There is no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the economic and health adjustments we are all scrambling to make, a deluge of new challenges that have yet to be considered still looms around the corner
I've worked in Human Resources for nearly a decade, and throughout all my roles, I've passionately incorporated diversity initiatives to help make companies more inclusive. Recently, many businesses have made public pledges around diversity in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Statements are one small step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done. Over the last 18 months, I've implemented a diversity and inclusion program at Mustache, a Brooklyn-based content agency, where I was brought in to help make systematic changes. Here are what I believe are the necessary elements to make real change at an organization.
On Wednesday August 2nd 2017 I had one of the most significant experiences in my entrepreneurial journey. I was seated next to some of the most successful businessmen in America. To my left was Mr. Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a few seats away was Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York, to my right was Dr. Michael Porter, esteemed professor at Harvard Business School and across the room was Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs. I had to pinch myself, because this was beyond my wildest dreams. How did I go from whipping up shea butter lotions and potions in my kitchen for my eczema prone children, to sitting in a room with people whose net worth exceeds that of small countries?
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
TaChelle Lawson is a hospitality veteran with over 20 years in marketing, branding and events and has worked with brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, Coca-Cola, M&M Mars, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz. As an entrepreneur, TaChelle focuses on bringing understanding to the corporate world about what it's like to be a black woman in corporate America by shifting the mindset of diversity. It's about more than ethnicity; it's about mindset.
TaChelle started sassmouth to acknowledge the natural beauty of black women that is rarely acknowledged outside of the black community. As little black girls are raised to believe everything about us is "too" something and that we need to adjust to fit in and be accepted. So, we do, and our adjustments become our norm. Although the average black woman is born with fuller lips, dark skin, and a big butt, her features are not considered "beautiful." Today, there is an unusually high number of non-black women undergoing surgery to adopt average "black" features. Yet, the black woman has still not made it to the "beautiful" category.
She remembers watching a video of a young black man being forced to cut his dreadlocks off to participate in his high school wrestling match. While the video was appalling, she found herself staring at the anchor woman's lips who was covering the story. They were so fake and unnatural, yet this young man was forced to cut something natural because it didn't fit the "norm." She decided she wasn't ok with that, so she created a brand to give a voice to the audience whose natural beauty is overlooked, borrowed, and stolen, but rarely acknowledged: black women.
I am the host of the Style Your Life Podcast, where we inspire women to make positive changes in their lives through building confidence, embracing challenges and practicing mindfulness. I have a passion for helping people take back control and design a life they love. With a background in Human Resources, I have always cared about helping people. I offer individual and group coaching sessions focused on helping you achieve career success, whatever that looks like for you.
Visit www.styleyourlifepodcast.com to listen to the Podcast.