Cloudflare TV

Moving the Needle

Presented by Hady Mendez, Angelica Erazo
Originally aired on 

Moving the Needle on DEI is a Cloudflare TV show that features personal journeys and stories of individuals who advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and encourage others to do the same.


Transcript (Beta)

Good afternoon from New York City and welcome to Moving the Needle on DEI, a Cloudflare TV show that features personal journeys and stories of individuals who advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and encourage others to do the same.

My name is Hady Mendez and I am a customer success manager out of Cloudflare's New York City office.

I am also the global lead for Latinflare, which is Cloudflare's employee resource group for Latinx employees.

Joining me today is Angelica Erazo, senior diversity and inclusion consultant at Oracle.

Welcome Angelica.

I want to read your bio, but first I want to say hi. Thanks for having me.

Yeah, so everyone meet Angelica. She is the senior diversity and inclusion consultant for Oracle Corporation, where she assists the company in external strategic partnerships, manages Oracle's employee resource groups, and manages the communication strategy for the department, which is awesome.

She also is the current vice chair for the Hispanic Latino Quality of Life Commission for the city of Austin.

Nice, even though I'm not from Austin, that's nice.

That sounds awesome. And the new philanthropist, a national non-profit focused on adding people of color to non -profit and corporate boards.

Oh, we need to talk about that later because I'm on a mission myself to get on a board.

Angelica also sits on the board of Austin Earth Day and cybersecurity non-profit Austin Board.

You're going to find audience that Angelica is a very interesting and multi -layered individual.

So if it's starting to sound like she's got her hands in a lot of pots, it's true.

Outside of her role at Oracle, she is an ethical hacker, which I find very interesting, focused on penetration testing and digital forensics.

There's more to the bio, but I'm going to stop there.

And again, welcome you, Angelica. How are you today? Doing well. I'm excited to have this conversation.

Okay, good. So then let's dive in. I'm going to start off with my first question.

And we're going to start off talking about, since this is a show about diversity, equity, and inclusion, we're going to start off talking about the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Why is DEI important to a business's bottom line? And what are some strategies to sell diversity, equity, and inclusion to executives and companies whose main priority is the bottom line?

Definitely. Well, first I want to say just once again, thank you for the invitation to speak around diversity and inclusion.

It's incredibly important work.

Corporations are really focusing in more on diversity and inclusion because they're starting to figure out that customers are making their purchasing decisions based off a company's social impact.

So what does that mean?

You have a lot of individuals, there's a lot of movements, right?

That says, let's put our pocket in companies that really care about diversity and inclusion.

And it's not just about giving money to an organization, a hundred million, they're doing a great job, but it's about how they're treating their people.

Do you have diversity on your corporate company board? Who's the CEO? Does the CEO say that they care about diversity?

The executives, is there talent development for their employees?

These are the questions that customers are asking. And when you think about customers, let's say you only serve the United States, the US is a melting pot.

You have people of all sorts of backgrounds. So you have to think about how am I going to sell into a diverse marketplace?

And in order to do that, you have to have a diverse workforce, right?

To meet the demands of your customers.

I can tell you, I'm one of those folks that I travel all the time. And one of the negative experiences that I have is when I'm trying to wash my hands in those hand washing sinks, and the sink doesn't work for me.

Because what happens is when they develop the technology, they didn't test it on people of color.

So here I am, I realized this because I was washing my hands one day, and I was looking at the lady next to me, and she puts her hands under the sink, and this is my third time trying.

I'm like, what's going on? Maybe my sink's broken. So I moved to the next one.

And this other person comes that's lighter skin color, and they're washing their hands just fine in the sink that wasn't working for me.

So those are the type of things that we see.

It's about providing our customers a good experience, right?

But also the technology that we're developing has to be inclusive. And also any product that you're creating has to be inclusive so people can have a good experience and purchase your product.

When we talk about software algorithms, I'm in tech, right?

Our AI intelligence can be very biased. I've had experiences where Facebook incorrectly tags me in a photo that's not me, right?

