Why is asking the important questions so hard?
Black History Month kicked off on Feb 1, 2022 and runs until Mar 1, 2022. It is a time to observe the contributions and accomplishments of Black people throughout history.
Gyasi Barber is the first guest in February to join Chris to observe Black History Month at Indeed. Gyasi pursued a career in opera and trained for years in the vocal arts before pivoting to a career in sales, eventually leading him to a role at Indeed in New York.
Chris and Gyasi delve into the importance of a “brave space” in times of change and disruption, and why it’s important to have the courage to ask questions. They also chat about Black History Month and the Black Lives Matter movement, and why “belonging” matters more than you think…
- Hello everyone, I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed. And welcome to the next episode of Here to Help. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us up at night, and what powers that mission is our people. Here to Help is a look at how experience, strength, and hope inspires people to want to help others. In the U S, February is Black History Month, an annual celebration to honor the contribution and sacrifices of Black Americans who have shaped our nation and history. My guest today is Gyasi Barber, a Global Product Solution Senior Lead at Indeed and a former Site Operations Lead for Indeed's Black Inclusion Group or B.I.G. I am particularly excited to have Gyasi join me today. Gyasi asks great questions. And for those who are maybe outside Indeed listening to this later, every Here to Help is recorded Live with an Indeed audience, and we, at the end, open up for Q&A. Gyasi has asked a question at I think every single Q&A, except for maybe one. I have also been doing a live weekly Q&A with the entire company since March of last year and Gyasi has asked a question, I think at every single one of those as well. So I am looking forward to the opportunity to ask him some questions today. Gyasi, thank you so much for joining me.
- Thanks, Chris. It's great to be here.
- So let's start where we always start these conversations with a check-in. How are you doing right now?
- Right now, I'm doing pretty well. I think that this past weekend was a great time to think about Black History Month, as it just started last week, as well as think of how far we've come in the last couple of years. And on a personal note, I am starting some very, very well deserved time off. On Thursday where I will be taking just some time off from work and doing some nice things and unplugging. So I'm doing pretty well in anticipation of that.
- Fantastic. Well, we have a lot to cover today but why don't we start just with a little bit of explaining your role. So what is a Global Product Solutions Senior Lead and how do you help people get jobs?
- Yeah, so within the Global Product Solutions space, we are essentially one of the most important conduits between our Frontline Sales and Client Success teams, and the people that make our products go. So our Global Product Commercialization, Product Managers, et cetera, everyone within our Product Tech and Engineering space. So we are the voice of the people and we're the voice of the people's people. So we really help by focusing on our non-core products to help make sure that clients are really filling out their whole strategy. So that they not only wait for people to find their jobs, they also can proactively reach out to them. They can communicate their messages why people want to work for them. And so we really make up the whole gamut of all of Indeed's products.
- One of my favorite parts about these Here to Help conversations is learning a little bit more about people's background and their experience and how different career journeys can be. You have an interesting background. You did not start out in tech. Can you talk a little bit about what you were doing before and how you got here?
- Yeah, so I have been at Indeed for six years, a little more than six year. So it's been my longest foray in any one company. But before that my upbringing was really surrounding the area of music and classical music and opera. So I have two degrees, one is music education. So I was studying to be a music teacher, and that's what I got my bachelor's in. And then I went to grad school at a conservatory in Boston, and I was studying to be an opera singer. And I thought that's what I wanted to do. And everyone told me that I was good at it, that I had talent but it took me a really long time to figure out that I didn't really like it when I didn't do well at things. And I didn't do the music thing because I was trying to get better. I did it because people told me that I was good at it. And then once I got out of grad school and got hit with the real world of auditions and trying to find work and everything like that. And people told me, "You are okay, but you're just not as good as other people. You need to take some more time." And in the music world, my voice type, being a very low bass they tell you it takes a whole lifetime for your voice to mature. And I just couldn't wait that long to get that positive affirmation that I was doing a good job so I pivoted. And then I worked... I really found that I wanted to work at companies that had missions. So before Indeed, I worked at an environmental efficiency company that focused specifically in the residential sector. So talked to a lot of homeowners about how to make better choices with their homes and their general makeup. And then luckily a colleague of mine or a former friend from Syracuse worked at Indeed, still works at Indeed. And he told me about this blossoming company and it was a lot different back in 2015 than it is now. So I'm really happy that I made that jump and made that choice. And now I've been here for a lot longer than most millennials stay at companies.
