July 1, 2022

#32: A company review platform for BIPOC jobseekers ft. Ekow Sanni-Thomas


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Transcript
the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

So there's this as far as I'm concerned, stereotypical racist expectation that a black person is going to be a source of entertainment in the workplace. Like we're supposed to be fun and friendly and sassy, and just like lighten everybody's mood. It's like, I didn't come to work. And if I don't want to do that, it shouldn't affect my performance evaluation or compensation. Nobody should be critiquing me for it. Critique me for the tasks that you pay me to do. I'm not the company cheerleader.

If you've ever been a job seeker, just wanting to see what the interview your experience was like, or you just wanted to see what other employees thought of the company. Then you'd go to a platform known as glass store. Now imagine Glassdoor, but for BiPAP black, indigenous and people of color. Glassdoor is great to an extent, but doesn't always paint the full picture. Only just releasing their DNI features in 2020. That's where inside voices comes in. Hello, and welcome back to the black enterprise network. The podcast that shares the stories of black professionals in tech and entrepreneurship. And this episode I'm joined by echo. Thomas. The founder of inside voices, the platform that helps BiPAP job seekers, track interview DNI at companies. We talk about his work experience in both the UK and the U S why he started inside voices in the first place and how you can get started on the platform as well.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Where you're from and yeah. What brought you to the U S

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

So I'm from London. I'm a British, born Ghanaian to goddamn parents. Uh, I was in London, working in finance and I don't know, I find found London to be quite constraining. just never felt there's a thing in London called tall poppy syndrome, which is basically that those that stand out above the herd are cut down. And I always felt like London had a lot of that. Like, it was like I had. There were limited opportunities to Excel. There were opportunities to succeed up to the ceiling that they thought was appropriate view and to move at the speed that was supposedly appropriate for you. But if you wanted to do something different or if you want it to move faster or you thought you deserved more, that was not available. I just found that very frustrating. I moved to E Y and then. When I was at E Y varying levels of value and appreciation. And in the end, it actually little known story. I was actually arguing over a pay rise, um, and refusing to back down when they eventually offered me. The opportunity to move to New York? Um, I think they just wanted me to shut up because I was starting to, uh, create a bit of, um, a group movement. A bunch of us had been promoted and I was frustrated and I was like, listen, we can do better than this. We deserve more money. And it was getting everyone on my side and they were like, let's just ship this guy to the states. So he had moved to New York in 2015. Um, loved it.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

So it was a chance of not circumstance. I'm not trying to phrase it that way. So it was just like a ch a thing. I'm just getting sick of the London environment. A lot of people, myself included, I kind of fantasize wanting to go to England. I mean, it seems really cool. All the accents and the dry humor, I really vibe with it, but I just, I, I never realized I would have such a toxic work environment. And I assume, especially since you're black and I know there are racist things going on over there, I didn't anticipate that.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. It's um, the racism is different. There, there's a, there's a bigger expectation of homage of a homogenous culture. So if you don't understand. What they mean? You don't know how things work, there's even less explanation than you get over here. Um, also, I just think there's a benefit to living in a country that you did not grow up in. Like, I appreciate that there is racism in both places. It does. It impacts you. And I think just, you also learn more about yourself by being in a country that you didn't grow up in. So just being somewhere else, you suddenly realize, like what's actually important to me. How does the world view me, um, outside of how did the people who are around me, my entire life view me. Um, you get a more sort of global perspective on yourself and I think it helps you develop into the person you actually want to be and consider who you want to be versus just sort of fitting into the box that. everyone around you wants you to be in, because that's just what they're used to seeing from someone who.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

