizing tech workers in the Bay Area to create a tech driven economy that will work for everyone. So that as tech is creating wealth and growth that everybody who lives in [00:03:00] California, whether they work in tech or not, is benefiting from that growth. 

Dairien: [00:03:03] TechEquity Collaborative is powered by its members. Its members actively work at tech companies, and they're also dedicated to advancing Bay Area public policy related to labor laws and housing legislation.

If you're personally interested in the policy side of equity, you might want to join Catherine alongside the other tech workers that are providing true economic growth to entire communities. Okay. So there are a bunch of organizations to get to, but first it's important to acknowledge that including racial [00:03:30] minorities is more than just allowing them in the room.

Here's Chakanetsa Mavhunga, associate professor of science, technology and society at MIT. 

Chakanetsa: [00:03:39] In order to understand the place of the African, one has to do more than simply start from admitting them like some diversity quota just to make up the numbers, and, you know, check the boxes. If we include them in tech, do we also [00:04:00] allow their own ways of seeing to come into the reckoning of the technical and scientific process that produces gadgets?

What we see are Black people in tech to count the numbers. I do not see their backgrounds, their cultures, their ways of seeing, their experiential location coming into what gets designed, especially for their own societies. 

Dairien: [00:04:28] If we intend to build products [00:04:30] that benefit all humans, we need to examine the perspectives that we include during that process.

That means we have to address our monoculture head on, and ensure that new voices and perspectives hold actual decision-making power. Considering where we're at right now, we got a long way to go.

If the question were, how do we get to the mountaintop? The simple answer is we start climbing. But maybe the first step isn't always so obvious. [00:05:00] This is something I talked about with Y-vonne Hutchinson. She's the founder and CEO of ReadySet. It's a diversity inclusion consulting firm. 

People don't know where to start when pressured to address diversity and inclusivity within an organization. Uh, we hear this all the time. I don't know where to start. You co founded projectinclude.org, which offers 87 recommendations to foster D&I. Yet you received requests to simplify this list down to maybe three actions or just one. [00:05:30] What is the mindset that people must adopt to truly walk the walk? 

Y-Vonne: [00:05:36] That's a really great question. We're a country that deeply values work, and access to high opportunity work, to prestigious work, that's something that confers a certain status. And for so long, only certain people have been able to get that status. We're trying to solve a problem that no one's really solved, one that is deeply entrenched into the fabric [00:06:00] of our society. The work is long, it's hard, and it requires really deep commitment and appreciation of the difficulty and nuance.

So at ReadySet, we focus on building better organizations. We particularly do it through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. We work on organizational culture. We work on processes and we work on communication internally and externally to really kind of solve this question around equity. [00:06:30] We do consulting and work with companies to sort of assess their organizations and look at their processes closely and provide them with strategic advice and executive and management coaching and supporting ERGs and DEI advisory groups.

We, we work in that way, but we also work on the learning and development side and we do trainings, webinars, workshops around topics related to DEI. We do training on specific [00:07:00] organizational processes like hiring and interviewing and performance reviews and communication. We've worked with Google. We've worked with Pinterest. We've worked with Amazon, Airbnb Salesforce. 

Dairien: [00:07:17] On June 3rd, you published a letter that you had sent out to clients and partners in the wake of George Floyd's murder. You included anti-racist resources as well as a message to white and non-Black [00:07:30] POC colleagues. Can you talk about the contents of this message? 

Y-Vonne: [00:07:33] You know what, to be honest, I'm kind of tired of the platitudes. And the platitudes don't do a whole lot.

So I wanted to come to the community that we have at ReadySet with action points, really look at what are some things we can do to work on racial equity. 

Dairien: [00:07:52] The letter called on people within ReadySet's network to center impacted communities and use the long list of anti-racism resources [00:08:00] provided by ReadySet to self-educate and support existing organizations that have long done this work. Y-vonne hoped this letter would inspire people to go beyond their words and take true action. 

Y-Vonne: [00:08:10] Because there's a lot of talk around it. There's a lot of people who are looking at it from a branding perspective, from a comms perspective, from a customer engagement perspective, and this problem is so much more than that.

