The Role of Data in Diversity & Inclusion (w/ Tara Robertson)

Zach sits down with Tara Robertson, a data-driven diversity, equity and inclusion leader and culture builder, to talk about her journey as a DEI professional and the role of data in the equity and inclusion space. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Tara!

You can connect with Tara on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Click here to check out her personal website.


SPEAKER 1 0:00

Hey, what’s up, y’all this is Aqua live in corporate. And you know how you got 12 Days of Christmas, right? We’re doing this thing, 12 days a podcast. So that’s 12 days a podcast, leading up to Christmas Day and a little bit after, because it’s 12 days, really excited about this one to make sure that y’all hear some of the great content that we have in our vault from earlier this year, that we didn’t release because of timing or scheduling and coordination. But we’re still really excited about it. So the next thing you’re going to hear is a conversation that we had earlier this year. I really hope that you check it out, and you enjoy it. And before we get there, we’re going to tap in with Tristan.

SPEAKER 2 0:53

What’s going on y’all, it’s Tristan, the lay field, resume consulting and I’ve teamed up with living corporate to bring you all a weekly career tip. Today we’re going to discuss making the most of where you are. Are you eyeing that executive level role? And don’t understand why you aren’t there already? Are you consistently overlooked for promotions? Are you wrapped up in your side hustle and fill your day job is getting in the way? So let’s be real here. If you said yes to any of those questions, odds are you may either hate your role, or you may be slacking a bit and don’t even know it. You probably dread going in and are wondering, why am I here? Believe me, I get it. I’ve been in that same exact spot. Nonetheless, you are in that job and you need to make the most of it while you’re there. Sometimes it’s hard to see where the opportunities are. So I’m going to try to make it plain for you. Is your nine to five boring is so listen to educational and business podcasts and audiobooks that may help you get to that next level. Do you need new skills? Utilize the company’s learning management system to take courses and learn skills that would be valuable in your current role or for the roles you’re seeking? Are you planning on starting your own business? Study your nine to five business concepts, strategies and tools. It’s like free business school you get to learn from their mistakes. Want to know what another department does sit in on meetings if you’re allowed to or request some informational interviews of your own? You’d be surprised who will actually say yes, do you need a certification or another degree to take your career to the next level, but you’re strapped for cash, utilize any tuition reimbursement programs or certification programs that the company has as a stepping stone. No matter how horrible we think our job is, we have to stop and realize how we can leverage our current roles to get to our future ones. We have to get out of the habit of asking for more when we haven’t mastered less. The resources your current job provides can assist you in getting to that next level. If you treat every day in the office like its practice, I can guarantee you’ll set yourself up for whatever your next move is. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of lay field resume consulting, check us out on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at lay field resume or connect with me Tristan lay field on LinkedIn.

SPEAKER 3 3:07

All right, so our guest today is Tara Robertson, Tara Robinson is an intersectional feminist who uses data and research to advocate for equality and inclusion she’s currently on sabbatical. She has more than 10 years’ experience making open source and tech communities more diverse and welcoming, including three years leading diversity and inclusion at Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, y’all so like, y’all know that logo for those of you know, because some of y’all we don’t know the names and stuff, but it’s the logo. It’s like a fire. It’s like a fox, but it has like it’s on fire. It’s a search engine. It’s a bunch of different stuff. But anyway, her core values of social justice, collaboration and all things open, open source, open access and open education. Tara finds people fascinating and her curiosity and delight in connecting people come together in person and online. As a library with five years leading exit accessibility work in higher education. We are talking about your librarian back now, by the way, she brings practical expertise of how universal design can be used to include people with disabilities enhance access for everyone. Tara has a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia. Tara, how are you?

SPEAKER 4 4:10

Its funny when we started this call is like, how are you back? And in 2020, that feels like such a loaded question. I am delighted to be talking to you this Friday. I’m really excited.