- So we're having this conversation right now during Black History Month, and our Black Inclusion Group has a lot planned both around celebration but also around reflection. Can you talk a little bit about what Black History Month means to you?
- Yeah, so a little bit about what the month means to me. It definitely makes me think about the history of Black History Month. Hasn't been around all that long. It first started as Negro History Week, and then Negro History Month, and then morphed into Black History Month. And my background really does a lot with my importance of Black History Month. Coming from a multiracial family and growing up in a town that focused really just a lot of resources and conversations around civil rights and just general equity. I actually... My hometown of Teaneck, New Jersey, was the first town in the country to voluntarily integrate their schools. There's been books written about it. So it's been a part of my life for the pretty much whole time that I have been a human. Whereas most kids were sent to different schools to maybe learn about like religion, or maybe even etiquette or those types of things. My dad sent me to a school to learn about the culture of Africa. So just the knowledge that I had, the realization that I had, that I came from a little bit of a different background. It really made me realize that it's important to know not just your background but lots of other people's backgrounds and to celebrate them. So I think of Black History Month really as a celebration of culture and not just one culture because all of our people that come from the African diaspora have lots of different cultures mixed with other cultures and so it's really just a celebration of where we've come from, and what we want to be in the future.
- One of the things that I've really come to appreciate getting to know you over over the years is your willingness to talk about complicated things. And so we had a conversation, I don't want to put you on the spot but when we were meeting last week and prepping for this you had said that one of your goals for the year was that you wanted to be a guest on Here to Help. But that you had another goal, which is that you also wanted to be a guest again, not during Black History Month. And this is very complex, right? We want to have these conversations and we want to dive into these topics that might be uncomfortable for people. And then at the same time, we don't want the only thing that we're talking about to be those issues. Can you talk a little bit about what you meant by that when you told me that on Friday?
- Yeah, I love talking about my culture and as a very proud Black man I will always talk about the systems that are in place that don't give us as much opportunity as other groups of people. As well as how much just rich culture we have that we bring from people that might be more recent immigrants. I mean, there's just a lot to unpack, and there's not a lot of time to do that in one month and in the shortest month of the year. And so I also know that I am a staunch ally of all marginalized communities. And one thing that that does to me is it takes a lot of emotional energy to think about everyone. I'm an inherently empathetic person. And so back in 2020, when people would ask me how I was doing? First off, I hated that question during that time because it was really triggering. But now as I've gotten more into being an ally to all of our different Inclusion Resource Groups at Indeed, and just thinking about it in general. I think a lot about, well, how do these systems affect not just Black people but women? How do they affect immigrants? How do they affect people within the LGBTQ+ community? And it takes a lot out of me to think about these things but it drives my thirst for knowledge of what these systems do. And so because we're obviously talking about Black History Month, right now we're going to focus a lot on that. But I also know that in March is Women's History Month, and in June we're going to celebrate Pride. And in September and October, it's going to be Hispanic Heritage Month. And so I think that it's important to be that ally that can speak to these things without necessarily draining everyone's emotional intelligence bucket of sorts. And so I think that I do the work that I need to do to understand the plight of all of these people and all of these communities. And I really want to be that person that can speak for those people and ask those questions that those people want to ask but maybe don't have the energy to do so. And I can only do that with more opportunity to speak.
- It's something that anyone that knows you or anyone that certainly at Indeed has spent any time with any of our Inclusion Resource Groups that you are a fixture not just... You don't just show up you're a fixture at so many of them and in the generosity in creating space and giving voice to other people has been really powerful. And I want to get into that but maybe again for folks who are not an Indeed, if we could back up a little bit and talk about the IRGs at Indeed and their role. So an IRG for folks not an Indeed is Inclusion Resource Group. And you joined B.I.G early on and ended up playing a leadership role at B.I.G. Can you talk a little bit about your experience as B.I.G was getting up and running and finding its footing and how you saw your role?
