Celebrating Black History Month at Indeed

February 19, 2021

In this episode of Here to Help, Chris was joined by Stacy Peters, Manager, Global Enablement & Digital Learning, and regional co-chair of our Black Inclusion Group (B.I.G.) to discuss some of the exciting internal and external events that B.I.G. have lined up to celebrate Black History Month.

- Hello everyone. I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed. And welcome to the next installment of Here to Help. This is our look at how Indeed has been navigating the global impact of COVID-19. Today is February 5th. We're on day 339 of global work from home. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. As we like to say, this is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us up at night. And this month at Indeed, we are celebrating Black History Month. I am delighted to be joined today by Stacy Peters, manager of Global Enablement for Digital Learning and the regional co-chair of our Black Inclusion Group or BIG. Stacy, thank you so much for joining me today.

- Thanks for having me, Chris. I'm super excited to be here.

- Fantastic, well, let's start where we always start these discussions with a quick check-in. How are you doing today?

- Great question. In this moment, I'm very excited. And to be honest, I oscillate between excitement, overwhelm, and peace, I think on a typical 2020 to 2021 day. So that's pretty much where I'm hanging out right now in excitement. But I'm pretty sure once the camera stops, there's going to be some trickling of overwhelm, you know, fluttering in. So I think this year, this past year specifically, I've been doing a lot of work on paying attention to my mental health, I think like many of us, given all of the things that have been happening over the past year and a half specifically. And I'm also really, really focused on trying to be kinder to myself. You know, have a little self-compassion. It's hard work though because you know, we are our worst critic. And so, you know, kind of being more compassionate to myself it takes some effort. So that's where I am. That's how I'm doing today.

- Well, thank you for sharing that. We have a lot to talk about, but let's start just set the stage a little bit, tell us a little bit about your role at Indeed and what you do to help contribute to helping people get jobs.

- I kind of think of what I do is I help people who help people who help people get jobs. So I'm part of the whole and anything that I get involved in, I see myself as the engine in the car. You don't often see it, you don't always hear it, but it's there and it's helping to keep things moving and getting to where you need to be. So at Indeed, my day job is being meeting a digital learning team that sits within global learning and enablement. Prior to getting involved with that side of things, training and enablement and learning, I actually started out in a client facing role at Indeed. So I started off actually talking to customers and talking to clients and sometimes your occasional jobseeker would kind of creep in but it allowed me to learn a lot about the people that we're serving and also to kind of grow a passion about, you know, solving problems and fixing things and being more efficient. So from that client facing role, I moved into sales training and then our sales training org evolved over the years given the evolution of learning and development. We truly have grown and this new function came to life within the past year and a half, two years. We are a group that helps our learning and development teams use and leverage technology to optimize their training programs and learning outcomes.

- That's fantastic. I'm just going to pull a quarantine move here. My dog needs to get let out of my office. Give me one second here.

- Go ahead.

- Martha please, please. Thank you, she's very old and she sometimes forgets where she wants to be. So she thinks she wants to be in here. And then as soon as she gets here, she realizes this is not where she wants to be, okay.

- You know what, it's her world.

- Yeah. So, in addition to your day job, you are also the regional co-chair of our Black Inclusion Group and that is actually a really big job. So can you tell us a little bit about the work of the IRG and some of the things that the BIG has planned for Black History Month.

- Yes. So in working with the Black Inclusion Group, I actually work alongside Vernalee James. She is the other co-chair who sits on the west coast.

- Shout out Vernalee.

- Shout out Vernalee. And together we kind of stack the strategic vision for the Black Inclusion Group and help to execute on those goals and OKRs, objectives that we set for the year. A lot of our activity tends to be centered around Black History Month. It's our identity month here at Indeed. And this month we have a lot of things lined up. And I think one of the things you might notice this month is that we're really kind of pouring back into the black employees back into our black communities. I think last year, and the years before, there was a huge emphasis on awareness, creating awareness of the IRGs, creating awareness of the challenges and why IRGs are important, why the black inclusion group is needed. And we've kind of evolved from that. And I think last year's events really helped us to see where our members, our people that are here need pouring into. And so this year you will find a lot of the events are centered around career development, entrepreneurship, financial wellness, and so forth. So our events are really centered around that. And we're also partnering with some other departments at Indeed to help our black, well, not black employees, but black job seekers and minorities outside of Indeed during this month with focusing on helping them get jobs, helping them find their way through this job search experience. So we're really, really excited about that.