SPEAKER 3 4:21

And you know, we like we found each other like randomly, like you followed me and I was like, what’s going on? And I hate you. So why don’t you follow me? Like you probably said something like, does it go okay? And I was like, very just like an organic situation. It wasn’t like a, you know, like a purpose or intentional networking thing, which is cool. I like that too. So let’s talk a little bit about your perspective on diversity inclusion as a space today, right? Like I think I continue to ask folks who come on live in corporate this because I do I do find it intriguing. I feel as if we’re in like at a inflection point when it comes to what has been historically acceptable and kind of passed on for diversity equity inclusion DNI bnb inclusion, diversity, whatever action you want to use, and what black employees specifically are demanding, right? It seems like we’re at, you know, when you look across like you see all these major brands, folks stepping down, folks getting fired? I mean, I’m just curious, like, if you were to like, look at this landscape, like, what would you call out? How would you describe it?

SPEAKER 4 5:20

I was just nodding to everything you were saying. It’s interesting, because I, the seasons are changing here in Vancouver, the leaves are starting to change color and fall off the trees. I quit my job a couple of weeks ago, and it’s the first time in 25 years of I haven’t been working. So it feels like a real transition point in my life, but also kind of in the world. So I feel really privileged to just have a moment to take a break and step back and reflect on my career in my life, but also to kind of look at the industry and look at society. Just all sorts of things like what I’ve been thinking this week, is that the DNS namespace or dub or Dibs, like there’s so many different acronyms. I’m just I’m amazed at how many jobs there are right now. I’ve been having some conversations with companies where they’re creating their first DDI role, a company that had 180 people, a company that have 8000 people and a company that had 18,000 people. And it’s interesting for me to kind of interview different companies on why they’re creating these roles right now like to be an 18,000 person company, and to not have seen a business in the past. But right now to say, you know, this is the priority. Like, it’s a really interesting time. And just thinking about 2020. Like, it’s been, in some ways, it’s been a total dumpster fire. But there’s also been, there’s been some amazing transformation. Like, I never thought we’d be having the conversations we’re having about racism in the workplace that we’re even having this year. Like, could you imagine this? No, no, not really.

SPEAKER 3 7:05

I mean, because like, we’re using language that just a year ago, I was told that I cannot use like, within my work context, right, but we’re using that language. Now. We’re using terms like white supremacy, anti-racism, and that’s, that’s, that’s good. Like, I’m happy about that, I’m happy about that. It does feel like a certain level of like collective gas lighting by white folks have this that, like, you know, y’all are just now discovering that racism is like a problem. But, you know, you take what you can get, and, you know, if this is going to be a season where we’re actually hurt, then you know, I want to maximize that opportunity to be heard, right? I think what’s really interesting is that I’m still waiting for this, which is, you know, transitioning past talking about racism in the abstract, and really getting into talking about how the systems and structures within that respective company are racist, and uphold white supremacy, and then doing the work of dismantling those policies, procedures, systems, whatever, to really create true organizational justice within that space. Like, that’s what I’m really still I’ve yet to really see that, like, at scale. And I’ve yet to hear the discussion, quote, unquote, evolved to that position, you know what I mean?

SPEAKER 4 8:20

Yeah, like, I think it was Michelle Kim, who might have said, I can’t remember who said it. But, you know, in the last couple of months, the conversation has changed, but let it be like, you know, the phrase is white supremacy, and I’m a racist, or just flowing a little too easily off of some people’s tongues without a level of like criticality, or like, without a level of responsibility, maybe like, so? Yeah, I do. I do hear him feel that as well. I’ve definitely seen both, like looking at other companies and where I was working, like, some of the ideas that people had initially, like they want to white people and nonblack people dealt with this need to do something. And sometimes the things that people wanted to do, like when you would ask, like, how does this in practical terms, like lift up black software developers, or how does this create more space and equity for black staff? Like, there was a long pause and I thought, well, like, okay, like, think about that? And like, is that what we need to be doing? Like, huh? And also like a lack of like, when, or just maybe it’s navigating an experience, but also some, like a lack of maturity around when us nonblack people can show up as allies and do structural work and when it’s necessary to either they’re back with black communities or stand behind black folks and let them speak like, some of the things like it’s a no brainer, like I don’t need to take up my people’s time. These questions like some simple Google searches and critical thinking like I can get there on my own, like, people have other things going on like, so. It’s like, there’s a lack of, or it’s new to kind of figure out, like, where were white people and where, like people like me who are non-black people of color should be acting in this space. And I hope we don’t get stuck in that awkward space. Or if you’re like, Oh, I don’t know what to do, like, ah, like, it’s uncomfortable. So I’m just going to, like, not address things. So like, Don’t we’re in a space where we’re saying the right things, or we’re saying these words like what white supremacy and dismantle anti-racism, but like, in actual fact, nothing’s really changed. Like, I think that’s the gas lighting you’re talking about.

