Latinflare Presents: Moving the Needle - How to be an Advocate for Diversity, Equity + Inclusion
Part of Latinflare's Latinx Heritage Month programming, this online panel will discuss tips for advocating and promoting Diversity, Equity + Inclusion in the workplace and beyond
Good afternoon from New York City and welcome to the third Latinx Heritage Month event brought to you by Latinflare, Cloudflare's ERG for Latinx employees.
I am Hady Mendez, the moderator for today's panel discussion and the global lead for Latinflare.
The goal of today's discussion is to continue the dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion, a conversation that for many is not an easy one.
We understand this. It's hard for us too, but we're going to give it a try. But and I think our general approach to it is that the more we talk about it, the easier it's going to become.
So we're really hoping that today's discussion is going to be engaging, is going to kind of bring you in and we hope that you'll send us your questions or your comments.
The best way to do that is via email at livestudio at Cloudflare.tv.
So now on to our panel discussion, I'd like to welcome the panel, welcome you audience.
And we're going to start off with some introductions. So tell us your name, what office you work in, what your current role is at Cloudflare and tell us what ERG you're affiliated with, if any, as well as your role.
So Jade, why don't you kick us off?
Hey, I'm Jade. I run developer relations at Cloudflare.
I'm based in the Austin office, though obviously we're all working from home.
And recently I started Asian Flare, which is the Asian ERG at Cloudflare.
Awesome. Joe, how about you? Hi, I'm Joe Sullivan. I'm the chief security officer here at Cloudflare.
And so I manage the security team. When it comes to ERGs, I'm one of the executive sponsors for Afroflare, which is our black employee ERG.
Awesome. Afroflare in the house. Speaking of Afroflare, Kevin, you want to go next?
Sure. Hey, everyone. My name is Kevin Dombig. I work out of Cloudflare San Francisco office, and I am part of Cloudflare's Afroflare ERG group.
My role at Cloudflare is to be the technical program manager for Cloudflare's transport backbone network.
Awesome. Welcome to the show, Kevin. And Shannon? Hi, I'm Shannon.
I'm in San Francisco, right on the edge of the American continent, right up against the Pacific Ocean.
And I work on the customer development team.
So I help customers that have cybersecurity problems and help them get onto Cloudflare.
And then I'm a part of Cloudflare, the LGBT ERG and Womenflare.
Awesome. Well, welcome. And I'm so happy with the diversity that we have in our panel today.
So really excited to hear all of your opinions and hear your voices.
And so with that, let's dive into our conversation with our first panel question.
So Joe, I'd like to start with you this time. And the question is, what life experiences have shaped your attitudes towards racism?
Yeah. I think for all of us, we've probably all grown up thinking about racism and try and think ourselves as not being racist.
But for me in my life, I've probably thought about racism in a lot of different contexts.
One, I grew up in a pretty diverse place. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
And back then, it was a very diversity. But as a kid growing up, you don't really think about it.
You think about life through your own eyes.
Where I think I really matured in my perspective has been in the workplace.
It's funny. I think that in social media, in our communities, we just have a tendency to go back into what we're familiar with as opposed to being in the melting pot that we always talk about.
And to me, work is ultimately a melting pot. And we know from data that the highest performing teams are teams that are diverse.
You need different perspectives to get the right outcomes. And so as someone who's been in the workplace for more than half my life now, I've thought a lot about teams.
And as a leader of teams, I want to build the best possible team. And so I want to bring together a diverse team.
And so it's through that, through hiring people, through seeing the hiring process, through seeing the environment we create and work, whether it's a welcoming place, that I think I've thought a lot more personally about my attitudes towards different diverse groups and how welcoming I have been in the past and how I could do different things and change and be more welcoming.
So it's really been the workplace for me that's been the ultimate thing that's made me think and realize I had work to do.
Awesome. Right on. Thank you.
Kevin, how about you? What's shaped your attitude towards racism? Sure. So growing up, I grew up in a predominantly white city.
And by that, I mean 90% white. So my parents did a wonderful job of balancing both shielding me from racism, my family from racism that we've experienced or they've experienced, but also educating me on the pressures and expectations of being a black man in America growing up.
When I look back, I often think about my early adulthood while still in college, experiencing racism for the first time without that shield, without my parents there to help me understand it or help me say, here's how you address this.
So a little bit of backstory on the eve of my 21st birthday, myself and two friends, all people of color, were escorted out of a movie theater at gunpoint and falsely accused of using a stolen credit card to purchase a single ticket to a different movie than the one we were in and had tickets for.
In that moment, for me, I realized the full weight of racism in America.
Again, not having anyone there in that moment to explain that, my parents.
It was a feeling of both unease and awareness.
And since that experience, that feeling's never really gone away.
It became the lens that I see the world through and really started my journey to understand, talk about, and help fight racism.
Gosh, Kevin, thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Appreciate it. Shannon, how about you? What shaped your attitudes towards racism?
Yeah, I think about it from three different lenses.
I think about it from early childhood experiences, academic experiences, as a professional.
So I'll start with the first two, because there's so much there.
So growing up, I went to an all-Catholic school. It was pretty much all white people.
There was one Black kid at the school, and I had a crush on him. And he invited me to his birthday party.
We were so young. And it was Cusar. It was like a laser tag studio.
And I thought nothing of it, but a couple other students made fun of us because of the skin color difference.
So that was one of the first moments where I started to realize, wow, okay, so skin color matters?
All right. Weird.
So that was kind of a jumping point. And then when I went to college, I went to UC San Diego, and I studied political science.