It's a problem. There are people fighting for their lives. And I wanted to speak authentically about [00:08:30] what does it mean to show up for people who are fighting for their lives? 

Dairien: [00:08:34] There's a lot of talk about what it means to be an ally, especially in the racial equity movement, but allyship often seems performative. If the words and actions of those who claim to be allies were consistent, then the people that face racial harm probably wouldn't feel so alone. From your perspective, what are the guiding principles that foster true allyship? 

Y-Vonne: [00:08:58] We tell people, don't [00:09:00] think about allyship in terms of a noun, an identity. Think of it in terms of a series of practices. So what are you doing every day to help someone from a marginalized background to center them, to support them? So I would say action's one. 

The second is risk. A lot of times with performative allyship, what is really missing is the risk people are actually trying to get benefit from being allies, social [00:09:30] benefit and not really risking anything in terms of status resources, et cetera, to step out on behalf of a marginalized scream. And when we really think about what is effective allyship, It's to take on some kind of risk because people, Black and brown people like me, when we speak to these topics, we are very much exposed and very much at risk.

Dairien: [00:09:54] It's easier said than done, that's for sure. People avoid risk, you know, it's by definition, but [00:10:00] taking on risk is an important part of the job.

Here's another perspective on performative allyship. It's from Jared Erondu. Jared's the head of design at Lattice. It's an HR software company. 

When I think about people that are leaders in the design industry, you're definitely someone that comes to mind pretty immediately. In this current climate where, you know, we're surrounded by good intentions, really well-meaning people, yet we are perpetuating these deeply inequitable [00:10:30] situations, like how can we use this platform to really drive change? 

Jared: [00:10:36] Yeah. It's, you know, I think about this one a lot, because it's the thing I'm always trying to separate for myself is what is genuine action versus action for show. 

I know of a lot of people who are doing a lot of things in ways that are not visible. And I just get this feeling on like design [00:11:00] Twitter, and all of that about like, you have to be tweeting, you have to be like posting things on Instagram and all that stuff. And while that is definitely meaningful, I think this idea that like, then you prescribe what action looks like to people. I don't really agree with that one.

You alienate a lot of people. And two, the, the action is not pure in intent and therefore it kind of like, comes across that way and it might not achieve what you were setting out for to achieve the first place. So when I think about me and like, you know, what I can do to help, I think about what is true [00:11:30] to me as a person? What am I naturally predisposed to?

Or what am I naturally like capable of doing? You know, some of those things for me are amplification. Uh, another thing is, is creating communities. If you are in a position to, to make change positive change, you shouldn't start with like, what change can I do that's visible? That's the easiest way to go down a path of inauthenticity and frankly, action that doesn't result in much. The first thing you should be thinking about is like, what is true to me and what am I especially capable of doing well, and then doing that with a genuine spirit, [00:12:00] because those types of actions, they actually result in a lot change.

Dairien: [00:12:06] Looking inward, it can go a long way. Every human has something unique to contribute. So what you personally bring to the table, it's a great starting point to bridge cultural gaps. It doesn't need to be public. Actually to Jared's point, maybe it shouldn't be public at all. Especially if deep down your real goal is to just get recognition for your charitable contributions.

Look, they are all kinds of things that [00:12:30] motivate us. The trick is to find a motivation that can be sustained long-term. That way we actually moved the needle.

Let's get back to Y-vonne one more time while we're in this self-reflection mode. Remember, always be checking your biases. 

Y-Vonne: [00:12:46] Sometimes bias is unconscious. Sometimes it's conscious. Sometimes it's in the form of microaggressions. Sometimes it's systemic. I think understanding what these biases are, are really important because you can sort of see them [00:13:00] once you're more aware of them.

I also think having some accountability. And I'm going to be really clear. I'm not asking you to go to your Black and brown coworkers and say, tell me when I'm being biased. That I think you should not do that at all. I think that's a really bad idea. But I think, you know, you can think about with your other colleagues who are on the same journey as you, how can you hold each other accountable as you're educating yourselves, as you're learning about these biases.

And as you learn about the ways they show up for people. 