If you want to share, what, what are some of those things you've learned about yourself since being here?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Sure. So I don't think I was aware that I was an introvert before I moved to New York, but being in. A place where I didn't have an established social circle. So I had to put myself out there. I sort of had to back into, okay, why do I feel so tired sometimes? Why do I go through periods where I don't want to communicate with anybody? Um, I also realized that there are parts of being British that I love, but there is a lot of it that I dislike. And you don't really tackle that when you're. 'cause that's just everything that's around you. Um, but sort of this, like, I think a lot of my understanding of what I didn't like about living in London has only come through, not living in London and looking back and realizing. And actually I moved back to London for a couple of years, um, in the middle of my stints. I moved back to New York again about a year ago now. And in those two years, it all came flooding back. Like the way that people don't say what they mean, like in the UK, they do the thing I think they do is quite a lot in the south. I've heard they do it in the south here? which is they say something, but it doesn't mean exactly what. And because everybody, they have this expectation of a homogenous culture, they think that everybody understands what they meant, even though they, you know, if you literally wrote the words down, that doesn't mean exactly what they think it means, but that's just how they speak. They speak in sort of this coded language. And that coded language is very difficult for anybody who comes from a culture that's slightly different. So I grew up in a, yes, I grew up in the UK, but I grew up in a household raised by a Ghanaian parent with a Ghanaian community around me. You know, this sort of, um, understating negatives and understating positives. It's kind of like, um, semi communication and reading between the lines. I wasn't used to it. I've realized that I like blunt clear feedback. I like honesty. Um, I really disliked dishonesty. I'd just like to know what's going on. Like I'm very analytical. I am prepared to engage with people socially, but you know, my social battery runs. Yeah. Relatively quickly. And also, I remember my twenties, everything felt so high stakes, like getting the right job and all this stuff. Like if I don't figure it out now I'm going to die. This is never going to work. And here I am, like I left university in 2000. So 14 years ago, 13, 14 years ago. And I said, I definitely still don't feel like I figured it all out. And the decisions that I made, there are a lot of decisions that I've made there and that have no impact on where I am already. And there are some things that I'm still deciding about. So just, I would just say, take the pressure off. Like definitely continue to be ambitious, um, and try to achieve, but it's just when things don't go right. I don't think it's, it's not terminal, you know?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

so essentially said you were working at finance and Y in New York

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yes. In London and

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

federal, yeah. London. So what, how did you transition from finance to now becoming a full-time founder? It, what really sparked you to just drop everything and work on something you're passionate about?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

So I'd always not always, but for a long time, I'd want it to be I'd want it to start something. But I knew that if I was going to dedicate my life to it, it needed to be something that I cared about. I'd already had experience of working on something that I didn't care about? finance. Um, so when I was. In New York, I wanted to leave eye, but I was on an intercompany visa. And so they call them the golden handcuffs because you cannot leave the company and stay in the country. So I went back to the UK. I changed jobs, uh, because I needed something that was slower. They gave me more time to think and consider what I might want to do, because I knew I wasn't gonna do this forever. And particularly, you know, a lot of my job as accounting. And I just saw accounting as something that was very. Ripe for everything I was doing could be automated. It could have been automated very quickly, I think, a long time ago. Um, I just don't think it's getting a lot of attention because it's not sexy. So I was like, there's no future here. It's not something that I enjoy. So I need to find a way out, but I don't have time to think of a way out while I'm at E Y. So I moved to federated Hermes, which was a much more sort of steady. Uh, role while I was there. Things were going well at first. And then my manager left and when my manager left and my new manager just sort of took a dislike to me from day one first time, like literally the first one time she met me in the first few seconds, I could instantly tell she hated me. She's rolling. Roll her eyes when I was speaking and throughout me in meetings. And like that was like week one when I was supposed to be helping her get on board. And then for the next year, she just continues to undermine me, take opportunities away from me, hide opportunities for me. So I didn't even know they existed. Um, and just found a way to sort of drag down my very positive standing that I had in my company to a negative one. was a sophisticated campaign. and you know, as a black person in the workplace, you go through a lot of considerations before you get to, okay, this has to be down to race. You know, I did the like, oh, I'll be extra nice. Then I did that. All just kind of stay out of her way. And I did all of these. Then I was like, maybe it's this, maybe it's that tried all these different things. I tried to be like friendly with her at any social events. I was, could not get this woman on board in the end. I was just. She treats the white people on my team one way and sheets me another way. I'm the only Indian guy on my team left, um, as a result, as a result of her after being there for almost 10 years. And I just realized I can't do this anymore. This woman needs to be called out. Um, I could leave quietly and as I think most people do when they go through these kinds of situations, or I could try actually making a complaint and asking, asking the company, which had a really good reputation to sort of stand up for the values that it says it believes in. So I went down that route and things sort of closed ranks on me. They did what companies normally do when you make a complaint about racial discrimination, they just sort of close ranks and they, They retaliate against you for making it public and they tell you to keep it quiet. And they, in the end, I had to quit. but on the way out, I spoke to some people who work there. Some people that used to work there and because I was on the way out, people will be more candid. And I realized that had I been able to speak to these people before I joined, I would never have joined because there were red flags all over the place. There were. Black people have been leaving in their droves or the other senior black people had left. Um, they'd hired a head of diversity who left within three to six months because she was like, there will never be any change while you have this head of HR. And it got me. I was so enraged that. That this problem of companies' reputations for who they were being different from who they actually are, so that when you're deciding where you want to go to work, you can't get a fair read on what your experience is going to be like that maybe. So angry that I felt like I had to fix the problem. And that was when I realized, okay, so this thing that I've been waiting to start, this is actually it, and I'm actually perfectly positioned to do it because I spent my entire life, my entire working life in these, these corporate spaces, like I've seen so many different iterations. I've seen how decisions have been made and like the subtle racism that leaks into the way companies make decisions. And I understand how I can fix this problem. I really moved out of passion for needing to fix the problem that I suffered from. Um, and that's how I decided that I needed to go full-time on this.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Unfortunately that is the case for literally most, if not all of these tech companies in the industry of what else can you do, but leave quietly because you know, nothing. We'll change. And for me at a company recently, I thought the same thing of had, I kind of like you found these black people or other minorities that have had these terrible experiences, I would have never applied. And I know it was an internship, but it's one of the worst experiences I've had at a company. And at times somethings did feel racially motivated. And I probably could have avoided that if I had known what people were going through at the time. So