So I took a lot of classes that were about race relations and had this opportunity to do research in Malawi, Africa.
And when we think about racism in America, it really started when people were extracted from the African continent and brought here to America.
And they were forced into situations that they didn't want to be in, and their histories were erased.
So a lot of people often think of Africa as one big country, but it's a continent with a ton of countries.
And I had an opportunity to go to one of those countries and learn and meet a lot of people.
So by being there, I was meeting and becoming friends with people of all backgrounds, students, teachers, people in the government, people who work at coffee shops.
And I learned so much from them.
I learned about family and love and culture and values that really affect and impact how I look at the world today.
So I think that experience and coming back to America and starting to really witness and see the legacies that colonialism had in Africa, and that slavery has had in America, these systems still exist today.
It just gave me a lot of a lot of empathy.
I bet it did. Yeah. Shannon, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.
You said you had a couple of lenses. Did you get to describe them all?
I guess the only other thing would be when you're in Malawi and you're the only white person in the room, it gives you the counter experience of what it's like to be the minority.
And you walk around and people will say, white person.
So it just, it really gave me an appreciation for what it's like to be, you know, to be singled out.
And yeah, yeah, I'll pause there. But that's a little start.
That notion of being the only, and there's a lot of people who have that experience.
Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing that, Shannon. I love that. So Jade, how about you?
Yeah, being the only, it's certainly a very different experience.
Like, so when I was a kid, we moved to the US when I was four and a half, and we moved to, we moved like every two to three years, just every time my dad got a new job.
And there were times when we lived in a very diverse neighborhood of Chicago.
And there were times we lived in, you know, very non-diverse, rural, central, of the center of Illinois, kind of small towns.
And they were very different experiences in, in how we would experience the world.
And it was in those small towns where we would have incidents like extreme bullying, or when my family's car and home got vandalized, and people were telling us to back to our own countries.
And like, those were not things that ever happened to us when we were living in Chicago, in a more diverse crowd.
That's tough. Thank you so much, all of you, for sharing that, for sharing like your, your stories and your truths.
Like, that's really important and in a good, like, kind of foundation for this conversation.
I kind of want to move on and talk a little bit about maybe, you know, the moment we're in, and how it's different from previous moments, and maybe how that shows up for you.
So Kevin, you want to get us started down this path with this question?
Sure, absolutely. So for me, you know, when I look at it, we're almost four years removed from having America's first Black president, 12 years from when President Obama was first elected.
I felt tremendous pride and elation for this achievement, but also created a complacency for me, that the changes we needed to make as a country had been things that we had been calling for, that they were happening, that we were seeing the fruits of our labor.
So for me, I personally feel like I took my foot off the gas pedal in my efforts to, to address racism, to continue talking about racism.
With the events of 2020 so far, I've been shaken from my complacency, and I'm realizing that many of the same issues still exist.
When I look around, I see allies from different cultures, from different backgrounds, who are outwardly expressing their calls for an end to racism and other inequalities, men who never took their foot off the gas, so I thank them.
I see organizations uniting in their fights against racism, and I believe that we are all being united as one in this moment to say, now is the time to take these next steps forward to end racism and racial injustice.
Yeah, that's a great way of putting it.
It's just like, it's a scary time, but there's hope, you know, like, there's both ends.
And thank you for describing it in such a nice way. I remember, I remember when I was standing in line voting for Barack Obama president.
So those are some good times.
Let's have a Shannon, how about you? Tell us how this moment is different for you.
I guess like, historically, I feel like when we look back at the 1920s, or the 60s, or the 90s, or the early 2000s, like now, this movement that's happening, it feels like the Internet is one of the biggest differentiators.
And there's a blessing and a curse to that. On one hand, we have free access to all the information, all the people at any time of day.
You know, you could meet a person in Berlin at a hotel in 2016.
And they're from a random town in the Netherlands.
And now you can talk with them on Facebook Messenger about events of 2020.
But then you're also talking to people on WhatsApp and Instagram and Reddit, and you're reading the news and you're doing your work.
It's, I think, I think what I'm trying to get at is, we have to be so discerning about how we spend our time and our energy, and just be very thoughtful and mindful at this time.
And, and just use the power of the Internet for good, but don't get swallowed up in it and think carefully about consumption versus production.
I think it's very easy to get caught up in this like capitalistic consumption model, you know, oh, did you watch the latest Netflix documentary?
Did you see that person's Instagram story?
Have you read that book yet? And there's only so much time in the day, and we want to produce things organically and personally too.
So I think we just need to be mindful during this time and during this big movement to use the Internet with discernment.
Thank you. That's good advice. Jade. What's different?
What's different? Right in this moment for you? Well, you know, when, when we look back in time, we take snapshots, whether it's now versus 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, right?
Like every moment in the past really sucked for everybody. And you know, once you have collective action, change can be remarkably fast, right?
Like look at the time between 1954 and like 1927, right?
Like those two moments in time.
The reason they're, they sound oddly specific is like 1954 was Brown versus Board of Education, which rule, you know, separate but equal schools are not okay, right?
But you, if you rewind 27 years, Lumbree Rice, like the Supreme Court had ruled just 27 years prior to that, that a little Chinese girl could not go to a white school, right?
Like collective action can be remarkably swift once it starts happening.
And you know, I think a lot of progress can be made in a really short amount of time.
Um, it's just when everybody works together, it's if we, if we as a society just kind of do this whole choreographed thing, it can happen.