SPEAKER 3 10:37

It is a lack of critical thought. And I think for me, like what I’ve been trying to work on, and I’m talking to a mentor of mine, and my father about this, which is just not demonizing people for their own incompetence. Like incompetence isn’t malicious, right? Like some people are just genuinely incompetent space or ignorant. And that’s, that’s not okay. And it is creating harm. So like, I’m not incompetence can still create harm, I think we’re seeing that we’re seeing that politically, pointedly, we’re seeing that, but at the same time, like, you know, that’s for me, I’ve been trying to grow in that way. So what I bring that up, because I just think, you know, you talked about lack of critical thought. And it’s just like, it’s frustrating the same people that can, you know, build, like cars, or rockets, or whatever the case is, or can solve for, like, very complex quantitative challenges, like, or mathematical challenges or scientific challenges, for some reason, you know, their competence, or their critical thinking goes out the window in these spaces. And so I get I struggled, because I think about Okay, like, like, how much of this is you being incompetent? And how much is you being purposely obtuse? Right. And that’s where I get frustrated, I think, to your point, though, around, like, you know, where nine, black and brown folks show up in these spaces and how they engage? You know, for me, I think about the fact that if folks would just show up and like, give up their capital, and give up their space to like, amplify the black and brown person next to them, how they get it done a miss with that, right, like, that you’re not like, I think, I think, I think the issue is, is that the issue is that we don’t want to give up power. We don’t want to give up control. When I say we I actually don’t mean me, I mean white people. So like white, well, meaning people, there’s racism in that too. And that, that it’s like, what, no, I want to I want to come I want to Columbus this like, Oh, well, I want you to have, you know, space to talk. But I but I need to control how you talk. I need to just control what your space looks like, I need to control and I need the credit for it too. Right. As opposed

SPEAKER 4 12:34

I am going to turn [Inaudible] you do it. [Inaudible] in a nicer way, please, right.

SPEAKER 3 12:47

Right, No, absolutely. And I think that’s, that’s my take, right? Is that like, I think it takes a special kind of person to be like, No, I’m going to give you this full stop, I’m going to back up and cede my space, my power my voice to you, I’m going to hand it to you with no conditions, with no presuppositions. I’m just going to give it to you. Like, that’s where we’re at. Right? Like, we’re not in I don’t need you. And I, you know, I was on I’m Laurie ruderman. I was on her podcast, punk rock HR. She was like, you know, what’s the one thing you want folks to get away from, you know, get away from this conversation? I said, Look, I said the one thing I want the white people to get away. Listen, this conversation is I said, we don’t want your advice. We want your things, right. Like I’m still there. You know, I’m saying?

