Black Woman in Tech Event, Presented by Afroflare
Listen live as Black women from Monzo Bank, Transquisite Consulting and Cloudflare discuss how they navigate the highs and lows in the Tech world.
We will dig deeper into our biases, misconceptions, how best to overcome obstacles and be successful in an ever-changing world, featuring a spotlight talk by Candice Onukwue.
Register your attendance at the Black Woman in Tech LinkedIn event page where you can talk to us and other attendees before, during and after the live show.
Please complete this questionnaire and we will review it during the event - https://forms.gle/LvsifRoVahq4Un7k6
Agenda: (All times BST)
- 18:30 - Start - Welcome/about Cloudflare
- 18:40 - Panel discussion
- 19:50 - Break
- 19:55 - Hints, tips, and best practices for applying to Cloudflare
- 20:10 - Questions
- 20:15 - Spotlight
- 20:30 - End
Okay, let's get started. And welcome, everyone. Good evening. Good day, depending on where you are in the world.
And welcome to the Black Women in Tech event.
We're so excited to have you. I'm Kyra Meier-Klodt. I am a senior marketing specialist at Cloudflare.
And I will be your host for today's evening, in conjunction with Afroflare, which is one of our employee resource groups here at Cloudflare.
For anyone who isn't familiar with Cloudflare, we are working to build a better Internet, as we like to say, and believe that our team and smart technology and users bring are able to solve some of the biggest problems around the Internet security, reliability and performance.
And I'm really excited that you all decided to join us today and get this event started.
I want to walk through the agenda a little bit so you know what you're getting into.
We're having a panel discussion with some incredible women who I'll be introducing shortly.
And they'll be going through some questionnaire answers that some of you would have seen, and also on hints and tips and tricks on how to apply to Cloudflare and beyond.
And then a spotlight by our own Candice. And we'll round up with any questions you have.
There is a question section in this stream that you're seeing there's an email where you can post your questions.
That email does go somewhere that goes directly to us slash me.
So please be answer asking all your questions there.
It's a great tool. And you can ask your questions directly to any one of us.
And we'll be happy to answer them by the end of the session, we want to make sure it's as informative and you're as involved as possible in this.
So yeah, let's now move on to the panel, which is the first part of our agenda.
I'm going to be joined by an amazing group of women who are navigating the world of tech.
And we'll be talking about knockbacks, successes, and what drives them and how they got to where they are, and also focusing on bringing equality and visibility to black women.
A question that we've received a lot, and it goes a shout out to the person who put this whole event together, which is Trudy, is why black woman in tech versus black women.
And it's Trudy, as Trudy really greatly said, it's that often we are one of the only black women in a team or joining alone sometimes.
And that's why the woman and we're shining light on the individual woman that that goes through this journey.
So without any further ado, let's get started on the panel.
I'd love for everybody to introduce themselves. I'll start with you, Sia.
Hi, happy to be here. My name is Sia Johnson. I am the software engineering manager of Cloudflare for Teams dashboard.
So obviously, I'm here at Cloudflare.
I've been here for about three years. And I'm also one of the leads for Afroflare, the ERG within Cloudflare.
Thanks for having me. Great. Great to have you Sia.
I'll move on to Sita. Hello, everyone.
My name is Sita James. I am a people team business partner on the people team supporting the GNA functions here at the company.
And I've been here for a little over a year.
So hello. Great to have you on. Jennifer would love for you to introduce yourself.
Hi, everyone. Thank you for having me. My name is Jennifer Oyelede.
I'm a talent acquisitions director handling roles, especially in tech across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
So yeah, it's just amazing to be here with amazing women doing fantastic things in tech.
Fantastic. And Kimberly, would love to hear from you.
Hello, everyone. I am Kimberly Short. And I am a recruiter here at Cloudflare where I cover our engineering teams, as well as our IT team.
So happy to be here. Great.
And also, Candice would love for you to introduce yourself. Hi, everyone. My name is Candice Inouye.
I'm currently based out of Atlanta, Georgia, but I also work for Cloudflare on the people team as a people advisor.
Been here for about a year and a couple months.
So pretty much since July 2021. And I currently support both our research and development organizations and general and admin.
And last but definitely not least, Aisha. Great to have you. Hi, thank you. It's great to be here as well.
My name is Aisha and I'm a technical recruiter at Monzo Bank in London.
I recruit for engineering leadership positions. I'm also a D&I advocate and I'm really, really happy to be here.
Great. We're happy to have you, too.
I'm going to start off with some quick fire icebreaker questions just so everyone gets to know you all a little bit.
And so first question is, if you could have a superpower, what would it be?
And I will start with you again, Aisha. If I had a superpower, I'd turn everything into dessert.
It's like my favorite thing. And I feel like it would just make the world a happier, better place, if that makes sense.
Yeah, make people a little sweeter as well. Sia, what about you? If I had a superpower, it would probably be, you know, touching people and making them swap bodies.
I don't know why, but that sounds good to me. I think it's great to kind of see from a different person's point of view.
And so I feel like that could be fun.
Yeah, that would be. Kimberly, what about you? My superpower would be to read minds.
There are so much assumptions with facial expressions. Someone will say something they really don't mean.
So being able to read their minds and know what they're truly thinking would be my superpower.
I love that. And Candice, what would yours be?
I think mine would be being able to travel anywhere in the world in an instant.
I don't know. That's not time travel, but whatever that may be called.
I hate the traveling process of having to go to the airport, planes, where I love to travel.
So I think that would be my superpower. Great. And Jennifer, what about yours?
Funny enough, Kimberly said mine. But the other one I would say would be to metamorph into different things, basically.
So I don't know, today I could just be me and tomorrow I could just be a TV.
I don't even know, but just to metamorph into different things, just to know how it feels to be either somebody else or an object or just something.
So I think that's probably what my superpower would be.
Love that. And Sita, what are yours? Well, mine was the same as Candice originally, just being able to teleport because I can skip a 15-hour plane ride.
But other than that, since I have to choose something else, it would be the ability to still connect with our loved ones that have moved on, that have transitioned.
That would be my superpower. That's really lovely.
And the second quickfire question, and this time around, after I ask it, I'll just say your name, and you can just burst it out because it's a fast one.
What is your most used emoji? Jennifer? The wink. Kimberly?
Face palm. See ya. Definitely the Black lady going, hey. Sita? Mine is definitely the, I don't know.
Aisha? It's a yellow heart. Oh, that's nice. And Candice?
I don't even know how to explain it. It's the one where they're smiling, but they're crying at the same time.
I think that would be my most used right now.
Yeah. Mine is like the crying, laughing, but sideways one. Like just absolutely breaking into hysteria.
Great. Really, really love those. Good to get to know you all a little bit better.
I'd love to now pivot into questions about you, a little bit more about your career.
I know we mentioned what your roles are, but it'd be great if, Jennifer, you could tell us about yourself and your employment journey and how you got to where you are.
Okay, I'll try to edit. This is not impossible because I don't sleep here.
So, okay, so I started off as a resourcer, I remember maybe 15 or so years ago.
I started my career working for Hays, doing a lot of agency recruitment, IT into investment banking.
Then I moved up into a recruiter during the time when IT had a bit of a crash in the UK.
So predominantly starting a lot of my career in the UK.
Then moved into, so IT did healthcare in North America, Canada, then went back into tech and then woke up one morning and decided to quit.
Everybody thought I was mad. My mom thought I was mad. Everybody thought I was mad.
I just wanted to do something a bit different in terms of, I thought I wanted to do a bit more about recruitment, not just pushing CVs or pushing bodies.
I wanted to actually make a difference.
So I quit and set up my own consultancy. And that was about 10 years ago now, where I've just, no matter, I've done a lot of sectors, but I somehow find myself back into tech, one way or another.
So I've been working with a lot of organizations across Europe, Middle East and Africa, working in various roles, various sectors.
Most recently, more data analytics has been something that's been really drawing my attention within the last year or two.
So that's just the edited version of my career to date.
So I've been doing that and talent acquisitions and business strategies and everything around the HR space.
Oh, great. Thanks for sharing. Like a lot of us going from place to place, but got to the right place.
Great journey. Aisha, would be great to learn about your employment journey and how you got to where you are.
So my journey is quite, I wouldn't say controversial, but just random.
I started working in a major sandwich fast food chain that we all know and love.
And then I moved to work in a pub, which was great.
And I actually did want to become a pub manager eventually. But the money doesn't really reside in that industry.
And then I got into recruitment to actually pay off a lot of my debts.
And I guess I liked agency side recruitment, but I also wanted to hone in on the candidate experience piece.
And that's when I moved into a fintech company, Monzo.
That's so interesting. And I love to hear that. I think a lot of the time we think that you start in something and maybe you have to build in that, but you can change everything up at any point all the time, no matter where you are and how old you are, what you're doing.
So that's great to hear. Thank you, Aisha. Sia, love to hear from you.
Yes. So my background is actually in international relations and focusing on global and national security.
And I'm sure you're all thinking, what does that mean for you getting into engineering?
Well, after doing that, I realized that I didn't necessarily want to go into international relations itself, working for the government.
I ended up working for a lot of international tech companies doing data analytics, translation.
I speak Japanese fluently. So that was one of the main things I leaned on.
And then, as I was working for some of these tech companies behind the scene, I started thinking, hmm, I think I could build this thing that we're building, that these engineers are building and I'm helping them.
And so I took a few classes at a local college and I fell in love with engineering.
I also decided that I didn't want any more student loans. So I went ahead and did one of the boot camps and I loved it.
I loved every minute of it. And from there, I started looking, engineering every day, and I ended up at Cloudflare.
It's a great experience.
Like most people here, I'm sure it's a winding journey. But like you said, Kira, you find something you love, right?
Yeah, and definitely it's ever-changing and seems to be a theme, which is great.
Candice, what about your journey?
Yeah, so I actually started my journey about four years ago. So I'm still kind of a recent college graduate.
I started at Amazon as a senior HR assistant up in Baltimore, Maryland, and I was pretty much in the trenches as far as HR concerns.