- So coming up on a year ago, last February, during Black History Month, we had a really amazing event in our New York City office. And this is interesting for a couple of reasons and I want you to talk about the event and what it meant to you. But part of it also was that this was the last time that a number of us were all together. It was the last time I got on a plane. I flew out to New York for this event and it was the last business trip, and it was the last big collection of Indeed folks together before COVID hit. Now, the event was, we had a gentleman named Daryl Davis come and speak. And for those who don't know Daryl Davis, finish listening to this amazing conversation and then when you're done, go Google Daryl Davis and learn a little bit more about him. He is a musician who's played with Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis. He's also, more to the point here, a black man who has spent the last almost 40 years of his life, befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. And through the dialogue he's had with them, he's been able to convince more than 50 clan members to leave the clan. He has a closet full of Klan robes and hoods in his home. He came and showed them to us which was a really chilling and amazing moment. So Daryl came in and spoke to us in New York city and obviously a lot has happened, but I know that this was a really important event for you. Can you talk a little bit about what you took away from that, what that meant to you?

- Oh, man, that event at the time, I didn't know how much more significant it was not just in that moment, but beyond that moment. One of the things, first of all, I thought he was, I was like this man is incredibly, he's nuts. Like, what are you doing? You're in the face of danger and you're like facing it head on because you're curious. You want to know why. I think one of the things that stays with me is his curiosity to understand why are people so hateful? Like, is it really something that's, you know, hopeless or un-doable. And that curiosity fueled him to, you know, take these risks. And I think it was amazingly courageous that he went on that journey. But one of the things I think happened at that moment, it made me realize it was a precursor, a preface so to speak for the things that were to come, the months that followed. In that event, I felt like there was something happening. There was some kind of subtle, you know, flame being lit or like a little shaking happening at Indeed. It was one of the events that we were able to stream for across the company and we recorded it. And the faces in the room were also something that actually had me really like, wowed. We had leaders in the room. Of course we had Chris, we have some of our senior leaders that took the time to come to this event and really engage with it. And you could hear a pin drop. I looked around the room, everybody's eyes were glued on him not a sound, not a movement and they were fully, you know, engrossed in what he was saying, and his story and what he was talking about. And that told me that they were finding value in what he was saying, but there was something probably happening in them. An awareness that was coming up or questions that were being asked. And I think it served to help kind of get people, a group of people kind of fired up for what was about to take place, what was about to happen. And both on the member side and the ally side, we were really grateful to see a ton of our leaders, our sales leaders were there, CS leaders were there, members, and it really helped me to understand that people wanted to know more. They themselves were curious and I think that curiosity helps us to explore things that may be uncomfortable or scary. And I think that was the first step for many of us in exploring the uncomfortable and the scary, and the things that we probably doubt still happen today. I think it was really, you know, we weren't reading a book. We weren't watching a documentary. We were listening to someone who's living this thing right now, in our time and telling us tales about something we would typically think what happened 50, 60 years ago. So I think it was an awakening that was happening or stirring up. And it helped us to kind of open the window, I wouldn't say door, but maybe a window to kind of be more in-tuned with the things that were going to happen in terms of the George Floyd event, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey, and the list will go on. I can probably list names for this entire session. But I think that helped to kind of plant a seed for many, many of us.

- So just a little over two weeks after that event, we hit the beginning of March. We, at Indeed, all went home. 10,000 people all on the same day on March 3rd and then within another week or so, a lot of the rest of the world had shut down and a lot of things changed. When we talked before, you have described the events of the past year as being an awakening for you. Can you talk about that in a little more detail?