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. Although I would also say, I mean, that is terrible when it is a really big. problem, but I would also say that I don't think people should leave quietly. Like if you walk and I'm not saying you have to like, you know, find a formal complaint, Although I would like you to, but I think that it's important that people get something on the record to highlight who they think is perpetuating. What, so that. That person has a mark against them, even if it, you know, even if it doesn't stick, even if it's not something that makes that person, that it makes them punish that person or remove them, there should be a mark against them because the likelihood is they are going to do this again. And if we don't start to create that paper trail, if we don't start to have those breadcrumbs in place, then companies can claim, oh, we had no idea. And you don't know. Well, you know what they're doing to, you could be a fraction of what they're doing to someone else. And when they do that to that other person, the company will be able to say, well, we had absolutely no idea, but that won't be true. If every single time we leave, we say, Hey, by the way, I'm leaving now. But this is, this person is the reason that I'm leaving. This person did this to me. And I want this to be on the record. I mean, you're leaving anyway. So why not?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

It's, it's hard. Do that, at least when you're new to the industry will say that when you're new to the industry and your experience it for the first time, it's hard to have that empowerment. And for you, it kind of felt hard to have that empowerment during that first year of just trying these different things to try to appeal to this person, because you're not sure why they're acting this way or why they're doing those things. And for me throughout the internship, it took me literally, almost all of the internship to realize that. Actually happening and at the end of it, I think I just felt Def defeated. I felt pissed off of course, but I felt more so defeated than anything. I was just happy to leave. So next time, if it does happen again, I won't leave quietly. Of course I will be as open about it. But when it happens to you kind of blindsided leads, it's kind of hard to process all of it.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. And I think I have skipped over the fact that similarly in the same way, it did take me months to realize what was going on. Right. Like to put it in that box of. I'm actually, this is actually intentional. The things that this person is doing to me, and this is likely racially motivated. I get it. It's easy to condense it down into like this short, like, oh, like a light switch went on, but it doesn't, it happens extremely gradually because you try to problem solve. Um, and often, you know, it's funny sometimes why people say that like people according to race card or saying, why is everything about race? But it's like, no, actually more frequent. When something racist happens to me, it smacks me in the face. Like I forgot it could happen. And then all of a sudden I'm experiencing racism. I'm like, oh shit. Yeah, I forgot about this. Um, okay. What do I do? Because like, I'm not going out into the world thinking about that. I couldn't get anything done. I'm literally just trying to live my life. And then something happens. And, you know, there's some studies that have been done that have shown that. Um, they talk about cognitive load and they've shown that when something subtly racist happens, you actually become worse at your job because you, the brainpower that you should be using to do your job is spent still trying to make sense of that thing that happened to you. And that was definitely true for me. Like I spent so much time trying to back into how I could fix this issue with my manager and was it. really racism? And could I prove that and all these things that like. I lost attention and the ability to function in other areas of my life.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Very well said, and probably most people listening are good. Well have experienced that or are probably going through it at this moment. So it's good to bring attention to it. in the past, when I first talked to you, I said that I came across inside voices on Instagram, but recently I've actually been seeing you get some shout outs on Twitter, which is something I've gotten into and on hashtag black tech Twitter, I've just been seeing some of your little videos blow up. So, yeah. Can you just talk a little bit about what inside voices is and just how you've kinda just spread yourself around this black tech.