- Yeah, so I believe... And Stacy will probably tell me... One of our other leaders in our Black Inclusion Group, if I got this wrong. But Inclusion Resource Groups started in late 2016, so about a year after I joined Indeed and I was just very excited to have a space with my people. It had been a while. I went to a predominantly white institution and then I went to a classically trained conservatory. So it had been a while since I had been around my people really since high school in abundance I would say. And when I came to Indeed the first... My person that referred me was actually on my team which was really, really good to have. But I had another Black person who's no longer at Indeed, but he was on my team and just seeing that, and then the New York office was a lot smaller than it is right now and I just happened to run into pretty much all of the Black people at Indeed that first day. And my trainer when I went to Stamford to train was also Black. And so it just sort of percolated and it got me really thinking about our population just in general at Indeed. And then I think maybe seven or eight months after that, this was before Inclusion Resource Groups existed. I had a lot of thoughts about just the general makeup of my office. Because I'd only been to the Indeed office and into the Stamford office. And so those two offices didn't see a lot of people like me in abundance and I definitely didn't see spaces where we could just be. And I really, really wanted that. So when B.I.G started, I was just very excited to be a part of that. It was pretty small, pretty relaxed. And I just remember thinking that the weight of being me and being in these spaces for so long since I was really a young... Not even an adult. It was just so comfortable and I didn't ever feel like I had to do any work. And then as more and more Inclusion Resource Groups came about Women at Indeed, iPride, Latinx in Tech, and so on and so forth. I think we're up to 11 or 12. And new ones are being created all the time. We have Parents and Caregivers and All Generations, and International Inclusion Group. And it really made me think, "How can I create a space when I became into leadership at B.I.G?" How can I create a space that people will feel comfortable? But that we can also have allies come in and maybe do the first work The first bit of work that they've done in a long time understanding these other populations that they may not interact with. Maybe not in their professional lives, maybe not in their personal lives. And then they can realize and check their privilege and understand all of those things. Because although I am in a marginalized community, I'm only really in one, right? As a man, able-bodied, educated, all of those other things. I don't have a disability anything like that. When I go into these spaces and I am just an ally, although an outspoken one. I want to know like... I want to learn. I want to know what's going on but I also want to then go and advocate for those people especially when they're not around. And I think that the Inclusion Resource Groups have done a great job as they have progressed and as they have grown to really create that. And if people don't... Maybe they look around their social circles, they look around their professional circles, and they don't really see a lot of diversity within those spaces. I'm here to tell you that whether you're an internal person, an Indeedian or you're looking at this from the outside those spaces exist and if they don't you may have to go and create them. And that's going to be a lot of work, and it's going to take a lot of emotional stress out of you but it's work that is really good to do.
- Yeah, I think it's one of the remarkable things about seeing the IRGs develop and grow and especially since the start of the pandemic the membership in IRGs has grown pretty much exponentially. And I think part of that is that so many people were stuck alone and isolated that they're craving a sense of belonging. And one of the things that I figured out pretty early on was that for many people their work environment is probably one of the most diverse groups that they're a part of. That for many people around the world but certainly in America where people go to school tends to not be extraordinarily diverse possibly a faith organization or neighborhoods. And yet when people come to work and especially at a company that has grown like Indeed has now at our size. We have pretty broad representation of all different types of backgrounds and experiences. And that it actually turns out to be an amazing opportunity for people to come with an open mind and an open heart and to learn a little bit more. And I think that one of the things so you mentioned and as I said kind of earlier on, you've been an active member in many of these groups. And a lot of what that means though is showing up and listening. And we talked about this this last week of checking your own privilege. Which I think for people who want to be allies and especially people like myself who maybe grew up with really no marginalization to speak of, to not just learn how to recognize my own privilege but then to see people who might have had other barriers to face checking their own privilege. Is an incredibly powerful thing and how you've also shown up to give voice to others. So I'd love to talk... I mean, there's so many different things to talk about here but in particular early on in the pandemic there was this rise and I would like to say wave although it hasn't really gone away of anti-Asian xenophobia and violence and other things. Seeing you show up in spaces like that with our Asian network and being able to be there and be an ally was incredibly powerful I think to me and a lot of other folks. So I'd love to hear you talk about this. How you think of using your voice and what it means to be an ally and how you've approached that.
