DEI with Andrea & Andrew
Behind the DEI curtain
You've likely heard about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, but would you like to hear what it's like to work in this field? Join us to learn more about the work it takes to launch DEI initiatives, how to foster an inclusive culture through communities, and how to take strategic risks while guiding a company towards inclusivity.
Okay, hello everybody and welcome to Cloudflare TV. We are excited to present this segment to you today.
I'm Andrew Fitch. I work here at Cloudflare and we're going to get kicked off in just a second to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Why don't you get us kicked off? Yeah, so hi everyone. My name is Andrea Weaver.
My pronouns are she, her, hers. I am co-founder at Mosaically and I'm also our DEI specialist and I really focus on our our clients DEI groups and that includes affinity groups, ERG groups.
They have all kinds of creative names for it now.
It's business where they call it employee business groups, all kinds of great things, but those groups within your organizations that are focusing on DEI in some way or another, that's my specialty.
I also help organizations kind of get in line and make some radical changes when we're talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion because it's all of the things.
Indeed. Thank you. And I'm Andrew Fitch. I work at Cloudflare as I told you folks already.
My title is Learning Partner, Community, and Inclusion, but similar to Andrea, I work also in diversity, equity, inclusion, a lot of work with employee resource groups, event production, learning opportunities, for example, unconscious bias education workshops, and how we work together workshops we call them, which is all about allyship to people who are unlike yourself, as well as a whole slew of different diversity, equity, and inclusion-related projects or programs.
For example, like having, empowering managers at our company to go and set diversity and inclusion goals for themselves and for their teams to hopefully drive change in the organization, not just hopefully, to drive change in the organization.
So that's what I do.
Andrea, do you want to talk about how you got started in DEI work? Yeah, I mean it just kind of happened.
So I'm a, I'm a product of activists in my home. So to me, you know, being an advocate has just been second nature.
You know, when I was growing up, bullies, I would bully bullies for my little brother.
And so it's just standing up for the right things.
And, and so being in this work, I just have a really colorful background.
I was in sales for a really long time. All the way until I think I, my last job, I was a territory manager for Samsung STA.
And even in those spaces, especially sales, it's very white male heavy, and you kind of have to learn how to play the game to make your money.
And so switching over into tech and kind of the office framework, it's still relatively close, but I think there is a, there's a veil.
It's almost like, yeah, we're different. We're not corporate.
And then at the bottom line, it's kind of like, um, but it is though.
Yeah. And so, um, I've been doing this since it was just HR and like, um, what do they used to call it?
Might've been engagement. It might've been retention.
Retention is what it was before. It was like an eight. It was a within HR retention.
And so this was also around the time where Google was just like, Hey, uh, we take naps at work and we have lunch and it kind of set the standard, uh, for employee experience.
And even then, um, it's just gone. It's just developed over time.
So it was retention, employee engagement. Then we branched off and now we're people teams.
And then it was, um, um, um, you know, how, how do we engage our employees and like build more team morale?
Like that was a huge thing. And then we finally landed on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And it's, and I say that really quickly, but it's taken about 10 years for us to even say it, because I think prior it was, we didn't want to say what the issue was.
We just want to kind of fix it and like, just kind of lay over it.
Um, as you can probably already tell, I don't have time for laying over, like, let's just say it, let's get it out and let's do something about it.
Um, and I just had a maze. I had really, really great teams that I've worked for.
I was in EA for a really long time. So supporting folks in that people function really lended me, uh, a certain kind of scope.
And then when you're supporting executives, the veil is also lifted.
So you don't have the opportunity to just kind of drink the Kool-Aid like you kind of know, and we should never say that again.
I forgot. We should, uh, we shouldn't be reading the manual and like just eating it.
Right. And, and, and I feel like that's really where that shift came.
And then my biggest shift was really founding and expanding and scaling employee resource groups and how important they were and really realizing the disadvantages of employee resource groups, because within these organizations, the organizations are relying on affinity groups, employee resource groups to lead a brand and uphold their culture when it should be the other way around.