Dairien: [00:13:29] Y-vonne's onto something. [00:13:30] We can keep bias top of mind and also have a safe avenue for feedback who wants to be my accountability buddy? Our go-to expert on the topic of bias has been David Dylan Thomas. He's back in our final episode, and he's providing exercises that help us mitigate the harm racial biases can have during product development.

Open your notes. You'll probably want to save this exercise for later. 

David: [00:13:52] One of them is red team blue team, where you have a blue team come up with the initial design, but then you have a red team come in for one day and really try to [00:14:00] take apart that design and specifically try to critique it in terms of potential bias, potential harm, more elegant solutions that the first team left on the table because they're suffering from confirmation bias.

So they fell in love with their first idea. And it's really hard for them to see beyond it. Another great exercise is speculative design, where you try to come up with some kind of black mirror story about how your technology, you could fall into the wrong hands or how it might be used in some way that you didn't intend.

And you try to think about like, what's the worst [00:14:30] possible story that could plausibly happen if real human beings got ahold of this thing, both of those are good ways to sort of predict those outcomes or get ahead of those outcomes. And you usually see once you see what that outcome is, oh, we were probably falling prey to framing, or we were falling prey to availability heuristic.

So I think, more than try to narrow it down to I need to watch out for this particular bias or that particular bias, I really need to bring in different perspectives to show me different outcomes. I might not have anticipated. 

Dairien: [00:14:57] Pretty good, right? Eliminating blind [00:15:00] spots in the pitfalls of a product as a team, David's got a wealth of ways to identify cognitive bias.

David: [00:15:05] So there's an inclusive design practice, where at the beginning of a project, you take your team and you sit down and you identify your biases. Really you identify your identities and your perspectives and your, your own intersectionality. So I am a black male I'm in my forties. I have worked in technology for X number of years.

Right. You list all of these qualities that could influence your decision making and ways that you may not [00:15:30] even be aware of. And everyone kind of puts those cards on the table. And then just as importantly, you ask, okay, well, how might this influence the design? And then you ask, well, who isn't represented here and how might the absence of their voice influence the design or hurt the design.

And then you discuss, well, how might we make sure that their voices are heard and honored and actually influence the outcome of this design. So that is a meeting that could take one to two hours depending on, you know, the team and the project. And not only [00:16:00] does it need to be something that you do, but in order to make it happen, I believe it needs to be something that is in the budget.

So when you are scoping that project, you actually sit down with whoever, you know, controls the purse strings for that budget and say, okay, I want to make sure that we have one hour of, you know, these full-time employees, you know, time. Or two hours at the beginning of the project. So it's in the budget, it's in the estimating sheet, it's in the project plan, right?

So I think part of making it a habit is making it a part of the actual budget and saying [00:16:30] we are going to put money on it. 

Dairien: [00:16:32] So that's an actionable thing that your team can do right now. Make sure your development schedule allocates time upfront to evaluate your process for bias and the product's potential for harm.

Tech companies must eliminate blind spots so they can prevent bad products from negatively influencing the world. Of course, if your team is diverse from the jump, it might be easier to identify your gaps, but if your team is homogenous and you're not really getting diverse candidates, it's probably time to switch up where you're posting jobs.

[00:17:00] We're going to call out a few organizations that help connect talent. People of Color in Tech. They have a job board that, as you guessed, it connects people of color with tech jobs. Another group is Black Professionals in Tech. You should contact them if you have an opening that you want to share with their community. Black Tech Pipeline also has a recruiting resource.

They can be contacted to post open roles. And then there's Natives in Tech. That's a group we featured throughout the series. They have a job board that's designed to reach Indigenous and Native tech [00:17:30] creators. Techquería is another organization that we featured. It connects Latinx tech professionals with job opportunities, and they're in the process of creating their own job board.

Here's the executive director, Frances Coronel. 

Frances: [00:17:42] It is a huge passion of mine doing what I do for Techquería. So Techquería's mission is to create resources and opportunities for Latinx in tech professionals to elevate their careers. So that's really our mission is for is to just create more leaders in the tech [00:18:00] industry that identify as Latinx. 

Dairien: [00:18:01] Other existing  job boards you can check out are Jopwell, Latinas in Tech, Black Tech Jobs, iHispano and Tech Latino. These communities exist. You just have to connect with them and you have to maintain a relationship. If you're going to put in the work to hire a diverse team, and you're going to bring in individuals that don't fit the existing monoculture, you better make them feel at home.