So really being able to, of course, have those frontline employees that come up and ask a million questions, but it gave me such a great foundation for what I wanted my next role to look like or just my next company.
So while I was at Amazon, I actually ended up promoting up to an HR business partner role, and I worked with a specific client group, which was operations.
And again, pretty trying time at that moment.
But it really helped me understand when I'm going to my next company and my next role, what do I actually want to do, which led me over to Cloudflare.
And I've been here since July of 2021 as a people advisor. I pretty much do employee relations for all of North America, but I also get the opportunity to work with our global organizations.
So I get to meet with people in London and Lisbon, Germany, Munich, everywhere around the world.
So just having that overall global HR experience now.
And I think like everyone has said, it's been a journey, even though my journey has been a little bit shorter than everyone else's, it's definitely been a journey to get to where I'm at.
But I'm definitely excited about just where this role and everything will take me.
Yeah, can definitely confirm that Candice is a jet setter.
Saw her in the London office recently, just pop up. But great to hear.
Kimberly also would love to hear about your journey so far. Absolutely.
So my journey was definitely unconventional as well. This is really something that I sort of fell into.
I started off in hospitality at a front desk.
And I just thought, oh, I would manage my own hotel one day until I met a HR director.
And was like, no, we are going to get you groomed for HR, as well as recruitment.
So started with HR. And I felt that I like the happier times with talent acquisition.
So from then on out, I made it a point to really get the experience inside of recruitment.
So several industries, hospitality, construction, automation.
And I decided that I really love the challenges and the ever-changing role of tech.
So here I am now at Cochlear. Great. Great to hear. Thanks.
And also moving on to Sita. Hey again, everyone.
So you said we talk about this journey. I think we all have had interesting journeys.
Mine started a little over 15 years ago. Just working in HR.
I've worked in probably every little segment from HR assistant to coordinator to business partner back to manager.
Different industries as well. So I've worked in a lot of really cool industries.
Didn't get a chance to work at an international company some years back.
So that kind of was my first real exposure on the international side.
Which, of course, leading to the current day of Cloudflare and us being a global company with all of the great opportunities.
Like I said, here on the people team, being able to support the G&A functions of the company, as well as I just got back a couple days ago from Lisbon.
And I was able to go over to Lisbon and work with our EMEA team.
So we all work very close together. And like I said, this journey has been pretty amazing.
And I'm happy that this is where I'm at.
I'm always where I'm supposed to be is what I always say to myself. Definitely.
And also to add some context in terms of my journey, working in marketing, similar to everyone else, did not start in marketing.
I studied psychology and was going to work and kind of position myself to work as a clinical psychologist at some point.
But halfway through my degree program, decided that that was not necessarily the path for me.
I still like the idea of understanding mindset and decision making behavior, but wanted to put it more into a commercial sense and how to package products and how you establish the go to market for something and how people are reacting to things.
So pivoted like that. And even though I knew I wanted to do marketing almost throughout my studies, I still went into a sales job originally because equally I did not want to live in debt or live in any type of financial troubles right after my uni.
Did that for a bit, enjoyed it, but it was not what I wanted to stay in and then ended up here and marketing at Cloudflare, which was a really great decision and happy to be here.
Wanted to add that I won't be speaking much more in the panel, but wanted to give some insight to from another field.
I wanted to focus this next question on Jennifer and Aisha, especially because you're joining us and about why you decided to join the panel today and what kind of brought you here.
So Aisha, if you could answer that.
Well, when Trudy reached out to me, I thought, wow, this is an amazing opportunity, but also it's an opportunity to give back, to share my perspective as well and also just learn.
And I feel like things like this, you know, having these conversations are so important, especially if we do want change, if we do want, you know, our working environments to be improved and things like that.
So that's why I just said yes straight away. That is so great to hear, agreed.
Jennifer, what about you? Yeah, I mean, as I said, when Trudy reached out, I was like, yeah, this is me.
This has got me all over. This has got me all over it because, I mean, just seeing, I mean, coming from, you know, working at a time when I started in recruitment, when there was literally no women, talk less of, no black women.
I just feel that if you've got to a certain point in your career, you owe it to, just like Candice said, give back and also to have these conversations so that we all, all of us who have come this far to be able to say, OK, what can we do to set the pace and set the path for, you know, for other women coming up, young girls who are, you know, probably lost.
And, you know, so I just like the platform.
I love what Caltech is doing as a brand. I like the segmentation and the unapologeticness about it as well.
So I was like, you know, this is amazing. And yeah, I just thought, guns are blazing, let's go.
So I really wanted to be a part of it.
It's amazing. Yeah, and we're so happy to have you. Candice, I saw you nodding.
Anything you wanted to add to that? I saw some agreement there. Definitely when it comes down to like the unapologeticness of this, I spoke to Trudy while we were going through everything and I was like, you know, I'm so nervous to get up here.
And what if I say the wrong thing or what if I don't say the best thing in terms of diversity, but she really reminded me that this is our story, like this is what we go through every single day.
So it's not that has to be correct for anyone else outside of ourself.
And it is true to be unapologetic about how our experiences and just letting people know, like the challenges that we go through, but also what can we do next and how can we empower others to really ensure that putting diversity at the forefront as well.
A hundred percent. I don't want to make nodding me now targeting you, but Kimberly, I did see you nodding.
Is there anything you wanted to add to that? No, completely agree with Candice.
When I was coming up with my points last night, I was like, OK, do I show up as my authentic self, my real self?
How would that be perceived? And after that, I was like, you know what?
This is my story. This is my truth. This is my journey.
Really don't care how it comes off. But this is the true and authentic self journey.
And yeah, completely agree with Candice. Amazing. We've actually had a viewer question come in, and even though a lot of them are probably positioned to the end of this, I thought since we just spoke about this and maybe Sia, this is something that's also kind of interesting for you and everyone else on the panel because it's a combination.
We have a viewer question that asks, what is your advice for a young black woman studying political science and public administration in Turkey?
A relatively broad question. Perhaps you could also expand a little by submitting another question on advice for what specifically, but I think that maybe some of our panel can just give some general answers.
Sia? Sure. It's been a while, but I think one of the biggest and most important things to focus on is people in history.
A lot of things repeat themselves and to learn from other people and how they have traversed other issues.
This is part of the reason why we're doing this panel is to talk about hurdles and obstacles that we've overcome.
When studying political science or international relations, which are very closely tied, I found it really important to see how others moved, but then also take that and apply it to yourself or your country or the place that you find interest in.
Somewhere in between there, you're going to find a lot more answers, just being open to other people's experience.
Obviously, diversity, inclusion. That's what I have to say. Thanks so much, Sia.
Keep those questions coming. We're here to answer them. Moving on to maybe, not as positive, but it's always part of the journey about the challenges that you have faced along the way and how you've overcome them.
I would like to start with Sita, if you have any challenges, prominent ones that you'd like to share and some tips.
Definitely. Thank you. I think I'll probably be the first, but once we all start speaking about this, we all have encouraged challenges along the way.
From just showing up, like we said, as our authentic selves, I mean, from the start of the process, the interview process, where you're worried about if you show up with your natural hair, if you show up, you're worried about even just your name.
There's some certain things that are even before we even step foot into the door.
Then, of course, once getting into the door, there have been many challenges I've faced from people not believing that I know what I know.
Age, we talk about age.
Aside from color, people just kind of questioning your abilities because of your age.
Then, like I said, just general other things that we face in and outside of work with racism, whether people want to talk about it, it's a hard, ugly truth that happens every day.
There are things that we face in the workplace, the remarks, comments, sometimes being in a room and being one of one, where you're in a room, one of one, and you have a voice, you want to have a voice, but sometimes your voice can be misconstrued as being the angry Black female stereotype, or you are up against some very hard challenges because of the position that you're in for yourself or for others.
Definitely have experienced those throughout the 15 years, but the positive side is that we, as women, Black women, we keep pushing, and we are sitting on this panel today, so that way we can give back.
I really appreciate that and everything you've said. Aisha, you're both nodding.
I don't know if you have something to add or something totally different in terms of your challenges and how you overcame them.
Yeah, so as a Black woman, and also as someone who is neurodivergent as well, it's been very difficult in some spaces to prove myself or even get the support in order to do my job in the first place.
In previous roles, for example, where I didn't have that support, I learned that, you know what, anywhere I work next, they need to be able to facilitate my needs, they need to be able to show that they actually care about nurturing people like me as well.
And on top of that, you know, with the D&I piece as well, I feel like it's something that sometimes if you're the only sort of Black woman or Black man in that space, you have to be the one that is amplifying that or starting that discussion as well.
Absolutely. And do you have any recommendations on amplifying that or, you know, tips on that?
It's a great point. I'm also asking if we can have speakers at work, for example, having events, you know, during Black History Month, using that as a learning opportunity as well.
I think those things are very important.
And also like community outreach programs and, you know, other sort of initiatives that reach out to the wider community as well.
Agreed. Jennifer, what about any challenges you have come in contact with? Do you want to take a pen?
No, I mean, during the career, I mean, I've had situations where when I started off in recruitment, there were no women, talk less of Black women.
And I've had everything from, you know, gross misconduct, sexualizing, you know, take one for the team, you know, and just that kind of because you are Black that you're sexualized.
I've had from similar to Candace with age.
I've had even from even from examples of not even just Black, but even from the actual country you're from.
So, you know, it's and it gets to a point where, you know, you start to have it starts to create doubts about yourself, not because you know you're not able to do it, but because of the position you are in and the hierarchy of the position and the people who are oppressing you.
You can then feel as though you're fighting, you're punching air and you're not really hitting anybody's face.
So it's almost like, you know, I've gone through, you know, various different challenges.
And then during the time when women were coming into recruitment, you are having issues with women of other ethnic minorities or even white women who it seemed as though because they've got blonde hair and blue eyes.
It means that they're just beautiful or they want those kind of clients to engage with those kind of people because they look more acceptable in the workplace.