- I think for some reason, there was the sense of, you know, I can't wait to have all the qualifications or all the things, all the tools to do something. We often think about civil rights or these movements, you know, black lives matter. We think of like these dramatic acts that we have to engage in in order to affect change. And the awakening for me was I realized I had what I needed to get started and effect change right then and there. I just needed to use what I have and take the first step. And so I think one of the first examples of that is after the Ahmaud Arbery tragedy and murder, Stanford actually, Stanford actually had like a moment, a teaching moment, a discussion for people to kind of get together and really kind of talk through the trauma. It was affecting black employees, even though, you know, we have this idea traditionally that we need to check our stuff at the door. I remember a coworker once saying that, like, you need to check that stuff at the door. You can't necessarily check, you know, this type of traumatic event, almost genocidal event at the door. Most people cope in some way, but definitely it's not easy to just take it off like a hat put it at the door and pick it up when you leave. And so people were hurting, and Stanford took this step to open this up to anyone who wanted to join. And I think that was also inspiring to me once the George Floyd tragedy hit, I was like, "Okay, I'm done." Like, this is painful for everyone. Like, we have happy hours at Indeed. They are awesome. I'm sure everybody enjoys them, but we need a healing hour. You know, we need time to heal. We need time to start the healing or just at least jumpstart it in some way. And so after speaking with BIG leadership, and Vernalee, we decided in within probably, I think two days, we planned and put on the healing hour event. And, I really thought mostly our black employees or BIG members would join. We weren't expecting like a gigantic turnout. But it actually, I think we had 1700 people turn up to that event. We invited Dr. Chris Hoffman to just help us facilitate that discussion. And it really opened my eyes to how much people were hurting, both members, and of course, allies, some of them, this is like brand new news and they want to do so much, they want to do more. They want to get involved. They almost didn't know what to do. They're just like, I need to do something which was exciting to see but also overwhelming for many of us in the community. And I think that was an example of just just taking what we have, a Zoom meeting and this idea that we need to create a space for people to heal and be safe, we need a safe space for people to be vulnerable and not have to check anything at the door or before the Zoom starts rolling. To basically share how this is affecting them in their day-to-day lives. How it's been affecting them even before the pandemic. And so I think that really was a catalyst, so to speak, to getting more people aware of the effects of these things that are happening right outside of our window, on a way too regular basis. And it was my way of trying to do something with what I had. And for me, I felt like this empowerment rowing throughout this time, because now I'm recognizing the things and the tools that I have already in me, already available to me to effect change. I wasn't waiting for anybody else, at this point, I'm just going to do something.

- Well, it was, you know, really profound. We've actually talked quite a bit about this within Indeed. The idea of us all being separate while experiencing collectively, something as profound as just the entire past year, but especially starting with Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and then George Floyd. Everyone came at it with a different perspective and a different set of experiences, but everyone was impacted and there was something about the fact that we had Zoom that was different than if we were all in offices together because Stanford would've had a moment in Stanford and Austin would've had a moment in Austin and New York would have had a moment. And that healing hour, might've been one of the largest collective gatherings that we've had at Indeed that was an interactive one where different people were talking. And this whole idea of, you know, we've heard this phrase throughout the pandemic of alone together, there was something really amazing about the all of the inclusion resource groups, but in particular, the role that BIG was able to play. And, and I know that there was a lot that was asked of you and Vernalee and all the other leaders, but it felt like everyone really rose to the occasion and did something that seems like it couldn't have happened almost any other way. So, thank you for that. I want to, we could spend probably just the whole hour just talking about this. But I want to, talk a little bit about what you're doing now. Because obviously this did give a new platform, the membership of BIG grew by something like 400% over the course of the last year because of other people getting interested and this awakening spreading. And you said at the very beginning that it feels like we've sort of graduated from awareness to really trying to bring real meaningful change to the employees at Indeed and then to folks around the world. And I know that you and Vernalee have been working and have launched this month, a really exciting new program that I'm going to be a part of that I'm looking forward to called Meet the Execs. Can you talk about this program, what it is that you're trying to do and what we'll be seeing over the course of the month?

- Definitely, and I have to let you know, this was Vernalee's brainchild. And what inspired her, one of the things I think that she mentions that inspired her is the need for sponsorship. Mentorship is awesome. It serves its purpose, but sponsorship really helps people move in their careers, move laterally or upward movement, move into leadership. And so this program is a pilot to help kind of plant or build those connections, those early connections that we hope will lead to mentorship and of course, sponsorship. And by doing that, we're hoping that it will help to help our black employees have an opportunity to sit at the table with leadership, give them almost an opportunity that we've had due to the fact that we've been in these IRGs and we've had this connection with SLT. But give them the opportunity to connect and hopefully grow that connection into a sponsorship relationship. We want to, of course, scale this out, if all goes well. But the main thing is to really help fuel that change. And we want to see more black people in leadership. And I think this is one of the ways that we can do what we can in our corner. And I always talk about light up the corner where you are, start with what you have. This is our way of effecting this kind of change and helping our members, our employees get that, you know, open door to get to the next level. And so, you know, kudos to Verna for really pushing this. And, as I always say, I'm the engine in the car. You know, kind of, I'm always working behind the scenes, I'm always here kind of doing that, you know, trying to help build the bricks that help make it happen. So we're really, really excited to see the first iteration of this program and we're looking forward to the feedback. It's going to be iterative. We want it to be the best program ever. So we're definitely zoning into the feedback from our leaders who are participating and those who signed up to kind of be the mentees in this connection. It really serves as a warm introduction for everyone to get comfortable and hopefully start on that path to mentorship and sponsorship.