And that tells you that the algorithm is biased.

You also see this with self-driving cars where people of color are three times more likely to be ran over by a self-driving car.

So these are problems that we have to talk about and fix, right? It's not just about providing a good experience, but making sure that people are not getting ran over by self-driving cars, are having a good experience, and are making their purchasing decisions based off what you do.

So that's how you should think about why it's important to care about diversity.

Amen. When you said to think about the sink, you reminded me of a scenario.

I was with my mother in the airport and her telling me, you know, like, I remember her telling me that.

And I'm like, no, mom, you got to put your hand underneath and like trying to explain to her how it works.

So yeah, my mother did not know how to use the sink for sure.

Thank you, Angelica, for getting us started and for providing some really good insights so far.

Tell me, talk to me a little bit about trust.

So there's like the notion of like customers trusting that companies are acting and behaving in ethical manners and investing in their people and like, you know, doing the right thing, if you will.

Tell me a little bit about that kind of trust and tell me about trust as it relates to companies and their employees, especially their underrepresented employees.

Yeah. So when we talk about trust for me, you know, anytime I've interviewed for any company, I check to see what their leadership looks like, because that lets me know if they really care about upward mobility, right?

If they care about recruiting. In order for your employee to feel like they should put their all into the workplace, they have to feel like they can voice their opinion and they have to feel like they can move up in the company, right?

We put in 40 hours a week, right? Most jobs say 40, you're really putting in 50, right?

You're eating lunch at your desk. Employees are doing more than 40 hours.

They're putting in a lot of emotional labor.

You have people of color and people from marginalized communities that are part of your G groups, which can take five to 10 hours at times, and they still have to keep up with their work, right?

So when we talk about this membership base, how do you develop trust with your employees is it's not just about listening to them.

You know, I see a lot of companies sometimes say, let's just have a listening session.

That's the first thing, but what are you going to do with that information that their employees tell you?

I'm having issues where, you know, I can't see myself getting promoted in the company.

Okay, well, let's talk about that. Is there something that we need to do systematically to improve your experience?

I remember, you know, I've had friends who've told me, for some reason, I just can't get promoted.

I'm the most qualified person on the team. It happens all the time.

And you can look at it because of how companies are created, as well as nonprofit organizations, right?

When a company is created, people reach out to their friends group, right?

To get business partners, investors. They'll call people that they trust, people that have expertise, right?

And most of the time, it's the people that you surround yourself with.

So, if this is not a group of people that's diverse, that's going to really create the culture where you're not going to have diversity there.

So, you have to be very intentional around recruiting and not recruiting people that you think you like or people that really think like you.

And that's what we talk about building trust is listening to your employees, but also hearing their concerns and doing something about it, right?

So, performance evaluations.

When you're evaluating your employees, you know, are you checking the keywords?

Are they calling women aggressive, assertive, right? These can be negative key terms that sometimes are placed by people because they have biases.

So, you create trust by putting systems in place to make sure that people aren't being displaced, people aren't being called problematic, making sure that people feel like they can move up in the company and share their concerns, but also by providing them mentorship.

And, you know, eventually we could talk about mentorship, but really making sure that people feel cared for and say, this is a place that I would recommend to somebody.

And I mean, wholeheartedly, I would recommend this job for another person because I'm having a great experience.

That's that type of trust is by investing your time, especially when it important for executives to show up to those meetings and listen to the concerns, right?

First, be invited to the space or ask to be invited, right? Show up to the space and listen and say, wow, you know, this is the concerns that they're feeling.

Let me write that down and actually do something about it.

Let me talk to my colleagues about these issues.

What can we do to prevent people from having a negative experience or what can I do to continue supporting this group, right?

Whether it's going through a volunteer event with the ERG groups and really getting to know people because that's how you build trust is by conversing with people and then pulling them up as you're moving up the ladder.

Yeah. I love this notion of trust.

I think employees also need to feel trusted. So I have, I have a little thing here that I found.