So, yeah, I mean, we can be here. I mean, there's probably nothing that I haven't seen.
And what it has done is it's actually made me thicker and stronger in terms of especially dealing with men in, you know, because I mean, recruitment at a point in time, especially IT recruitment was very, very male dominated.
So you're not only just fighting as a woman, as a black woman, you're also fighting against men to try to make your voice heard and not being condescended or anything like that.
So what it did for me was that every experience I took, I took it as a lesson.
So wherever I found myself the next organisation or even when I decided to branch out on my own, I had to then, you know, use those experiences to reposition myself.
OK, you may not like me, but you have to respect me for my craft.
So, yeah, it was just a case of taking every experience and owning it and seeing how I can do that to be a better person and to be able to inspire as well.
Yeah, absolutely. And I really appreciate and it's great to see how the positive you took from that and all the learning.
And you mentioning that, you know, you have to become stronger and tougher skin.
And that's also such a common thing associated with black women is that, you know, we're strong and stereotyped as that.
And therefore we can endure a lot more. And that shouldn't be the case.
It is the case often. Sometimes. But it but it shouldn't be so.
But I appreciate you sharing that. Sia, I wanted to touch on you and Kimberly as well.
I'm trying to rush through these things. So I feel like Sia, you could say what your challenges are.
Kimberly, you follow and and yeah, go from there. Yeah, I think, you know, just everybody's answers have been on point.
The only thing I would probably add to that from my own experience is just when making sometimes when making that that change, that transition to a new field, especially.
Like I said, I did a boot camp, which, you know, some industries and sometimes in tech, I can feel like a bachelor's degree is the only route.
And I think also for many of the women on this call to just having those other experiences, don't negate your capabilities in this new role.
And oftentimes it enhances it. You can lean on the things that you've learned.
Just like Jennifer said, you've learned all these things in all your past experiences.
And so those make you into a different type of employee, someone who might be more intentional and aware and also like just passionate.
And what I would like to add, of course, all of you have hit on all of my challenges.
But for myself, one of the biggest things was my personality as well as my passion.
Every time I would walk into an office and express how I felt or even gave an idea, it was, oh, my goodness, why do you have to be so, so, so loud about it?
Or why do you have to say it so aggressively? Or can you just reword this email a different way?
So that was probably one of the biggest things that I have encountered.
And it even got to a point where I was like, you know what, I don't even think I belong inside of like an office setting because my personality is too big.
And I don't know why my personality is too big when someone else can do the same thing.
And I think recently I was like, you know what, forget it.
If you don't like it, you just don't like it. But this is me. Absolutely, definitely cannot quiet yourself down and I can relate to that as well.
Candice, I know, last but not least, any challenges you face?
Yeah, I face a lot in the last couple of years that I've been working, mainly around, I think everyone has said it, impostor syndrome and feeling as though you don't know what you know.
So coming from Amazon, which was mainly logistics and then coming into the tech industry, I knew what I was talking about, but I was so fearful that I wasn't saying it right.
Or just because I haven't been in these settings, I was worried about how I may come across or if this is the right things to say.
So definitely when they came down to that, I think my biggest recommendation was having people that are in these roles.
And again, this is why we're doing Black Women in Tech, but having people in these roles that you can kind of have a gut check with.
And hey, does it sound OK or what's your bias on this?
That know how I speak, how I'm trying to come across.
To me, me and Sida are on the same team, so I talk to Sida a lot about what I'm saying and how I want to be portrayed.
So really just being able to tap into the network that we do have, although it may not be the biggest, but really making sure that we're making connections with people who are in these roles and that look like us and just having that overall gut check in.
Hearing that, yeah, no, you're actually right here.
It's OK. Go ahead and send it out has really helped a lot.
Absolutely. And thanks for sharing. And I also want to acknowledge that I'm seeing all the questions coming in.
I'm going to save them for a little bit later because they're targeted at individuals.
But we see you keep the questions coming.
Absolutely. We'll keep time for all of them.
Finally, not finally, finally for this section, what is something you love the most about your role or is something you wish you'd learned sooner?
I think I will split the questions in two.
So Sia, I'll ask you, what is something you love about your role?
Of course, like I said earlier, I love engineering. I love building things.
I'm so passionate about it. But as a manager, I love my team. I have a great team.
I love to support them. I love to see them grow. This is something that I'm super passionate about.
I really want to challenge them. I want to make sure that I am opening them up to different opportunities here and beyond.
So that's something I really love is working with people and really seeing how they can overcome technical issues and really become great.
And Kimberly, what about you? What is something you love about your role and also maybe something you wish you'd known sooner about it?
Something that I love about my role is being able to make a difference.
Being a Black woman in recruiting, I see a lot of individuals that's wanting that opportunity.
So really being able to coach them along the way, give them the tips and tricks that they need so they could be successful is one thing that I love.
And what was the second part of the question?
Something you wish you'd known sooner about the role or in general?
Something that I wish I have known sooner, probably to not dim my light when it comes to recruiting.
We are very creative. So just not dimming my light and pushing through with what I know is best would probably be that one thing.
And Candice, what is something you love about your role? So my role is mainly employee relations, so I don't deal with the most fun things.
I deal with performance management, workplace conflict.
We're very similar to Kimberly, really being able to make an impact on people's lives.
So when somebody is on a performance improvement plan, really being able to work with them to get them to a successful point.
And also guide managers on any biases they may be understanding or experiencing while dealing with somebody who may not be of the same culture.
Like just really being able to advise and guide.
And when we get those good outcomes, I would definitely say that's the best thing.
But I would definitely say the number one thing that I love about my role is the team that I'm on.
They have been amazing just in this last year and a half.
Very similar to Sia. It's a great way to be able to understand so many different things and understand so many different backgrounds.
But really be able to tailor it to how I want to deliver it. Absolutely.
And Sita, I'm going to ask you what you like about your role. And then I'm also going to follow up with a viewer question that is connected directly to you, which is, if a person, maybe, no, let me keep it separate.
I'll ask you that and then I'll follow up.
OK, so like, I mean, Candice is on my team as well. So I need to start hands down.
We talked about challenges a moment ago, about just some of the challenges we faced.
And, you know, I've been a part of different companies where it wasn't a great experience personally or professionally.
So to come to Cloudflare, my team, and I tell this to everyone when I do interviews, I'm like, my team, hands down, is the best team I've ever been a part of.
And also the second part to that is as a black woman, you're always taught to keep everything separate, your personal and your professional.
Like that is something from a very, very young age.
You don't go to work to make friends. You go to work to work and we have to be the best to do the best.
Like we have no options. But I would say coming to Cloudflare, one thing I've been able to do is really show up as my authentic self, not dim my light.
My team is like amazing, amazing. Dana, shout out to Dana, my boss, amazing.
We've been able to uplift each other in this space. And what we do not know, we learn from each other.
And what was the second question? So the question that is for you, and I guess also Candice, I mean, you're in the same team.
If a person has leadership experience and they want to transition into human resources, how would they best do that?
Or how do I do that, rather, is the question, especially as a black woman?
I would say like for me, my transition kind of started originally more on the office side, so to speak.
I mean, a lot of times we all are doing HR related things, especially from a management perspective.
If you're in management, you are doing a lot of HR things.
You know, we're just getting to the point of being, you know, subject matter experts in that area.
But I would say if you're already in leadership, I would look at or talk to anyone in the HR space on kind of what you're doing and what you're interested in.
Because HR is such a broad spectrum of things.
Like Candice said, she's kind of more on the employee relations side and I'm more on the strategic side.
So you kind of have to figure out what is it that you're wanting to do.
And then from that point, you can kind of, you know, maybe like I said, make those networking connections on how you can actually get into a certain.
Because it does change by industry as well. Kind of what the advice that I would give.
And Candice can probably back me up on this after I get done speaking.
But it kind of depends on what industry you want to go want to go in as well, because it can be, you know, a little, I say, I say hard.
I felt like it was at times hard to kind of get a foot in the door of certain industries being a, you know, African -American black woman.
And, you know, having to like you said, you're already trying to prove yourself.
And it's hard once you get in there.
But before you get in there, it can be a little difficult. So networking, talking to people that are in this industry are going to be the best piece of advice I can give to anyone.
Candice, you can kind of add on to that. Yeah, no, I think you said it perfectly, Sita.
Definitely networking, it is very industry specific.
I started off with my I had my bachelor's in psychology, which technically is an HR.
But the way I made it seems everyone's like, yeah, I know what I'm talking about for HR.
So sometimes it's really hard to believe what you're saying.
But also, don't be afraid to talk to your actual HR business partners.
Those who are in your department kind of understand what their day to day looks like.
So that way you can understand where you want to go as far as HR. If it's a business partner, if it's an ER partner, if it's compensation, benefits, recruiting.
There's so many different factions of HR. So it would really be up to you to decide.
But to decide, of course, talk to people, understand your experiences.
And then figure out what are your transferable skills and really frame it that way when you are looking at some of these roles.
And one thing I will say is, of course, as black women, we're expected to have all this experience just to get into entry level roles that are handed to other people.
Just kind of keep that in mind or in the back of your mind that sometimes you do have to work a lot harder to get half of what they want, which is not right whatsoever.
But, you know, it may be very hard to get into some of these roles, but definitely network, reach out.
I mean, I'm pretty sure everybody on this call would be open to talking to somebody via LinkedIn just about our own experiences and how to actually get your foot in the door or even if it's just looking over somebody's resume real quick.
So definitely don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help from people who you may see in these roles already.
Absolutely. Thank you, both of you.
I'd love to come to Jennifer about what you love about your role. I love so many things about my role, from meeting new people to understanding people's career journeys, where they want to be, what they aspire to be.
I love working with organisations to understand how we can help with their pain points and how we can, you know, make an organisation function better, as well as working with people to get them to function better.
So for me, I'm a people person. I just love being an enabler.
I love solving things. I just, I mean, a lot of people that I've even met over my career.
I mean, I've been godmothers, I've been bridesmaids, I've turned up to people's weddings and all of these things are just literally by meeting different people.
