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Creating inclusive workplaces is crucial for any organization that wants to get the most out of its talent. This means nurturing an environment where everyone feels like they belong, has equal opportunities, is empowered to do their best work, and feels comfortable making requests and contributing ideas.

Chastity Davis-Garcia

Chastity Davis-Garcia

Chastity has more than 20 years of experience providing guidance and leadership on the management of every company’s most valuable asset: people. She is dedicated to all things culture, including diversity and inclusion, and she takes great pride in discussions centered on the best ways to invest in our talent to support both career growth and future business needs. Her broad experience includes benefits design, implementation of training and development programs, employee relations, and successfully administering workforce planning strategies.

Hi Chastity, welcome to the series! Before we dive in, we’d love to get to know you a bit better. How did you get to where you are today?

A friend mentioned that they were hiring for front desk support at a staffing agency where she worked. It was meant to be temporary as they needed someone to fill in for a receptionist on maternity leave.

I learned the business by sitting in on staff meetings and talking to others in the office about what they did, and, before I knew it, the office manager had asked me if I wanted to stay full-time. There was a recruiting coordinator position available. And that is really how I started my career in recruiting.

Fast forward to 2012 and, after a particularly tough week at work, I applied online to be Director of talent acquisition at a Brooklyn-based company called Wireless Generation (current day Amplify).

We went from 600 to 1200 full-time staff in 18 months, and then my predecessor moved on to a role outside of the organization, and I was asked to lead the team in her place. That was almost 8 years ago now.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

My grandmother, Rita Davis. She left her young children and husband in Trinidad and Tobago to come to New York in pursuit of a better life. 

I cannot imagine how hard that was for her. She worked three jobs and eventually was able to send for her family. She and my grandfather settled in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where they bought a home and invested in their community. 

Her grit and determination have always been a source of inspiration and pride. Despite the challenges she faced, she was able to build a happy and successful life. She had always centered me and reminded me of what I could achieve, even when I doubted myself. 

Whenever I am faced with a challenge or believe something is too hard, I think about Rita. She will forever be my hero. 

Can you please give us your favorite "Life Lesson Quote" and how it’s relevant to you in your life?

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward." - Amelia Earhart

I have suffered from imposter syndrome most of my career and, if I’m being honest, it creeps in any time to do something new that I've never done before. For those unfamiliar with the term, imposter syndrome is a self-imposed belief that you aren't good enough or don't deserve to be in your position. But I have some good tools to help combat it. 

First, I take a deep breath, and I sit in reflection. I think back to every time in my life when I've made good on some pretty tough things that I didn't think I'd overcome. All those same doubts probably crept in then too.

And I find that in reflecting on my accomplishments—in all the times I've ever been successful at a thing I'd never tried before, where maybe I've doubted myself—is where the imposter syndrome begins to fade. 

I honestly don't know if it ever goes away, but I've become better and better at reminding myself of what I am capable of based on what I have already accomplished in my life. 

Thinking back on your own career, what would you tell your younger self?

I would say to myself, who you are is enough, and not only is it enough, but it truly is your superpower. I really struggled early on in my career with sharing aspects of myself fully. I was so guarded. 

In some ways, I was a product of the culture I was operating in. I was working in a male-dominated industry in campus recruiting, where I saw firsthand that a lot of emphasis was placed on where you came from—did you graduate from an Ivy? If so, which one? Were you top of your class? What MBA program did you apply to, which did you go to, and so on—I hadn't done any of those things, and that just felt so different from my personal experience. 

I spent a lot of time early on in my career trying to fit in because I thought this was how I would find success. And I was probably measuring myself against these ideals that had no reflection on where I'd come from or my own experiences. There's a term for that now—code-switching.

Looking back, it was pretty unhealthy. I'd definitely go back and remind myself that I am a badass because of my life experiences, not in spite of them.

It wasn't until I became a people manager that I also began to understand that managers play a role in making work a safe place to lean into your authenticity. And that, if done well, it not just makes it a cool place to work but it enables our teams to be better.

One of the many marks of a good leader is working intentionally to create spaces for people to feel safe sharing aspects of their authentic selves (if they so chose to).

What systems do you have to ensure your workplace is as inclusive as possible?