I'm going to read it to you. I found it on a, on an Instagram account that's called Mujeres on the Rise.

So it's for Latinx women. And it says employees stay where they are paid well, mentored, challenged, recognized, empowered, involved, valued, and trusted.

I think that like, I love that. I saw that and I'm like, oh my God, like I gotta like, you know, gotta remember this because this is, it's true.

Like all of that is true. And I want to dig a little bit deeper into, you mentioned mentorship.

There's kind of a, something that's, that's even kind of a little bit or greater than more further or further deeper into a mentorship, something that people refer to as sponsorship.

And I wanted to kind of talk about that a little bit now.

Tell me, tell me a little bit about what your understanding of sponsorship is, and then why is it important for employees from diverse backgrounds?

I think it's related to mentorship, but it's a little bit more than that.

Could you, could you talk about it for a little bit?

Yeah. When I think about sponsorship, I think about that quote you just said, right?

Making an employee feel like they're trusted. Are you trusting your employee with a big project, a project that could lead them to a promotion, a project where it's risky, you know, to maybe have somebody with limited experience or somebody that's trying to grow into that position, really giving somebody to say, I trust you with this project and I'm here, I have your back in case you have any questions.

You know, when we talk about mentorship, it's somebody who talks to you.

Sponsorship is somebody who talks about you when decisions are being made, who's getting invited to the party, right?

I think of diversity and inclusion, like this quote that says diversity is being invited to the party.

Inclusion is being able to dance at the party. Equity is being able to recommend the songs that are being played at the party, right?

And that's how we've got to think about sponsorship, is equity, making sure that folks are being invited to the table, but also when promotion opportunities are being considered, who's talking about you?

Who can say, I vouch for this person, right? Because you're in that position where as a mentor, right, as a sponsor, you're in that position where you have the ear and the trust of your colleagues because you've been working with them or, you know, you're executive, you have experience.

People trust your judgment, right? So they trust your judgment to say, I vouch for this person.

I think this person would be great for that opportunity.

You know, a lot of things that I see sometimes about sponsorship is, especially when it comes to women, women are assigned a lot of administrative tasks at time compared to their men, male colleagues, right?

So let's say manager has a bunch of assignments and he's handing them out and he'll give it to a woman who, this is what science is saying right now, a lot of research, who knows that the job will get done, but these administrative tasks are not leading to promotions.

That's not sponsorship. That's not mentorship. That's what sometimes people phrase as exposure.

Well, you know what? Exposure doesn't lead to generational wealth.

Exposure does not lead to promotions at times. Let's do more than that.

Let's get people the opportunity to be promoted, right? And you do that through sponsorship, by making sure that you're talking to people or connecting them with your network or telling them, hey, you can listen in on a call with me.

Well, you know, I'm going to have a call with a customer negotiating, teaching you a skill.

You can be a silent listener on the call because you have to learn by experience, by having somebody that have your back.

And, you know, when we think about underrepresented communities, trying to get into companies, I know a lot of undergraduate students who don't have the sponsorship of somebody to teach them how to properly interview.

And if they don't know how to properly interview, they're not getting the job.

Or if they do get the job, they're getting the lowest salary possible.

And you, Hadi, and I, we've had a conversation around that, you know, about sponsorship and why it's important to mentor people.

And I'd really like to just recap on that story that you shared.

Yeah. I am going to tell you the story.

It's a little embarrassing, but we're talking about the orange juice story, right?

Okay. So this is more related to people who are starting out in their careers and don't have mentors, sponsors, people they can talk to, got to provide them with guidance and direction.

And so granted, I'm going to, I guess, say that, you know, I was a little bit sheltered, I guess, because once you hear the story, you'll understand why.

But I had an interview when I was a college graduate with a Wall Street firm.

And I didn't really, there was no Google or there was no Internet back then, not in the way there is now.

So I really wasn't able to do a good background search on the company.

But I did have a breakfast interview that led to a more broader interview.

And when I went to that breakfast interview, I was a little bit worried as a college student that I didn't have money to pay for my own breakfast.