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Sure. So inside voices is like Glassdoor for diversity. So it's online. It's an online platform that helps job seekers understand how companies treat people of color by hearing from current employees, we ask people to. Rate and review their employers approach that I've approached and record on diversity. Um, covering a bunch of sub topics from like representation and leadership to, you know, fair payment and treatment to inclusion. And whether you can be yourself in the work. And then we ask people to say whether they would recommend their company to a person of color and why, and in that, why they give that sort of detailed, contextual review, where they explain the things that impact or impacting what would make them. Recommend it or not recommend it. And sometimes that includes personal stories. Sometimes that just includes statistics around how they think the company's operated. sometimes it's just a feeling, you know, like, oh, I think they're, they're trying. Um, and then it's there, it's public, it's anonymous. and it's there for people to use as a resource to decide and try to get insight into companies before they make those decisions so that they can protect themselves from environments that are not safe because there are. Workplaces that are creating environments where they can attract. employees of color, they attract candidates have kind of the Laura sin. There's nowhere to get information, to let you know that it's not a safe space, they abuse you. And then they send you on your way and you leave with that knowledge of what that workplace is like, but there's no, there was no place to share that so that they couldn't do it again. And so the cycle, which has continued to perpetuate and is completely unacceptable, I went through it. Um, it's, you know, it's what I described to my story. And so. I felt like I had to fix it. Uh, you know, the internet is a wonderful thing. You can just put things there and we can all just sort of gravitate towards that space and, you know, diff in a different way to say, you know, cause I know Glassdoor now has diversity, a diversity rating, and they've also introduced being able to filter employee sentiment. which I don't think is necessarily that helpful if you're in a smaller company, but like that diversity rating doesn't necessarily help because one. Across every different type of diversity. So, you know, is it about gender? Is it about racism of LGBTQ plus? Is it disability, but also, I don't want to know what everybody who writes a review on Glassdoor thinks about diversity at this company. I want to know how people who think about diversity, think about diversity at this company. Like if you've come seeking information on diversity, then you are probably someone I trust more and have a better understanding for what it really is like at your current. Uh, and then, so we've been, you know, we were on Instagram for a long time. I think that's how you originally found us, but Instagram has, you know, really poor organic reach. I think it's pretty saturated. And if anything, I would say it's probably decline. I would say that, and you know, they've introduced reels, which are supposed to be grateful. Discovery have noticed some limited upside, but still not that great. But I actually started to get a lot of traction on tick-tock, which is really good for organic reach. and also has the benefit of sort of being these sorts of rough and ready videos where you can explain a lot with like, not that much. Talking or not that much time. And people are there looking for new things. They're open to discovering whatever you have to put in front of them and you find your tribe. And that's kind of what's happened on Tik TOK. People that I couldn't reach before through Instagram have found inside voices on Tik TOK, because they were looking for a place for. You know, someone was discussing the very relatable experience of being black or being bipolar at work and all the things that that entails. Um, and yet, like you said, now people have sort of taken videos off Tik TOK, and they're cross posting my videos onto Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn, which is really cool. Like I'm loving, being more embedded in the black tech. ecosystem. Um, and really the same. Culture of just venting and, you know, supporting each other because that is a really important part of it. Like, I know ERG has exist in there within the company, but there is sort of that feeling of the corporate overlords watching when you're in an ERG, you know, they are, they do often create safe spaces, but there is a limit to where it can go to, but. The social media platforms do really allow us to speak more freely and find the people that understand what we're going through and commiserate. And you really get to hear it. It's such a breadth of stories that you do find yourself in so many other people's retellings of their experiences. So that's what we wanted to provide the inside voices. But also, I just love the fact that we're kind of plugged into that in general.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