Like only, it was only 2016, it seems like a real long time ago when Oscars so white was trending, but like look at what 2019 Oscars were like, right?
Uh, look at what, you know, 2019 to 2018 were like, it, like action can really happen swiftly as long as everyone participates.
Nice. Thank you. Joe? Yeah, for me, that's the difference in 2020 that, that I feel.
Um, I think Jade captured it really well. Like 2016 felt like a really momentous year in my mind because there were, you know, there, there were some tragic incidents between, um, uh, police in the Black community.
And then there was the Colin Kaepernick situation that kind of drew a lot of attention to the, this line that was between like people and institutions.
And it felt like there was a lot of institutional resistance to change in 2016.
I don't feel that same, like I feel institutions are taking it like the difference between 2016 and 2020 is that, um, more people are on board with more change in my mind.
And that's what, like, I think if we hit pause in 2018 and we look back on 2016 and said like, you know, there were a lot of protests or a lot of people talking, did we make any progress?
And we might've said no, but in 2020, you know, we, we might say yes, that we needed 2016.
And then we needed 2018 to be, you know, but like 2020 has been a strange year, but like the one thing that, you know, that's been good is that we've had a lot more realistic conversation and we're seeing organizations.
I don't think sports leagues are, you know, like the center of the universe by any extent, any matter.
But the point is like organizations are much more tolerant of people having a different voice, um, like the NFL has been doing in terms of like letting teams, like teams are encouraging players to have a voice and to be individuals and to stand up for what they want.
And that's, that's a fundamental shift in just four years, uh, in a very visible context.
And so that makes a difference and it empowers more voices.
And that's one thing I've learned over the years is it's been hard, like on the minority communities to speak up because, you know, I, I mentioned, like, I think about a lot about in the workplace and we ask our minority employees to like create our ERGs and to lead the change inside of our companies historically.
And I think we need more of what we have now where the companies step up and say, we care about it.
And, you know, it's, it's the responsibility of all of us to create that welcoming workplace, not, um, not put the burden on, on the people who've had the burden.
That's right. Thank you so much for acknowledging that, Joe, that is such a good point.
Um, when, when, when there's more people involved, it makes a lighter load, you know, it's not as hard when we're all working together towards a common goal.
And, um, the, what you're talking about is how important the role of the ally is in this work, you know, so, so I appreciate that.
That's such a good acknowledgement. And actually that kind of segues really well into, um, my next question, which is, you know, what are some things you personally are doing differently at this moment, Shannon, I'm going to start with you this time.
What's something you're doing different these days.
So I did a lot of reflection around my skills and my interests. And I think I really love writing and communication and human connectivity.
So a lot of my actions are centered around that.
So, um, one, one big thing is that I started, um, volunteering weekly with 826 Valencia, which is a local nonprofit that helps students with their homework and with creative writing.
And a lot of the students in the population that we help are from marginalized communities.
So, um, we're doing weekly volunteering, um, if anyone wants to get involved and I also joined their associate board to help with fundraising and volunteer engagement.
So that's, that's been one thing.
Another thing has been, um, I, I launched a little newsletter and I've been practicing my writing there and that's all about empowerment.
So there there's been a lot of like research and reflection and sharing and dialogue through that.
Um, I've been doing a lot of donations. So I think it's really important when we're in Silicon Valley to redistribute that wealth.
Like we, we live here and that money goes a long way in different countries.
So, um, I do a lot of donations and, um, and then I know there's been a lot of discussion about like listening, listening, listening to people who have not been listened to.
So, um, I, I've just been listening and connecting with friends.
Um, I've got friends in Malawi and Kenya, so just talking with them a lot and supporting on projects and initiatives where I can.
Um, so I had some friends that sent me a business proposal, have just been like going back and forth on that and, um, talking about a lot of different professional things, spiritual things.
So just staying really connected with, um, with my friends on the continent.
That's awesome, Shannon. Thank you for sharing that. Jade, what's one thing you're doing differently these days?
Well, um, you know, Asian, maybe the same, I don't know.
Well, you know, Asian ERGs are, uh, are very rare among tech companies and it's because Asians are usually not underrepresented in technology, at least in, uh, technical roles as opposed to in management roles, uh, which is an entirely separate phenomenon.
Like the whole bamboo ceiling is a whole thing altogether.
Um, but in, since 2020 began and with the pandemic and a lot of the, uh, racist backlash that people have been experiencing and the hate crimes, there was, there was a lot of anxiety in our community and we needed a safe space to kind of just talk through some of our fears and concerns because the knee-jerk reaction, the very natural reaction that a lot of people have is for survival and just being like, oh, I'm not like the others, right?
Like I, you know, and that actually makes it worse for everybody.
You know, whether it's the San Francisco bus driver who gets attacked for asking someone to wear a mask or whether you're a random Texas family with a kid, with someone who's a little bit deranged and wants to stab you because you're Asian, because they perceive that you, um, are bringing over a disease or something like that.
Um, there's, there's really, starting Asian Flare was something I didn't really think that I, like, I, I would never have profiled myself as someone who would start an ERG, um, mainly because it, it felt like, you know, here are a bunch of more things I just signed up to do.
But at that moment, it just seemed so necessary because, like, I needed somebody to talk to.
And, and I felt like maybe other people needed that too.
And that ended up being a good service for everyone. Um, and, and also, and I guess if I'm allowed a second thing, um, I started a collaborative TV show called Founder Focus, um, where I interview, uh, lots of diverse founders from all different backgrounds, whether they're early stage or late stage.