So there was that. And I guess that's like a legitimate college person issue.

But I didn't really have anyone who could clarify for me that I could expect that the company would pick that up.

And I remember going to this interview, and like having like maybe $10 and only being able to afford orange juice.

Now mind you, I live in New York City, and the orange juice, I think was like $8.

So I was like, I think I can, I think I could afford the orange juice with the $10 that I have in my pocket.

And it was really sad when I look back on it.

And I know we laugh, we got a good chuckle out of it. But it is sad because there are a lot of people out there who don't have the mentorship or the, like someone in their lives that can really help them with these types of scenarios or questions, and prepare them to really, you know, make a good impression, a good first impression, and get their foot in the door.

I have a question for you, though.

Do you know why in the, you know, just because you're in the industry, and it sounds like you read a lot.

Do you know why underrepresented folks don't have as much sponsorship as maybe other people?

Like why that might be?

Yeah, it really comes down to access. It comes down to lack of access. You know, when we think about sponsorship, it's people that talk about you to their network.

That means that these people are in places, right, that can get you a job and opportunity.

And if you don't have access to that network, how can you get the sponsorship?

Right? That's we see a lot of underrepresented communities not being able to get in through the door when it comes to graduating college, finding a job, right?

There's so many jobs out there, yet they're unable to find jobs at times.

Or they're not taught how to negotiate their salary. You know, there's a lot of data out there that says that, especially Latina women, you know, are one of the lowest paid people in the industry, where they're not, you know, they don't know how to negotiate their salary.

Or they're being paid sometimes 30k, 50k lower than their white colleagues.

And that's really hurtful information. It's because of the lack of access and sponsorship to tell you, you need to demand a raise, or you need to say, Hey, here's my job description, but it seems like I'm doing a lot more.

Let's hook it up a little bit with the finances, you know, it's just teaching people about being able to advocate for themselves.

And it really comes down to lack of access.

And I think all the time about questions that disqualify, you know, marginalized communities from getting jobs, like one of them is, what was the last book you read?

Right? For me, that's not a question that's going to teach you if somebody's good for the job, or what their their merit or their grit is, that doesn't do anything, you learn a little bit about their interests.

But that doesn't do anything for the job. And you don't want to know why maybe somebody wasn't able to read a book because they're working three jobs.

And that's the hardest working person out there, you know, but you're disqualifying this person, because they haven't read a book.

But this person is smart, they have transferable skills that they can highlight for themselves, if you just gave them a chance, and stop using these questions that you find off Google to ask people during an interview.

So these are the type of things that disqualify our community from being able to get jobs, is lack of access, but also these systemic barriers that are created around, you know, pay, equal pay, systemic barriers around promotions, the type of assignments people are given, you know, the opportunities to change of management, every single thing like that can affect the person from being where they need to be.

Yeah. Um, yeah, it makes me a little bit sad to hear what you're saying.

But But, you know, it's good to talk about it. Because if we know these are some of the barriers, we can try to dismantle them, you know, one at a time, who should be leading the charge with regard to sponsorship of underrepresented employees, whose responsibility is that?

You know, it really needs to come from the top.

What I mean by that is executive management CEO, right?

It's it's more than the DNI person, or the HR department that's talking about this, it should not be, you know, a lot of the push comes from entry level employees, right?

People that are not in management, there's a lot of push there, right? Executives are right now adjusting to the needs of their employees, they're having a hard time.

That's what data showing a lot of data from Mercer is highlighting that organizations actually, as McKenzie and company said, organizations that have more of a diverse workforce, outcompete their competitors by 33%.

For ethnic diversity for women, if you have women in leadership positions, you outperform your peers by 21%.

So understanding the business strategy, not just because it's the right thing to do, but the business strategy that you can be making more revenue, preventing less lawsuits, you know, working on retention for your organization, it should come from the top.

But also there needs to be accountability metrics put in place for middle management.

Because that's what happens, you have executives, they talk to talk, you know, they want to walk the walk sometimes, and it gets stuck in the middle.