- Yeah, well, just for the record I live in New York City. And even though New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, it is also one of the most heavily segregated cities in the world. I've lived in different parts of the city where different representation, peaks and valleys and all that fun stuff. But because I come from a multiracial background. My mom is... They're both New Yorkers so how I obviously get them. My mom is Jewish and she's from Staten Island, and my dad is Black and from Brooklyn and his family all comes from North Carolina. And so I didn't really ever have a choice I always had to think about more than one identity. And that's something that a lot of people that come from multiracial backgrounds do, it's just part of growing up that way. But one thing I always wanted to to do is take in culture. Traveling is obviously a big part of that. But for me I don't really have to travel that far to understand different cultures. I can go and I can buy things from businesses that are owned by people that don't look like me as well as businesses that are owned by people that do look like me. I can try the cuisine of lots of their different places. I can even just go and walk around in... I can go and walk around in Little Italy, I can go and walk around in Chinatown. I can... I used to live in East Harlem and just go and listen to languages that I do understand a good amount but are not my native tongue. And I think part of that is just... That's a privilege that I have but I think other people don't have that. And if it's not around them, then they don't necessarily feel like they have to seek it out. So if you live in an area that is homogenous and everybody looks like you, and you may not think about going and seeing a different part of the town you live in, or even traveling great distances to go and find other cultures. And then when other culture is thrust upon you, and that can be ethnicity anything like that, anything separates people then you... Because you have not made that choice to go in and learn about that culture then it feels pressure, it feels pressured to be upon you and you may not like that. Now I do not like change even though I live in a city where it's ever changing. I don't like change. But I do like to put myself in situations where change is thrust upon me. Mostly because I'm making the decision to be within those spaces. And when you make the decision to put yourself in those spaces then you can ease your way into it, right? You can go and you can... Especially in a virtual world, you can go and you can be on mute, you can turn your camera off and you can just be. And you can understand maybe some of the challenges that people are having. And then as you continue to get more comfortable and you have those conversations with yourself and recognize whatever privilege you may have, because we all have some you just have to dig... Some people might have to dig a little bit deeper. Then you might become more like me and experience things, you're more aware of things ad you can say, well, I noticed this happened the other day. Specifically around like all the anti-Asian hate that's going on. I mean, when you live in New York you're going to see lots of different people. But when it hits close to home, when the woman was murdered on the subway, that was a train station that I took every single day going to work. So you're immediately thrust into that space and you have to come to grips to why that it happened and what's the fallout of that? You can't ignore any of that stuff. And if you want to find other cultures sometimes you have to go and seek them out. And it's important to do that because then you can think about how your culture intermingles with that culture and then understand some of the systems that might keep you apart. Even in a city like New York, why are there no other people that maybe look like you or look like a specific ethno-group in your neighborhood? Why is that? And that question is a big one and but one that you might want to consider. Just on a quick fact, it's not a mistake that if you ever wanted to go and live in a predominantly Black city, and there's not a lot of them in the United States. And if you wanted to live in a larger city, not a small town but a larger city that the area income of those cities is at least $20,000 lower then the median income in the state that they are in that's not a mistake. So if you want to do that you might want to acknowledge, well, if I go and live in those cities I might not be able to make as much, or my money might not go as far. And you need to ask yourself why that is? And have those conversations first with yourself, then with your close friends in your own group and then branch it out.
- Well, that's a good segue to... At Indeed the Black Inclusion Group's theme for Black History Month this year is, it's not health and wellness, its wealth and wellness. And I know that in particular financial literacy is a personal passion of yours. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how we arrived at that theme? What it means? And talk about your personal interest in this area.
- Yeah, anybody that's at ever talk to me about this knows that my favorite statistic is, it's around wealth, right? It's around your overall net worth. And in the United States, the average net worth of a white family is about $116,000, which is pretty good. It's good to have that wealth. And the average wealth of a Black family is $9,500. And so as relative-
- Sure, those are averages actually, the medians are even farther apart.