You said it best. I literally saw your, your videos cause someone downloaded your tech talk and then shared it on Twitter. And I'm sure it's just being more widespread and what I appreciate. Your posts on social media. The ideas of sometimes you don't even realize something you were experiencing was bad, or you just know that it's normalized until you come across inside voices. And for me, the example I shared with you last time. She was sharing her story about how she's a quiet, introverted person. And I work, she just likes to keep professional. She likes to get her job done. And she had this coworker that I guess he's extroverted or whatever tries to be friends with everybody in the office just kept pestering her. And she just would just politely shut it down. That's the way she phrased it. And I believe her of just saying, no, I'm not interested, or I have no reason to constantly say hi to you. This is. And apparently the story was that it was brought up to the manager and it became this whole thing just because she's quiet and she wants to be left alone. But to her coworkers, which you can presume are most likely white, it comes off across the, or having an attitude. And that's not true. That's just how we are. And for me, that resonated with me because I've, that's happened to me. I've gotten in trouble for. Trying to get my work done. And maybe I don't want to go to these social events or maybe I'm not so outgoing that I want to say hi to all my coworkers. Like they're my best friends or anything. And it's interpreted as me not being a team player, or why do you have an attitude? And especially if you're an introverted black woman, it's is just not going to be a good time for you because everyone assumes you're always in a bad mood, but you're just, that's just who you are as a person. You can't really control too much of that. Inside voices, especially social media wise does a good job of just representing those messages of you're not alone when you experience this and that thing you thought was normal, actually. Isn't so I really like your content.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Thank you. Yeah. Particularly that, um, No, this introverts discussion. We did a video about that on Tik TOK recently as well, because up to 50% of the population are introverts. And that's the same for black people as it is for white people. So there's this as far as I'm concerned, stereotypical racist expectation that a black person is going to be a source of entertainment in the workplace. Like we're supposed to be fun and friendly and sassy, and just like lighten everybody's mood. It's like, I didn't come to work. And if I don't want to do that, it shouldn't affect my performance evaluation or compensation. Nobody should be critiquing me for it. Critique me for the tasks that you pay me to do. I'm not the company cheerleader. And like you say, it's often, you don't even know that that stuff is it's only when you see it happen to other people who look like you, you start to realize, oh, that thing is because I looked this way. You may not, you may never figure that out.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

mean, it took me a while too. And I think that just goes tobacco. He kind of talked about of just learning things about yourself and trying to figure out how to accept yourself. I mean, that makes it hard in the workplace. If people aren't accepting you. And then for me, it was a long time of maybe. There is something wrong with me. Maybe I not as expressive as I could be, and now it it's taken awhile, but I have come to the realization of, if you're not going to accept me, I work. I probably shouldn't even work here, but a lot of people can't realize that until they realize it's a problem. If that makes sense.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. And what places they are designed for a specific type of person, right? The ways that they've learned to do things so often, you know, if you are different to that type of person is just, nobody realizes that a lot of the things that are intended to be a benefit sometimes, actually to your detriment. I remember Eli, there would always be these. Team-wide or department wide, like social days in the week, at least, you know, at least they were during work time when we were getting paid, but they'd be mandatory. And I was like, this is the worst thing of all for me. Like, I don't want to go and like socialize with like a hundred people who just happened to do the same job as me. That is not my idea of fun. And if you really want me to bond with people, making small talk with them for six hours is all that does is make me hate everybody involved. As a, as an introvert, if you wanted me to bond with my team, maybe have them answer some questions that get deep into who they are and then circulate those questions. So I can read them in my own time. Then maybe we can talk about it afterwards. I as an introvert, I like to know people deeply. I don't like shallow conversations. I can't do it. It makes me uncomfortable and actually feels quite painful. So going through those experiences pushes me away from ever spending time with those people at work. Whereas if they just changed it a little bit to take into account that some people don't actually want to be doing trust, falls and kayaking with their coworkers, maybe they could actually get some guests get better work out of me and have us bond in the way that they want it.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