These companies, these corporations should be supporting with budget with accountability with actionable items, things that you can actually say, okay, these are the things that we've done and how does it affect our bottom line?
But no one was giving us those resources. And I had to learn a hard way.
Um, and so now here I am in these different spaces. My last job, I was DEI manager here at Mosaically.
I'm co-founder and really focusing on DEI. And, um, it's just a combination of all of the things I've had a really great, go check my LinkedIn.
I've had a really interesting, colorful, uh, career, and I think they've all been kind of in same, in the same trajectory as this, cause everything for me is people.
I'm obsessed with the human experience. And it's just everything that I've done from high school all the way to now has always been either people facing, customer facing, and just develop, developing the human experience.
So yeah, that's, thank you so much for sharing all that.
Yeah. Like folks, we had, um, we had a prep conversation leading up to this, but we didn't get this in depth.
Thank you so much for sharing all that.
That's really great to hear your background and how, how to the field has evolved.
You know, I've also noticed that like when I first got started in this work, it was just the diversity council.
We weren't really even talking about inclusion, certainly not talking about equity, certainly not talking about even really race or anything like in particular, it was just like diversity.
It was just this, this thing that people kind of wanted to celebrate and talk about.
Cause it was kind of like a hot, a hot topic at the time or something, but I don't think people really got it.
Um, I mean, I know they didn't get it at the time and of course they still don't, but they're getting it more.
At least that's my impression. Um, I, I started working, um, I, I, this is actually my first role that has been on a people team, which is why it was particularly interesting for me to hear your path there and how it's evolved on people teams.
Cause I started in also people facing like operations in general. My first job out of grad school was running a screen acting school in Boston.
And, um, I'm in Massachusetts right now, by the way, just like kind of for the hell of it.
Um, this, this is, this is home for me, but yeah, love that. Anyway, um, ended up doing that for a while and was just super passionate about building community and like fostering that community and watching people succeed and push themselves and learn and grow and struggle and like all, you know, come together around a common purpose.
And that worked for, for acting actually, like, you know, small Boston acting community.
Um, but when I moved to San Francisco soon after that, which is in 2012, I started working for an education company, a different education company, and then started working for coding schools, which missions were about like leveling the playing field is what we were talking about.
And like, but you know, building a pipeline that didn't formally exist in the tech space, because a lot of companies were hiring really only from these like top tier universities, hiring from their engineering department.
And those people were oftentimes not ready for the roles that they were being hired for either, and they weren't getting the practical experience.
So that's how I kind of naturally fell into it is by working on like diverse recruiting for these coding schools and building community around that and building the culture of these places, employee experience, kind of like what you were saying, we didn't call it that, but that's largely what I was doing.
But from a marketing perspective, and like recruiting more candidates to come into the space, but I got to meet a whole bunch of different people, I got to form like a diversity council, as I told you, we were calling it at the time, and started the whole, basically like the ERG mechanisms at these two companies, these two coding schools I work for, you know, being lunch and discussion sessions, starting off and then like celebrating pride or celebrating Black History Month and leading discussions and panel discussions and like tech talks and stuff, featuring prominent Black leaders, and that's kind of how I got into it.
And then coming into Cloudflare, I was hired as a developer evangelist, which is on the marketing side, like marketing to software engineers, same thing to like community events, blah, blah, blah.
But something I noticed right away at Cloudflare is that we didn't have any employee resource groups, and there was really no talk of them.
So when I first came in, I was like, I think there's an opportunity here.
So my first day, I quickly searched in chat, like, I searched for ERGs, and I just wasn't really finding anything with the exception of one group, but they hadn't done anything for about eight months or something.
So we had a meeting the next week, and just decided that we were going to continue.
And from there, it's now been what, three and a half years, I guess, and now I've been in this role full time for the last year.
Sorry, I talked so long, by the way, I was super inspired by what you said, and I wanted to double down on that.