SPEAKER 4 13:33

Yeah, I’m just thinking when I was at Mozilla, we brought Robyn D’Angelo, to come and do a talk on white fragility. I see she was a guest on your podcast before. And pretty much. It was a couple of weeks after, like, nationwide protests were happening in the US. And as a friend, I was like when the revolution started again. And the talk was important. I think everyone who was awake during that time, and the time zones was there. Like it was like 70% of the company was there live. But I knew that there was like, there wasn’t anything in that talk for black people. Not much in there for brown people either. But a lot of this information would be new for white people. And we didn’t want it to be a one and done. So she’s got a great reading guide for her white fragility book. And we stood up different reading discussion groups, as almost all white people, there were some Asian people who participated. But we were trying to design like, how can white people go deeper on this content, and start to learn together and unlearn together without putting a tax on black and brown people? And actually, I reached out to another Asian woman to see if she would lead one of these groups. And she’s like, no, like, I can’t for my own well-being facilitate with conversation with white people. And she was a little pissed off at me. Like how would you why would you ask me and I was like, I thought maybe but yeah, I totally see why not. Thinking for myself. I was like, No, I don’t want to facilitate this conversation. Ladder like it’s harmful to me. But I thought that was a good way to like structure deeper learning for white people. Because we need white people to understand and unpack and learn and be different and like D invest from white supremacy. And that’s going to be some hard work. And I want them to do their work. And I’m willing to create spaces for not working to be there some of the time, but it can’t be there all the time. It really touches my heart and my head and my spirit too much.

SPEAKER 3 15:27

No, 100%. And yeah, I think I’m having these conversations like, all over like in a variety of different contexts around like, Look, there’s different types of work that need to happen right now. Right. And I think that’s the issue. And a shout out to one of my mentors, and a dear friend Liz Swaggart. So Liz, at the beginning of our friendship, she would constantly talk about binary thinking, right? And like not being binary in your thinking. So a lot of there are positions right now. It’s like, if you’re talking about the trauma, if you’re talking about that it’s wrong. And it’s like, well, no, there’s space for multiple different types of conversations. The issue is, is that we’re creating space for the folks that are being harmed. Right. So like, I agree that like, bringing in a Dr. Robyn D’Angelo to spoon feed the concepts of white supremacy and how it manifests in a sociological way, is important. Like, that’s really important. You know, I know there’s not like a lot of articles out there challenging if Dr. D’Angelo should even exist, right as an academic not literally, but if, if her we should be you know, and I think I think she should, I think I think if there’s absolutely space for it, right? I consider like that work like tummy time for antiracism work. It’s what you do before you crawl before you walk. Right? It can be if leveraged effectively, very foundational. To your understanding, I think, I think when I when I see under indexed, though, is just investment in black wellness. And like really giving black and brown folks the resources that they need, and critical organizational assessment, on the impact of the systems within their own companies that create harm, right, you know, you think about sales departments and like how strictly policies are followed, which then tie into bonuses, which tie into promotions and all these different things, right, like performance management processes, recruitment processes, disciplinary chant, like, you know, the equitable nature of those things, even how they, how they analyze their data, like, Are you being intersectional in your data analysis? Like there’s a bunch of different questions and like work that I don’t think happens for black people, I think I think we like there’s a lot of work that happens for white folks. And then there’s a lot of like tasks that black and brown people receive, to essentially solve for racism on their own. So hey, here, do this employee resource group for free. Hey, here’s a happy hour y’all can coordinate. Hey, here’s whatever, right? But it’s not. It’s not…

SPEAKER 4 17:53

Coaching on executive presence.

SPEAKER 3 17:55

Right? Yeah. Thank you. It’s, here’s some presentation on how to do Excel. Well, it’s like, No, I don’t need that. I don’t need that. Like, I need y’all to stop harming me. Right. So let’s talk about this. I want to get into your work as a librarian. But before that, I want to talk about masilela. So like, and I recognize you’re on sabbatical. Yeah. I’d love to talk about the work that you are involved in, because it’s not going to be in the past. And sabbatical doesn’t mean that you’re going to be taking a break. You know, talk to me about, you know, the work that you’re doing what you’re excited about. And you know what you foresee.