And, um, I've made it, I've made it one of my missions to make sure that we, uh, keep the lineup as diverse as possible.
Yeah, thank you. We've, we've, we've been enjoying, we actually, um, one of the events that you actually did, um, we actually had a whole lunch and learned a lot in third to watch your interview, which was really good.
We really appreciated that. Thank you for doing it. Um, Joe, what are you doing differently these days?
Yeah, I'm, I probably say I'm focused on two things.
Um, but may actually I say three, one, um, I'm a dad of three teenage daughters, so I'm trying to raise them well in this environment and, and raise them the right way so that they care about the issues we're talking about.
Um, that's, that's my most important job. Um, but my second most important job is, uh, I'm responsible for building and running a large team here at Cloudflare.
So I, um, I put a lot of energy into making sure that we're building a diverse team.
We did a blog post, um, in the spring, uh, one of the co -leaders in the team and I did, uh, talking about all of the efforts we've made on our team because we wanted to, you know, we didn't, we didn't snap our fingers and build a team that was 40% women and, and more than 25% underrepresented minorities in, in the world of security.
It was in tech. It's hard to like force yourself to get outside the network of people you've always hired and worked with and to, and to think outside of like your traditional ways of thinking.
And, but we've built a team where we're proud that we have tried, we've prioritized diversity.
And, um, and I've learned two things through that process.
One, I learned that you can't just take a group, a diverse group of people and put them together for the first time and think that everybody's, you know, everything's going to go perfectly.
You actually have to create a culture where everybody feels comfortable speaking up, knowing that they're going to be talking about something that other people are not familiar with.
And so to me, it's, it's not just like recruiting and building, getting people in the door, it's creating that environment for the team.
And so I think I've learned a lot in that context that like, you know, getting five people with five different opinions in a room doesn't mean you're going to get the right outcome unless you also get them to appreciate and value each other and their different perspectives.
And then, then you get magic.
Um, and so that's what I see with my team now is that like, it's an empowered group of people who value other opinions and we just get a lot done.
And so it, it could be, it's a virtuous cycle.
Now we want more diversity on our team. And, um, and then the third thing is, is being involved in ERGs as an ally and a supporter.
Um, you know, I'm fortunate in my career, I've been able to rise up to an executive level and, you know, it's really easy when you get to the executive level to pat yourself on the back and say, I did it all myself.
Um, and you forget about, and you, and you can ignore all the privileges that you had and the opportunities and the people that helped you along the way.
And you actually really need to stop and slow down and, and say like a lot of people helped me get here and a lot of paths open for me because I'm a tall white male.
And, and so maybe, you know, in that situation, I got a little bit of a break here or there or there, and, and I got to value that and then give back and try and make sure that like the paths become more equal for roles on my team.
So, uh, you know, being part of ERGs has been such an eye-opener for me because I see the obstacles that other people had that I didn't have.
And I, and I don't want anybody to have those obstacles. We appreciate you, Joe.
Thank you, Kevin. How about you? I'll ask the question again, just in case, but what are you doing differently right now?
Katie, so much. So I'm doing everything differently now, I feel like.
Um, so there's like Joe's point, there's a handful of things that I'm, I'm doing right now in this moment.
Uh, you know, for me, I believe that one of the most effective tools to address and hopefully end racism is education.
Uh, I'm responsible for educating myself about racial injustice.
Uh, I'm on a new path to learn more about the history of racism in America and American policies, more importantly, uh, such as the poll tax in Florida, requiring ex felons who've served their time to have paid all fees before having their constitutional right to vote restored.
Uh, and the effects of those policies have led us to, to where we are today.
Um, I feel responsible for the communities that I belong to, uh, that includes the ERGs here at Cloudflare, my family, my friends, uh, some social groups that I belong to.
Uh, so as I'm educating myself on racism and racial injustice, uh, I'm finding ways that I can help affect changes in my communities.
Uh, so for me, one thing that I really love when I look back on this, and I hope it made a difference is, uh, this summer, obviously while staying at home because of COVID, uh, I've come to really enjoy writing letters, uh, to, to folks in other States through Vote Forward, uh, which the whole purpose of Vote Forward is to send, uh, letters to underrepresented voters in other States, uh, who typically may not necessarily go vote or don't necessarily feel motivated to go vote in, and in this day and age, and at this particular time, you know, we can't afford that.
Um, so in my letters, I'm writing out understanding not just who you're voting for, but understand the entire ballot, up and down the local, city, county, federal, understand who are we electing, who, who are in charge of putting policies in place, and in charge of helping undo some of the things that have held people back for generations.
Um, so I'm really proud of that, uh, and of course volunteering.
I'm looking for ways to volunteer in my community here where I live, whether that's donating food, donating clothes, or again, volunteering to put up flyers to make sure that we have strong turnout for this election coming up.
So important, such important work. Kevin, do you know how many letters you've sent?
Yeah, actually, so I did the calculation with my wife, uh, and we ended up sending around 310 letters to people.
Good for you. Oh my goodness.
Wait a second, I have, I have to give you the clap, the clapping hands. That's awesome.
Good for you, Kevin. That's great. Congratulations. Thank you for making a difference.
I love that. I am, I want to ask, um, I'm going to pivot a little bit, uh, still talking about, um, anti-racism work, um, and I want to, I want to check in on you all in terms of your emotional and physical health, and ask you a little bit about what doing this work has done to your health and your wellness.
And Jade, I want to start with you. Yeah, I, about that, um, as a parent with a small child, uh, my baby is, uh, about one and a half right now, and not quite.