We're just a little bit over time on just on this first section.
So shall we move on to the next, Andrea?
Yeah. So the next one was about risk taking. And, you know, I think we've both kind of talked about our experience already, and like diving into D &I, and pushing things and moving things forward.
But how have you taken risks in your role?
And yeah, what is that like? I always take risk. I feel like you can't really be in this, it's because it's such uncharted territory, in the sense of, I think people are aware.
I don't think people understand what you have to do to push for change.
And this is the thing that I, this is the example I tell folks all the time, right?
Think of a piece of binder paper, right? Maybe I'm dating myself.
I don't know. But everyone knows what binder paper looks like. It's lined across, and then you have, you know, your main space, and then there's your margins.
And when people are developing, especially in the tech industry, when they're developing these companies, they're in the margins, right?
And then, say anywhere from two to 10 years later, now people are being forced to acknowledge that there is a disparity in their hiring, their retention rates, like their leveling of staff, right?
And so now it's like, oh, we really got to look at D&I, but it's always in the margins.
And the work that we do is meant for us to push the line.
And that's how I see it. Hopefully one day we'll get to the point where those margins, things in the margins are no longer there.
And so they're just a part of the conversation. We're just constantly cognitively thinking about it.
And the truth of the matter is it doesn't, because most of these tech companies are founded, board member supported by white males or white women, and that's not diversity.
I'm not saying that women don't make up the diverse universe, but let's just be honest, that's not diversity.
If everyone comes from the same, I don't, if everyone came from the same college, it's not diversity then, right?
If it's me and my whole family, is that diversity? Not really, right?
And so, but when we look at these tech companies and those are the folks, then we can only expect that there are some disparity there because whether it's racism or any of the other isms, one thing's for sure and two things are for certain, you're always going to get people that are closest to proximity of yourself.
So we have to be thinking constantly outside of that bubble.
And I think when I step into these spaces, I'm about radical change.
I shoot from the hip. I don't have any problem.
I don't even like certain questions that people ask when you get hired is one of the ones that's my favorite is like, tell us a little bit about yourself, Andrea.
And I just go, well, I'm black as hell and I'm always going to be.
And, but I'm also here to do a job and that's it. Because what are you going to tell me about my black ass experience?
You can't, right? And we are not in a monolith.
And so for me, I take a risk immediately when I interview, I take a risk immediately because I want you to know exactly what you're getting when you get me.
And then those risks aren't so egregious. It really is. I'm more of like, where's the money coming from?
Who's responsible? And how can I really make this live?
It's not half baked. I'm not thinking about it. Like, I just want to do this thing.
I'm also really cognizant of sometimes we got to put certain, especially if you're trying to develop DEI within your company, you're going to have to prioritize.
You can't do everything, but you start with something, whether it's like, well, we don't have any women in our leadership.
So let's write up, talk about, let's, let's look at the research on why it's important to have women and where our money resides in that space.
Right. But it's always backed up by something, whether it's company values, whether it's our mission, our vision, it's always backed up by something and funneled through whatever we, whatever infrastructure we already have, or I'm even challenging that infrastructure, which is another thing we have values and missions and visions, but we're not living them.
So what do they even matter? Right. So risk for me is a part of the job. And I think sometimes folks feel like we want all this stuff to happen and we should care.
Yes, we should. But you also have to understand that we're dealing with an entire organization that was already built before we got here.
And now we're having to infiltrate.
We also have to play a game because the, the, the, the, the table's already set.
So now we got to come through and knock some stuff over to get it done. And there's a lot of risk there.
Oh yeah. It's also super uncomfortable for all parties involved.
Exactly. Not me. I love, I love a good confrontation, but, but, um, I'm always, I'm afraid of pushback sometimes.
Um, what people say can be really disheartening.
Some of the stuff that we hear. I mean, I used to have someone pass me trash as they walk past their, as I walk past their desk, this is a CEO.