I mean, there was a wedding that I flew to in Santorini of a candidate that I'd only known for like a year and a half or so.
And, you know, it's just the kind, it's just about, for me, it's knowing how you can use what gifts God has given you, because I think every single one of us are tapping into what we have, what are the foundation of our, you know, our personalities, our aspirations, and just being able to use that to positively impact people in different states and say, oh, I knew when somebody was, I don't know, an admin assistant, and tomorrow they're, you know, operations director, and knowing that you actually had a part to play in their journey.
So for me, that's just the highlight for me. That is incredible.
That must be a great feeling as well, just being part of that. Sometimes I'll grin from ear to ear and I'll be like, yeah, that's me, like it's my child.
Like, yeah, I did that. So, yeah, no, it's very, I mean, I can talk about it all day.
I'm very passionate about that. So, yeah, I love it. Oh, beautiful.
Aisha, what about you? I think what I love the most about my role is definitely connecting with people.
One of my candidates is actually my mentor now, going two years strong.
And, you know, you never know where these, like how these connections will benefit you as well.
And that being said, you know, sometimes I'd speak to a candidate and they're not quite the best fit for what we have right now.
Then I get to reach out to them again and, you know, help them to get into a different role.
And, you know, it's very satisfying to help your fellow human being.
As cringe as that sounds, you know, it's a very positive thing, I think, working in recruitment.
Absolutely. And pivoting slightly to focus on, you know, the DI aspects of our lives and work.
Oftentimes we find that we're showing up as Black people, as women, that comes with things attached to it.
I think especially I noticed as well during, you know, Black Lives Matter when so much was happening outside of work.
And I was showing up to work so drained and so unable to share a lot of what I was going through.
And feeling like no one or few people will really understand how I'm feeling and why I'm just not in the mood to do the things that they want me to do.
I think that it's hard to come to work as your authentic self, but we need to and we need to do more of that.
So I'd love to know from some of you how you work on showing up as yourself, as your authentic self at work, bringing all of yourself.
I think, Kimberly, you talked about this earlier. And so I'd love for you to start us off on, you know, how you show up as your true self at work.
Absolutely. So the way that I show up as my authentic self, it took a while for me to learn how to do that.
And one of the things that I realized is that if everyone else can show up and they can display their passions and that they can let you know what is really bothering them, then I can do the same thing.
And it really is about dropping what that perception is or how they would perceive you if you were to express yourself.
And one thing that I realized is that, of course, we put that mask on, we show up as someone else.
But once we express ourselves and be our authentic selves, you have your co-workers around you to say, man, you know what, I didn't even think about it from that perspective.
You know, I was only taught to think about it in this way.
And please continue to share, you know, your the way that you feel about it and the things that you have gone through.
So from then on out is showing up as myself. And it's not so much as thinking about if someone takes it the wrong way or the right way, as long as I am expressing myself and I am not, you know, showing up as someone else is really depressing.
For myself, having to turn yourself off, not express yourself, hold things in is depressing.
It makes you angry. And I didn't want to be that person at work to have to put this mask on and just go with the flow.
I needed you to know, I need you to know how I feel.
And you can take that however you want, but this is for me and not for everyone around me.
Yes, yes, Kimberly, absolutely. And I know, Jennifer, you earlier on also mentioned that, you know, you have worked in situations where people have said kind of buckle up, just do it.
We move forward. What are your recommendations to show up authentically?
What I tend, what I generally do is, first and foremost, say it's not about me, it's about them.
I don't have the problem.
First and foremost, because the truth of the matter is, is that, you know, working in various different organizations, when you're dealing with a lot of complex individuals, you have to remind yourself not to take it personally.
Even if they are being personal, I don't allow what they say or what they do affect me so much to the point that I'm not able to show up as my authentic self.
Because if I, one thing that my mom always used to say to me, which she still does from time to time, is if you think everybody in the world thinks like you, then you will run mad.
Because the thing about it that you can't expect everybody to think like you, but you have to be able to understand that this is who they are.
So to be authentic to myself, I won't change myself to compromise. I won't change my personality to compromise myself or my environment.
But I will be more intentional about how that is translated in my environment.
So it's something you have to be very, very intentional about on a daily basis.
I talk to myself and say, OK, look, you know, it's like dealing, like we're talking about diversity and it's like dealing with, you know, a white 50 year old man who probably has different ideologies about black women.
And then you might come across a 65 year old white woman who grew up in, I don't know, the Bronx, Peckham, anywhere.
I don't know. I'm just trying to think of one kind of area, you know.
It's just about, you know, understanding and just being able to be accommodating of other people without compromising yourself.
Yes, absolutely. And a slightly different question for you, Aisha, is kind of on a personal level, what does DEI, diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you?
Yeah, what impact does it have on you? For me, on a personal level, I feel like especially the inclusion piece is being able to show up and feel fully comfortable with just being me.
And also with DEI as well, I think it's so important because it's like if you want more people in your company to feel comfortable to stay as well and, you know, to retain people, you need to invest in creating an environment that people can be their authentic self.
For me, it's so important to be authentic.
You know, wearing a mask is exhausting and it's tiring.
And I think it's, you know, it's important to just be you. It's important to just feel like you can show up and just be yourself and be seen as equal to everybody else.
Absolutely. And something that, you know, DEI, I'm going to use the abbreviation going forward, feels like it's become prevalent really recently.
It's been there for a long time.
It's been a subject that has been there. But suddenly now it's it's something that we're all more aware of.
And also companies are becoming way more aware of and making active decisions around why.
I want to come to you, Candice, and Sita, Candice, you first.
Why do you think that is happening now?
Why is this a topic of conversation now? Yeah, I definitely think and I know in America back in 2020, when everyone was protesting, we saw so many companies that were Black Lives Matter and they're putting out statements and they don't agree with this.
And then it just stopped and it was very quiet after that. And I think seeing to where DEI and I sometimes just become something that you say and not necessarily you do.
It's been a lot easier for companies to put it out there and make it seem as though it's a very hot topic for them.
But when you look at diversity statistics for a lot of these companies, especially in tech, you don't have actual diversity, as we say, or push out that we do.
So I think with everything and just because we are in the social media age where we're a lot more accessible to the things that are going on, we're able to see people protesting in the streets, we're able to hear from other people about their experiences, whether I'm in Atlanta, some of you are in London, some people are in Lisbon, wherever you are in the world.
We're able to connect more about our experiences and say, you know what, regardless of where we are at currently, this is not OK and we want more and we should have more and being very unapologetic about that.
So I think it's become a lot more prevalent.
I don't know how much work has really been done to keep DEI an actual actionable thing.
But I definitely think that's kind of why DEI seems to be more of like the topic of conversation right now.
Yes, kind of just back on, jump on what Candice was saying, you know, let's just say the pressure is getting worse.
If you don't, you know, definitely, you know, the past couple of years, you know, the pressure has been on because of social media, you know, specifically because of the connection.
And I always say I have a lot of nieces and nephews that I've seen.
They're there generationally. They're so much.
They're so much more aware of what's going on in the world. And, you know, as far as holding people accountable or these kind of companies accountable.
And it really and truly, you know, when we talk about DEI, it's not just, you know, me.
It's not just a me thing.
It's not just a you thing. It's really an everyone thing. You know, and if companies, you know, want to run efficiently, it's extremely important.
And some companies are failing terribly at it. And it's also one of those other subjects that's hard to talk about the real numbers.
So we push it out there. We say DEI and you go out there and all of a sudden you see all of these positions for DEI on the job boards.
But really is the person that we're, you know, that's hired into that role.
Are they going to be supported? Or, you know, what is the real motive behind it?
And is there going to be actually be changed? So I think, you know, there's a lot of work to still be done when it comes to DEI.
First, from an education standpoint on what it really is, it's not just hiring black people or not just hiring women.
It's, you know, it's more to it than that. So from an education standpoint and then from an action standpoint.
Absolutely. And thank you both for that.
Really, really great insights. Sia, as our Afro-Queer lead as well, which means that Sia is one of our employee resource group leaders.
What advice do you have for those who want to be DEI advocates or get involved in employee resource groups and or aren't quite sure how to start?
Yeah, that's a big and important question.
I think, you know, there are a few key pieces to this. It's about, you know, listening and making space for people and taking action.
You know, when it comes to employee resource groups, it can often feel like people are the people of color are doing the heavy lifting.
And it's really important for allies and leadership to invest in opportunities and, you know, make space for people to exist, but also to contribute.
You know, for instance, Cloudflare is going to Afrotech, which is amazing.
And we're doing doing that work. Right.
It's an amazing event. We're going to meet amazing candidates. So I think when it comes to allies getting involved as well, you know, I often hear that they don't want to do the wrong thing.
But again, if you're if you're listening and making that space, it's really hard to do the right thing.
So that's that's what I would say to any of the allies that are that want to get involved.
And we actually had a viewer question come in and we have loads. Once again, we see you and we will answer them.
Keep them coming. But is how to identify or how to find allies?
And I mean, it's a good question. Sia, if you if you kind of want to bounce back off on that one.
How to find allies, usually, interestingly enough, allies usually find you.
And especially in Afroflare, the allies that have reached out have made themselves available to support Afroflare members.
And in some ways, what Afroflare has done as a group has made resources available for allies to self-learn and, you know, get that education themselves without relying on black people within the company to do that.
I think that's super important, as well as here at Cloudflare.
We have other resources for self-learning that people can take advantage of.
And when they do feel like they can be a support system or mechanism for the people around them, then they usually find you.
But we do have open spaces, open chat rooms for people to join.
And when we do ask for volunteers and stuff like that, they're usually more than happy to, like my favorite emoji, raise their hand and go, hey, I'm here.
So, yeah. Absolutely. We have a viewer question that I can address to everyone, which is, and I agree with the statement as well, is you ladies are beautiful.
Thanks a lot for showing up and speaking out.
My question is this. If you had an equation for women in tech and in Cloudflare in particular, what would it be?
