Inclusive Ecosystem Building
Sponsored by Kauffman Foundation>>All right. We are ready to get started.
Just out of curiosity, how many people were here at the last session? Okay. So we’ve got
a lot of new faces. Welcome, everybody. My name is Cynthia Overton. I work with a group
of folks called Diversity Advocates. Is anybody here familiar with Diversity Advocates? I’m
really excited about this next panel it’s entitled inclusive ecosystem building and
it’s sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation. I am going to turn it over to the moderator,
Maica in just a bit. But I just wanted to introduce the panelists just very quickly.
We have Maica Gil, Vanessa Roanhorse, Jennifer Ellis, Chris Davidson and Orlando Harris.
So without further ado. MAICA: Isn’t it a great day to be at Tech
Inclusion? First of all I want to thank all the volunteers. Melinda, Wayne, of course
Renzo, Antonia, and all the volunteers because they have been great and also the Kauffman
Foundation for sponsoring this panel. Let’s give them a big applause.
[ Applause ] you know it is extremely wrong that I’m going
to say what I’m going to say right now, but I think this is the coolest panel of all the
panels at the conference. But it’s true I think so. And you are going to find why. Chris,
Vanessa, Jennifer, Orlando, they’re doing amazing things. On top of that they’re going
to enlighten us on what is this thing of building inclusive ecosystems. They’re going to introduce
in the first part of the panel themselves. Jennifer is with Last Mile. Check them out
please. Chris with Startout. Vanessa she’s with Roanhorse Consulting. You’re going love
her as well. And Orlando, what can I say. Our academia guy from San Francisco State
University. Of course. So my name is Maica. I’m the founder much Heroikka. Our experience
in ecosystems and maybe this is why we are here, is because we are building and supporting
regional and international ecosystems for women entrepreneurs around the world. Right
now we’re running a pilot in Mexico city for women. Also we’re going to start one in Chile
and we started our summit and conference also five years ago in the Canary islands where
we bring women entrepreneurs from Latin-America, the U.S. as well, Europe and Africa together.
And we are going to be bringing indigenous women as well next year, and some of these
troublemakers. [ Laughter ]
So I had the opportunity to talk to them this week, I asked them, even though they’re going
to introduce themselves but maybe we can start with the conversation as well. I asked them
what is that ingredient, or one of the things that any inclusive ecosystem must have. So
Jennifer, please tell us who you are, why you’re on this panel and what do you think
about this? JENNIFER: Thank you, Maica. Good morning,
everyone. I’m delighted to be here. My name is Jennifer Ellis and I run operations at
The Last Mile. The Last Mile is the first ever in-prison coding curriculum. We’re in
15 prisons across five different states. In the next three years we hope to be in 50.
We teach marketable software skills to men, women and youth. I am proud to say right now
that currently the vast majority of our in-prison learners are women. That’s something that
I’m extraordinarily proud of. Also a large part of the organization’s mission is to help
educate other organizations and corporations on fair chance hiring, specifically including
the formerly incarcerated into your tech ecosystems. So when Maica asked me what is the main ingredient
in my opinion dealing with inclusiveness, it’s what I call true equity. You know, you
hear that word lately, it’s been attached to diversity and inclusion. In fact there’s
a lot of organizations now that have diversity and inclusion equity initiatives or actual
departments. When I say true equity, I mean having an organization in a corporation willing
to give someone a second chance. Not to just someone by the worst thing they’ve ever done.
When I think of inclusiveness, I think of really acceptance and awareness. So thank
you. I’m going to pause for now. I could talk about that much longer, but I’m very glad
to be here. MAICA: Great. Orlando, please let us know.
I remember during our conversation when I asked you this question, you mentioned two
words that I have here in my brain. You talk about being intentional, and also with purpose.
ORLANDO: Yes. Yes. Hi, Orlando Harris and I represent San Francisco State University
where we serve prettily 30-plus-thousand students, and we’re one of the most diverse campuses
in this United States of America. But within the CSU we have 23 campuses. The CSU, California
state university system graduates the largest number of graduates every year, we’re also
the largest university system in this country. And yes, I talk about the fact within my office
of career services and leadership development, and not an academic by trade by the way, I’m
actually an industry person. I love my academics but I’m not an academic. That being said one
of the things we talk about in our office, is that we are the office where opportunity
and talent connect. And we’re very purposeful and intentional about how we go about preparing
our talent, our students, our alums who come to our office in seeking help. But one of
the things I like to talk to organizations about and companies about is, are you being
intentional? Are you being really purposeful about when you talk regarding inclusion and
equity and empowerment? And most of the time when pushed and challenged, a lot of times
I find that the answers are just not there. Sometimes there’s so much checking the box.