And I tried to tell my HR or whatever, and then I had to grandstand him in front of everyone.
Like, did you not know where the trash is? Right. And so I, I liken that to this experience with DEI because sometimes people are just terrible people.
Right. Um, and then they have to be checked in some way. And I'm just not here for the, the, um, like, I don't need to kiss anybody's ass to do my job.
And if it's a no, if it's a no, but you need to give me a real no.
Um, and, and even grandstanding that person was really about myself, but also about the folks in the office that were constantly terrorized by this person.
Um, and so me standing up and saying something, I wasn't let go because of that.
I was very respectful, but I was also like, this is a line and that's it.
Um, or even like really calling people to the carpet.
Okay. You say you care about this. Well, show me where you care. Right. And those are hard conversations to have with leadership, especially when they think that they're doing a great job in this area and they're, and they're not.
No, thank you for sharing all those experiences. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I agree with you by the way, that it is like a lot about risk-taking if not all about risk-taking.
Um, yeah, a lot of what you said there just really resonated with me too.
I mean, it just, in my experience, like all along every step of the process, there have been like tears involved somewhere by somebody because they are pushing themselves and they're taking, you know, emotional risks and diving into this work and they're tapping into previous trauma too.
So it's a really tricky business to be in.
Um, and not just for ERG leaders, but like all parties involved, um, any kind of initiative that we're doing.
What, do you remember your first kind of, um, the first time that you stepped into like murky waters with your risk-taking?
Um, if you don't, by the way, I have an example too.
It's, it's light though. Fortunately.
Um, you go first. I got to think about, I'm always, I'm like, I said, I'm always risky.
I love, like, I like to push an envelope in a good way, not in a bad way, but you go first.
Oh, yeah. No, I agreed in a good way. I, what you've said too, like about being strategic and figuring out who the stakeholders are, like, where's the money come coming from and everything and, and generating a campaign around that.
Like, what do I need to do to get what I want to happen done? Um, and then figuring out who, who to involve and who to like plant little seeds in over time and like make a little mention of something like, what about this?
And then six months down the road, whatever. But my, my first risk was coming into, into Cloudflare.
My first real risk that is like, at least in D and I at a company of this size was coming into Cloudflare and not, not having there being any ERGs and just getting one started without, um, without asking anybody or checking for permission or anything.
And also like, we, we just, we did it. And then, you know, booked rooms and everything booked actually the boardroom at our company.
Um, cause like anybody could book any meeting room. And so we did that and somebody, um, somebody declined the invitation.
Like there's a, no, you can't use this for, for personal events.
And I was like, oh God, like that was my first kind of sting there.
Like, ah, damn it. This is going to be more difficult than I thought it would be.
And so, you know, I had to explain like, this is a company event.
This is an employee resource group. Here's what an ERG is. This is why we need this room, blah, blah, blah.
It ended up working out, but that was just my first kind of like misstep and not really realizing, um, that I was stepping into murky waters.
I'm sorry. I think it's finding the bite. Um, I'm a really good connector of people.
And so I placed myself, myself, wow. Placed myself in environments, um, where I can chat with folks and people can see me and they just get to know me.
Uh, so for me, it's never really murky more than it is like being really intentional and it's not fake at all.
Um, it's really like, these are the things I'm doing.
What do you think? Let's have a meeting. Hey, you do that. Great. Let's have a meeting.
The most, the, the most underrated folks ever are EAs and admins.
They run everything. They are not secretaries. They are not receptionists. Those folks run those departments and your company.
Let's be really clear. And they know everyone.
They know everybody and they know exactly what needs to happen. They're the people that can pull the ear of someone that you need to.
And if you're doing the right things and you're being strategic and respecting them and their time, those are the folks that will get you in the door with the folks that can make decisions and sign checks.
Um, and they'll help you sometimes, right. Be respectful of their time, but to let you know, like, if you want to do this, this is what needs to happen.
Right. Um, and just finding mentors in that space. Sometimes folks don't even, you don't need to go up to folks and say, Hey, be my mentor.