And, you know, we try to teach them about, you know, sharing and being good to each other, that there's truth and justice, and the world operates according to rules.
And, like, none of that is actually true, right? Like, it, all those things are as real as Santa Claus.
But just realizing that the world is actually this huge mess, and all these messed up things happen all the time, especially to vulnerable populations, it, sometimes it feels really overwhelming, because you feel so, you know, powerless to fix it.
And just the knowledge of the world is super messed up, takes a toll, because you feel like, why am I, you know, teaching my kid that the world is actually a good place?
Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with us, Jade.
Joe, how about you? Yeah, I, I think I, I think I've, I'd say two words, um, come to mind for me the most.
One, the first one is empathy, right?
I think that, um, you know, when we, um, we have to get better at empathy for each other, all of us.
And that's one thing I've learned through being an ERG lead, is in the context of, like, some, some news will happen, and I will look at it, and I'll just move on with my day.
And someone else will see that news. You know, they wake up in the morning, and they hear another story about another black teenager killed by a police officer.
That person, they just want to get back in bed and not go to work that day, because they feel the way Jade was talking.
And so maybe, like, because I'm not worried that my daughter is going to be that teenager.
Um, it like doesn't pass me, but maybe, you know, someone else has, you know, has a 12-year -old son or one and a half-year-old.
And they, they hear that news, and they think the world is hopeless.
And then, and they're supposed to get up and come to work, you know, and be on Zoom with me all day long in meetings, and, like, nothing's happening.
And that, so, like, and I, and that person's not going to say to me, Joe, I can't function today.
But I have to recognize when I see that news in the morning, you know what?
20% of the people I work with are going to, are going to be having a bad day today, and I need to know that, and respect that, and, and maybe have a get there with them.
That's something I think about. So I think that empathy, but I also think, like, we can't be, we can't say it's not going to change.
Like, we're, we're here together as a group, because we're, we believe that we're optimistic.
We believe that, that people are basically in their, in their foundations good, and can be good towards each other, and that we can create a better and just, and more just places.
And so, you know, I want to be optimistic, too.
And even when we hear those bad news every morning on the radio. Yeah. Thank you.
Yeah, Joe, I think, I think you, you described my, my feelings in the morning pretty, pretty spot on there, where there's many days where, and it's not necessarily the day I hear the news.
It's often after I've had a moment to reflect on it, or sleep on it, or have that conversation the next day with, with my family, my friends, where, you know, I feel like, how do I, how do I go on with, with the world, with the day, the same as it was the day before, right?
I feel like part of me has been, been, been stripped away, and I can't get that back.
The biggest, the biggest thing for me is, I have this bubbling sense of urgency, and, and a regret, you know, honestly speaking.
Did I waste too much time being complacent all these years?
Am I doing enough now to really make a difference? For me, I don't have the privilege of separating the fight to end racism and inequality from its impact to my life as a person of color.
So it's been just a very emotional timeframe. But I'm trying to find a time to focus my energy, focus my efforts on ways that I feel, for me, I can find comfort.
And again, that can be by communicating with friends, by having conversations, by getting out there, making our voices heard.
So as I'm learning more about the systems that have been in place, that desperately need reform, I feel more mentally prepared now to take meaningful action than I have ever before.
But to your point, Jill, yeah, those you know, they are very challenging.
They're very, very tough. Yeah. Sending you a virtual hug, Kevin.
For sure. Yeah, Kevin, I definitely relate to that. Like there, May, June, July, a lot of the events that were happening were just, it made it so hard to focus and to just commit to doing work when there was so much other stuff happening.
I think I've always been just a very idealistic person and very, very optimistic and positive and stoked.
But this whole experience has really, I've experienced a lot of the other feelings on the other side of the spectrum, like anger and grief and shame and guilt around, am I doing enough?
Are the actions I'm doing the right actions?
Do I need to change everything completely? How much do I need to talk about it?
If I talk about it, is that performative? Can I do my own art? Do I need to uplift other people's art, right?
Like it's like a lot of these intrinsic questions or like existential questions about like the purpose of life and like leaving a legacy on earth for human rights and getting really frustrated that change is very slow and wanting to just like snap my fingers and make it happen.
And the fact that now people are really, really going deep and having hardcore conversations about equity, everyone's coming from a different side of the political spectrum.
And it's a spectrum. It's not just like black and white the way people want to make it seem.
So it's just, I think this time has just been all about exploring the full emotional spectrum and embracing embracing love and like positivity, but also honoring some of this grief and this anger and this guilt that comes up and just sifting through it.
And then in the spiritual world, you call it shadow work.
So there's been a lot of that in my life lately.
Thank you for sharing that. I can relate to many of you. It's been a long summer for me too.
I'm going to completely or not completely, but I'm going to pivot now because I want to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is sort of like the flip side of this, but like, you know, applying this work and, and this kind of outlook, but applying it to, to, to the workplace.
And my next question is really a two part question.
So I personally am a big proponent of encouraging people to do something to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at work every day.
Like I feel if we're not doing something every day or multiple things every day, we're missing an opportunity because it's there.
The opportunity is definitely there.
So, you know, we have some managers on the, on the panel.
We have individual contributors in your role. I'm curious to hear some examples of things that you've been doing at work to move the needle around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And then I'm also very interested to hear what the response has been to your words or your actions or your behaviors, how have they been received?
So this time we're going to start with you, Kevin. Sure. Yeah. So, you know, this summer after the tragic killing of George Floyd, the team I work with here at Cloudflare on infrastructure, we had a, we had a check-in and it was, it was, the sole focus was to, to, you know, talk about mental health, to talk about our own mental health, which I think is something that we should be doing more of in 2020.