And she gives an example. Mine would be women plus brains plus tech plus skin color equals women with brains in tech.
And I'll start with you, Jennifer. Oh, wow. Hmm. You just I think you just covered everything I wanted to say.
So I would say. I'll say what I say.
So I would say more like a black woman with SAS strength. And sustainability.
I would say SAS, because I think in order to be black, you need to be strong, you need to be sustainable so that, you know, people from other ethnic minorities, other backgrounds know that we're not just a one hit wonder.
We don't just say, oh, we're playing the race card today and then tomorrow we now start acting like mice's.
So I think everything that we need to do is to be sustainable so that they know that not just we're not just we're not just loud.
You know, we're proud.
We're black and proud. But yes, I think that's what I would say.
Yeah, that's pretty all encompassing. I another question that has come in and and I want to answer a few before we move on, just because I want to make sure we answer them is and I think we can answer it in a more general way as well.
Thank you for this live. As a transition educator, I would like to know how to acquire a mentor or sponsor in the tech space.
So if you have advice, maybe Aisha, I'll start with you and and then go around.
I think a couple of us can feed into that.
But how to find a mentor, as you mentioned, you found your mentor as well.
One thing I definitely recommend is going on LinkedIn and looking for people who have also transitioned from the space that you are currently in and going into a role that you want to be in and just sending them a message and, you know, shooting your shot at the end of the day.
And, you know, who knows, they could come back and say, yes, I'm happy to have a one to one with you.
And that could then develop and obviously do stuff safely.
Don't just meet up with strangers. But, you know, do this with five to 10 people and, you know, at least two people will come back and maybe be happy to take up that role.
Absolutely. And yeah, Jennifer. Sorry, just to add, I totally agree with Candice to reach out on LinkedIn, but also to say to be very intentional about what it is you're looking for when you are reaching out to people on LinkedIn, because, you know, you get this.
Hi, my name is Jennifer.
I'm a graduate of this. And by the time you've already kind of it's already kind of gone over your head by that point.
So kind of be very engaging, maybe research a little bit about the person that you want to mentor you and just make sure you kind of mention something like, oh, you know, I saw that article you wrote on A or I saw that you recently attended B or something that makes them know that you are intentional about them being your mentor and not that you're just generally just looking for, you know, anybody to mentor you.
So having that bit more of a personal feel when you're reaching out to LinkedIn, reaching out on LinkedIn will definitely grab their attention.
Yeah, and Sita, I will continue to use something I also wanted to add on that, that I've seen has worked is almost positioning your ask similar to what Jennifer said, so specifically that it can be filed down to a yes or no question at the end of it, and they're able to answer yes or no.
But nobody does that, they will still be engaged in the whole storyline that you've told them and also likely after they have that quick return of like, yes, do this, follow up with some more advice.
I've seen that happen for me personally when I asked those questions.
It's like a, no, don't do that because X, Y, Z, blah, blah, blah, maybe let's chat.
So it really filing it down to being a very specific ask often allows really the most, whoever it is, maybe most unaccessible person in your mind to be like, fine, I can just answer this real quick and do that.
But Sita, sorry to interrupt you. Oh, no, no, you definitely didn't interrupt.
I was just, you know, I'm listening as everyone's talking and it's like, you know, definitely.
I always felt like, not that I didn't need any help or mentor or anything like that.
But again, going back to just kind of how you're raised, it's like, I got this, I can do this.
I don't really need anybody. I'll figure it out.
That's like the key thing. But, you know, we really and truly do need mentors and several mentors really and truly when we talk about it, because, you know, people serve different purposes in your life.
And, you know, someone may be a mentor for specifically for your career, while the other person is kind of, you know, maybe for both, you know.
So I think that you have to take, like, look at different avenues.
You can't necessarily always stay behind a computer and reach out and network.
You have to actually get out, you know, if you're comfortable, obviously get out and go to things and go to events.
And sometimes you'll meet your mentor at the most unlikely event when you're looking at just what you're interested in and go into those type of things.
So that's one of the biggest things that I learned is that, you know, one, you have to ask for help.
Two, we all need help and it's okay.
And three, you have to step outside your comfort zone. I mean, it can be awkward to go to a meeting or a networking event where you don't know anybody and you have to, like, you know, be on the playground and go ask someone, like, will they be your friend?
But you have to get out of your comfort zone and do, you know, things that make you uncomfortable in order to move to the next level or next layer or, you know, in your life.
So that's the one piece of advice that I would give.
I love that. Like, making your personal board, chairman of your board, handpicking your board members and getting that advice.
And yeah, love that.
Put yourself out there, of course. In terms of kind of looking at next steps, what is something, and it's off the back of maybe mentorship as well, but I'll start with you, Kimberly.
What is something that helped you get to where you are?
Something that was like an influential moment or thing that happened or piece of advice that you would give others to kind of bring you into that direction?
That question might have been all over the place, but essentially something that may be a piece of advice or something that you've learned that has been really influential in getting you to where you are today.
The biggest thing for me is remaining a student.
Always go into a situation willing to learn. And you would be surprised at how many opportunities and how many things you truly do not know just by opening yourself up and listening to someone else.
You may think, oh man, I really don't want to do this.
But at the end of the day, that will take you from that step one to step three, just like that.
And it's like, man, I should have done this a whole lot sooner.
Always remain a student. Always be willing to learn.
Always be willing to listen to someone else. Absolutely. And a viewer question that we got that was, what suggestion do you have for someone who is looking to pivot into tech from nonprofit, but wants to stay in the realm of storytelling, writing, essentially still staying in a creative role while working in tech?
And it's something actually I can answer. And maybe if there's anyone else who can add on, that'd be great.
But for me, I found that in marketing in tech, that you have the ability to be telling the stories, if you want to say it like that, around the tech products and what you're building and creating that go to market strategy.
Like how should I package this for the person that I want to sell it to?
And also to, you know, kind of stay in the whole content aspect and creative aspect of telling the storyline within tech.
That's my take. I think there's many ways to be creative in tech.
I don't know if anyone else has something to add to that.
Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. I think, as you rightly say, staying creative in tech and within tech, because it's still very broad, you can actually bring your own expertise into tech.
So say from an HR perspective, if there's anything you want to implement in terms of processes, in terms of how one can engage with themselves outside of your norm, it's something that you can inject that storytelling with, you know, even with processes of how you engage with your employees, maybe have a chat box, or, you know, just some kind of making it very personal to your space.
Because, I mean, look, I mean, we use Uber, and that's just like, we can still stand on the road and hail a cab, you know, but so it's still the same way of having, you know, injecting tech into everything we do, but personalizing it to our expertise.
I love that. And kind of a final question before we move on. There's still more questions.
I've said it once, I'll say it again, we'll get to your questions.
I wanted to know what you are most tired of hearing about the subject of DEI?
Like what could you live with not hearing again? Sita, I see you smiling a little bit.
Aisha, I'm going to pick on you next. So Sita, is there anything that you're tired of hearing?
No, just the fact that, that the DEI is actually, you know, present at, you know, companies, like I guess tired of hearing that, like, or that some big change has been made over the past several years.
That's probably another thing.
I mean, like I said, we have to, like, look at the reality of it. And so that's probably my answer is that that is, you know, now we're like Candace said earlier, now it's quiet.
So Yeah, absolutely.
It's like, broadly speaking, I think we can use more vocabulary to get to the crux of issues.
For example, just yeah, yeah, I'm tired. Absolutely. I'm tired of someone being like, oh, can you pass me that African American pen in hopes of saying the right thing?
Like, what? I've heard that before. No jokes. That is one of the most shocking things I have heard.
And with good intention, I guess. But yeah, I definitely see we can, we should call it what it is and be more open about it.
That allows us the vocabulary to also have the conversations. If you take everything away, all the words that we can use to describe the very specific situation, then it all becomes very surface level.
So I definitely agree with that.
Now I want to move on to another part of the session. We will come back to questions for the panel.
So we will be coming back. This is not the end of seeing these amazing women.
So I won't thank you all yet, even though I'm grateful for all the incredible insights.
But we will be moving on to Jesse, who will be discussing some of the questionnaire answers and questions.
Over to you, Jesse. Hi, thank you, Kea, for giving me the word.
So my name is Jesse. I'm a customer success manager at Gossard.
And I work with enterprise customers to make sure that they are being utilized the best, the best way the products they are obtained, they are happy and also to ensure growth.
So to me, diversity is mostly to understand that everyone is different.
And no matter what, or where they came from, which race they are, or which sexual orientation, visual identity, individuals unique capabilities should be respected.
So by now you probably already responded to our questionnaire.
So thank you for filling out the questionnaire. So what I wanted to say a little bit about everyone's bias is that the term that describes, this is the term that describes the way that we see personal abilities, individual personal abilities and association that we hold outside of our questions.
And unconscious bias can affect everyone. So these triggers by our brain, and automatically to making quick judgments and assessments.
So they are very influenced by our background and personal experiences and stereotypes.
So it's not just about gender or any cultural context, it's more about everything that we see and other things that can also trigger unconscious bias.
So they are not really wrong or bad answers.
So the aim is just to make you aware of different unconscious bias ways that unconscious bias can present itself.
So now I'm going to share with you a feature, and I will give you 10 seconds to respond.
And just ask you a question.
So what do you think this meant us for living? 10 seconds. Okay.
Thank you for responding.
So let's get started. So unconscious bias can have a significant influence on our attitudes and behaviors, especially towards other people.
So it can influence our key decisions in the workplace and can contribute with inequality.
So everyone can think in a way that involves unconscious bias at some point, but it is really important to be aware of it and not let it affect your, for example, your behavior or decisions to becoming a truly inclusive colleague, manager and leader.
These are the words I wanted to share with you.
I will now join by my colleague and dear friend, Trudy Bahataya from our recruiting team.
She has some words to give to you as well. Thank you, Jessie.
Hi there. My name is Trudy and I am an EMEA recruitment coordinator based in London.
In this portion of the event, we will be discussing what you should consider when you are applying to Cloudflare and tips on how to be successful during the interview process.