I feel like unfortunately, some managers might be. evaluating their team members based on their participation in some of these events of, if I don't go to any of these social events for the quarter, maybe I'm being labeled as not being a team player or a team member. And that's just, I don't think that should be included. And I do believe that is a thing with some managers and how they evaluate their teams. But I just hope that's not the case everywhere. A follow-up I had for inside voices would be, how do you plan to get the attention of the companies? Because I mean, it, essentially, most of these companies already don't care. Right? So having the glass store for people of color, it's good for us to have that inside information of, is this a good car for me, for me or not? Maybe not. I'm just never going to work there, but for the company. I feel like it should be kind of an eye-opener of, if you see these reviews, maybe that's a sign, you should change something, but maybe some companies just don't care and they just want to have that certain demographic for however long, the company like.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah, I would say so the best case scenario for how companies come to find out, find out about us is that a company with a poor rating is courting talent. Right? Because that does happen right. Graduate level com. There is a battle for talent in companies and they fail to get some or some or all the people that they want because those people don't want to work at a place that has the values that are reflected in the inside voices review. So I think it's over 60% of employees or of workers. I think that working out at a diverse company is important to them. And over 30% wouldn't even apply to a company that didn't have a diverse workforce. But the reality is that nobody knows which companies have a diverse workforce don't. So if we can actually improve the information that's out there, we can get people to vote with their feet about where they actually want to work. And when companies struggle to hire, when they see their performance dip, because they're not getting high quality talent, when it takes them longer to hire, which costs them money. Then they will start to pay attention, right? The idea that just asking companies to be nice and telling them, and there's like a social benefit or this unquantifiable bump in performance that they're going to receive at some point in the future, if they do everything right. I don't think that's a compelling enough argument to get companies to take the action. We need them to take. We are starting to see some companies make effort to be more diverse and inclusive. I would say for the most part, they're not prepared to dedicate the resources that are required to actually achieve it because it feels so far off. The stick in that incentive structure is too far away. If I don't manage to be diverse. And if I don't manage to create a diverse company, when the country starts to becomes more plural and we have more quote unquote minorities than we do white people, this may impact me. But the. Over a decade away. So how can I justify focusing on that problem over quarterly earnings when I'm about to be judged on those that I can be fired a long time before that DECA decade that comes along. So we need to remove the incentive structure. We need to move the incentives into a shorter timeframe. And that's what inside voices intends to do by making it, by creating that feedback loop and giving people the ability to say me as. I talk about grads, but I Think this is going to be more important for particularly people, uh, in my generation, millennials, people in middle management and moving slowly into that period of like actual senior management, senior management. That is the time when people can say, Hey, your company actually. Reflect a place that. I want to work at. And so like thank you for the offer, but no, thank you. And there are highly courted, uh, professionals of color and also allies who have the ability to make those decisions. And when we start to do that, when, and particularly using inside voices to do that thing, companies will be forced to change. And that's really the reason that we set this up. It is not just to improve. The way that people find companies, but it's also to enable those people who don't have issues, finding work, who are highly sought after to live the values that they believe and help us to achieve the goal. Right. Let's use some let's, let's use the power of the group to achieve.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah, I like that. I like the idea of having short term goals and putting pressure on these companies, because like you said, It's not unknown that verbally majority of these companies have long-term diversity goals, but what does that even mean? Like, am I supposed to just wait another five years to see Facebook's diversity report go up 1% more black people work here because it's literally less than 5% right now. It's probably maybe around the one to 2% range and. For Google, they've been here almost if not already two decades now. So if your long-term goal in the next 10 years is to have more diversity, what does that mean? Again, another 1% increase in 10 years. That's not good. That's a good longterm goal. So putting pressure on and short-term goal. That's how you really get things done, because if you do it in a short term. So I think short term, I think I do think five years or less, maybe we can increase those numbers more than 1%. That's actually improvement. So I liked

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. I mean, I think people forget. While the company may exist for a long period of time. The CEO worked right. It's unlikely that most of these companies are going to have the same CEO in 10 years that they have right now. And that CEO is the one that directs where the company goes. So to say that person should work against their own interests and focus on the longterm goals of the company over the short term goals that affect their own career. It's just not really. Like, that's just not how people operate. You need to make it so that. their goals are aligned with our goals. And our goal is to make the company more diverse in the short term. So let's make their goals to make the company more diverse in the short term.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

So you started this last year. How did you know that it was the best time for you to just leave your job and go full time instead of doing it as a site? 'cause there's a lot of us that fortunately are going to have to be dependent on our jobs for a while before you can just jump ship, have a plan and then jump into our side hustle. So