No, you just need to be hip next to them. Hey, this is the thing. What do you need help with?
Whatever. And also offering them you and your, and your services, whatever you can do to help them as well, if you can, or even connecting them to other folks, or, I mean, the branch just keeps growing.
And I think that's one of the things that I don't hear a lot about in these DEI spaces is really connecting with folks in these different departments and stating your case and really standing your ground.
And there's risk there too. It's equally as important. So you can't not have it.
You have to have this connective tissue, no matter what. And that looks different for me than someone else, but please understand that you cannot do this work by yourself.
That includes other people that look like you sound like you came from your background or the allies that want to support you.
You have to be in the space to understand that if we continue to be in our own silos, if I'm a black woman and I have a gay friend and we're all in our silos, what good are we?
And, but when we come together and pool all these resources and connections and relationship, now we got something going.
Absolutely. And if you don't mind, let's let this take us into our next section, which is all about ERGs, by the way.
So you were just mentioning the connection point. How do you connect ERGs and how do you get them to work together?
The first thing I always ask ERGs when I'm helping them like build out their charters or helping them figure out how they get money or whatever the task is, it's what do you want to be?
Do you want to be impactful in your community? Do you want to have more a seat at the table when we talk about recruiting or retention or professional development?
Do we want this to be a part of our public brand? Are we just an affinity group?
And that's also okay. We don't always have to do all the things folks, right?
And whatever we decide, then we need to decide which is more important, prioritizing, even I'm saying dishing out, but like delegating different things.
So one person isn't always holding the bag because as we all know, ERGs, generally you're not being paid to do that work.
You still have an actual job.
And so one of the things I always ask folks is like, how much time and dedication do you really have and how much recognition or what's going to pay you in this space?
So pay might be all ERG leaders when it's time to for review that is included in their review, right?
It might mean, Hey, you've done so great. If you do this and you know, folks, however you manage it, Oh, you get whatever increase in pay, or this is this other thing.
And you have an opportunity to now become a paid employee to manage ERGs.
Like there has to be something that folks are getting back because to the truth of the matter is when we don't, when we're not thinking about ERGs in that way, companies are taking advantage and doing the same stuff, putting on the backs of disenfranchised folks to lead and define our diversity, equity, inclusion for free.
Their work is work. This is human's business and it is not easy.
It's not. So that's one of the things that I'm always asking is like, what do you want to be?
Who do you want to be? Who's supporting you?
How can we hold folks accountable? Let's get to work. Cause it's not easy. Agreed.
I'm a big believer too, that, that these leaders can like do whatever they want to do.
Like when a new leader is starting, I actually have a call tomorrow with a new chapter leader of our Afro flare group.
Yeah. Tomorrow, I guess we're meeting talking about what it would look like to run the group in London or to participate in doing that.
And my usual kind of spiel is like, they're really like, there are, there are maybe some make -believe boundaries, but there's really no real boundary of what you can do here.
So it's all about like what you want to prioritize and what you want to work on and what your passions are too.
But like, generally speaking, I try to provide some guidance of like, here's roughly what has been done so far.
And here's like roughly how to set up an event the best way. Here's roughly how to publish a blog post the best way, do all these different things the best way.
Here's how to, here's how to leverage our company's executive leadership in a certain way.
Cause I think that's one of the best keys to success too, is like getting the leadership involved and building a culture of ERG leaders.
Yeah. Is that like, if I can, if I can get us to a point where our ERG leaders are seen as the true leaders that they are, like the excellent leaders that they are and rewarded for that, I think that will have been a huge win.
Yeah. And it's different for everyone.
And that's also, okay. I think one of the things that happens too, especially when you don't have some intercessor between ERGs and say like leadership or decision makers, a lot of times there is a disconnect in communication.
And that's one of the other things that I talk about all the time. Like what is your comp?
Like I say comms mocha because it's like manager, owner, consultant.