We extend our search globally for talented professionals who want to join us in helping to build a better and safer Internet.
At Cloudflare, we care deeply about having an inclusive culture and a workplace where employees are feeling empowered to bring their whole unique selves to work.
If that's what you're looking for, then you have come to the right place.
As a recruitment coordinator, I am here to support you through your recruitment journey to ensure you have all you need to put your best foot forward.
I will keep in contact with you and update you on any changes and try my best to answer your questions as long as they're not too technical.
And if you have any questions at all, and I'm not here to assist you, we have a team of coordinators who work here at Cloudflare to step in.
You've met Kimberly earlier as part of the panel.
Kimberly works in our San Francisco office and she supports our engineering and IT organization.
Thank you for joining us, Kimberly. Oh, you're still on mute there.
Thank you. So on a personal level, I heard they asked the panel earlier, but I wanted to ask you, what impact does DE&I have on you and how have you navigated your career as a Black woman?
Great question. So, of course, DE&I impacts my everyday life, past, present, and of course will impact my life future as well.
As far as navigating my career, I did navigate my career in two parts.
So in the beginning, it was all about blending in, becoming a chameleon, because I wanted to ensure that I was being accepted as a Black woman and wasn't, you know, sticking out a little far from, you know, everyone else around me.
Right now, I operate and navigate my career as being myself 100%.
So either it's the way that I speak, if it's my hair, if it's my nails, I operate 100% as myself as a Black woman.
Good. It's good to hear.
And as we've heard from the panel earlier, there are some boundaries to that.
And again, it's about making a, what's the word I'm looking for?
It's about making a decisive decision to go in as yourself, as your true self.
What do you as a recruiter look for in a resume? And what stands out to you?
Absolutely. So when I am looking at resumes, all recruiters, and they will tell you this, we look at resumes high level.
And the reason why we do this is that a recruiter on a daily basis with just one position open, we typically have hundreds of applicants.
So when reviewing applications and resumes, we like for resumes to have the skills that we are looking for.
We are looking for years of experience, technologies, even transferable skills is something that we look for.
The resumes that stick out the most will be those that are very clear and concise.
We want your resumes to include your backgrounds and your experience.
We want that experience to really translate over to what's within that job description.
It makes it easier for us and everything else and all of those other accomplishments that you may have.
We love for you to speak through that during your actual interview.
Great. Thank you. And as a recruiter, how do you ensure that you have an equitable hiring process?
Yes, this is the most important part.
So throughout the hiring process, we have to ensure that all of our stakeholders have a consistent interviewing process.
You interview everyone with the same questions.
You have the same panel. We don't want to send someone through more interviews or other questions or very different questions than someone else because you want to remain consistent.
And you also want to speak to the facts.
Another thing that we do with that throughout our interview process, we want to make sure we stay away from a culture fit.
And we want to look for culture ads.
That is two completely different things. Culture fits are am I looking for someone to come in and be the same as the other 15 people on my team versus a culture ad?
What can this person bring to this team to take us to the next level?
And another thing is when you are giving your feedback, we want to stick to facts.
We don't want to say, well, I feel like this person is X, Y, Z. We want to stick to facts.
We want to stick to their skill sets. Can they actually come in and do the job?
Is this person trainable? So we want to stick to facts and not include our feelings.
It's a good answer. Thank you. And if you could just speak to our audience right now and tell them, just give them some tips and some hints on how to navigate the recruitment process, how to navigate applications and interviews and what to be mindful of and what to consider when doing that.
Absolutely. So when you are applying for any role, any company, you want to ensure that you are reading your job descriptions.
You do not want to blindly apply for a role just based off of a title alone.
So ensure that you are reading your job descriptions. Make sure you are reading upon what that company does.
What does that company stand for?
Again, you spend more time at work than you do anywhere else. You want to ensure you're working for a company where you can stand behind what they stand for.
When you are interviewing, you want to become familiar with the person that you are speaking with.
Look them up on LinkedIn and see, you know, how long have they been with the company?
What does their career path looks like? That can also be a conversation starter with your recruiter or with that hiring manager.
You want to make sure that you take time to rehearse a lot of the common interview questions so you can be clear, concise and you can be confident.
And you also want to just be yourself within that interviewing process.
When it comes to the type of questions that you will ask your interviewer, you have to think about what's important to you with your next role.
If work life balance is more important to you, the company's values, the company's transparency, you want to ensure you are asking those questions.
Because, again, this will be your family. This is where you will go on a daily basis for years upon years.
So you want to ensure that their values and your values are aligned.
Some of the questions that I ask my interviewers would be, you know, what made you join this company?
What is the company's stance when it comes to change and new ideas?
How do you maintain a healthy culture within your company?
And, you know, if there is something that you can change, what would that be?
I would like to note that I don't ask the company, what is their stance on DE&I?
Because one thing that I have noticed and come across is that everyone's response is really cookie cutter.
Everyone will say the exact same thing.
Oh, you know, we really take a deeper dive. We really we have a team where we take a deeper dive into DE&I, but they can never tell you what that means.
So the question that I always pose to interviewers is, how is your reaction or what is your team's reaction to change and new ideas?
Are you flexible to bring in someone that doesn't look like you or speak like you to get this job done?
Some very good points there. And in terms of new entrance into the tech sphere, what advice would you give those?
And how would you advise them in what way in which they can pivot into technology?
Absolutely. I would say start small.
You cannot expect to make a pivot into any new industry instantaneously. I would say start small.
It is very easy for you to convince one person to take a shot and take a chance on you.
Then going to, let's say, an Amazon where you are asking a panel of 15 to take a shot with you.
Be willing to start at a company that only has 10, 50 employees because they are learning.
Just like you are learning. So start small, be bold, be loud, put yourself out there.
That would be my suggestion.
And also for like events like this, if you are attending groups like Black Women in Tech, put that on your resume, publicize it.
That's great. Thank you.
And just to echo that, be bold and be loud. Yes. Since 2019, a lot has changed about the world and how we go to work.
And Cloudflare as such has changed with it. So many of our interviews are conducted virtually.
Your experience, the candidate experience is important to us.
From the application all the way through to receiving a potential offer.
Our recruitment team is with you every step of the way.
We pride ourselves on our smooth candidate centered hiring process where we hope to learn as much about you as you do about us.
There will be time at the closer to the end of the segment where you can ask Kimberley some more questions.
So please do send them through and we'll post them to Kimberley closer to the end.
Thank you so much for your time.
We will now transition back to Kira and the panel to answer some more questions and to continue the discussion.
OK, hey, and welcome back to the panel, everyone, and thank you so much, Trudy and Kimberley, as well as Jesse for that for that bit.
Really helpful. I'm sure a lot of you might be considering some jobs here.
So we're excited to have you on board if you are coming back to some of the questions for the panel that have been coming in, which has been very exciting to see.
I'm going to try to get through as many.
So try to keep your answers as brief. But I mean, don't forget the sauce as possible.
So first question that we have coming in is and I'm going to pose it to Jennifer and Aisha.
How can I improve myself as a junior recruiter? Maybe, Jennifer, if you want to start.
I would say be a sponge. Speak to as many candidates as you can, especially about the industry, because nobody, first and foremost, nobody likes talking about themselves more than candidates themselves.
You know, I remember when I first got into IT, I would just plainly ask, what is I mean, what is software engineering?
Like, what do you do? And you'll find that some people will be, you know, very open.
Oh, I'm a tester. We use this.
We use this software. We use it. You know, so try as much as possible to be very open, to be in a sponge, to learn about the industry in which you're working in and then learn about the organisations as well that you're recruiting into.
Do your research based on LinkedIn about the kind of people that they like to work there, the kind of skill sets that they like and just really kind of observe.
I mean, absorb the business intelligence side of recruitment and not just, you know, matching keywords with CVs.
I'd love to say that YouTube is your friend.
Google is also your friend. Make sure that you're watching loads of YouTube videos.
There's a really good podcast, for example, called Recruitment Mentors.
And it's absolutely amazing. You get loads of recruitment leaders that give, you know, hints and tips.
I'd also say as well, don't be afraid of making mistakes.
Growth is uncomfortable, but when you get onto the other side, it feels amazing.
So just put yourself out there, do loads of research and just feed your brain information.
Absolutely. Sponge is the keyword, I guess.
Kimberly, I don't know if there's also something you wanted to add to that, not to put you on the spot.
No, they have already said it. Be open, be flexible, be that sponge.
Don't be afraid to do research. Even reach out to your managers within departments that you probably don't even work with or recruit for.
Ask questions. Absolutely. Great. I hope that answers your question. Moving on.
How do you deal with opposition in the workplace as a Black woman? Candice, I'll come to you to answer that question.
Yeah, this is a great question. I think I learned this very, very, very early on in my career.
When I transitioned into an HR business partner, I was the only Black HR business partner and I was the youngest also in that time.
Dealing with the leadership, to be very frank, that was not culturally aware and adept to what we were going through and what we were facing.
A lot of things that I may have said would essentially rile up some other people just because I was trying to be authentic in what I was saying.
But also, it's almost that no holds, you know what you're saying.
And there are going to be people who, for whatever reason, may not agree or they think that they know the right thing.
And really, one way to deal with opposition is, again, being your authentic self, understanding that you are there for a reason.
You are there because you are meant to be there in that moment.
But also learning almost, unfortunately, sometimes how to compromise in situations and scenarios.
So maybe we don't do it this way, but let's work together to figure out a common goal.
So that way we can keep moving this forward.
As Black women, I feel like a lot of times we are almost downplayed to where we're not supposed to speak up or we're not supposed to have a sense of self.
Or we're not supposed to be at these tables and giving our opinions. And a lot of people will try to silence us or say, you know, if we have an attitude that day or we're just angry about something.
But you know yourself and you know what you know.
So don't be afraid to ever say that. And when we do face opposition, definitely take mental health days if you have to.
Take the time that you need to reset and rejuvenate.
Work is not going to always be the only thing that happens.
