Diversity & Inclusion: Actions We Can All Take

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Lauren Mecca
Lauren Mecca Member Posts: 29 Expert
edited August 2020 in CS Org Conversations

Whether in our professional or personal lives, many of us are reflecting on diversity and inclusion these days. Within the Gain, Grow, Retain community about 10 of us have signed on to drive a Diversity and Inclusion initiative to foster a community of CS leaders where every member feels welcomed, respected, and equally able to contribute and benefit.

Bennie Leonard, a seasoned tech professional joined Office Hours recently to learn more about Customer Success as a profession, and he left with the impression, "Maybe this is not the kind of place that will welcome someone like me." 

There's a lot of work to do to achieve AND maintain diversity and inclusivity.


Here's what Bennie shared with me about his experience:

The diversity of the Office Hours attendees indicates the GGR CS group is either: 

  1. A tight knit group of young White people with a sprinkling of people from other backgrounds.
  2. The profession of being a Customer Success resource is exclusive to young White people.
  3. Customer Success is a relatively new discipline and not a lot of people from diverse groups are aware of this Customer Success and the GGR group weekly forum.
  4. Other

Draw your own conclusions. But the first step is solving what seems obvious. 

The group should take immediate action to diversify the membership and attendance of the weekly CS GGR group and continue to grow the group quickly and effectively.

The presentations, discussions and networking at the weekly forums are rich! Customer Success is a relatively new and emerging discipline compared to other professional areas like project management. A lot of people like me who have been incorporating Customer Success into their everyday business life are just discovering the profession. 

Customer Success professionals have the unique opportunity to work closely at every level of business. The profession would no doubt benefit from the infusion of people with different ideas, experiences and backgrounds. Action to make change is needed now!

Bennie is of course not alone in his experience. And we all have work to do. One amazing thing about this community is we have an opportunity to promote our profession to future CSMs, future CS leaders and maybe even future members of our own teams. Let's all take action that ensures a positive, welcoming experience for all. 

Comments

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
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    edited August 2020
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    Hey @Lauren Mecca

    A topic that is very close to my heart. In the last few months I have recorded 2 podcasts and 1 webinar on the topics:

    - Gender Equality in CS
    - Racial Equality in CS

    These can be found at my website: www.customersuccessmatters.com

    The podcasts can be found at Spotify, iTunes & various other reputable podcast providers!

    Would love to hear thoughts and feedback.
  • Lauren Mecca
    Lauren Mecca Member Posts: 29 Expert
    edited August 2020
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    Thanks so much for sharing @Matt Myszkowski - would love to share the recordings here in the community in the near future. We're looking to create ongoing dialogue and spread thought leadership on how we enact D&I as CS people - thanks for the head start!
  • Gabriel Fallas
    Gabriel Fallas Member Posts: 53 Expert
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    edited August 2020
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    Creating a space of inclusion and belonging in any environment requires continuous, intentional actions that foster those values. So glad you shared this and that GGR is taking steps to make D&I a core piece of its identity.
  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
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    edited August 2020
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    I Think @Jay Nathan & @Jeff Breunsbach have the recordings as I sent them across to add.
  • Warwick Brown
    Warwick Brown Member Posts: 14 Contributor
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    edited August 2020
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    Along the same lines of diversity and inclusion, one simple thing I've started to do is include more imagery of minorities in my videos, blog posts and social media. 

    For example, recently I needed a picture of a professional person taking a selfie. I could easily have chosen a young white professional - in fact there were too many to choose from - but chose this image instead. I did the same thing when searching for stock b-roll footage.


    image
    I think it's a simple way to help bring visibility that people of all races, gender and age are represented - and welcome - in the profession.

    What do you think?
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited August 2020
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    Hi @Lauren Mecca (and all leaders, moderators, and CS folks that happen to come across this thread),

    This is a meaningful discussion, and as a person of color that has been in the throws of the customer success world, I know the difference between idealistic diversity and inclusion, and what it looks like in real-time. My position has been questioned simply because of the color of my skin. I have observed deeply homogeneous environments within the customer success discipline and across the entire technology industry, and the latter is no secret to anyone here. That doesn't mean that we should resign to not share our ideas and relinquish our passion for the cause of customer success. It is also one of the reasons I've decided to become more active in communities such as GGR. Often, minorities are "out of sight, out of mind," particularly in these spaces where much knowledge is being shared, yet where underrepresented groups are sporadic in numbers.

    My suggestion to any CS leader is to look outside of your comfort zone and ask yourself, "Am I only talking to the same people that I talk to every day?" If you see someone like myself here on GGR or LinkedIn, or any online medium, I recognize an instant subconscious level of curiosity, but a failure to truly engage.  Diversity is put into action when you first allow genuine conversations with those of different backgrounds to take place. 

    I recently joined GGR a couple of weeks ago, and I've engaged on a few posts, but it has not come without apprehension given that there doesn't seem to be much diversity to Bennie's point (I don't know Bennie personally, but I agree with his sentiments). Either way, I look forward to expanding the conversation and participating in discussions with anyone in a meaningful way, and I'm here to talk Customer Success anytime, with anyone. 

    Open to anyone's thoughts and feedback. 

    #diversity
    #customersuccess

    Whether in our professional or personal lives, many of us are reflecting on diversity and inclusion these days. Within the Gain, Grow, Retain community about 10 of us have signed on to drive a Diversity and Inclusion initiative to foster a community of CS leaders where every member feels welcomed, respected, and equally able to contribute and benefit.

    Bennie Leonard, a seasoned tech professional joined Office Hours recently to learn more about Customer Success as a profession, and he left with the impression, "Maybe this is not the kind of place that will welcome someone like me." 