Middle management is where the balls drops.

So, you know, from the top, they have to make sure that the information is being trickled down.

And what does that look like? You know, you're having your quarterly calls, talking about diversity, why it's important, you know, everything that's happened around Black Lives Matter, addressing the elephant in the room, people are having a hard time, it doesn't matter what race you are, that that makes people have a hard time, because people feel like, I can't really talk about it, you know, I can't bring my whole self to work, you have to address it, that your employees are not doing business as usual, people are having a hard time with COVID, with Black Lives Matter, everything that's happening out there.

And executives need to lead by example, by highlighting this, but also making sure that they provide the proper training for the mid managers to be able to trickle it down for entry level employees.

Amen. Um, you we kind of have talked about this or touched upon this a little bit, but I wanted to do kind of dig a little bit deeper.

Um, why is it important to focus on developing and advancing existing talent, as opposed to just focusing on recruiting diverse talent?

I think a lot of people are like all about the recruiting the diverse talent.

I think a lot less people, less companies are focused on developing and advancing existing talent.

Why is that important? Yeah, I mean, I can just think I look at recruiting budgets all the time, and they're spending so much money recruiting talent.

I mean, you're spending money on job boards, career fairs, outreach, subscriptions for LinkedIn to message people, you're spending thousands of dollars.

You know, if you're a small org, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even millions of dollars, the larger of an organization that you'd be like going to conferences, some of them can be super pricey.

I get that. They're so expensive, you know, to have a booth to talk about, you know, that you care about, about having diverse talent.

So you're spending all this money to not keep it. It doesn't make sense, right?

So there's, there's a lot of money that's being spent on recruiting the talent.

And then once they get there, you can't just put them in a culture if you're not working on increasing the culture, because it could lead to toxic, you know, workplace culture, people feel like their ideas aren't being shared.

Because if you have somebody that's incredibly smart, but you're not empowering them, you're missing out.

You're missing out on innovation, innovative ideas.

You know, when I think about the color TV that we know, now, that was developed by a Mexican man, a Mexican engineer, you know, he developed the color TV.

And he just kind of went on a whim there, there was this student that there was this beautiful story about a student who was accidentally placed in a computer engineering class.

And she's one of the best NASA engineers that there is out there.

She's 26 right now. And they accidentally placed her in a class in high school.

That's what happens when you don't allow your talent to really find opportunities for themselves, because all the all the energy and the money is going to recruiting the talent, you have to invest the same amount of money to developing the talent.

And what we mean by that is, you know, promotional boards, right?

Performance reviews, you know, how are you teaching your employees to advocate for themselves?

How do they say, Look, boss, I've done this and this and this, but I've also done this and this and that I have transferable skills that can put me into a better position.

There's a lot of data out there that we see, well, where women aren't raising their hands when it comes to promotions, right?

And I talk a lot about promotions, because it's really important for internal mobility, you get the talent, they want to move up, everybody has ambitions, you have to make sure that you're able to manage the appetite of your employees.

So if you have a position that's open, you know, men will meet three out of seven requirements, and they'll raise their hand and say, I'm ready for the job.

I'll take it. I have transferable skills, I could do the job.

And then you have a woman who meets six out of seven, and it's not applying.

Because I don't have that. I am not one of those women.

Are you? Because I don't wait. I'm not waiting for that invitation. I'm jumping into I'm like, I'm like the guys.

I'm like, Yep, two out of seven. Good enough.

Let's go. That's right. You know, I'm all about the experience of life.

That's how my age, you know, I'm human, I think I could do the job. But yeah, there's a lot of there's a lot to that, right.

So understanding that there's these biases that have been ingrained in people, and then you have the talent there, you want them to move up in the organization, because they know your company, it's important for somebody to know your company when they're making decisions, right, making real decisions around change management, people operations, you want to have people that can move up in the company, because that helps you recruit more talent.

If somebody says I've been in this company for 10 years, and they're able to speak proudly about it, they're more likely to stay, they're more likely to be invested in the company, they're more likely to know the culture and how to keep moving it forward.