And I think we have to be more than just checking the box. We have to go back this in a meaningful
relevant way, and the only way we can do that is to be intentional and purposeful about
what we’re doing. MAICA: Thank you, Orlando. You know, I ask
the same question to Vanessa she talked about flexible financial opportunities,
she talked about child care and transportation. So hey, Vanessa. They ever’ all yours.
VANESSA: My name is Vanessa Roanhorse I’m from the Navaho nation. I reside in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. I have a small indigenous consulting company, there’s five of us. We are working
across multiple initiatives particularly around looking at community-led economic development
using our indigenous lens. We don’t just work with native people, we work with all groups
and what our approach is, we take this concept of holistic, connected relationship-based
ecosystem design to apply it to whatever the challenge is.
Separately, I’m co-founder with other indigenous women. We founded native women lead which
is a growing organization in the last two years we have built a network in the United
States of over 500 indigenous women to help them grow into CEO and leadership positions.
When I think about what is inclusive ecosystems, I think we have to be really careful with
these buzz words because at the end of the day we’re talking about humans. And so from
my standpoint in the work that I see with the women that we work with in the United
States, a couple things come up for me. Many of us don’t realize that the United States
has developing world challenges. And when we talk about access, we have to recognize
that the way we access resources and capital and people has been hoarded and that access
has been hoarded on the backs of black and brown people so we have to go deep into the
history of this place. So yes, access to equitable, inclusive, affordable capital, we have to
recognize that people have families. They’ve got lives, and what we need to be doing is
not asking them to go through more trainings. We just need to be moving more money to get
them where they’ve got to go. MAICA: You were reading my mind. So Chris
has been quite a surprise to get to know him. CHRIS: Thank you.
MAICA: During our conversation the words I have in my head are meet me in the middle.
This was one of the things when we were talking. And the other thing that I actually really
love is what were you saying when we start reporting to a board. And the money starts
coming in. Maybe sometimes we forget about being inclusive. So they’re all yours.
CHRIS: Chris Davidson, I represent Startout startup. It’s an LGBTQ + mentoring networking
organization. We have over 15,000 people nationwide. We are outside of the country now as well.
We’re Europe and expanding South America. And we provide services for the LGBTQ+ entrepreneur.
Whether it’s events, mentorship, networking, access to capital, you need help with a pitch
deck, you applied to our online platform and we can do a bunch of different services. I
myself, I run our growth lab, so every six months we bring in anywhere from 7-10 companies,
and we give them much more hand-on support. So I think it’s a great organization. Please
look up us. Startout.org. I wouldn’t be doing the company a service without saying that.
With that said, I love everybody on the panel and I love how everybody has a different lens,
right? We use P words, but my lens is economics. Company business. My main business is I work
with organizations and scaling their operations and help them raise capital. And so everything
is about opportunity and access. And this meet me in the middle is interesting and I’ll
focus on, I think as Orlando said, buzzwords, checking the boxes, very similar for LGBTQ+
okay what is the next thing we have to provide for an organization and our company, that
could be transitioning, that could be support for a spouse, for a husband or wife, same
sex partner. But what we were talking about earlier was that we’re really good until there’s
an inflection point. And oftentimes we’re our own worst enemy. Where if we’re a small
company organization and growing and we’re very inclusive at the start, what happens
when you have to bring in capital and report to a board? What happens when you have to
go out and raise money from a pension fund from Minnesota or St. Louis and they’re asking
you about your wife and so it’s in these periods where it is at times we may allow money to
interfere with our own ability to keep promoting equity, diversity and inclusion. So it’s almost
our own mission to make sure that we can’t let money or some of that access dissuade
us from being authentic and original and keep promoting our agendas.
MAICA: I told you, this panel is awesome. For us it’s actually about accessible networks.
We are seeing that women are not having access to the right networks, so they can scale to
projects, the ideas. They can actually have access to the investors, the right investors
that actually every going to understand what they’re doing. So we keep working towards
that and actually bring in different actors in the communities, especially in international
level and learning from all the different ecosystems to see what works for women and
for girls if we actually want to give them support on creating this economic opportunities
they are creating more than 35% of the growth in their communities.
That brings us to the next question that I had for all of them. Actually I was asking
them, I want the audience that comes here today how they would be able to identify if
an ecosystem, it could be a corporation, original ecosystem or even any kind of organization
and institution is inclusive. And I asked them what would be the three factors that
they have to look at so they can identify it and if they haven’t found that type of
ecosystem yet, what would be the three factors that we have to look at to consider an ecosystem
inclusive. Jennifer? JENNIFER: So I think it’s imperative and very
foundational for an organization to really define what their core values are. At The
Last Mile we call that guiding principles. But that’s often a necessary step that most
corporations skip over or they say we’re committed to diversion and inclusion and equity but
they don’t define or infuse within their core values what diversity and inclusion and equity
actually means to their organization. I think it’s imperative to have key definitions what
that means and to potentially incorporate that into your core values. Your core values
should also be something that is not hidden away in the employee handbook. It should be
something that is regularly talked about. It should be something that is shared with
all employees at all levels. It could be something that is brought up during performance reviews,
all hands. In other words, keep reexamining and returning to the root of the organization.