- Way farther apart. The ultra rich definitely skew those. But I like to talk about averages cause it at least keeps it into some level of perspective for people. You want to have a conversation with me, or we can talk about that at a different time. There's not that many Gyasis on social media so just look me up if you don't work it Indeed. And so I love to talk about that because it makes me think about what we need to do. And one of the... Two of the things that have a really big impact on wealth is where your family comes from. So when we think about the wealth part, financial literacy is really important because there is a lot of information that is communicated and broadcast throughout our communities that keeps us poor. And I don't mean individual people, I mean, swaths of people, groups of people, entire cities that keep people poor. And understanding that and getting that knowledge is the first thing that we as a Black community need to do to then take control over our wealth journey. Where we know that a lot of other people they maybe just have to start saving, or contribute to their retirement accounts, or their investment accounts. And they don't have to think about everything that has been done that keeps us away. All of the information that comes out around whenever Black people get a little bit of wealth. I mean, we all know hopefully... A lot of people know about Tulsa, and about Black Wall Street and how that was ripped away from us. But goes a lot further back to the Freedman's Savings Bank in... That was in the Mid-Atlantic in the late 1800s. So right after the end of slavery that was then just ripped away from people. And although it's not as visible now as literally just destroying institutions and businesses, and communities and everything like that it's a lot more subtle, which is generally how oppression continues to be on. So when you talk to the school-to-prison pipeline, when you talk about generally people that go to college who are Black, they don't finish as often as people who are not Black and they come out with more student loans. They typically go to more for-profit universities, which typically make people be more in debt. There's a lot of things we don't have the most time in the world to talk about those. And then the other end of that is wellness. Is just about your general wellbeing. And I know that my family especially on the Black side, really on both sides but especially on the Black side. They have all dealt with serious both mental health and physical health, just whole body health more towards the late stages of their lives. So I can count on not my two hands, not my hands and toes, the amount of people that have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, high blood pressure, so many things that then later on in life you are not able to take care of yourself and that depletes whatever funds you might have. So if you ever wanted to save up for something a lot of the people in our communities they're saving up to just get through to the end of their life. Which then doesn't leave money for inheritance, it doesn't leave money to bridge that generational wealth gap that we have. And then you're just further and further behind. So understanding all of that is where you have to be, you have to educate yourself on those things. And then all of us can then go and say, okay, how can I then build my wealth? But you have to understand all of that where other people may not have to.
- Yeah, and that's... I think these question of what is racism, right? Which is... It's amazing how much of a debate that is. But I think the general misconception is that it's about individual prejudice versus disparate outcomes from systems that essentially assert those outcomes and keep things that way. A big part... And I want to thank you, I've been doing a lot of reading over the last few years in this area and you had recommended a few years ago to me The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander which is... I guess I'd like to say it's one of the most astonishing books I've read but then I've read so many other books on other topics that are as profound and deep in terms of that. And I know that reading is very important to you and you do a whole lot of it. And then at the same time we're finding ourselves right here in 2022, after what in theory could have been great opportunity for awakening and we're having these debates about banning books in schools. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on reading, and what it means and how you might make sense of what's going on in this country right now with this debate about information.
- Yeah, so my intersection of my ethnicities. So being Black and being Jewish, there's not a lot of other groups of people that have experienced hate at a level that people that come, descend from slaves, and then people that descend from especially European Jews. And so I know about a lot of things related to pain and knowledge. And so generally because books that get banned are around my two identities, and there are obvious there is lots of other books as well. It really just hurts me because it's essentially saying that these children, and obviously my background in education makes me think of about children often, these children won't be able to learn about me. And if they can't learn about me, then we won't exist. And yeah, we'll continue to exist and survive and maybe even thrive, but when you take books away that talk about the Holocaust, you take books away that talk about just general maybe it's religious persecution, or you take books away that don't talk about the civil rights movement, or you don't talk about slavery, or then don't talk about just inching on, even academic books around the Social Security Administration and the Fair Housing Administration, all of these things, then you're basically taking away the choice that people have to choose whatever side of that history that they're going to be on. And the shocking thing that it is when I look at these districts that do this, now there may be political leanings and whatnot that sort of sway people to go one way or the other. But oftentimes the districts that do this have very involved parents and guardians and leaders that say, “Hey, I don't want my child learning this.” So it's multifaceted because they have choices to teach their children at home generally, that they can give them extra books, they can give them things to do, which is stuff my family did, my dad did especially. And so they're choosing what they teach their children at home. And then they're also choosing what their schools teach. And then you have the flip-flop of that. You have parents that are good parents that care a lot about their children, but they may not have the time or just the mental capacity to teach their children at home and influence what their kids learn at school. And those people traditionally more so than not, they look like me and other marginalized communities. So I think what we really needto do is teach our children how to take in information, make informed decisions and go from there. Because all this talk about indoctrinating our children with these thoughts, I mean, we indoctrinate people that we raise all the time with lots of different thoughts and lots of different opinions and lots of different information. People used to always tell me, my mom, that she raised three really great children that were good people and thought empathetically about everything. And that's right, but that in itself, and I looked this word up and recently just so I could speak to it, that is indoctrination. If you're brought up in a household that values the golden rule and treating others the way that you want to be treated, that's indoctrination as well. So why do people get to choose one type of indoctrination over another? And that always gets to me. And so just make kids think we don't do that as much. And if you take books away, they're not going to think as much.