We shouldn't be brushing off how we feel, right?
How we, how we cope, how we respond to things.
So we had this check-in about how we're coping with this event and everything else that was going wrong in 2020 so far.
So for me, as a person of color, I wanted to put the message out there that if you're an ally, you don't have to be silent out of fear of saying the wrong thing.
If you're coming from a place of, of empathy and wanting to, to understand things better, maybe understand, have I, have I contributed to this indirectly or directly?
If you're coming from that place of sincerity, it's better to risk saying the wrong thing when having these important discussions than to say nothing at all.
And I think there was a period of time where I did have that feeling that some of my communities were shutting down when things really started to get tense.
And that broke my heart because I've known some of these people in my different communities, whether it was work or, or, you know, video gaming, right?
Known these for a long time. And I didn't want us to stop having these conversations or not have any conversations because we didn't know what to say.
So, you know, there's no, there's no script on how to speak up as an ally.
But I do encourage everyone, be empathetic, be willing to listen to those who are suffering in fighting for a better world.
Thanks. Shannon, how about you? So I think there's a lot of power around events and recruiting.
So those are the areas that I've spent a lot of time. So as part of Proud Flare, there was a group of folks that organized a Pride event in June, and we thought it was important to dedicate it to BIPOC folks.
And I have a friend who's a Black bartender in Detroit, and he's really good at what he does.
So we hired him, and he came on and was, just really taught us so much about how to make cocktails and talked about the history of Black activists in the queer community.
So, you know, that's like, there's an opportunity right there just waiting to happen.
Yes, we're going to do a Pride event, so why not make it an opportunity for, for BIPOC peeps?
And then there, I'm part of Women Flare, too. So I've been talking with some of the leaders in Women Flare, and we've got a couple things in the works.
So one thing we're starting is a mini, like a book club light. And the first topic that we're gathering sources on is around intersectionality.
So we'll talk about that there.
And then we're organizing a wellness event, because self -care really matters in this time.
And a lot of people are going through anxiety and depression at this point.
So we'll be doing that. And then the final thing I'd say is just around spending time with candidates.
So spending time with any candidate that's interested in Cloudflare, but really focusing extra hard on diverse candidates.
So that's something I've spent much more time on recently. Good. I might have a book, a book suggestion or two for you for your book club.
So we'll talk. Please.
Jade, how, how are, what behaviors or what, what, what are you doing to move the needle?
And how is it being received? I'm curious to hear, since you're in a leadership position within your ERG, I'm curious to hear if your experience is similar to mine, and I'll tell you about mine in a second.
Sure. You know, I, there's a story.
This is actually from when I first joined Cloudflare long before starting ERG, starting Asian Flare.
There was a colleague of mine who was from a different office than me.
And we, you know, we chatted about all sorts of stuff all the time.
And one time they were visiting the San Francisco office and we went and grabbed coffee away from the office.
And, and they confided in me about a number of incidents that happened that were like, they were very textbook.
What, what, you know, here's what happens in an ally training session kind of prompts.
In fact, they eventually, some of these became our ally training prompts of like, how you should respond in these kinds of incidents that are not all that great.
And how to be an ally and, and stand up for, help stand up for somebody.
And, and my colleague didn't really have the confidence that leadership could solve this problem.
But I also had this, you know, I was coming in from a company that was acquired by Cloudflare.
And I had the perspective of, well, if nobody told me from the top, like, how would I have the information that any of this was happening?
Like somebody has to find out there, there has to be a way for this information to get through.
So I, I, I got permission from my buddy to anonymize all of this information.
Of course, I like names and names of individual people were already anonymized as they were being told to me.
But then I was able to sit down with Janet, who had actually just recently joined Cloudflare and just like spill to her everything that I knew.
And this created. And what happens Jane? This created this like chain of reactions where like less than a week later, maybe it was like, maybe it was more than a week later, but it was, it was about a week.
Then then there was a beer meeting where Matthew got up in front of the entire company and did this like epic lecture.
How many of you were around at Cloudflare at that time? This is basically setting the tone for what is, what is, or is not acceptable behavior at Cloudflare.
And I felt that was really powerful because that, that gave everybody the understanding, like, okay, like this is, this, this is not like, oh, Hey, like maybe some people are wrong.
Like this is, we have, we have a well-defined what is right and what is wrong from the top.
And as a result of that, that like from a whole bunch of things, like, you know, snowballed from that incident onward.
A lot of ERGs were created after that ally training began after that.
And, you know, I think today we have a, we have a new tool that plays the role that I kind of unofficially did where people can anonymously report things off the chain.
And I think that has overall had a really positive effect. Thanks for sharing that story.
That's good to know. Joe, anything to add to this in terms of what you've been doing with some regularity and what the response has been?
I'd be curious to hear how you're finding, how people are receiving your actions and your behaviors.
Really well. First, let me say I'm not surprised by Jade's story because when I was interviewing at Cloudflare, Janet met with me.
I was meeting with a bunch of the other executives and I was just supposed to have five minutes with Janet before I left at the end of my interview day.
And I think we ended up spending two hours in the lobby talking about diversity and importance in the workplace.
And just like we couldn't, we couldn't end the conversation because she's so passionate about it.
And, and I had just come from at a different company being the exec sponsor for our black employee group there.
And so it just like, I was like, this is going to be a good place.