So I think a couple of examples of guiding principles that could support diversity and
inclusion and equity could be something about respect, something about awareness, something
about radical transparency. Which leads me to my next main ingredient which is awareness.
Which as I said a moment ago. If an organization is open to either bringing in outside thought
leaders or if potentially a thought leader exists among the organization, to really bring
together and create a safe space where employees can talk about self-awareness, and where they
can learn about their unconscious bias. So I think having that commitment and that extra
layer of support creating a safe space can be huge when building an ecosystem. And the
last thing I would say is a lot of organizations try to embody and model the core values from
the top-down approach and I actually think it’s much more beneficial to remove from that
sort of model, and instead create exercises or examples or space for all levels of employees
to really embody what the core values are, to really understand and live what diversity
and inclusion and equity means to our organization. MAICA: Thank you, Jennifer. I remember — okay.
5 minutes. We started later. We had 30. It’s okay. We can negotiate.
[ Laughter ] So Orlando, you mentioned opportunity pay
and mentoring when we were talking about this secret sauce. So please, let us know
ORLANDO: Opportunity, pay and monitorship. I think about a time when I first started
my career, I started at Xerox Corporation and when somebody asked me a question about,
I said they were way ahead of the game. When I started at Xerox, I could look to my left,
to my right, there were always people that looked like me. And they were willing to be
mentors. They were willing to be there. And that opportunity and that mentorship went
a long way in helping me advance in my career. And then we get to this point we start talking
about pay equity. And today’s time, what we’re finding is that what I want to see, what I
like to see is opportunities for especially the constituents I serve, my students, that
they’re provided the opportunity, that they’re provided the mentorship, and they’re provided
the pay equity. Because so many times that’s not happening, especially with the unserved
and underserved communities. We’re being asked to come in at a lower level, which means they’re
starting out without a leg up, as they say. And now when you start to look at pay, they’re
already behind when it comes to the pay scale. So that catching up process, sometimes never
happens. So we have to look at it from the start in ensuring that there are mentors in
place for them. I not only talk about it, but I literally live it myself. And I won’t
embarrass him, but one of my staff members is here today, Joseph Adams. And when I hired
Joseph.>>That’s not embarrassing.
ORLANDO: Joseph was a student, he became a student assistant, now he’s on my professional
staff, and we worked together to continue to advance his career. He finished his graduate
degree and soon I’ll be calling him Dr. Adams. So I’m proud to know that we don’t just talk
it but we live it. And we all have that opportunity to push one another but we have to push the
organizations to do the same. MAICA: Great. I know that Vanessa is going
to bring also her point of view, and we were talking about finding the leaders earlier.
Also having highly connected providers networks is extremely important and pay equity and
access to capital. VANESSA: For me building connected, inclusive,
rational ecosystem is the fact wherever you’re working, whatever you’re building, doing,
the community knows. They have the leaders. And I think that’s the thing we overlook is
we think we can come in and solve these, but our job should be to lift and connect people.
If we have, and I sit in a position of privilege right now because I get to speak to you in
this place. The rest of my community doesn’t have that. My job as this work is where the
local leaders, because they do it whether they know it or not, it’s happening. To problem
solving and what resources do they not have. So many of our resources back home in New
Mexico, but also across the country for native people were siloed, disconnected and we live
in a scarcity mentality. That’s just real. We all think there is a limited amount of
money, it is finite. But frankly where the money is being bottlenecked has nothing to
do with what we’re building. It’s being bottle necked and we all understand it through very
institutional race systems. So our job is to build those connected ecosystems by recognizing
that we have to work together. Together is how we survive. Together is how we build relationships
and frankly how we learn how to invest in each other. The last piece for me is we have
to recognize the financial institution, whether it’s large-scale investments to micro loans
to opening a bank account. Our bank systems are no longer part of the community. We have
to figure out how do we redesign, derisk how we see investing in people. And who knows
people? Those at the front lines working the hardest with the communities. So for me, access
to capital is probably one of the most important pieces. Part of access to capital though is
if we’re not addressing the massive pay inequities, it doesn’t mean shit. Really it doesn’t. Because
you can give all the money they want, but if they can’t make a living wage, we’re repeating
a very harmful cycle. So those are three parts I think any one of us can do to think about
how we build inclusive ecosystem. CHRIS: It will be less than 5 minutes. 4 minutes.
MAICA: Let’s say 7. 7 is a lovely number. Some wine, a cocktail later. Great, go!