SPEAKER 4 18:24

Yeah. Before that, I just wanted to share two more things about two other speakers that came after at Mozilla, like, when we brought Dr. Robyn D’Angelo, like I said, what my target audience for that that talk was white people at the company, and like to think about bringing in different speakers. Like, I also wanted to make sure that there was stuff for black people and people of color. So two weeks after we brought in Dr. Sophia noble, who actually know from the library world, she’s the author of algorithms of oppression. And she put together a really phenomenal keynote for our virtual all hands event. Normally we come together in person, but because of COVID, we came together online. And she connected some of her research and had some provocations for us as a product company, like, how do we think about technology? That’s something black people like. So she was phenomenal. And it just got us thinking about these issues of anti-racism and other kind of possibilities in the product space. And then it was awesome to partner with the lead designers around looking at, you know, we’ve done a lot of work and be biasing our hiring process, but like when we’re doing user research or user testing, like what kind of biases exist in those processes, and one of the designers recommended bringing in Dr. Dorie Tunstall. She’s the Dean of design at OCAD University in Toronto. She’s the only black dean of design I’m the only black female design not just in Canada but anywhere and she To this amazing talk that was so juicy, breaking down, decolonization, breaking down anti-blackness, breaking down white supremacy, and then talking about some of the changes that she’s made at OCAD University, both in terms of centering indigenous, indigenous and black faculty through different cluster hire programs, the community work that she’s been doing kind of going out and being the face of the institution and different communities that didn’t know, okay, do you? And I just won’t remember she was talking about this, this blockbuster hire and thinking about how to craft a job description that welcomed different people into the institution. And she said that the job description that they wrote, which included like some non-traditional language around and sort of, you know, like industrial design or interaction design, she’s like, Are you interested in hip hop, aesthetics and design. And she said, the job posting went viral, and some people shared with her that the job posting made them cry, because they’ve never seen themselves, like, reflected in the institution, and just kind of start to finish as a designer. And as a strategic leader. They redesigned that process and came up with some really different outcomes. And it’s just so inspiring, and just really fired me up. And one of the things that she talked about was, that success in this system doesn’t look like hiring five other people who looked like her. She’s like, let’s be real. I’m a super token, like, I got a degree from Stanford, I over excelled in all of these bias systems, she’s like, what successful look like is if we can hire a mediocre indigenous person, or a black person who was simply average. And for me, like, that, just pressed a button and, like, gave me some emotions and just made me think about, like, just systems that I’ve been through and how I felt like, you know, the bar is higher, and we have to do better and more in a faster way to be, like, I remember being a little kid and saying to my mom, like, That’s not fair. And my mom’s like, that’s how it is, like, suck it up. This is how it’s going to be like, if you want it, you are going to have to be better, faster, smarter, like more point, like, she’s like, that’s just the way it is.

SPEAKER 3 22:36

No, 100% and I think, you know, it’s funny, so I’m not going to I’m not going to drop the names, but I was. I was just literally chat, like a conference.

SPEAKER 4 22:45

Oh, drop the names dropped the names.

SPEAKER 3 22:47

Ago. Okay, sure. It’s all on clubhouse. So it’s like this new app. And it’s, it’s essentially like just a series of like, conference calls, like, for lack of better words for the sake of this conversation. And it was van Leighton formerly of TMZ. Now of the wringer, it was the executive producer for all American. And it was like some other like, folks just in media. And so anyway, we were talking about the concept of black mediocrity, and just how black people and brown people don’t have the privilege of being average. Right. So like what you just said, like trick, like, trigger that reminder that like the black average, black average is oftentimes like white excellence. Right? Yeah. Right. Like you have to be excellent in these spaces to be just considered as just for them to leave you alone, you have to be excellent. And, you know, I’m fighting for part of me is fighting for black mediocrity, like the privilege of just coming in? Being Okay, and going home. Like, there’s something to be said about that. There’s something to be said about having the ability just to be right, like, you know, and I think about it is like, the average person that you meet at your job, or whatever you’re doing isn’t brilliant, right? If everyone was brilliant, like this is not like a slug to everybody. And that’s my latest thing. It’s like, if most people were brilliant, Tara then the world would not look how it looks like most people are not brilliant. The average person at your job is just average. And that’s okay. You’re talking about like a C, C plus, maybe a B minus player, and that’s okay. But I don’t I can say in my career, I don’t meet a lot of c plus b minus black and brown people like they’re typically especially