Starting a new job has already enough pressure. I reached out to my friend May-Li Khoe she's the [00:18:30] developer, and she's also the former design VP at Khan Academy. She's currently building a team over at MakeSpace, and she's going to share her perspective on how to make people feel welcomed. 

When I think of people who best embody what it means to foster a truly inclusive environment, I think you are one of the first names that comes to mind. What is it about your philosophy that allows your teams, maybe from the perspective of being a VP of design at Khan Academy, to be in tune and welcoming to outside cultures? 

May-Li: [00:18:58] As far as [00:19:00] my, my ease is for building design teams, I think, well, one of the things I noticed really early on in my design career was how so many tiny little pieces of what's considered normal in how we treat our team members in the employee experience in what's expected of the design profession have the effect of including or excluding people over time. I think for most of my career, I found [00:19:30] myself being the only, the only woman, the only person who wasn't white. And I think that really shaped how I thought about things. When I started building a team. 

Dairien: [00:19:40] So, what would you say to the tech companies or smaller groups, startups, even that recognize a monoculture within their workforce and want to make a change and want to start working towards diversity? What does that mean? And what would you say to those groups at its root? 

May-Li: [00:19:56] There's a certain amount of like cultural fluency [00:20:00] that's required in order to make that work. And in order to have that cultural fluency, you need to understand what culture is and constantly notice it. And when you think about people who have like left in the margins, most of the time from status quo in technologies and within talking about Black and Indigenous folk, a lot of the time people are already code switching, right?

People are super aware of the status quo culture because you were not [00:20:30] feeling at home in it. So it's not like, Oh, you single person on the team who are different from everyone else. 

Let us try and do a song and dance to make you feel welcome. It's much more like we are going to be a team of all different people. We're going to talk about those differences and we're going to embrace them and consider them our strength from the start.

Dairien: [00:20:53] The great unequalizer, it's money. Environments often lack diversity and [00:21:00] inclusivity because of socioeconomic gaps. Throughout the series, we've examined the financial arm of the tech industry. Venture capital. As of 2018, less than 3% of investors in venture capital were Black. That number is going to have to do a bunch of backflips to truly reshape a predominantly white field into something that actually represents the entire U.S. population.

Next we'll hear from Sydney Sykes. She's the co-founder of Blck VC. It's a nonprofit whose primary goal is to double the representation of Black investors by [00:21:30] 2024. You may remember her voice from earlier episodes of Culture Fit. 

Sydney: [00:21:34] There's a lot of different issues to solve, whether it's, how do you support Black entrepreneurs to getting more Black investors into venture, to diversifying who the LP, limited partners are.

So we've chosen to really focus. On that issue of let's increase the representation of Black investors in venture capital. And we believe as a result that will definitely diversify [00:22:00] the types of companies that get funding. Um, and that ended up being successful. 

Dairien: [00:22:05] Sydney expects to see a culture shift in venture capital. And for that to happen, investors will have to adopt a new mindset when it comes to deciding where they're going to invest money. 

Sydney: [00:22:14] One big change that I'm really hopeful for is I think the venture capital industry needs to stop relying and glorifying the gut feeling. I do believe there is a value [00:22:30] to developing trust between an entrepreneur and an investor.

I think there's something really important about being emotionally invested in the companies that you fund. But I think if we allow each other as investors to not invest in companies because we just don't feel excited about it, or because we don't get the market or we can't see ourselves buying the product, or we don't understand the businesses that would be the customers, we're [00:23:00] doing a disservice to the industry, to our returns, to our portfolios. And so I hope we'll start to hold each other accountable and be more strategic about the way we both chase deals and turn down deals as well. On the one hand, I'm very optimistic because the industry is [00:23:30] in such a rough place.

There are so few Black investors controlling the wealth in venture capital. There's so few Black entrepreneurs getting the dollars that help build the next generation of billion and tens of billion dollar companies. We can only go up from here. So that's a bit pessimistic, but I'm optimistic that change will be long lasting because it has to. There are [00:24:00] more dollars than ever in venture capital.