- I think there's probably a lot of different ways to look at it but one way to look at the human condition is that pretty much everything that we do is based on trying to distract ourselves from feeling uncomfortable. And you could rattle off all the different things that you might want to. From small to societal and very large but that as a species we don't like discomfort. And so much of being able to make the world better requires actually looking at things and talking about things and learning about things that are uncomfortable. So I'd love to talk about just for a minute to kind of dive into last... Last it's now we're in 2022. Time has kind of lost some meaning here. May... Well, starting in February of 2020 through May and beyond we had Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, which and again, none of these are news stories but because of the time and place and a series of circumstances in COVID and everyone being... Whatever happened that happened in the summer of 2020. Not only did these issues suddenly become front and center in a global conversation but they became front and center at work for... I would imagine almost every other company but certainly at Indeed. And you were among many of the people who were really showing up in these places to give the space and to have these conversations. And also being very clear about the fact that it was a heavy load and it wasn't... You didn't want to say how you're doing every five minutes, or explain how all Black people were feeling because a lot of people were coming to people like you and asking those questions. Can you talk about feeling uncomfortable at work and that experience. Basically, what it was like but also what we can learn from that and how do we take something and create an environment where people have the space to deal with complicated and difficult, and painful situations like this?
- Yeah, I've been thinking about this a lot because especially transitioning out as a being a leader of an Inclusion Resource Group, I'm thinking more about my membership and how I want to continue to support the people without leading them. And one of the things that I like to communicate to people is I am uncomfortable probably about 40% of the time just being me. I'm Black, I'm really large and luckily on a virtual screen that doesn't come off as much. But when I'm out walking my dog, or going to the grocery store, or anything like that I just... I generally... I'm a jarring presence. And so I have to acknowledge who I am, and what I'm doing within those spaces and know that I am out of the norm. And so I think that oftentimes people don't consider that because they may feel comfortable 90% of the time, or even 100% of the time because of the company they keep and the company they choose to surround themselves with. And so I did a panel last year and one of my panelists... Somebody asked a question around, what do you think about the idea of bringing your full authentic self to work? And they commented and basically said that, "I don't think anybody should bring their 100% authentic self to work." Now I always like to say that, "I'm living my best, Gyasi." But I also know that if I was totally unhinged and all the barriers were taken down I'd be a lot to deal with and I'm already kind of a lot to deal with. And so when you think about daily how many times you put yourself into positions that make you uncomfortable. Just try and count, do it for a day, do it for a week, do it for a month. And if you don't really find places where you are uncomfortable or where you can recognize that you may have it better than another group that you are surrounding yourself with, then that's something you have to come to yourself. But the more that people do that the better that we're going to be. Because the more we're going to be able to recognize things that are happening around us that are not right. And just because it's the same thing that we've done forever definitely does not mean we should continue to do those things. Actually, we probably shouldn't. Change is always going to come and you better... It's better to be on the right side of that than on the wrong side.
- I want to come back to something I said at the very start about you asking questions and you do. You ask great questions and you ask a lot of questions and I like asking questions. Obviously, that's why I do this thing here. Tell me a little bit about where that came from... Is this something that you... Were you always a question asker? Is it something that you feel now is important? How did this become part of who you are?
