Getting up to speed on diversity and inclusion

If you live in the Bay Area, it’s hard not to open your Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook feed and see another article or story about tech companies and diversity and inclusion. And while there are many well-documented struggles and frustrating stories, there are positive ones, such as the work of Freada Kapor Klein, tech leaders who take a stand for diversity, and s the work Paradigm is doing with other tech companies to name a few. There’s also been a number of VCs who have done their part, especially in helping newly formed companies start off on the right foot. For instance, Hunter and Satya over at Homebrew posted a great primer on how to get up to speed on diversity, with a focus aimed at early stage startup founders .

While not everyone is in a position to enact sweeping changes with how their organizations create diverse and inclusive workforce, many of us have the opportunity to learn and engage on the issue. Admittedly, I did not know enough about these issues until a few years ago when I was at a networking event and an officer from a diversity organization pulled me aside and educated me on some of the issues that Asian-Americans face in the workplace, particularly in rising to the ranks of senior leadership positions within organizations.

As the son of two immigrant parents, an aspiring future leader, and someone with the privilege of being highly educated, it humbled me that I could be so ignorant to such an important issue that was so critical to my own life, but more importantly, to people around me that I cared about. Since then, I’ve tried to not only educate myself on the issues, but move progress forward in creating diverse and inclusive organizations that I’m a part of while helping others become as educated as possible on this issue.

Because the United States continues to become more and more diverse, and because of the diversity challenges that tech companies (see most companies) have faced, the topic of diversity has become front and center. There has been an increased attention and coverage around these issues which has led to some signs of progress for some organizations. The reality is that there is still much work to be done, and it’s a great step to hire a Chief Diversity Officer or revamp your hiring practices, if we really want to see meaningful and impactful change there needs to be more support and action from all of us.

So, if you’re interested in learning about the issues, getting involved, and making an impact, what can you do, and how can you start?

First and foremost, if you want to get great content on key issues start listening to the conversation, especially for people like Tristan Walker, Erica Joy, Carissa Romero, Candice Morgan, Leslie Morgan, Hunter Walk, and Joelle Emerson. I started doing this and my Twitter feed (shoutout to Nuzzel, which aggregates that top stories in your feed) started giving me way more content on these topics than ever before.

Second, check out some of the articles below. I’ve categorized them by topic type, and it should get you up to speed on a variety of issues, first-person stories about the struggles and challenges, ongoing initiatives, best practices, and data and research.

Third, there are some great organizations who are trying to tackle various issues around diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the workforce. The main causes and objectives differ, but they are worth checking out to see if there are any that directly align with your mission or values. Consider supporting them if that’s the case.

Code 2040

Black Girls Code

Dev/Color

Consortium For Graduate School Management

Forte Foundation

Ellevate Network

Girls who code

Last but least, take action. Hunter and Satya’s post outlines some things you can do. For those who are managers, leaders, or HR professionals, Google actually released a ton of free content on some of their HR practices which includes some of their work on diversity issues. These are small things we all can do our part to be educated and aware of the issues and challenges.

Finally, my list of people working on this issue is not nearly exhaustive, nor is my knowledge of resources and research so please feel free to share other pertinent information.

As an eternal optimist, I’m hopeful that change will happen. And while it requires a top down, bottom up and middle out approach, there’s no reason we can’t take it upon ourselves to learn about the issues, be allies, and do our part to enact positive change.

Data and Research on Diversity

First Person Stories

Recruiting

Unconscious Bias

 

 

Best Practices

 

 

 

Ongoing Initiatives

How to get someone to help you network

A number of really smart professionals have written about the idea behind the “double opt-in” introductory e-mail approach when asking to connect people within your network. I won’t rehash what they’ve already written, but at it’s core it revolves around reaching out to someone first before connecting them to one of your friends within your own network.  I’m a big fan of this strategy as it gives others a polite and easy way to handle the request, and makes you look like a professional. In addition to the double opt in e-mail, one other networking hack I’ve been using lately that has gotten success when asking for connections is going through the process of writing an email that your contact can use to reach out to someone you want to talk to within your network.  So, let’s say you want to talk to Jane Doe, who is a colleague of your friend John Doe. With the templated approach, you e-mail John Doe via the double opt-in intro, and ask for his help in connecting with Jane, but also mention that you can provide an email template he can use to reach out to Jane if he feels comfortable connecting you two.

When you are asking someone for a favor, it’s generally imposing on either their time or effort (or both) so my general rule of thumb is to try to be as gracious and thankful as I can. One way to do that is to respect their time. One way I’ve been doing this is by saving my friend a step by offering to write the introductory e-mail on their behalf so they don’t have to spend an extra 10-20 minutes thinking of what they need to say when they reach out to the contact you want to talk to.