That's why you need to spend more money on your internal candidates to make sure that they're moving up not just external, because you're spending all that money to get the talent in for them to leave.

And then you're just hiring again, you're spending a lot of money.

Yeah, make that money and develop talent.

And you're going to see a huge return when it comes to performance and monetary value for the return for the business.

And this kind of reminds me a little bit of, I used to work in a different industry in mortgages.

And I remember the, you know, there was this notion of the cost of acquiring a new customer versus the cost of keeping an existing customer.

And it's always more expensive to acquire a new customer.

So it's always more expensive to hire a new employee.

Why not like nurture and take care of the employee you already have? They're there already.

You've already sold them. Why not give them the opportunity and remove the barriers and protect your investment?

You know, I'm with you 100%. All right.

We probably have about four more minutes. I think I'm going to jump to the lightning round.

Actually, maybe I'm thinking I'm going to ask you one more question, and then I'm going to jump to the lightning round.

So maybe I'll ask you an easy question.

Who are some of the leaders in the tech space that are doing DEI well, and that other companies should be trying to model themselves after?

Yeah, there's, it's difficult in the tech space, because there's a lot of whitewashing, what I mean, pinkwashing, right?

What I mean by that is there's a lot of branding, right, but not a lot of work.

There's good people like Lynette Barksdale. She she came from Google.

Now she's at Goldman Sachs. And now she created her own business doing incredible work.

She focuses on data around why people are leaving.

You know, there's there's also a couple people from Google who focus on retention data.

What can we do to make sure that people stay at Google? That's what we just were talking about.

That's important. That's equally, equally to me, if not more important than recruiting, to be honest with you.

If people don't have a safe place to grow, you're, you're, you're gonna you're throwing away your money, you're throwing away good money to you know, in a bad to, for not, you're, you're not protecting your investment.

That's the net of that. Um, any other like, companies that come to mind that are doing some cool things that you think other people can kind of model themselves after?

Yeah, I love Nike. You know, my old mentor is 30 under 30 for Nike, and he's like the VP of diversity and inclusion.

And I tell him you guys have the most killer advertisings I've ever seen.

I love the empowerment that they make for children, whenever they think about these videos.

For them, it's not just making a buck.

It's about how can we empower people to find power within themselves through advertising.

So I think Nike is doing such an incredible job to make sure that their employees feel taken care of, but also that they're doing good advertising for their customers.

Yeah, I actually sat in on a nice, like branding, branding and, and like, DNI conversation, like the balance, like, you know, talking about both things.

And a lot of really good companies that we were talking about, just like how Dove is doing some cool stuff.

And I forget who else came up, but there was a lot of like, a lot of companies, maybe not, not so much in tech, but a lot of companies are doing really good work.

So there's a lot of good examples out there to to model ourselves after.

All right, now we're going to the lightning round.

So first question, which underrepresented leader, either inside or outside of tech, do you look up to?

Um, mostly I right now I'm looking at this AI Google guru, who's amazing in her own making that's, that's who really, I think is doing a great job.

So I would say that and also Stacey Abram.

Okay, yeah, me too. She's one of my faves also, who has taught you the most about what it means to be a good ally, and everybody needs to be a good ally this, you know, this show is about DNI, but we're, but we're always talking about how other people can join and, and support underrepresented people.

And, and that's what we call allies.

So who taught you to be a good ally, because you're, you're like, advocating on behalf of yourself, but for other other people, too.

So like, who taught you that? Yeah, I would say my old mentor, as well as college professor, Dr.

Jeff Wilson. Long story short, we created a project to sleep in a dumpster for a year to teach people about environmentalism.

The weirdest creative things he taught me about allyship to make sure people of color are taken care of.

So I'd say him. I love that. And I think we're going to end on that note.

Angelica, thanks so much for joining us today. We loved having you on Cloudflare TV, and I hope you plan to join us again soon.

Take care. Thanks a lot.