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. I wouldn't, I would like to be able to give people a rule to live by, but I don't have one. Mine was really fate. Uh, I had to leave my company, you know, I was going, what I was experiencing was, was ruining my mental health. I wasn't sleeping. and they were, you know, pushing me out anyway. So when I left and I had already started, I'd been building for about six months and I think I handed in my notice. A couple of days, no, about three weeks before I launched. And so, you know, when I was that close to launching and I handed in my notes and I needed to quit, I just, there was no way I was going to go work for another company. I found something that I was passionate about and, had a partner who was able to sustain us for a little while. You know, we're far from thriving, but we're just about seven. And so I just said, listen, this is an opportunity to try to bring something that I really care about into the world. I've been kind of planning for this for over a decade in terms of, you know, building something. So I have an idea of how I want it to work. It's really just taking the, taking the leap and, you know, I think a lot of, a lot of black people have entrepreneurial spirit, but the risk is just too high and you have. Make a fair assessment of your own risk profile and your own privilege and understand what position am I in? Can I do this? What's going to happen to me if I fail and how badly do I want to succeed for me? I, uh, I always say this, although now I don't know if I could ever actually bring myself to do so, but I always say if I fail, I can get the same job again in two years. So all I will lose is two years of progression in that role, but I put it. I'm probably not going to go backwards and I've already. 13 years doing these jobs. So I can do it again if I have to, but think about where my life could go. Think about where the movement could go. If I sit down and apply myself to this, and I mean, I look at how difficult it's been to get to where I am right now. And I've still not done 5% of what I want to do. I don't think I could have, I think this for me personally, this would have died. If I'd had to do what I'm doing now. Because the pressures of working for someone else while trying to build something that needs as much attention and requires as much learning as this does. I don't think I could have done that. Part-time and I think that's partly because. I did something that like, if I heard done, if I had started a, a business that was related to finance there wasn't, you know, a startup that was, uh, you know, doing something new. then I think I probably could have started it part-time um, because there wasn't as much to learn, but, you know, starting a consumer facing tech business versus being in finance, they're very different. So there were so many skillsets.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Everyone's situation is very unique and different, which I'm envious of the people that do have the energy to full-time job and simultaneously work on a side hustle. Especially if you're working remotely, you can kind of get away with some stuff. I won't name any names. You can get away with some stuff, but it's, it's not for everybody. And. I think when you do both, it takes a lot of discipline, a lot of time in planning. And if you have a family, I don't even know if it's possible to do that, but sometimes you just have to take the leap because for me, right now, going through everything I'm going through, trying to take on these different projects, it does take a lot of time. It does take a lot of learning, getting used to social media. I mean, to people watching and reacting to the T, it seems like. Turn on our camera and do whatever, but it actually takes a lot of research and writing and getting the right camera effects and all these other things and editing to appeal to you in the first place. And it, again, time and discipline that you might not have while you have a full-time job. And not even just me mentioning the energy depletion. Oh my goodness. From your job, you just want to pop on Netflix and be done.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

and there's, and there's also the unpredictability of working for someone else in the schedule. You could have to firefight And you know, in your main job, one day on a, on a day when you had intended to produce a bunch of content, when now your contents along, you know, when is that going to get done? Life doesn't necessarily stop. You know, I w I do want. I could have done if I'd managed to get the conviction to start something. When I was in my twenties, when I was single, when I had more energy, when I had a, I wouldn't say I had a bigger network, I had a smaller network, but I was more social and involved in my network. You know, less people, you know, as you get older, people have babies, they kind of disappeared. They fall off the places that are facing the planet. I know a lot more now, but I do wonder what, you know, there was a, I spent a lot of money. Rise and grind is working for someone else. You know, there are weeks here where I do work and I'm exhausted and I've done maybe like 60 hours. And I was like, I used to do over 80 hours a week for months as a time for someone else who was paying me poorly. And it makes you think like, shouldn't, I be able to do that for myself. I mean, part of the reason I left the corporate world is because I've realized that the way they make the ways that they make you work. Necessarily the best and you're not the most productive, but at the same time, it is difficult to accept that, um, you know, you're doing more for someone else than you do for you.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