    There's a lot of work to do to achieve AND maintain diversity and inclusivity.


    Here's what Bennie shared with me about his experience:

    The diversity of the Office Hours attendees indicates the GGR CS group is either: 

    1. A tight knit group of young White people with a sprinkling of people from other backgrounds.
    2. The profession of being a Customer Success resource is exclusive to young White people.
    3. Customer Success is a relatively new discipline and not a lot of people from diverse groups are aware of this Customer Success and the GGR group weekly forum.
    4. Other

    Draw your own conclusions. But the first step is solving what seems obvious. 

    The group should take immediate action to diversify the membership and attendance of the weekly CS GGR group and continue to grow the group quickly and effectively.

    The presentations, discussions and networking at the weekly forums are rich! Customer Success is a relatively new and emerging discipline compared to other professional areas like project management. A lot of people like me who have been incorporating Customer Success into their everyday business life are just discovering the profession. 

    Customer Success professionals have the unique opportunity to work closely at every level of business. The profession would no doubt benefit from the infusion of people with different ideas, experiences and backgrounds. Action to make change is needed now!

    Bennie is of course not alone in his experience. And we all have work to do. One amazing thing about this community is we have an opportunity to promote our profession to future CSMs, future CS leaders and maybe even future members of our own teams. Let's all take action that ensures a positive, welcoming experience for all. 

  • gurd3v
    gurd3v Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited August 2020
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    I was shocked when a year and a half ago when colleagues spoke up about how they felt our org was not diverse and inclusive. 

    I didn't feel that way and I immediately started questioning what kind of ally I had become (or lack thereof). But what came of it was a D&I committee spearheaded by some of the most passionate and fearless individuals I've had the pleasure of working with. We've created policies, pushed difficult conversations with our executives and leadership team, listened to our employees and continue to push for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. This experience over the last year and a half has led me to think about how DEI should truly be ingrained in company culture and leadership should embrace the inclusion its employees demand. 

    Our leadership and executives didn't shut out those that spoke up. We now have our CEO's on our committee and we're participating in leadership meetings to discuss how DEI can and should be ingrained in the organization.

    GGR has the ability to cultivate a space where anyone and everyone should feel comfortable to contribute and speak up. We need more people to speak up so voices can be amplified. Thank you for starting this dialogue and happy to be a resource to anyone interested in learning more about what a D&I committee is and what PatientPop has done over the last year and a half to move this initiative forward. 
  • Sarah Bierenbaum
    Sarah Bierenbaum Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited August 2020
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    Thank you for sharing your perspective, Ja'Rod. I look forward to getting to know you through this community and our work.
  • Lauren Mecca
    Lauren Mecca Member Posts: 29 Expert
    edited August 2020
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    Hi @Warwick Brown thanks for sharing this example. We can all put some extra time and energy into diversifying representation in our content. 

    Equity and diversity round out the initiative, so one measure of our success will be actually changing the community makeup - because Customer Success leadership skills exist well beyond the current audience we are seeing here.  What do you think will move those needles? As @Ja'Rod Morris suggested, I can seek deeper engagement with professionals outside of the networks I already participate in - SaaS startups, CS, GGR etc. What else?
  • Lauren Mecca
    Lauren Mecca Member Posts: 29 Expert
    edited August 2020
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    Hi @Ja'Rod Morris - glad you're here. We're committed to changing the reality of our makeup, which exists not only here but across CS and technology as a whole. 

    Thank you for helping us close the awareness gap by sharing your story.

    Your suggestion serves as an easy starting point for anyone - let's diversify those we're connecting with. On our teams, on LinkedIn, and right here in GGR. I look forward to connecting with you. 
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited August 2020
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    I appreciate that @Lauren Mecca, I'm looking forward to future conversations.
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited August 2020
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    Thanks @Sarah Bierenbaum, there are a lot of strong thought leaders in this forum, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the discussions.
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited August 2020
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    @Warwick Brown,

    That's a great start. I would also suggest seeking opportunities to partner directly with diverse businesses and individuals in your efforts as well. It may not be the path of least resistance or the most obvious scenario in some cases, but something to consider as you take on projects and continue to craft messaging to your audience.
  • Cadine Kenton
    Cadine Kenton Member Posts: 1 Navigator
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    edited August 2020
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    Hi @Lauren Mecca, I love that we started this conversation. I've only been in Customer Success for 2 years and I had similar reservations to Bennie. When I attend events or participate in discussions I am often the only BIPOC or one of few. This has been my experience through most of my career but I think a GGR we can definitely be more intentional about actively inviting BIPOC into this space and encouraging participation. I am part of another CS organization Thrive Network which caters more to women and WOC. When we had in-person events I noticed that there were quite a few WOC represented and most were more junior (looking to join CS or already in CS for a short amount of time). 

    I know GRR has partners with other organizations but maybe we can work with Thrive Network or another org that had a bit more BIPOC representation to introduce them to the wealth of resources here. I also think as GGR really speaks more to CS leaders and more experienced professionals which can be a bit intimidating for people just coming into the space. Maybe we can also work on making this space more accessible for new CSMs through groups and resources. Eventually we might be able to work with colleges or schools that have higher minority populations, I know it wasn't even a thought for me in school. CS is so new but we don't want to follow the path of big tech where a lot of minority groups were initially shut out from an industry that is growing and has high earning potential. 

    I'm really interested to see how this space develops in regards to D&I, so please keep us updated!
  • Alex Farmer
    Alex Farmer Member Posts: 62 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment GGR Blogger 2021
    edited August 2020
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    So aligned to this!  Overusing she in place of he and ensuring we go out of our way to choose representative imagery is key. Have to be intentional about it.