SPEAKER 4 24:33


SPEAKER 3 24:35

Like being like, somebody was like, somebody was like, literally tried to challenge me about racism not existing. Because I’m a manager and a big four consulting firm. I said, do you understand what I had to do to get this manager promotion and I didn’t get it here. I got it somewhere else and took it with me here. Right? Like the hoops and performance. The things that we have to deliver are so high, they’re just so different and uniquely set apart within these spaces. And it’s exhausting. And it creates all these different stressors, which then, you know, invites a bunch of a host of health issues. Right? And so you know, I don’t know, you said that it just, that hit me very particularly. So thank you for that.

SPEAKER 4 25:16

Maybe people aren’t like, people bring different flashes of brilliance, like people, not everyone’s going to, their, their gifts and talents aren’t going to look exactly the same. But I sometimes feel like in the workplace, what we’re assessing, and what we value is so narrow that if your talents aren’t in that space, like you really, really have to over deliver, and yeah, black with a black woman I’ve worked with are like, they’re all exceptional, like. And, yeah, like, I’m just thinking about, like, also what my mom said, and she meant it in my mom is very pragmatic. And she’s like, it is and like, it’s a survival piece. And thinking about the mantra representation matters. Like, it would be great to be able to see people of color, who are just average, because I think also like the representations of people of color, and women of color that I see, especially in the tech space, like they’re all exceptional. And there’s a certain level of imposter syndrome that comes with that as well. It’s like, if I want to exist here, be here, like, I’m going to need to be like almost a superhero. And Gosh, I’m just immortal. Like, wow, yeah, I want us to be able to be in like the C suite. But I also want us just like you said, just to be able to be and like, have these were mediocre hot days, where we’re just where we are average. Like, that’s a level of privilege that I never been able to imagine.

SPEAKER 3 26:49

I’m curious, you know, we’ve had, we haven’t really had a lot of conversations about data, like on living corporate, like we asked, but you know, and how it intersects with bi, I’m curious about your background, how it informs the work that you do at Mozilla. And then just like, if you have any perspective on where you think data still needs to go as it pertains to driving for workplace equity.

SPEAKER 4 27:14

I love data. I love I love it stopping. Like I think di sometimes seen as a fluffy thing and the soft skills and the sense of belonging, how we feel included or not in situations, that’s really important. I think it’s important that we are able to measure that as well like through employee engagement surveys and whatnot. I think diversity data is really fascinating. When I first got to Mozilla, there was a commitment to DNI. But there wasn’t any infrastructure in place. So it was a lot of work, just to understand, like, who works here right now? And like, what are the demographics of those people. So working with our HR ops team, and someone in it, we designed and built out a dashboard to so we can see who was there understand what our baseline was. That’s a measurable goal, which I think is really important in any business. We measure things that we care about. And when we set goals, we need to know how we’re tracking. So using those tools, and making some recommendations about goals, worked with senior executives to coach them and help them to interpret the data and think of tactics to keep us moving in the right direction and to increase representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the US. I think that the data doesn’t lie, like it’s when you’re trying to change something, you need to know where you’re at where you want to go. And incrementally like where you are. For anything like if you’re trying to increase the number of users for something decrease costs on something. Measurements are really important. Right?

SPEAKER 3 29:00

I mean, I’m curious when you talk about measuring. So you know, well, I’d like to get your perspective on like the state of diversity day to day like, what would you say are some of the common pitfalls and things that folks can like just low hanging fruit things that folks organization can do in terms of how they analyze or view their data that could create better outcomes.