And opposition is almost inevitable. So definitely when it does happen, be authentic to yourself.
But also make sure that you are taking time to heal yourself from within.
It can be kind of traumatic sometimes having to deal with a lot of the things that we do face and the conversations we do hear.
And it could be just a big lack of ignorance.
So really taking the time back to yourself to reset, rejuvenate, refresh before you do just jump back into work as well.
Absolutely. And thank you, Candice.
And the next question, question and comment actually, is you ladies are so inspiring.
Love to hear it. And well spoken. As a Black woman in SaaS, we carry a weight for other Black women to enter this space.
We have to enter the space, excel in the space and disrupt it.
You ladies are killing it. Shout out to Candice O for embodying the spirit of a mentor and helping me find my place within my SaaS company.
Question. What does advocating for yourself look like in performance reviews, meetings, etc.?
How do you successfully advocate but play the role of a team member?
And Sia, I'm going to ask you that question. Sure. I think when it comes to advocating for yourself and performance reviews, I think one of the key things is to have strong and intentional conversations with your manager and take notes.
These are the things that you all are establishing as next steps or goals that align with what you want to do.
And that said, as you're getting these notes, make sure you're sharing them with your manager, but also make sure to get feedback from them and the people around you and have these things also present when you're having these conversations.
And again, make sure that whatever goals that you're setting with your manager aligns with where you want to go, not just next tasks that that are leading nowhere.
That way, when you are having this performance conversation, of course, you're you're you have clear points to talk through.
And every step along the way, you know what you're achieving.
Secondly, you know, I think it's really important to be hungry and to take opportunities early on.
So when you're talking about working with your team and advocating while being a team member, even if it's stuff that you might not be your favorite, I think especially from an engineering perspective is where I'm coming from.
Build that rapport with your team, take on some challenges, learn a lot of different things early on.
It might be a little scary and odd, but in building that rapport with your team and getting comfortable as a team member, it'll kind of help as you champion, be a champion for yourself.
They will also be a champion for you.
Thanks. Does anyone? Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, I totally, completely agree with what Sia is saying.
Also, I want to hone in on the documentation part.
This is not necessarily just for your performance reviews, but it's knowing where you are in your career.
So when you are advancing to that next level or that next role, you know what you've achieved.
You know exactly where you're going, what your next role would look like.
And even when you're building your CV, you know, have a section under achievements that says I implemented this, I implemented that.
So what I always say to people as well is that performance reviews, they're great, but you are measured against what the company is looking for.
That doesn't necessarily mean that that's not a personal achievement to you.
So always have that proof in your next role and have those conversations with your line managers to say, yes, I'm a team player.
I've done X, Y and Z. I've also achieved A, B and C while working with person D, E and F.
Right. So you're still having that balance of being a team player.
But I'm also advocating for myself and my contributions to that success.
Does anyone have anything else to add to that? I think it's a great topic.
OK, if not, in terms of also from my side, I think similar to what both have said is you have to say the things that you're doing a lot of the time.
It's not that it's not noticeable, the work that you're doing it is, but everybody is caught up in what they're doing and what they're focused on.
So sometimes you need to outline it and make it clear that these are your contributions.
This is what you're doing.
It's not showing off. It's saying what you're doing and how you are supporting the entire, supporting the team or doing what you're doing very well.
And and that allows people to take note because that's when they're listening and that's when they're seeing when you when you point it out.
So definitely wouldn't shy away from that.
Another question, which I promise we're not just planting these questions in here.
There's a lot of you're beautiful, but we will all take it. I hope you all do.
All of you ladies are beautiful and exude authenticity. Is there ever the need to code switch?
And I'm going to start with Sita, but anyone else feel free to also jump in.
OK, so that's a really good question. I mean, I think that, you know, for me personally at this point in my career, especially like not code switching for anybody.
And, you know, for anyone that's watching that is not familiar, code switching is more than just changing the way you talk when you're in a workspace, but also changing who you are.
And we talked about it a lot. Like you said, authenticity on this call.
I'm changing who you are when you're walking or when you're in a workspace.
And I don't think, you know, as far as your confidence and as you grow throughout your career, you know, can't dim your light for anybody.
You know, you have to show up as who you are, how you talk, how you walk, how you wear your hair, all of that at all times.
I mean, I said this is growth for me because I remember some years ago I used to have my hair very, very short, like, you know, cut all the way off.
And I had this interview and I'm like, oh, I need to go get a wig.
I don't even wear wigs. But, you know, I'm like, I have to get I'm like, let me go.
So my hair is straight. You know, it's just a perception, you know, that, you know, you have to be someone else or you should look a certain way in order to get into the door.
But that was a one and done. Trust and believe.
But I show up as myself. No code switching. Talk the way I talk. Walk the way I walk.
Wear what I want to wear. And that's the only way that you can be happy to me, because you can't turn it off and on at five o'clock when you walk out the door.
So you need to be able to, you know, like I think we talked about it on the call.
You need to be able to show up and be who you are, how you are and be accepted, because if you're not accepted for who you are, then you're not in the place you're supposed to be.
I got myself box now.
Anyone else want to add to that? Yeah, I mean, I totally, totally agree with you a hundred percent.
I'm not changing who I am for nobody. And I think for me, why it, why it can be a bit complex is obviously I deal in various markets.
I deal in the European market, I deal in the African market, I deal in the Middle East market.
And. It's a case where I wouldn't call it a coalition, but sometimes I have to how I have to implement who I am in those various spaces, but that doesn't change who I am, if you get what I mean.
So, for example, there might be some kind of technicalities or how I have to express certain things for certain regions to understand exactly what I mean.
But it doesn't I won't say I will change who I am because who I am still remains the same.
You know, you can give me cutlery and, you know, you can make me eat five star caviar and you can take me to a local booker and I'll eat pounded yam with my hands.
Right. So wherever, wherever I find myself, that's me.
I don't you know, I don't I don't believe that one should conform for anything.
You are still who you are. We are all professionals and that's why we're here.
But that doesn't mean that when we get home, we're not washing our hands and running up our feet and getting stuck in.
So I feel that, you know, at the same time, as we've all said on this call, is to stay authentic regardless of where you find yourself.
Thank you both. To our final question before we wrap it up. And I think this is one that's universal.
I'm sure a lot of people listening could really gain from this.
But how would someone starting out that is that doesn't have much experience stand out on their resume?
I will start with Sita and then happy for anyone to with Candace and happy for anyone to jump in.
Yeah, so I think this is a great question and definitely regardless if you're transitioning into whatever role after a couple of years or your entry level coming out of college, this is very much needed.
So one way I think that you can really stand out if you do not have a lot of experience is by highlighting, again, those transferable skills.
So let's say I'm an HR. I want to go to customer success.
I'm going to tailor my resume. I'm still going to keep the fact that I was in HR, but tailor it to more.
So what would somebody be looking for in customer success that I was able to do or I was able to show that, OK, well, even though I have this 25 year background in HR, she seems like she could pick it up pretty quickly based on what's on her resume.
So definitely when you are looking, tailor it to and don't lie, but tailor it to what you're actually wanting to do, as well as if you don't have experience currently, try to speak in your current role.
What can you do that will give you experience and what you want to go to, whether that's working on a different project or working with prospectional stakeholders to figure out, hey, I kind of want to get into this.
I want to know a little bit more.
Also, could we work on some type of project if that's applicable, but just starting to ask those questions.
So that way, while you are updating your resume, again, you don't have the background for it, but it shows that you've been putting in initiative to actually successfully transition into this career.
So I would definitely say those two things and just don't be afraid to ask people for help.
Don't be afraid to ask people who are in these roles if they have the opportunity to look over your resume and see kind of what can you fix, what can you work on, anything else that you should be highlighted.
You don't know what you don't know, but it doesn't mean that you don't or you can't ask people for help in a lot of these situations.
Perfect. I echo everything you said, Candice.
And what you don't know, you can learn. You can learn it outside of your current career, whether it's taking classes or, like we talked about YouTube, Google, there's so much information out there.
So while you may not have that experience, you yourself can gain that experience and just at least have that foundation so you can add that you have basic knowledge of X on your resume.
Like you said, you haven't actually had to use it yet, but you can explain that.
But just having that basic knowledge and be able to speak to that once you are in the interview phase is great.
And we're going to go back to networking.
Candice said it. Everyone said it. I've said it many times. Networking. We always hear that saying it's not who you know, it's not what you know, it's who you know.
I mean, that's really half the battle. It's like, you know, who do you know?
Who can you speak to? Who can help you? Who can direct you in terms of your next steps in your career?
Absolutely. And yeah, echoing the same thing. Yes, Jennifer.
Yes. I talk for Africa, by the way. Sorry, guys. So I will also say as well, if you can find some form of internship or volunteering, because all I believe that all experience is experience, whether you're paid or not, it's still experience.
So maybe again, just to kind of go back to what Cesar was saying as well, networking, find out if there's anyone you could do any internships with, whether it's part time on the weekend or any kind of spare time, just so that you can give yourself that exposure to the area you want to get into.
And also in your CV, I say this when I do quite a lot of webinars, elaborate on what you actually do and not kind of put one line that's like, did accounting processing.
What did you use?
Did you use any softwares? Were you sitting in a team? Try to elaborate a lot more on the experience you have.
So you kind of done the recruiters half of the job.
Right. And I'm thinking, OK, if they've done X, then they should be able to have done Y and then they've done Z.
But if you give them too little information to work with, then time is money.
You might not have time to assume that you know this or assume that you know that.
So on your CV, try and elaborate a lot more on not just what you do, but how you do it and what is the result of what you've done.
Anyone else have any last comments on that question? Yeah, from an engineering perspective, I think, you know, obviously everything everybody said, but one of the key things that was brought up is there are a lot of free resources out there to get that first kind of exposure to seeing what you actually like.
And on the engineering side, things like GitHub show how invested you are building projects, random projects, passion projects.
And to Jennifer's point, finding some kind of internship or some kind of just opportunity to set that groundwork foundation of I've done this before.
