Hitting a mid week wall? Recharge your batteries with this latest episode of SnackWalls, enjoy!
Natasha believes the lack of diversity in tech is a systemic issue. Historically people of color were not necessarily encouraged in their early schooling to pursue STEM careers. If Black and Brown people are unaware of the roles and different opportunities available in tech, then they are less likely to pursue these jobs. Natasha can understand why some companies would want their software engineers to have a CS degree. However, she believes it is more important to focus on a candidate's skills and whether they can get the job done. If a job applicant is self-trained and understands how to get the job done, then the educational piece is just a barrier to entry. The apprenticeship model would be a great way to bring people into tech who may not understand the different opportunities available. If implemented properly, there should be a two way sharing of information and innovation that benefits both the organization and the apprentice. Natasha has found the key to retaining diverse talent is to create a fostering and nurturing environment where employees get resources, support and they have a pathway for elevation in their career, as well as the opportunity to innovate.
Natasha Nurse is a coach, speaker, and content creator who helps people actualize their purpose in their careers and personal life. She is a Global D&I Specialist at TaskUs and the founder of Dressing Room 8, an online platform dedicated to helping women find empowerment. Natasha is the Co-Creator and Co-Host of the WokeNFree podcast which provides a glimpse into the minds of a couple with a different take on hot topics.
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Welcome back to the SnackWalls podcast. I'm Mike Roberts, your host, and we're here to talk about increasing and maintaining diversity in tech, beyond the perks. While companies think they can lure people in with unlimited PTO and dogs in the office, we're here to talk about how you keep them. All right. I'm going to toss it over to our special guest today. Can you in a few sentences, tell us who you are and what is it that you do?Natasha:
Absolutely, I am Natasha Nurse. I'm a coach. I'm a speaker. I'm a content creator. Essentially, I've had a really interesting career. I started my career wanting to be a vet and then transitioned, transitioned into law, and then the economy crashed. So that was perfect. And kind of went down a non traditional legal path, which led me to the path of entrepreneurship, And so for me I think the sum, summation of what I do is helping people actualize their purpose in their careers and in their personal lives.Mike:
Nice. Awesome. So we'll just kick it off with the first question here. So I'm hearing from some thought leaders that, finding diverse talent in tech, especially, is a challenge, what are your thoughts?Natasha:
Yeah, I definitely agree with that. In a previous role I had where I was working with like like that. It was really interesting to see the lack of diverse, even data scientists. And I think it's, it's a systemic issue, right? So Black and Brown people aren't necessarily like encouraged in their early schooling to pursue kind of STEM. And that's more, there's a bigger push now for that. But again, there's other populations that have had that experience, that kind of motivation and encouragement. So, you know, there's a, there's a kind of a space for catch-up for Black and Brown people. And so I think that whether it's the, the lack of encouragement or not even necessarily knowing like education, knowing about the different roles and the different opportunities, because yeah, there's so many different careers in STEM that are high paying jobs that they can do. And, and it's an opportunity, but you just have to kind of get started and learn coding or learn whatever the skill sets needed to kind of pursue that. So it definitely is a lack and, hopefully with things changing in this world, especially with 2020 kind of just flipping everything on its head, I'm hoping that that changes in the next like five plus years. Yeah.Mike:
Yeah. And I think attacking it from that side from the approach of increasing supply is definitely an angle that like, I think it makes a ton of sense, right? I know that that's one of the things that we do as part of our organization is go out into the community and do a lot more outreach and just like, let people know, like we've got the, you know, the headset in the background, like things like that for people to think, not only about the technology that they might be consuming, but this is how, you know, this gets on your phone, right. There's actually people that work on getting content versus a consumer of content. So a hundred percent agree. We, we gotta get better at that. What, what do you think about the push from, from some organizations to remove the requirement for computer science degrees from many of these software engineering roles?Natasha:
Yeah. So I think there's definitely two sides to the argument, right? There are some people who are all about the kind of being traditional and you have to have the educational verification or like the educational substance of saying, okay, you can do X role because you've gone to school for it. But so many of us know who've gone to college, I mean I have seven years of education. Not one year, not one minute of it got me prepared for the life that I live today or to be the human I am today. So to be honest, like as a person who has been a leader in my career or in entrepreneurship, I'm more focused on, can the person do the job, right? So if you can do the job, if you're self-taught, if you're self-trained, if you've done the work into understanding how to do the job, having the educational piece is just a barrier for entry. And especially for, you know, if we want to increase Black and Brown people into this industry. It's probably a lot easier for them to jump in if they could do stuff and be self-taught and learn more on their own without saying, Oh, no, you can't do this because you don't have the educational requirements. But I can understand the other side of the argument, but for someone who's really interested in having more people be able to have more experience and, and kind of get into the industry, removing that barrier would make it a lot easier for that group of people.Mike:
Yeah. Again, same thing on the supply side, right? I love that fantastic part about answer is like, it doesn't necessarily, even if you have seven years, translate into the meaningful skills that you need to do the work, that's sort of like your best work. Right. So I think it makes a ton of sense as well. So what advice would you, or what about apprenticeship patterns? Do you, do you think the apprenticeship pattern could be applied to some of these technical roles?Natasha:
Absolutely. I think for people who don't even understand the different they could pursue in their career, giving them a pathway where they could work with someone and they could get mentorship, they can see what the work actually entails and they can even provide insight. They can, you know, depending on what their experience level has been with that space, they can say, Oh, have you tried doing this? Or so I think it's a nice meeting of the minds of people in an industry versus introducing people like new folks into it and, and kind of understanding their creative take on things. And then also teaching them the fundamentals needed for this role. So I definitely think the more that we can bring people into an organization, into a space, teach them, show them what it's like, they are educated. They can help mold and add more to the organization. It's not just a one-way thing, but it's a two way kind of sharing of information and innovation.Mike:
See, this is why I had you on the program, cause brilliant! The part of your answer that I love the most, that it rarely comes up. And it's the part that people miss, I think the most about the apprenticeship pattern is working alongside the master is that mentorship aspect of it, right? And so you nailed that right in the head. That's what they're going to, candidates going to gain the most out of that experience rather than it being like in a college class where it's like one professor 300 students, you're getting a real like, let me show you, how we really do this. This is how it's done, right? So I love that aspect. What advice would you share with companies that are looking to retain diverse staff? So let's say they have some folks they've done a great job in reaching out and bringing people, employees in, how do you keep them?Natasha:
So that is really, kind of comes down to a couple of things. First, are you fostering an environment where they feel heard, where they feel seen? Do they have employee resource groups, ERG? Do they have a pathway for success and an elevation in their career, right? Cause it's not enough just to bring Black and Brown people into an organization and just be like, okay, cool. We've done our quota. We've done our thing. But like, what are you doing to foster and mentor and develop that talent? What are you doing to make them feel comfortable? What are you offering to them to make them feel like they have a home outside of their home? Because we spend the most amount of time in our work, in our lives doing our work, right? So it is our home outside of our home. And we want to make people feel heard and represented and feel appreciated. Also, how are you celebrating your talent? Especially people of color. Because again, usually we're one of, you know, a hundred in a room and it's like, that's awkward. And if you can't understand that, if you can't get past bias and can't understand the kind of vulnerability that comes to being the only black person at the table, then you're not making that person feel comfortable. You're not making that person feel like they're a part of an organization that they're just kind of this odd man out. And so they can go to somewhere else where they can feel more appreciated or they can feel more celebrated. So really fostering and nurturing environment where they get resources, they get support. They have a pathway for elevation in their career, as well as the opportunity to innovate. I'm a big, I'm a big proponent of innovation. So not only just hearing someone but letting them, what are ideas you have, what are initiatives you'd like to do? Can you, do you want to bring in interns? Do you want to start a mentorship program? Like there's so many things you could do, especially people of color. Like we think about that because we're like, Oh man, if only I had that, right. So giving them the runway to do that, I think makes them feel more comfortable and says, you know, this is, these are not just my coworkers, but this is my family outside of my own bio family.Mike:
Yeah, hundred percent agree. Right. It's that, it's that idea of feeling like you're able to not have to leave yourself at the door, that you are really belonging inside of the organization and they fully support you. Hundred percent. I think that's awesome. Who is someone like yourself that you would like to acknowledge and you think is like a great leader or somebody that would be a good guest on a podcast like this.Natasha:
So interesting. You know, I would probably, I would probably be selfish and pinpoint my husband, who I also have a podcast with him, but I just think it's been interesting watching his career as an engineer, as a black man. It's been, it really been interesting. We're from New York originally, I'm born and raised in Manhattan. He's from Queens. We moved out here to Arizona over a year ago and it's been interesting to see the different kind of pathway he's done as an electrical engineer. And then also as a, you know, testing engineer and, you know, I don't necessarily know if he's always been supported in his career, but he's always found a way to kind of get what he needs. And I think that, I think you guys, it would be a cool conversation for you two to talk and stuff like that. So I recommend Kahlil Nurse.Mike:
All right, we're going to have him on the radar. Hopefully we can get him. I think I know somebody that might have some influence on that decision.Natasha:
Yeah that'd be fantastic, I'd love to hear more about his journey. So where can we find out more about either your company or what you're doing? This is a great time for any shameless plugs. Like I heard you drop podcast a couple of times. So I'd love to hear more about that.Natasha:
Yeah. So our podcast, Kahlil Nurse, is called Woke N Free. And so we started it because we've been together.Mike:
Woke, wait, wait, woke and free?Natasha:
Yeah. So woke, W O K E and then the letter N and then Free. So we came up with the name because we were kind of thinking about wanting to have a public conversation about kind of taboo topics. But when we were seeing people talk about, like, you know, taboo things, it just seemed like one sided or didn't seem like they fully kind of invested in doing some research with it. So we were like to be woke means you have to like do your homework, right. Do, get some research, put some content out there, not just your whatever's in your head, but then also free people, free people to feel comfortable in having taboo conversations. Right? Talk about, you know, uh, homosexuality, trans rights issues, uh, you know, black lives matter. Talk about what's, what's going into our food. Talk about culturally, what what's been going on with Black and Brown people in America, like feel free to broaden and talk about things. Because if we don't talk about things, we will never heal from the trauma that we all have in all communities, all people to be human is to be traumatized. And so we have to feel free to do that. So WokeNFree started around three, three years ago. And, it's just a, kind of a beautiful creation of ours that is just, I think very exciting and also like thought provoking. And also just another example of you know, hey, you know, Black love exists. Me and my husband been together 16 years, married seven years. And you know, yes, we can, we can be married and have completely different thoughts because once you talk to him, you'll see nothing like each other. But we love that because it's like I'm super liberal and certain ideology about life and business and all things like that. And, you know, he has his own perspective and come to the table, let's have an educated conversation and be respectful of each other, but hear each other out, right? We have to hear each other out. We're so tribal in America right now, more than ever. And it's like, if you're on one side of a line and you refuse to hear another party. If you can't hear, then you can't, you can't listen and you can't, you can't educate and take things in because you don't know everything and you never will. So, you know, we wanted to just emphasize that. So that's one thing I would encourage people to check out WokeNFree.com.Mike:
Nice. And we'll throw that in the show notes as well as it'll be super easy for people to find. So that's, I think much needed these days, these conversations. So what have been snacking on lately? This is the last, the most important question. What's your favorite snack?Natasha:
Yeah, so I love sugar, but I've been trying to be better. So recently a good compromise has been like green grapes. I like, can't get enough of them. So I've been snacking on grapes and raisins.Mike:
Nice. No grapes are like, grapes are one of those like nice, nice natural light snacks. So if we're going to do something healthy, I think grapes is great. And then also you can get them like super chilled, like I like them chilled and cold, right? Yeah. Grapes are good.Natasha:
What are you snacking on recently?Mike:
Oh man, I'm all over the place at any given time I could be doing something different. I guess one of my standbys is going to be like the absolute favorite of all time is probably like Twinkies. So good. I was just devastated when they weren't making them for a while. It was, what are we going to do? This is like a disaster. Then they brought them back. I was like, we're safe. Well, thanks, Natasha. I am really looking forward to potentially getting your husband on the program, but I really do appreciate your time. Especially today, I am thankful today for having you on the program.Natasha:
Thanks so much.Mike:
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