SPEAKER 4 29:18

I think even just understanding the baseline data for a lot of companies like that’s the first step, and it sounds easy, but data is messy, like cleaning it up and making sure you’re on the right page and that you and everyone’s aligned on what definitions you’re using like that some work to do. Some of the larger companies like I saw in Google’s external diversity disclosure, if they represented their data in an intersectional way, which I think that’s not work that I’ve done, but I think it’s really important to do like not just looking at women, but like, how many white women how many black women, how many Asian women how many Latino women like I think when you start to look at the data that way you really see where you’re doing while you’re not and where you need to focus. There’s some people kind of DNI professionals who are more data driven, and some are less data driven, I probably was one of them more data driven people, I think it’s important to be able to show impact and the work that we do as well. So whether that’s trying to increase psychological safety, or increase just general safety in our workplace, like, these are all emergent problems, like no country, no company, no industry, has them solved. So we’re trying new things, and we’re experimenting. So we need to be able to see one if our hypothesis was valid, or if the interventions that we’re doing are actually effective. So I think measurement is important there. around like, where, with data and like kind of diversity inclusion, I think people immediately want to think of diversity, go right to Oh, we need to hire more x, y, Zed people. And I think that’s a mistake, I think looking first at the culture and looking at who like, what does inclusion look like? Like? Where are the pain points there whose feeling like, more included or less included? I love reading culture out tool that I’ve used for an employee engagement survey, because it enables you to cut the data and look at not just the overall score, but what does the majority group feel like? And what are the minority group’s sentiments, like? And the difference there and those gaps? Like that’s the juicy bit for me.

SPEAKER 3 31:39

So like, why do you think I mean, so I feel like I don’t want to say laziness, but the easy answer is patriarchy, white supremacy, but why do you think? Why do you think that we’re still not being intersectional, in our data analysis?

SPEAKER 4 31:51

I think it’s more, it’s a bit harder. It’s not the first thing like when I said it took us, it took us about three months to really understand what our baseline was to take an intersectional approach would have been harder. It was definitely not on the list of next things that I was going to do at Mozilla. But yeah, I think some people will say, and I haven’t done enough research into this, for companies that aren’t very big. When you take an intersectional approach at the data, the numbers start really small, really quickly. So there could be something about statistical significance. But I think it’s just harder, like it’s more complex and more complicated. Yeah, that’s definitely like with my, my next role, that’s something I really want to get into.

SPEAKER 3 32:33

Let’s talk a little bit about your like, your background with the librarian, the masters and like, talk to me about that master’s degree in like, you know, when you say you love data, like, how have you historically, taken data, and then, like, allowed it to inform programming with organizations that you’ve worked with?

SPEAKER 4 32:54

Yeah, so I was a librarian for 12 years before I changed careers and came into tuck into DNI professionally, I did the technical type of work in libraries. So when a lot of people hear I was a librarian, they’ll be like, Oh, I love books. Well, that wasn’t my job. I was working on the computer systems behind the books or, and also doing the metadata work. And the five years I worked before Mozilla, I ran an accessibility organization that format shifted print textbooks into digital formats for students with disabilities. So pretty nice. Yeah. And I think in libraries, like resources are so limited. So using data is really key to program design and evaluation to figure out like, where you can make the biggest bang for your buck, how you can help users the most with the limited resources that you’ve got. One of the things I’ve noticed between libraries and tech, and libraries, there’s a lot more time, but there’s no money. And in tech, there’s a lot more money and resources, but a lot less time. So it’s an interesting kind of equation to play with.

SPEAKER 3 34:06

So let’s talk a little bit about like, you know, when you think about the future, what you would say organizations need to do and shift. Are there anything like big things that come to mind in terms of like, how they can proactively engage and mitigate more situations where they haven’t been out? Just, you know, PR statements.