And it really has been, you know, at the, in our executive management meetings, we, we review statistics on diversity and have goals and set goals for ourselves for improving diversity at the company.
And we, you know, we're consistently making progress and, and hopefully, you know, there's a lot more to do and we'll do it.
I think that, you know, we can't stop pushing is what I would say.
Like, it's not enough for me as the executive in charge of a team to say, I want our team to be diverse because every day down in the trenches managers are faced with, okay, Joe also told me I have 10 objectives to get done this quarter.
And he gave me one headcount and I've gotten one resume and it's like my buddy from the last company.
So I should just hire him and then I can get all my other things done.
And so like, we have to be careful about like the competing messages that we send as, as leaders in terms of, because we can, we can a little more easily find the inbound resume of the non-diverse candidate.
Then if we say, wait, let's slow down for a minute, let's do some proactive sourcing.
Let's make sure we interview like a wide perspective of people.
And then let's talk about who's the best candidate for the role.
And so sometimes we have to be careful with our, like, you know, like Shannon said, Silicon Valley, we get stuff done.
We crank out the technology and we got a hundred more things to do next week.
But if we slow down and build the right team, we'll get twice as much done, twice as fast in the long run.
That's right. Well, I'm excited about some of the, I've actually heard some of the information you shared here is new to me.
So that excites me as someone who is an evangelist for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I'm so excited that there are things happening that I don't even know about.
That's a really good sign. So if we look at DEI as a journey, and we know that there's always going to be goals we're striving for and things we can do better.
I'm curious to hear from you in the spirit of growth and always improving, what's one thing that Cloudflare can do differently or better as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
And this time we're going to start with Jade.
Man, things that we can do better. You can come back to me.
Oh yeah, yeah. You can totally, you can pass. How about you, Joe?
Yeah. I want to find a way to magnify the voices of our, the diverse members of our team already here.
There are, some people just have a confidence and want to go speak at conferences and want to write blog posts and things like that.
And other people don't want to make waves. And I think that a part of that mindset comes from the messaging you got growing up about like, you know, get a job and don't make any waves and don't get fired, or you can be the next president, you know.
And a lot depends on the environment you grew up in, which of those messages you got.
And so some people in the workplace, you know, they think they're going to be the next president and they want to speak at every conference and they want to write every blog post and some people don't.
And I want to make sure that that isn't determined by a lack of equity and equality in the way that they were brought up and the opportunities that they had and the messages they got before Cloudflare.
Yeah. As John Lewis says, good trouble. Always a good time to get in good trouble.
Kevin, how about you? What's like one thing you think Cloudflare could maybe do differently or better?
Yeah, that's a wonderful question, right? That's hard to answer that question.
But I think for me, what I would probably say is that really for equality to really work, this is across the board, we have to understand as a company the inequities that exist today for different groups in our workplace, in anyone's workplace today.
So I think about that, I think about can we provide, you know, training and management tools for people who historically have not always been put in that position to lead, to help create a more equitable workplace where everyone can have the same skills along with the opportunities to become leaders, managers, and executives.
It doesn't necessarily, you know, put us all at the same starting point if we're given that opportunity, but we don't have a rich background of having experienced those roles.
And that's not just for an individual.
That could be, you know, in their social circle or in their families not having had those opportunities.
We don't have necessarily a lot to draw from, or not just me, but, you know, anyone that's underrepresented.
So creating some sort of program that allow folks to have that opportunity, to have that training and background, and then also have those opportunities to become leaders and managers.
I think that's something that we could really help do even better than we're doing today.
I'm with you. Shannon? I think there are three areas that I would highlight.
Okay. I'm maxing you out. No. So one is around, I love your notebook. It's like blues glues.
One is around recruiting from, just, okay, so we have a very good inbound recruiting flow.
We get so many inbound candidates. Cloudflare is popular.
So a lot of people come and they apply. I think we can do a better job of outbound recruiting from specific places like HBCUs so that we can be very thoughtful about, like, the numbers of people that we're bringing in that are diverse candidates.
I think we can also offer a referral bonus. I think that would incentivize employees to actually spend more time with candidates and go out and get their colleagues and extended networks to come and join and diversify our team.
So that's number one.
Number two is around diversifying our board. So we have a very global company, a lot of diversity across the team.
We have a lot of women in leadership, and that's, like, I love it.
It makes me so excited and, like, proud to be here.
But our board is all white, I think. So I think just diversifying the board and getting leadership from the top to be diverse is a powerful move.
And then I think the third area is around offering a company match.
So once we're a profitable company, I think it would be great if we could do a match.
This is something a lot of companies that are similar to Cloudflare do, and we have so many passionate employees that are donating significant percentages of their income to nonprofits.
So let's maximize and do a company match there. I love it. Thank you.
I took notes. I'm going to plus one on Shannon's offer referral bonus as a very good low-hanging fruit.
I think a lot of people, if they just took the time to look through their Facebook or LinkedIn or GitHub connections, it's a good excuse to go through and see who you know who is underrepresented who might be connected with a Cloudflare opportunity.
Absolutely. Yeah. And partnering with all these amazing professional organizations that are out there for underrepresented groups.
I know personally with Latin Flare, I interact with Latinas in Tech, with Tequeria, with Society of Hispanic for Professional Society, for Hispanic Professional Engineers, Alpha.
Like, there's just a ton of these organizations that we could be partnering with that have many, many members that are super, super qualified.
So yeah, I'm with you. So we have about seven minutes left. I've been trying to figure out, like, I've been bouncing around the questions, so sorry if I've thrown the panel off at all in that regard, but I do think we have time for one last question and maybe a lightning round.