Yes, 10-20 minutes is not a lot in the grand scheme of life, but it might be a nice chunk of time during any given workday. Furthermore, I’ve found when you can decrease the burden as much as possible people are more willing to respond. Sending the e-mail helps in many ways. First, it gives your friend the context they need, so they don’t have to think of it on their own. Second, it saves them time from actually writing the e-mail, and third, it allows you to convey your message in a way that is more consistent with what you want to say.

Lastly, some people are pretty comfortable with making good networking connections, so don’t constrict them to just using your words. Feel free to give them the autonomy they need to do what’s best.

Here’s an example of a note I recently wrote:

Hi (Name)

Hope all is well. How are things going over in NY?

I’m reaching out today for a  networking favor. I see that you are connected with (PERSON X) over at (Company Y) I think what (Company Y) is doing in this space is really interesting and I’d love to hear more about what (Person X) is doing to help drive the companies’ success in that space. I wanted to see if you were comfortable enough with helping me with an introduction to (Person X) I think a conversation around (Topic 1,2 and 3) will help me significantly. Would you be comfortable with reaching out to Person X to see if they’d be willing to chat?

I know you have a lot going on so I appreciate your time and consideration. Furthermore, if you’re willing to reach out, I can actually put together a few sentences you can use when you e-mail (Person X) . Obviously please use your words where you see fit, but hoping it can help provide the right context.

Thanks again, and hope to hear from you soon.

Weekly Roundup: Self-Awareness, spending time with industry titans, and why you should work 100+ hours a week

Each week, I come across a ton of great content that I find interesting and helpful to my personal and professional career. I’ve decided to start sharing some of the things I find along with a few quick thoughts on what I read. I hope you find it helpful.

Career

Effective Leaders know the Science behind their behavior – Daniel Goleman is one of the leading experts on the topic of emotional intelligence, something that I think is a key driver of success among leaders.  In his latest article on LinkedIn, Daniel talks about how effective leaders utilize self-awareness to understand behaviors that lead to successes and failures, and use that self-awareness to drive their own decision making. Good news – if you don’t think you are self-aware, the article outlines things you can do in order to increase your self-awareness.

Why I work 100 Hours a weekLiz Wessel, the Founder and CEO of Wayup, a job matching platform for college students writes about why she doesn’t have work-life balance and why it’s worth it for her not to. Given the glamour that startups get, it’s a nice reminder that it’s not all rainbows, butterflies and catered meals. It’s clear she’s found a job and company that she is willing to throw her life into and that is incredible. The key here is finding something for yourself that is just as worthwhile to you, provided that is the path you want to pursue.

Spend time with A+ people in other industries – Hunter Walk, one of my favorite bloggers I follow, wrote about how spending time with people who are interesting to you in other industries can be valuable for your learning and development. This is an approach I’ve used throughout my life and I 100% agree with his comments. If you’re not doing this I encourage you to do so.

Tech

obama

Technology and the Imperative of Citizenship – In preparation for President Obama’s appearance at SXSW, Jason Goldman, the CDO of the White House wrote a piece on why he believes technology and innovation is critical to transforming public service. As an optimist, it paints a lovely picture of how technology could make public service more user/citizen friendly, and it does a nice job outlining some of the ongoing work (and potential future projects) the government is undertaking to transform the way it serves citizens.

gusto

Joshua Reeves of Gusto: Directing without dictating – Gusto is one of the hottest startups out there. They also happen to have a CEO who by all accounts seems to be a very grounded leader. This NY Times interview gets into his leadership and management style. After reading this article, I’m not surprised to see them doing so well. It’s clear they have very strong leadership

Management

What Google learned from it’s quest to build the perfect team – Google has a world-class Human Resources team, and this article from the NY Times showcases some of their research on what makes successful teams. According to their research, physcological safety is the number one trait that is most critical to successful teaming at Google. This is a great read for any manager who is responsible for a team, or, for any person who is on a team at work.

Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor – I’ve previously written about the topic of radical candor and why i think its important. Kim Scott, the former Google/Apple leader did a Part 2 on radical candor and the implications of radical candor on men and women. For anyone interested in the diversity issue this is a relevant article into how everyday managers have to deal with managing a diverse workforce. Furthermore, there is also a fascinating story in the article about the challenge today that many professors/teachers in college face in teaching and educating students.

What Hubspot Learned from hiring (and not hiring) engineers – IMO, Hubspot has some of the best content marketing out there. It’s interesting and incredibly useful to a wide audience. If you’re someone who is in a role where you have to recruit and hire this is a must read.