SPEAKER 4 34:23

I’m just thinking like, 2020 it just feels like there’s just been, like a cumulative layer of stuff. So global pandemic started to spread. They’ve impacted people’s health and jobs. There’s been a lot of layoffs here. Racism has been exposed to some people in the US who haven’t seen it in the way that they are now. Black Lives Matter. And people of color and black people are fighting for human rights and the right to exist and be Ms. There’s a whole bunch of forest fires happening on the West Coast right now. And there’s all sorts of like, there’s like daily grief from the US government and Trump, like, the new cycle this year has been exhausting. So I just think those feel like heavy blankets that have just been stacked on top of each other. I don’t know, like people are exhausted. Oh, and then parents, I don’t have kids. So this is a piece I often forget about, like, caregiving responsibilities, like, you ping me on Twitter to say, I’m going to be a minute or two late because I’m just putting my daughter down like that. People taking care of elderly people taking care of sick people, like, it’s a lot. So I think people are exhausted. But the piece like there’s there feels like there’s some kind of tectonic big shifts happening where conversations around equity and inclusion and diversity like they’re more central. And they’re more kind of part of these big fault lines that are making big systemic changes. So how to me I see the two extremes, I’m like, we should like there’s an opportunity to push hard right now for some big changes, which I think we need to do. And knowing that on an individual level, some people are just beyond done, and just bone tired, and they just can’t. So kind of holding the complexity of both of those terms at once. Like, that’s not a great strategy. But thinking out loud for the first time, I see those two things that are very, very far apart as both being true at the same time.

SPEAKER 3 36:36

No, I think that’s true. It’s just, it’s just an interesting season in time. Tomorrow, this has been a dope conversation. Look, before I let you go, you know, if you had to talk to executives and give them like the three things that you think would be important for them to really absorb and like reflect on in this time, like, what would those things be?

SPEAKER 4 36:55

Three things to reflect, reflect on why I would encourage executives to do the personal work that they need to do, whether that’s unpacking white supremacy, whether that’s understanding, like gender disparities, or learning more about queer and trans folks, like whatever people’s learning is like to figure out what that is, and make a plan, block off time in your calendar to do that work. So that it doesn’t slip away at the end of the day and become something just I’ll get to the next we’ll get to it next week like this is important work to do on a personal level. So prioritize it and make time. You can even buddy up with someone you trust and have an accountability buddy there or an accountability partner where you read through something and discuss it together or discuss some difficult workplace scenarios. And like the stuff that you’re unpacking on a personal level like, but make time to prioritize and do that work, too. I think if there’s not clear accountability goals in your organization, I would ask your peers, why not, I would partner with your di lead, or your chief people officer to figure out what those goals should be. And put make them as part of your regular goals framework. Again, kind of like point number one, there’s a lot going on, and things can like slip off the sides. But if you put them in a place where there is an accountability framework, and they are important, and someone is responsible for moving the needle and measuring things don’t get done. So make sure that they get done. And third, if you don’t know who the black and brown leaders are in your organization, who are informally or formally leaders in doing this work, find out and reach out and ask, ask for time on their calendar, to understand the work that they’re doing, and to understand what their career goals are. And listen so that you have a good understanding of what your black and brown leader’s priorities are, and then be a sponsor and advocate for them when they’re not in the room, lift up their work, and make sure that it’s visible and valued in your organization. Those are my three things.

SPEAKER 3 39:11

Yo, fire. Thank you. Good job.

SPEAKER 4 39:18

This has been such a pleasure. You’re so easy to talk to you in such an amazing house. It’s a real pleasure. Let’s step back and think about these things and talk about what does someone thank you.

SPEAKER 3 39:29

No, thank you, yo, like, you know, we know I’m right. I’m so thankful, I’m able to speak to Tara Robertson, who is a whole host of things, as she exists as multiple things at the same time, which is just the beauty and complexity of humanity itself. I’m going to highlight the fact that she is a leader and executive, public speaker and intellect, overall dope person. Until next time, y’all. Peace. Listen, I want to thank y’all. I hope that this holiday season is treating you safe that you’re staying warm and to take care of yourself. We’ll catch you soon. You know what it is we’re creating content and there’s an empathise black and brown folks at work. We do this every single week. Make sure you give us five stars. If you’re not you’re a hater, but I love you anyway. Alright, peace.

SPEAKER 5 40:30

Living corporate is a podcast, living corporate LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Burns. Additional music production by Anton Franklin from musical elevation. Post production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion. Email us at living corporate You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and living dash Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.

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