- Yeah, so I'd like to say that I'm a really good student and that I like did all the work that I had to do and read everything that I needed to read and reflected in all that stuff but I wasn't. I was actually probably just average. And so anytime in school when I would be tasked with something or I needed to participate. I would often ask questions mostly because I did not know the answers to just generally what we were talking about. And so it all started from that. But then I started realizing the kind of information that I wanted to take in. And then I knew that the more information I knew the more credibility I would have especially in a professional space. And so the only way you can have credibility and trust and rapport with whomever you're working with, whether it's a company or a colleague or anything like that is by asking questions. And I know that it's important to ask open ended questions, questions that people will say, "Oh, you know, that's a really good question." And then in the back of my head I would say, "I know, thank you. It is a very good question." But my questions really morphed in the last couple of years, probably starting around like 2018, 2019, when we were growing so exponentially. Really asking questions of leaders that were going to spark conversation. Maybe conversation with me but hopefully conversation within the circles of people that can make decisions. And so now I just think about that just in that way and the more questions I ask the more people can think about it and then especially the more I can follow up. So if I ask a tough question and then somebody answers in a way that I don't like which happens sometimes because when questions come at you, you have no time to prepare. But then I ask it later and I ask it in a different way, and I follow up and I have those conversations. And that led to a lot of uncomfortable conversations especially in 2020 but even through to now in 2022. And so I ask questions because I know it's the right thing to do. And especially because I am a strong presence, I've been in Indeed for a long time, I am comfortable in how I ask questions. And I ask questions for people that won't ask them themselves. And so they'll send me questions, I ask those questions. Sometimes even people try and give me answers. And I say, "Thank you." But I ask the question because it needs to be asked not because there's a simple answer to it.
- One of the things obviously, as a business we focus on how we can be more inclusive and hire more inclusively but also our business is helping other people hire. And we are dedicated to trying to figure out how to make hiring more inclusive in general. I guess, from your experience being a part of all this what are some of the things that we and other companies should be doing that we're not doing today?
- First thing is acknowledging just the facts. The facts that companies... I can speak to a couple things. Companies that have leadership that are more mixed gender wise have higher profits, they just do. Companies that hire people that have a diverse background, maybe they have... Maybe they don't have a bachelor's degree, maybe they come from a different area from where you hire before. They bring innovative ideas to the plate. They can basically say, this is maybe how I would think about it and it's different than the way you might think about it. And if you accept those people then you're going to drive change. And you're also going to be able to market and benefit other populations of customers possibly and even countries. And then the final thing is that everybody knows this, it's much harder to keep people than it is to hire people. So companies... And this might... This is an interesting thing coming from Indeed, we want people to continue to try and find their next hires on Indeed. But we also want you if you're doing good things, or if you're creating an environment that is one that is changing just shout it out from the... Shout it out from the rooftops and say, this is what we're doing. This is why we're doing what we're doing. Please come and join us so that you can help us. And then the last thing is that we all know it's not enough to have a job. It's not enough to have a job opening. You need to have a potential for a career where someone can grow and contribute and be at a company for 6, 15, 30 years. But you can't just look at compensation and benefits, it's the whole entire compensation that makes up for that. So consider all of those things. It's a lot of work but you have to do it.
- Well, as we come to a close we could keep talking for a very long time and we will continue talking beyond on this. But I like to ask that looking back over the past couple of years and everything that we've been through with the pandemic and all of the upheaval and change in the world. What if anything has left you optimistic for the future?
- I had a conversation a couple weeks ago right before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which we have off which is great. And I had a conversation with a colleague out of Austin, and we were just talking about what their kids were doing in school. And we had a pretty long conversation maybe about an hour which is not abnormal for this individual. And I asked him what are you planning for MLK Day? And we had a nice full conversation around questions you might want to ask your kids, or conversations that you might want to bring to them to see how they feel about things that they don't really have to deal with because they aren't within that community that is generally what people associate with the holiday. And so just the fact that people are coming and they're maybe having their very first uncomfortable experience. That gives me a lot of hope but it's not something that is going to organically continue to grow. So it gives me a lot of hope that these conversations can continue to happen and that people can honestly understand that they have a lot of weight to make change happen. And the more times you put yourself in a position where you have to think about that, the more you're going to be able to speak to that in the future. And so if you have never felt uncomfortable, or you've never felt consciously uncomfortable in any situation find one to be uncomfortable with. It can start with a book, it can start with a documentary, it can continue on with a conversation with somebody that you may maybe have never approached, but start it somewhere and then recognize how you feel about them and then keep it going.
- Well, Gyasi, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for this conversation and really thank you for everything that you do at Indeed, and I'm sure outside of Indeed as well to have as much empathy and thoughtfulness and care for others and to be so open about it. It's incredibly powerful. I've certainly learned a lot from getting to know you and thank you for asking those tough questions and please keep doing that.
- Thanks, Chris. It's my pleasure.
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