That's what I'm shooting for. So my last question to you, and it's an important one because it involves everybody that's out there right now that's saying, how do I, what do I do?
How do I get started type thing?
So my question is this, if you are not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.
So I want to ask you, does this, does that, like, ring true for DEI?
Like, if people aren't doing something as it relates to this, then are they part of the problem?
And what advice or words of encouragement do you have for people who are interested in doing some anti-racist work and promoting DEI in the workplace, especially if they have not been actively involved up to now?
And I'm going to give you my personal two cents, because I feel like it's really important.
I feel for people, the biggest thing people can do that have not been engaged up to now, I have three pieces of advice.
Show up. Come to our events and our discussions.
So if you're listening to this, you've done it already.
Listen. This is active listening. Make some notes. Like, like, if you learn something new, like, you know, sit with it and like, what does it mean?
And, you know, how can I, and then the last thing is, how can I help?
Ask, ask the, ask people how you can help, whether it's a particular person, an ERG, a group of people, like, so, so show up, listen, active, listen, actively listen, and then ask how you can help.
That's what I think people should be doing if they've been kind of not active or not actively engaged up to this point.
So, so Kevin, what do you think?
Yeah, that's a great question, Haiti. Thanks. So I think it's hard sometimes where, you know, that question of if you're not a part of the solution and you're, you're part of the problem, it's hard because, you know, not speaking up is not necessarily the same thing as being against something, right?
We see that all the time where silence can be harmful.
But I think one of the challenges is that we're not always able to see the problems with racism, diversity, or inequity when we're not directly affected by it.
So I would, I would say one of the first steps to address a systematic problem is for us to have that acknowledgement that these issues exist.
And I think it talks, speaking of self -reflection, you know, if we were to ask ourselves that question that you asked, am I contributing to these issues or am I helping to change the status quo to promote more diversity in the workplace and take that next step forward as an ally for another group that may not have the advantages that I have?
Amen. Shannon, what suggestions do you have?
Yeah, I feel like time and maybe ego are like barriers to entry for people.
I think sometimes people get really overwhelmed because they have a lot of stuff going on, which is totally fair.
And I think also sometimes people are just focused on things that are fun, but they're, I think you can take it a little, like a layer deeper.
So just find one thing or a few things that you're really passionate about.
What is that thing? And where are there areas of systemic racism in that thing?
And then go down that rabbit hole and sit with what you learn and then get involved there.
So for me, like I love writing, I love human connectivity.
So I just, I sat with that and I thought about that and I figured, okay, I can start a newsletter.
I'm going to do that. I'm going to practice my writing as a form of empowerment and idea sharing and community building.
And then I also love helping other people with their writing.
So I'm going to join this nonprofit that does that and it's going to be, right.
So I think, yeah, just go deeper on what you're passionate about and find a way.
Awesome. Sorry, but we're going to move quickly and then we have like two minutes left.
Jade, what, any suggestions, any advice for people who have been hesitant to get involved or just don't know where to start?
You know, I was remembering Michelle's conversation with Ellen Pao, I think it was earlier this week.
And Ellen Pao had mentioned that 90% of Gen Z are supportive of BLM.
And you know, like think about that as a statistic, right?
You compare that to any other generation that is currently in this, in the country that we are in, right?
But there is, sometimes it is, it is easy to, or sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference between someone who is not engaged or not, or not engaging in a lot of D&I initiatives because they are, because they disagree with you, or because they are shy, or because they are busy.
Like those are all different reasons. But like, one thing that is, one thing that is a good piece of advice is just to express that you agree with people.
Yeah, thank you. I'm gonna, I'm gonna stop you there. Joe, any advice, suggestions?
I mean, I think give the, give the empathy you want to get. We're all in it together.
We all have different perspectives. A lot of people who, you know, I think have been, you know, maybe say, a lot of people who look like me are afraid to get involved because they're afraid they'll say the wrong thing and do more harm than good.
And so we've, we, but we want all of them part of the conversation and helping.
We need them. We need to, you know, you know, I'm lucky the ERGs that I worked with, I probably said the wrong things a hundred times and they would take me aside and say, Joe, you know, you're not getting us right now.
Like, but like, here's a little flavor for that.
And then I learned and they brought me along and we got to bring everybody along.
It's a journey for everybody. Thank you so much.
So I, I'm gonna pause here and say, I want to thank, first of all, the panel for, for your thoughtful contributions today, for being so intentional with your responses.
I just really appreciate all of you. So thank you for that.
I want to thank the audience for providing the space for us to have this very, very important dialogue.
I'm going to leave you with my two or three cents here.
I want to encourage everyone that has been listening to this, this, this conversation to learn about what the current DEI numbers are at the company where you work, to learn what the goals are at the company where you work.
So, so what, what DEI goals the company has.
And then lastly, find out what your leadership is doing, contributing to that effort.
How is your leadership contributing to that effort?
Really important questions, and it's good for everybody to know. So next week, Latin Flare is going to be hosting their final events.
We're so sad Latinx Heritage Month is coming to a close, but we ask everybody to please join us on October 6th.
It's Tuesday at 9am Pacific, 10am Central, 12pm Eastern, right here on Cloudflare TV for a conversation with Unidos Now, their Project Galileo participant, and they're going to be talking about what they do in the community, how Cloudflare has helped them thrive during COVID.
And we're, we're hoping that we see everybody there.
So, te esperamos. Thank you for coming tonight. See you soon, everybody.
Thanks for coming.