There's more entrepreneurs seeking funding, there's more firms. And so that level of competition, I hope, will make venture firms realize that they should be investing in a more diverse and what they might see as a riskier class of investments in order to drive their returns in the long run. To venture firms, I hope they continue to think about themselves critically thinking about [00:24:30] where can we increase the diversity of our check writers, whether that's scouts or venture partners, or hopefully GPs, how can we think about what it's like to be an investor of color at our firms? How do we think about what it's like to be an entrepreneur pitching to what your investing staff currently looks like? Because at the end of the day, the venture firms, they control so much of the wealth. They'll need to be at the forefront of this change. And they'll also need to [00:25:00] understand their role in why the industry looks like it does because each venture firm has played a huge role in getting the industry to where it is right now.

And so I hope they'll be on the right side of change and there'll be pushing the industry forward. And I, I hope they also understand that that will lead to better returns and better outcomes. 

Dairien: [00:25:20] Hard to imagine tech companies having even more lucrative returns than the record profits we've seen in recent years. But what Sydney says is true. Diverse companies lead to [00:25:30] better ROI. Here's Sarah Kunst, managing director of Cleo Capital. 

Sarah: [00:25:34] We know that diverse teams perform better and make more money for investors. And so if you're an investor, aside from the moral imperative, you should want to invest in diversity because if you don't, you're leaving money on the table. And it's literally our job to get every piece of money that we can off the table.

Dairien: [00:25:51] Luckily, according to Sarah, a lot of this shift involves doing things that VCs already know how to do. 

Sarah: [00:25:56] There's always room for improvement in terms of the fundamentals, but you [00:26:00] know, this isn't something where we need an exotic new funding instrument or, you know, we need to completely rethink the wheel.

Right? We know in venture capital, we know in tech how to spot talent, how to hire it, how to fund it, how to promote it. How to advocate for it. We know all those things, right? And so we have this system that works. It's just that historically it's only worked for some people and we've excluded wide amounts of the population in these systems.

And so I think that the starting places is just looking at [00:26:30] what we're already doing and saying, are we doing what we already know how to do with a diverse group of people? 

The formula is hire people in, let them do deals, promote them on the venture side, the same way you do with everybody else, right? There isn't sort of a special or new or different thing to do here. It's just do what you've been doing, but do it with people who aren't only men and who aren't only white.

Dairien: [00:26:52] Collectively, we have the tools to create a better culture around technology products, but it's going to take commitment from everyone.

Sarah: [00:26:59] The impetus [00:27:00] just falls on, on all of us in this industry to acknowledge that and make sure that we keep making progress and understand that this is far from solved and it probably won't be solved in our lifetimes. In our industry, we're really, really good at going from zero knowledge and network to, Hey, this is an important thing.

And there's money to be made. Let's go learn it. Let's go figure it out. Let's, let's go execute on it in a really short amount of time. And so that [00:27:30] is something that particularly venture investors exel in, and this is the same thing. No one was an iPhone investor the day before the iPhone came out and no one was investing in, in iPhone apps because they didn't exist.

And then they did, and everybody started to do that. So we have in our industry, the ability to have an incredibly quick learning curve and get up to speed on a space and start investing in it and hiring in it incredibly quickly. And so we just need to take that skill set and apply it to this. 

Dairien: [00:27:58] As Sarah and Sydney have seen [00:28:00] firsthand in venture capital, diverse companies lead to better ROI. Data has shown this. Harvard Business Review has written multiple times about the numerous studies that have demonstrated the connection between diversity and business success. And we'll link to those in our show notes. So then does that mean a lack of diversity in a company can contribute to a lack of growth? To get a sense of how this might play out within a company, we're going to hear from Stephanie Lampkin.

Stephanie is the CEO of Blendoor. Blendoor provides inclusive recruiting and people analytics software. [00:28:30] She seen how monoculture will limit business growth. 

Stephanie: [00:28:33] Fundamentally, you're just leaving talented people out of the opportunity to contribute to your organizations and to innovate. If, for example, Facebook, which is about 40% usage is people of color. So if you are trying to compete in the marketplace and growing market share yet, your workforce does not reflect your user base, you are significantly [00:29:00] limiting your opportunity for growth. It may be valuable in terms of getting started and getting your company off the ground to hire people that went to the same schools and think the same way and have similar backgrounds as you. But there is sufficient evidence that in order to grow and be sustainable, you have to have a system in place to identify talent in many different demographics. 