- So you've already, I think, hit on a lot of big changes that have happened over the last year in terms of how you look at the world. Can you try to sum up, like, what are some of the big lessons that you've taken from this experience?

- Ooh, there are three main lessons. One is be good to yourself. It's something my dad always says when he closes a phone call with his kids, with us. What many people did not know is in June, when the wake of all the things that were happening, my dad fell very ill. He almost died and he's still recovering. But three days before he fell ill he called me cause I was actually not well and he called to see how I was doing. And when he ended the call, he said, "Be good to yourself." And for some reason that day, it just hit me like a ton of bricks, I cried. I even posted on social media, you know, like, yes, you need to be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself, be compassionate to yourself. It was his way of saying, I love you. He usually doesn't end the call with I love you. But that was his way of saying, I love you. Like take care of yourself. I raised you, I sacrificed for you. Be good to you. And so one of the things that I think in the midst of the pandemic and all of the pain and everything, many of us probably beat up on ourselves trying to maintain whatever normal we had pre-COVID. And we end up being unkind to ourselves. And in turn, maybe unkind to others. I think being good to yourself, being compassionate to yourself, is one of the main things you need to do in order for that to flow out and, you know, flow on to others. The second lesson is do it scared. I say it a lot. I think it had more significance within the past year, more than any other time. A lot of times, I know for myself, for those of you who lead the blue out there, hey. I lead heavily with blue. I think 95% blue. And just for you guys to have an understanding, it just simply means I have a preference to know the details, understand the how. I need to get all the facts and make sure that I have all the I's and the T's crossed before I make a move. And a lot of times in life, you won't have all the answers, you won't have all the data, you won't have all the things, and you need to make a move and you have to do it scared. You have to walk through the fear. I'm not saying ignore the fear, I'm not saying dismiss the fear, or literally see it, acknowledge it, say, "You fear, I know you're there. But I'm coming through." Literally like do it scared. And the times when I've embraced that, I've seen amazing things happen in my life. I think this is one of them. I think an example of it just coming forth and sharing my story. I'm usually someone, as I said, behind the scenes. I'm not usually out in the front. So it's something that can be really nerveracking if you really think about it. But the idea is that you have what you need. If you have the opportunity, it means you have what you need to get started. So just do it scared. And my last lesson would be, while you're doing it scared, don't forget to stop and pause and rest and reflect. Give your time, you know learn the lessons along the way. You know, don't ignore when your body or your mind is telling you, "Hey, we're at capacity right now." It's there, you know, don't ignore that. Don't be so driven that you forget that this body, this mind that you have is the thing that's helping you do those things. Take the time to reflect. I think we're a company, Chris that moves really fast, lightning fast. Like everything is like go. In the two days we could, I don't know, like move mountains, it seems sometimes. But it's really, really important to take those pockets that are offered to just reflect and learn. And I think the pandemic may have taught us that in an informal way. I was reading some Josh Bersin articles recently, and one of the articles talked about the lessons from the pandemic. And Josh Bersin is a research company that specializes in like HR, talent management, thought leadership. And one of the things that I remember from that article is reflection, like taking the time to reflect and how powerful it is to reflect and recharge so the next sprint that you do is like even more powerful. So taking that time to rest, reflect, rejuvenate.

- Those are very powerful lessons. Thanks for sharing that. The being kind to yourself thing, it is amazing how difficult that can be. And I have a friend, Michael, who likes to say that, you know, when he's taking a hammer to himself, as he often does, he has another friend who likes to say, "I don't let anyone treat my friend, Michael, that way." And the idea of treating ourselves the way we would treat a friend it's a good metaphor. It is challenging, but thank you for sharing all of that. As we are coming to the near the end of our time, I want to just hit on one more thing before we wrap up. When LaFawn Davis, who is our Group Vice President for ESG at Indeed. She came in originally as the VP of Diversity Inclusion and Belonging. And one of the things that we talked about was there's essentially a narrative and a kind of progression. And, you know, we started five years ago or so when you started your work with the Black Inclusion Group, really focused on, as you said, awareness and inclusion. But we're working on this journey towards belonging. Where do you think we are today in that narrative around inclusion and belonging?