I forget what H is and there's, but it's just like, how are we communicating?
What standard of communication are we using? Is it Slack? Is it, you know, I mean, it sounds really basic, but it's so important.
And then there's this other piece where we see folks that may not identify as say, especially when we're talking about like anti-black racism and like all of that stuff.
And we're asking folks to support. And one of the topics here right now in the Bay area is there's quite a few attacks on folks in the Asian community, specifically elderly.
And so what are we doing? What are we saying? How are we supporting?
Right. And sometimes our words are, are do harm. So it's okay to be quiet and just, it's not for you to talk right now.
Right. Even if, you know, say if I was a white woman and I just had an opinion, you know what I'm going to do?
I'm going to be quiet because it's time for me to listen.
And let's figure out as a black woman in that space, you know what I'm doing?
Being quiet. So I can know what I need to do and how I can hold other people accountable because this is not my experience.
And even if you're, if you're saying, Hey, black folks, this is your problem or Hey, white folks, this is your problem.
Guess what? Shut up. Like it's, it's not, it's not me.
No, no, no. But this is their experience. So we have to accept that and respect it.
And if you're not in the space to do that, then you need to move.
Period. And so that's how I feel in these spaces as well. When we have those intercessors that may not necessarily directly connect with that group of people, you have to take a step back.
And one of the biggest challenges for me, not for me, but one of the things that we were dealing with, especially last summer was recognizing trans women's lives and how specifically black trans women and why we need to be listening.
And when black trans women's women tell a cis black woman, Hey, you are part of the problem.
I'm a shut up because I got to listen. Now I got to learn something else because this is not my experience.
And if I don't, I'm going to do harm.
And I think that's like the arc of doing this DEI work is harm. Are we doing harm?
How can we limit harm? Cause this harm is already done, but how can we start really doing the work and building us in this way?
And you can pick any group of people and it's the same.
Even just, even my personality, I've been told so many times, Andrea, you're just so aggressive.
No, I'm not. I'm just really clear about what I'm saying.
Right. That's a you problem. That's not a me problem next.
Right. And it's like, why would you say that? Because I like, I'm not, I'm not rude.
I'm not aggressive. I don't want to fight you. It's just, there's cultural differences and we can all just take a, take a moment and realize that, um, it's not about you all the time.
Right. I'm really glad that you brought up the subject of allyship by the way, like our ERGs, I don't know about yours, but ours are majority even allies, you know, people who don't necessarily identify as members of that community in the chat room, at least like participation.
It's, it's quite the opposite, but you know, there are a bunch of people who are willing to listen and everything.
And so far, I think like, I think we've done a fairly good job of it.
We have some different events that are really just for the members of that community, but most things are open.
Do you folks have any kind of separated, um, programming like that?
So, um, so I'm, so my company, it's just probably like eight of us.
So we're more of the folks that help people move into those directions. But in my experience, yes, I think it's equally important to have, I don't use safe space, the word safe, that phrase I use brave space because to me at work, there is no real safe space because you can say something and someone can still report it no matter if your manager's there.
And somebody can always read the chat, right?
Um, I do believe in brave spaces. And so it is, it just sets a tone for when I come here, this is I'm, I'm going to be uncomfortable a little bit or somebody is, but we're going to leave here because we're looking to change something.
We're solutions based versus a safe space kind of allows for complacency.
Uh, and so even in those spaces, it is really important to just wait, I was going somewhere with that.
Wasn't that, would you ask me? Oh, with ERGs, how does that work?
It's just okay to just be explicit in those spaces and say that. Yep. Agreed. We have 36 seconds left by the way.
Any, any last note or, and maybe one thing you're going to do this week to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Um, this is human's business.
It's always going to be changing. It's going to be hard work. It is a labor of love.
And we always have to make sure that that is the space we're coming from and be looking at the full argument, not just your own view, but the argument in its entirety.
So you can be actually informed and be careful about your words.
Words mean things. Agreed. Thank you, Andrea. Of course.