CHRIS: So I was never asked this question before and was but my philosophy and again
with the lens of business is if somebody is asking me to look at their company and talk
about their culture, their this, their that, their models, whatever, there are three things
I always look for and there are three words. See, feel and act.
So for an inclusive ecosystem, the first thing I think have you to see it. Everybody as we’ve
been talking on the panel, a check box of this or that. We look in the room, you look
at Xerox around the floor, are there people that look differently than me. So the first
thing in this ecosystem you have to see it. Then for me it’s a touchy-feely thing. Have
you to feel it. So just because there are people of different ethnicities, races, in
a room, doesn’t mean that there is an inclusive ecosystem. Just because everybody is in the
room together, also like the gut feel. And then the last aspect is act. So if they’re
in the room, they have to act like they’re in an inclusive ecosystem. So you have to
feel that you can be mentored based off of your race, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation.
You have to act like you have equity, you have to act. So those, you know, the see,
the feel, the acts in my mind, whenever I look at a lot of different things, will represent
whether something is actually what it is. So for this would be whether it is an inclusive
ecosystem or not. MAICA: Thank you, Chris. I’m just going to
say a few things we have found out in an international regional level and later I’m going to leave
a few minutes because she’s adorable she’s going to give us a few minutes for questions
because it would be such a pity. For us internationally we have discovered three keywords. Education,
the other one is visibility and resources. Education we have discovered that many women
and girls, they have to keep education about what they do and what they need. Visibility,
there’s a huge lack of visibility and that’s when we have started to different organizations,
institutions, universities. It has to be a common effort of the communities to be able
to create an inclusive ecosystem. If you don’t bring all the actors into this conversation,
there’s always something missing for the community. And the third one is resources. Most of the
corporations that are creating different impact funds that we are, they’re moving from this
corporate responsibility budgets into these impact funds. We want to show them they should
invest in these resources. Most of the time where we find out is they are clueless. And
we could continue this conversation moving into they are not aware how to create the
social impact but that would be a different panel and maybe they can bring us next year
for this one. What do you think? So, any questions? Don’t be shy. They had
breakfast>>I need you to use the mic, please.
AUDIENCE: Hi everyone. Thank you so much for all your insights. My name is Jessica. One
of the things that is often on my mind as we talk about the importance of mentorship,
and I think in the context of diversity and inclusion it often ends up people of those
groups that are the mentors as well as the mentees and I’m mindful of the additional
tacks that it puts in people’s career. As you — so in my particular perspective, I’m
sort of mid level career. I wouldn’t consider myself a senior person. I am Latin, I think
within the Latinx community there is a lot more junior people coming to me for mentorship
and advice and I am putting a lot of time into that. And I’m wondering what is a sustainable
way to maintain mentor relationships where you’re still able to give back to your community
but not at the expense of your own career and development. Because if we can’t grow
we can’t help others grow after us either. ORLANDO: I’ll answer that from my perspective
quickly. One of the things I do, I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m black. I’m an African-American
male and I mentor across the board. I have younger people that I mentor across the entire
spectrum. One of the things that I do though is I insist that they have ownership on their
part also. Because if not, you will quickly burn yourself out. So I’m always asking them
to be prepared for the conversation, make sure you understand what you want to get out
of the next conversation. We’re planning ahead so many sometimes they will send me a draft
of the conversation that we’re going to have for our next time. That’s the only way I can
actually manage the process to ensure that not only am I giving them quality time and
of my time, but I’m also pushing them to learn and to grow on their own as well.
>>I would just like to add also. I have been involved in some interesting approaches that
I think have been successful. I have been invited to groups where people can sorts of
organically talk with the intention of potentially finding mentors, mentees, and what I liked
about that is sometimes, especially if there’s somebody who’s perhaps at a higher level than
you, and I hate to use that hierarchy, but just to make my point, and they say I’ll be
your mentor and some people feel pressure, okay great I can’t say no. And I think it’s
really important to really listen for a deep alignment. So for example when I’ve gone into
these groups, where I’ve invited maybe there’s 30 people, I have personally felt, and the
last one was last night as a matter of fact. Someone came up to me and it was more of a
feeling experience than a thought process. And she felt very drawn to what I do, and
it felt different and it felt right. And it was apparent to both of us there was a feeling
there. Also when I’m looking for a mentor as well. It’s more of an organic experience
when it’s not within the confines of your resume or LinkedIn page why it might sense.
My advice would be to create groups where you can have that organic interaction and
it feels right. That tends to take away from the feeing of being drained if you really
have that feeling experience. MAICA: Any other questions? Do you want to
talk to them afterwards? Yes? No? Let’s give them a big applause. Chris, Vanessa, Orlando,
Jennifer. [ Applause ]
>>Can we have our next panel come up on please?>>Were we the best?