- Ah, ooh, that's a really good question. And I think it can be answered differently depending on where you sit. From where I sit, what I'm seeing is we've definitely made huge strides in having the conversations about inclusion. More people are aware, they want to incorporate it in some way. They still probably are trying to figure out what it means in their day-to-day and daily lives. Is it something we just kind of talk about in relation to the IRGs. We still have a lot of folks who kind of think inclusion and they think IRG, and it's not like a daily live thing. And that's okay. I think the fact that they're even thinking about it or mentioning it is a huge, huge step. So we're still, in some pockets, getting our sea legs around inclusion and what that means. Inclusion to me, it's more than just having diversity of thought in the room. It's basically seeking out to make sure that all the voices are heard in the room. Ensuring that all the faces that you know, you have in the room are able to know that their voice is heard and that they are not being seen just to be seen or to check the box or just to say, "We are inclusive." But to really say, "We want to know what you have to say. We value your view. You are valued as someone who's bringing a unique perspective." And then belonging, I think, takes it up a notch. When you innately know someone who's typically in an underrepresented group, when you sit at the table, you know, that you belong there. I know, we talk about imposter syndrome. There's that internal piece that you have to work on based on all the other things that you've been taught and you know, kind of shoved that you from society but then there's the creating the environment to make sure that people who are at the table and who are sharing their story, and their perspective, that, again, they belong there. They're supposed to be there and you're there because you're going to bring added value. And you're one of us in some way, you're unique, you're different, but you're also part of this whole. And so I think, again, we have pockets of that happening. I think everybody's kind of, you know, do their little bits to get all pieces of it together. And I think over time, as we continue to have the conversations and we have the events, and we create these safe spaces and brave spaces. You'll see an increase in that happening, not just in the IRG level, but in your meetings. In your meetings in sales, you know, client success, in engineering, you will live those things. And I think we're getting there, we're doing this stuff, we're taking the steps. I hope folks understand that it took years for us to get to this point and it will take years for us to get out of certain, you know, habits and so forth.

- So, to wrap things up, what would you say in the last 11 months, what in that experience has changed your perspective how you look at the world forever?

- Oh my gosh. Which thing you want me to talk about, Chris? There's so many things. I definitely think COVID-19. This is completely not something I touched on earlier, but COVID-19 gave me hyperawareness on the inequities in healthcare among our minority groups, especially black people. Something that has, of course been super, you know, how to put it? I've grown an even more intense interest in like maternal health, black maternal health. And then with my, you know, my dad being ill, it just kind of had me focus in on those things a little bit more. And I don't think I can unsee it and be uninterested anymore. I think there's this renewed flame to kind of raise awareness around those disparities. I also think that one thing that's, like not surprised me, but I think I find very hopeful is the number of allies or people who are really working hard to become better allies in this space. And I think it's something that I never really saw. You know, I never really witnessed myself. I kind of heard about it. But it was really amazing to have people, even personally, you know, share their stories on how they want to contribute and how much of an effort that they're actually making. Like they're actually putting action behind the words which I thought was amazing. And I don't think again, I can't unsee that. There's this new awareness of allies that I now have in my mind besides you know, the struggles of the black group. I think seeing that side that there are people who are there to lead, you know, kind of lead block for us or kind of be that shield, definitely, definitely changed things for me in a huge way. And I also think I became more in tuned with the differences even within our community. You know, becoming an ally myself of the LGBTQIA community. I'm still learning. I'm definitely, you know, curious and interested in being more of an active ally for that community and all the intersectionality that comes with, you know, also access and so forth. So there's so much learning that I did as an ally for other groups. And also, you know, the fact that there's so much more to be done. Like I have so much to learn and there's so much more impact that I can make. And that, I think that's one of the biggest things I'll take away is that I'm not done. Like, I have so much more that I can do and I have so much more impact in me. You know, like I have to keep going. I have to keep pressing forward.

- Well, Stacy, thank you so much for joining me today for this conversation. But really thank you so much for everything that you do for Indeed and for the world. You are clearly a powerhouse in the engine room, but I think today demonstrated very clearly that we need to get you out of the engine room a little more 'cause you have so much to offer. And thank you for just bringing your whole self to this conversation. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

- Thanks for having me. It's been a awesome, awesome, awesome experience. And I hope, you know, someone takes away something that helps them do something amazing in the next couple of days or months. But thanks for having me, thanks so much.