Dairien: [00:29:26] Stephanie is calling out leaders of tech companies to step up. [00:29:30] We'll only achieve an equitable future if our leaders are held accountable. What we prioritize and where we invest our time, it matters.

Stephanie: [00:29:38] I think buy-in from leadership is by far the most critical aspect of whether or not diversity programs and initiatives succeed and fail. Companies and institutions will have to think more critically about the level of commitment that they're making if they truly want [00:30:00] to change and solve a lot of these issues. 

Dairien: [00:30:03] If you're an executive at your company, Blendoor's an example of the type of tool that you can use to actually foster an inclusive culture. Here's Frances Coronel, again. She's the executive director of Techquería.

Frances: [00:30:15] Call things out if they seem problematic. Just like, you know, in general of supporting like Latinx professionals in tech, right? Like if you see a Latinx coworker in your workplace and something doesn't feel right, it feels [00:30:30] off about how they were treated, talk to somebody about it. Like, don't ignore it. Bring it up somewhere, basically be an advocate for those around you. As folks in technology, like we're aware that there are so many different tools and people that are in control that just don't reflect our needs or our priorities.

I think, regardless of how you identify, it's really important to advocate for those underrepresented, because worst case scenario in the future, [00:31:00] if we don't have people at the table who have things like diverse backgrounds, diverse opinions, we may end up in an even more dystopian future where we have these machine learning algorithms or facial recognition technology that is extremely biased. And we're already seeing a lot of that now. 

Dairien: [00:31:17] That's a grim reality. So let's work together to ensure a much better future. One where all people can feel included and represented by the companies that build global products, and by tech leaders whose decisions [00:31:30] virtually shape every aspect of our lives.

MIT professor Chakanetsa Mavhunga shares his vision for a unified movement. 

Chakanetsa: [00:31:39] There used to be a moment, if you look at the period of the Harlem Renaissance in New York. It was also the time when Black people in France, particularly in Paris and also in the United Kingdom, the period between the 1890s to 1920s, was [00:32:00] critical in the development of what we now are calling a global Africa, their connection through Pan-Africanism.

And much later on you see this in the way that the anti-apartheid struggle was very much a transcontinental package. Unfortunately, today, perhaps until Black Lives Matter came, this umbilical link between global [00:32:30] Africa and Africa back home had been lost. My hope is that the Black Lives Matter movement act as the catalyst that reunites, not just Black people, but people of color worldwide. So that they recognize that the fight for equality, not only in the political sphere or in terms of equal rights, [00:33:00] but also in tech, it requires a concerted collaborative, united effort. And so if there is a plea that I would make is precisely that a global movement. 

Dairien: [00:33:16] As individuals, we're each a catalyst for change. So collectively our solidarity has the power to change the world for the better. To do better, we have to constantly check in with ourselves and we have to check in with each other. [00:33:30] That means we have to love each other, listen to each other, hold each other accountable, evaluate where we're at and think about where we want to be. All with a common goal to improve. Even when everything else around us seems like it's in complete crisis. Here's Y-Vonne Hutchinson one more time from ReadySet. 

Y-Vonne: [00:33:48] It isn't lost on me the context of COVID-19. We are locked in our homes and I think as a country we're more vulnerable, but you know, [00:34:00] at the same time, I'm worried because I'm worried that people are going to lose focus and lose interest in these fights for equity that they're taking on. And you know, that troubles me. Because as I said before, this is a long-term, long-term project. So I would just encourage people who are really thinking about this maybe for the first time, maybe they're coming back to it, to keep with it, and do so in a sustainable way.

You don't have to [00:34:30] go all in all the time. But I think continual engagement, these questions about equity and inequality, and really thinking about what can we do sustainably over a long period of time. That's what's going to position us to solve these problems once and for all, because they keep popping up. We're going to keep having public embarrassments of companies until we solve this problem. And that's going to take a while. So yeah, I would just encourage people who are doing this work to stick with it and do [00:35:00] so in a way that's sustainable for you. And that's going to keep you in the fight.