And me personally, I believe that you can be a founder. Content creator, whatever. At any age, like there's people that I've met, they're entering their thirties and forties with families that they've taken the leap, they've like quit their jobs and they've taken the leap. But for you personally, do you believe that if people are in their twenties, that's probably the best time because you have no sense of responsibility at the most, you have to worry about is rent and food.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah, I mean, I can't call it, honestly, I can't call it. I wouldn't want to pressure anybody. I wouldn't want to say to anyone in their twenties now is the time to go do it because you can feel like you don't know what's going on. And you're also trying to build something. And then in terms of, you know, one of the reasons that I was able to do this is because I know I have an established career to follow. You may not have that in your twenties. And, but at the same time, you probably have more passion, more things that you're excited about, a better grasp on technology and what things are emerging. So, you know, there's, there's pros and cons to both ways of doing it. I would just say, feel gripped by something. Don't do something because you're like, oh, I should like, like, if it feels difficult from the very beginning, then it's probably not the thing. If it doesn't, it should energize you because if you're saying you're going to commit. The next 10, 15, 20 years to this thing, and you're going to do it all the time. You're going to do it when it's not fun. You can do it. It is fun. There's going to be times when you get no positive signal for months at a time. And the only thing that's going to sustain you is the fact that you like this thing and you chose to be part of it, you know, just make sure you're leaning into your passions whenever you get.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

in the last question I have is do you have a message for anyone that feels like they can't speak up or that things will never get better at their jobs?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

I would say those are two different people. Well, they could be the same person, but the person who feels like they can't speak up. It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for complaining about discrimination. That is legal. So I would suggest that you do speak up and you do so in the most heavily recorded way possible. Get a paper trail only communicate with HR via email. There's no reason for you to jump on a call with HR. They can tell you by email, um, if they do a call, it should be recorded. Like you need to be creative. The safety net that you need so that you can speak up however, to the person who feels like they can't speak up and it's not going to get better. If the leadership of your organization is not bought in, on improving the workplace for people of color, improving inclusion, you know, increasing diversity to the point where you don't feel like it's going to get better. Yes. It's probably not going to get better. They can hire a head of diversity and that person will be the scapegoat for their failure to buy in. Um, you know, we're seeing a lot of people who were hired in 2020 after the back lives matter protest and the corporate world suddenly realizing it needed to be more than. And then those people try to make change in 2021. And a lot of those people are going to leave in 2022, because there will be frustrated by the fact that the people that brought them on said they wanted to let them do big, bold things, but were too scared to actually allow them to pull the trigger on anything. Um, and a lot of us work in those companies. Now, if you look at the leaders of your organization and you don't feel like they believe it, then. It's not, it's not going to happen in your tenure. Don't stay at an organization which is punishing and abusing you, damaging your mental health, stunting your career, just to try to change them when they don't really want to change. You know, I saw a tweet the other day. I can't remember the guy's name. Um, he was saying that, you know, at every company you should either learn or you should earn. And if you're not doing one of those, there's no reason to be there anymore. And if, even if you are earning, uh, it is damaging. It might be time to move on. I don't, I don't advocate anybody stay at an organization longer than they feel psychologically safe. I think it's time for us to accept that, you know, luckily millennials started it and gen Z are gonna continue it. Job hopping as it was called is not really a thing anymore. You can leave a job after six months and you can explain to the new job. I don't think we should be in the position of punishing people or punishing ourselves by saying that they should stay in a place that, you know, it doesn't serve us.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

This has been a great interview. Again, very well said. A lot of the things I couldn't summarize any better, but thanks for being on the interview. And I just appreciate you coming on and sharing your story and a plethora of advice that people are gonna be inspired by and vibe with, but where can people find you and how can they just get started on inside voices?

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Sure. So the first thing I would say to everyone is get to inside voices.io, write a review, read the reviews, get involved in our community. We're going to be releasing new features soon with more content. But the core thing to do is get it down on paper, I should say, on paper, on screen, what your experience has been like and what the, you know, race related outcomes that your organization, or like tell the world so that even if you're in a place that you don't like, or even sharing. Do like, and they are treating you well. The world needs to know. We need to have a benchmark of how companies behave so we can point out who's underperforming and who isn't and then follow us on social media. We're on Instagram and Tik TOK as inside voices.io. We're on Twitter at inside voices underscore IO. We're also on LinkedIn search inside voices. Come join us. We're going to be rolling. Um, probably a slack community soon so that we can engage with our community and our community can engage with each other because this, this thing of shared experiences that are not being shared, that has to stop. We need to start using information to improve the way that we live our lives and see, and understand ourselves.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_kimmiko_james-13q7kzj0g_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Yeah. And thanks for coming on.

the-black-enterprise_mikoekow_ekow_sanni_thomas-f6cvy5jsn_2022-feb-18-1805pm-utc-riverside:

Thanks for having me.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the black enterprise network podcast. If you enjoyed it, then be sure to leave a review. The next episode will feature brian bristol ceo and founder of pigeon loans