We're not looking for perfection.
Right. And so just having some of those projects available and clickable on the CV can go a long way at showing, OK, this person may not have, you know, X, Y, Z, but I can see that they've done this.
They've done this. This works really well.
I could see the code. It's really clean. They're awesome. Like, let's get them in.
So try those opportunities when you're coming across something that says, like, let's build a small app.
Do it. Try it. Learn from it and make sure to include that kind of information into your resume.
Thank you. And yes, exactly. I mean, I think everyone on this panel is testament to the fact that there is jumping around.
Not everybody had a clear storyline from day one, knew what they were going to do, and that CV was telling that same story with it.
There's jumps and companies are able to see through that and see the parts of your skills that are transferable.
You just have to make that clear.
Like the advice that everyone gave on this panel is make it clear how you have worked cross-functionally or how you have worked on your organizational skills or whatever it is that is relevant to the role that you're going for.
I've made many jumps with not a lot of experience in every field out of university and it works somehow.
So definitely, that's all great advice. And thank you so much to everyone on this panel.
Great insights. I know I learned a lot. I hope everyone that was listening learned a lot as well.
For the panel section that is over, you're going to see my face again, but I wanted to thank all of you ladies so much.
This is really like warming my heart, this whole thing.
Speaking to all of you, you're all incredible.
So accomplished. Fantastic. So thank you so much. And we're going to hand off to Candice for a spotlight session.
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everyone.
So just a quick disclaimer, my fire alarm is going off of my whatever it's called.
So if you hear in the background, I apologize. I know I'm going to be talking for quite a bit.
So you may or may not hear it. But I really just want to be able to talk about not only my journey into tech, but how I started, what challenges I faced, but also kind of go into a little bit more about diversity, equity, inclusion, and what it means to me and everything like that.
So like I said earlier, I started off at Amazon in Baltimore, Maryland, as a senior HR assistant.
And this experience was a culture shock in itself. Of course, pretty much being raised in Georgia all my life, moving to Baltimore, Maryland, and seeing a lot in those areas and just what people that look like me have to go through.
Definitely a culture shock.
So working at Amazon, I didn't start off in the tech. I wasn't at AWS.
I was actually at the Fulfillment Centers, DSA once to be exact. And we opened this site.
And I was the only black woman college graduate in our actual HR program.
And that in itself was extremely terrifying. However, I had some of the best managers that I've had in my career at that site.
And I can 100% attest to the fact that the only reason why I was successful in my role was being able to see leaders that looked like me, that were authentic to themselves, really help and guide and mentor me.
So just a quick shout out to Ali, Katie-Ann, and of course, rest in peace, Anisha.
I don't know where my career would have ended up, but just being able to work under them for a couple of months and have that sounding board, have a mentor.
To this day, I call Katie-Ann about so many things in my HR career. And even when it was my time to leave, the first person I called was Katie-Ann, just to make sure I could hear her voice and is this the right thing to do for me right now?
So again, even in the midst of being at Baltimore and being in a site where you deal with not the most culturally and that people for the demographic that we're working with, we were predominantly black, but our management was predominantly white.
So having that sort of opposition and having to guide managers, coach them on, well, you know, you can't say boy to a group of black boys because of X, Y, and Z.
It was something, things that are small, but the effect that they have on a lot of people, it's very impactful.
And again, this definitely set the pace for my career and where I thought that I wanted to go into and just how my career has set itself up thus far.
So after Baltimore, I transitioned to roles in Atlanta and Charlotte.
When I was in Charlotte, I worked as an HR business partner for about a year.
And I think this is probably the time that I felt the least heard in what I was doing.
Being, again, in a position of leadership, but I was the only black woman HR business partner.
I think I was 23 or 24 at the time. And we're talking to the site lead who has way more years of experience on me, but is also a white male.
And the whole leadership team, outside of one individual, was a white male.
So having a lot of people who, even though I knew what I was talking about and what was the right thing to do, a lot of times they would just pass me over and go to my co-worker who was a white woman just due to comfortability politics.
And I can tell you, 10 times out of 10, she would lean over and ask me, hey, Candace, what do we do in this scenario?
So just having to experience things like that to where I know what I'm talking about.
I know that I know what I'm talking about, but having people pass me over to somebody who looks like them, and then for them to come back and ask me, is it going to feel good?
And it really set the tone, again, for where I wanted to go, what company I wanted to go to next, what I wanted the role to look like, what I wanted my company to be very unapologetic about, and just making sure that I always feel comfortable in my own skin.
One story just from that time, and I think this will sum up everything that I probably had to go through.
We were celebrating Juneteenth for the first time, and the decision was not told to anybody on the team that looked like me, but they decided to order Moe's, which if you don't know what Moe's is, it's a Tex-Mex restaurant for Juneteenth.
And so having to deliver Moe's to people that look like me, who have been working on the floor for about 10 hours actually doing very hard work, and having to put a smile on my face, even though I knew this is culturally ignorant and not the best thing to do in this moment, and how can I, as somebody who is a very proud Black woman, do something like this to where it's almost erasing just the fact of the holiday or the fact of the reason why we're even celebrating.
So again, a lot of these things are very, it may seem insignificant, but it does impact people in such a large way.
And so like I said earlier, these experiences have really forced me to remain authentic to myself, wherever I was going to go, and I can say, and I think I have, that I've been pretty authentic within myself and my journey.
So of course, this is Black Women in Tech.
So transitioning into my tech field, again, you see the same demographics that I saw at Amazon, the same leadership demographics, the same just overall demographics to where, thankfully on my team, I'm not the only Black woman, and I think that's an amazing thing to have, but a lot of times when speaking with leaders, I am the only Black woman in those conversations.
And so one thing that I think is very important is that, yes, it may be daunting, it can be challenging, but we do owe it to ourselves, and we do owe it to the people that came before us, and those who are coming in after us to remain authentic in everything that we do.
Regardless if we feel like we can or we can't, we owe it to ourselves and everyone else that looks like us to show up and be ourselves in these different spaces.
And so one thing that I do, or one thing I want to do is challenge us to become sponges, and not be afraid to ask for help and to network.
And for those who came before us, be open to mentoring those who are coming in.
A lot of times, there may not be people that look like us, we could send 30 messages out to somebody, but if that's something that, you know, if I see another Black woman who's coming in and they have questions, I'm going to try to be as open and honest, and just make sure that they feel as though they at least have a mentor.
So I always want to encourage people to, whenever we are on these panels, whenever we're in these spaces, to remain authentic to ourselves, but also ensure that as people are coming in, they're asking questions and, hey, can I have advice, taking the time out of your day, just as we would want somebody else to have done for us when we weren't in these spaces.
Or I know for myself, I went to a panel like this before I started at Cloudflare, person on the panel was like, yeah, reach out to me on LinkedIn, reached out, never heard anything.
Again, people are busy, but if we do want to remain authentic, we should definitely, whatever we say that we're going to do, let's just show up and do that as well.
So that's just a quick overview of my journey and everything like that.
Of course, this year for Black History Month UK, if you did not know it's Black History Month in the UK, the theme is action, not words.
So D&I needs to be something that every single employee at your company has a stake in, and there's reasons why.
It's better strategy, better risk management, better debates, better outcomes, perspectives, innovations, everything under the sun.
Inclusivity is not just we're allowed to be here, but we are valued, and we also have a seat at the table.
We're valued, heard, and what we're asking and saying are also actionable things as well.
And when we listen and celebrate with what's both common and different, we become wiser, we're understanding other perspectives, perceptions, everything under the sun, and more inclusive and a better team of people.
And so one thing I do want to stress is that we all have the ability to promote a culture of acceptance and inclusivity.
That's every single person, no matter what you look like, you have the ability to promote that, to be an ally, to be an advocate in whatever way, faction, form that looks like for you.
That could be supporting, that could be mentoring, sponsoring Black women to become leaders and entrepreneurs.
It could be lending your voice, becoming, again, a mentor to somebody who, if you're a senior software engineer in your role and there's somebody else coming up, just being open to having those conversations as well.
And Black women, as Black women, we have broken so many norms in the last couple of years, probably the last 20, 30 years, just to be able to succeed in our desired fields.
We have done it all from just understanding that there's so many racial injustices, inequalities, prejudice, biases that a lot of people don't even know that they have, to facing just discrimination in the workplace.
We have fought for so long, and we continue to fight to be heard, to be seen, and to be respected.
And of course, now more than ever, we're stronger than where we've ever been.
We have to keep this momentum. We have to be focused, goal-driven, and just make sure that we have been ready for that seat at the table.
There's so many people that, again, have come before us, and they've paved the way for us, and now it's time for us to continue to pave the way for those who are coming in right behind us.
So I will leave you all with a quick quote by Janice Bryan Howard, who's the CEO at Actoin Group, and I feel like this sums up everything that we've probably said on this panel, is to never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.
The most expensive real estate you'll ever own resides between your two ears, so be selfish about what you allow to happen on that property.
So thank you guys so much for just allowing me to come in and do my spill, and I'm going to hand it off to Kyra for just the wrap-up.
Thank you so much, Candice. That was a great final spotlight.
I'm just going to wrap up this session. It's been so great to have you. We appreciate, if you're still on, we appreciate you so much for staying and listening to us.
We hope you learned something from it and that it was helpful to you, were available to you.
If you have any further questions, you can find most of us probably on LinkedIn, but I also want to thank Jesse, Candice, Aisha, Jennifer, Sita, Sia, Kimberly, everyone who spoke on this panel, as well as the recruitment team that put this together.
And specifically want to thank Trudy, who you all heard from earlier today as well, who worked tirelessly on this, on this event, told us all about the vision, brought us all together, organized so much with so many moving pieces.
So really huge, huge shout out to her. She's on our recruitment team in EMEA, as you now know.
She's done a fantastic job and we appreciate her, but we appreciate all of you.
Yeah, I just want to finish it off with hope this was useful to you and wishing you all the best on your career journey and beyond.
And bye for now. Transcribed by https://otter.ai