Dairien: [00:35:04] The tech industry's comfort with its monoculture is deeply troubling, to say the least. And the lack of accountability among tech leaders it's infuriating. Now that we understand the problem, that's half the solution. Or another way of framing it is a problem well stated is a problem, half solved. These are guiding principles for building new products for the world. The principles are also useful and understanding racism. This series only [00:35:30] scratches the surface of the deep, horrific past that racial constructs have subjected the human population to. To this day, humans at large, we still cooperate with the structural racism that creates inequality across the entire human population. That's a problem well stated.

 I hear my white family members and my white friends express discomfort, even dismissiveness, when they're blamed for the oppression of minorities. It's a natural response. It's probably how a boardroom full of white executives and [00:36:00] zero Black representation can confidently agree that racism is not a priority for their organization. The reality is, we're all complicit because we all participate in the shared global society. But that's enough guilt and blame. These framings, they leave us stuck in the past. So here's a better framing for you. I see no enemy. I see no stranger. I see no divisiveness. It's a choice to reorient with the way that we see the world around us. Moving forward, we're [00:36:30] going to disregard any deficits an individual might have, and instead open our eyes to the unique contributions that individual can bring to the table.

Have you ever seen the beauty of the milky way on a clear night? Billions of galaxies, an infinite dance of bright, vibrant stars.Imagine how dull the sky hat if all the stars were the same, dull.

I'd like for you to see the infinite beauty in each human, the same way that you gaze at the stars in admiration. That's how we'll achieve solidarity

To wrap up, let's recap some of the actionable things that you can do to build a more equitable space around you and for the tech industry at large. Here's a summary of three action items that I'd like for you to take with you. Number one, unconscious bias training. Ask your company if they'll allocate resources towards training to help your team identify [00:37:30] unconscious bias.

We gave examples of exercises you could do. This training should apply to your hiring practices. It should apply to your product development, and it should also apply to the way that you develop your company culture. Number two, understand history and understand history's influence on the future. The white dudes that colonized the Western world, they took power over others.

They created a pattern that's repeated itself in the tech industry. Number three, this one's important. Be an advocate. It's more than just an ally. [00:38:00] If you witness someone facing discrimination, step up and say something. If a colleague's continually getting talked over and their input, isn't being valued, take on the risk of speaking up for that person. And if you see others taking on that risk, join them so that they're not alone, they're not the active voice for change. So what I ask for you to, to do is focus on both intention and impact. We have to avoid centering ourselves by listening to others and providing support accordingly.

[00:38:30] What are you going to do to fix this, straight up? Will you go out of your way and brush shoulders with listen to and support people that are nothing like you in terms of race, gender ability, or their lived experiences? How are you going to show up for others? For real?

Thank you for listening to Culture Fit. And thank you, more importantly, for broadening your perspective. I truly hope this series has aided your personal journey and understanding the world [00:39:00] and talking about race together. You took the first step.

If you enjoyed Culture Fit, as much as we did creating the series, please, let us hear your thoughts. We want to know what you learned from the guests that we had on. We were able to cover so many topics and so many organizations, but there are so many more that we didn't cover, like Data for Black Lives and Black in AI.

So do your own research and see what you can find. Are there any changes that you personally are going to make? If so, please let us know. You can tweet us [00:39:30] @allturtlesco or send us an email hello@all-turtles.com. Finally, we'd like to thank everyone who recorded an interview for us for this episode, including Catherine Bracy, Chakanetsa Mavhunga,

Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Jared Erondu, David Dylan Thomas, Frances Coronel, May-Li Khoe, Sydney Sykes, Sarah Kunst, and Stephanie Lampkin. For more information, and resources or details about the guests that we featured throughout the series, check out [00:40:00] all-turtles.com/podcast. Thank you to all of the colleagues that made this show possible, including Marie McCoy-Thompson, she produced edited, and co-wrote the show.

And thank you to Jim Metzendorf. He was our mixer. And special thank you to Dorian Love for composing all of our great music. I'm Dairien Boyd, and this has been Culture Fit: Racial Bias in Tech.