First, we set an expectation for this work with everyone as part of their orientation to working at Amplify. So, just as you are walking in the door, you understand that creating an inclusive environment is core to "how we work." 

Training and education is a critical part of the work we do that is ongoing. In conversations with staff about all things, I often reference the need for us all to check our biases as we make decisions and draw conclusions. 

I remind staff that we all have biases, despite our best efforts to manage them. Most important is that we are aware of that and then intentionally check ourselves before making decisions. All employees at Amplify are required to take annual training on understanding unconscious bias, and people managers take a special course designed specifically for the people manager experience.

In addition to this training, we have voluntary training courses designed for individuals and teams who wish to lean more deeply into this work with titles including "Developing Ally Skills," "Understanding microaggressions," and "Leading Inclusive Meetings," to name a few. We also have workshops created specifically for people managers, including "Leading with Inclusion & Psychological Safety." 

As a woman of color, I have always been aware of the impact and importance of representation and inclusion. 

When I worked at the banks, I centered a significant amount of effort on increasing the representation of women and people of color in roles for the front office, on the trading floor, in equity research, and in mergers and acquisitions.

I always felt such a sense of pride when we successfully hired underrepresented people for these roles. But I was often disappointed with the retention of all our progress. We worked so hard to attract and hire excellent diverse talent, but attrition would kick in once they hit the business and started to do the work. We just weren't doing a good job of creating the spaces of belonging that supported these individuals. And that was really frustrating. 

So I would join the Affinity groups and meet with people who I could also pull into the recruitment process. I felt that it was my duty to contribute to creating a sense of belonging. 

As I grew professionally, it became clear to me that one of the many marks of a good leader is working intentionally to create spaces for people to feel safe sharing aspects of their authentic selves (if they so chose to). 

I think I've always understood how important it was for leaders to create an environment where folks feel safe. And not just safe to be themselves but also safe to make mistakes and feel like they can ask for support without feeling like asking for help is any indication of their capabilities.

It's why we are all working so hard to create a DEIA program that we can feel proud of. I'd like to believe that we are working on creating a place here at Amplify where it is safe to be who you are, no matter where you come from or your politics—if you want to work hard and make an impact, it's absolutely achievable at Amplify because we all understand that it's our diversity of experiences that make our products better and enables us to do a better job of supporting the needs of our customers.

To address the needs of all learners, including those with disabilities, we methodically integrate accessibility considerations into our product development lifecycle that support compliance with accessibility guidelines and best practices.

Based on your experience and success, what are your top five tips for creating more inclusive workplaces?

1 . Mitigate bias in hiring: 

Before any job description is posted, we use Textio software to scrub for bias and inclusive language. 

All of our interview processes are grounded in a predetermined interview rubric that defines the competencies for each role before launching the interview process.

2 . Intentionally build diverse talent pools: 

We enable a hiring strategy for every role that intentionally targets diverse pools of talent, and our employee referral program recognizes a premium for the successful hiring of underrepresented talent, including women in engineering roles and BIPOC staff in all roles. 

We have partnerships with targeted organizations include; CODE2040, Women In Tech, Tech Ladies, Women Who Code, Disability Solutions, Education Leaders of Color, Latinos for Education, Minerva Project, Hiring our Heroes, AARP, and Marcy Labs. University relations programming extends to Spelman College, Morehouse Collee, Clark Atlanta University, and Howard University, where we have attended HBCU Career fairs since 2017. 

3 . Create a structure that makes everyone accountable for creating an inclusive environment: 

We establish DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) goals for every function at Amplify to ensure that we build a diverse and talented team, foster an inclusive culture, and develop products with an increasing reach that advance equity.

The Amplify DEIA Council is chaired monthly by both our CEO and our President, and it includes diverse representatives from across the organization and at different levels of career who work to establish accountability for DEIA OKRs by function. DEIA Council members are expected to: 

  • Advise senior leaders on strategies that will support Amplify's DEIA goals.
  • Drive advocacy, sponsorship, and support across the organization to meet Amplify's DEIA goals and objectives.
  • Review annual company-wide and functional DEIA OKRs to measure progress against goals.

Amplify's annual performance goals are tied to company bonuses, and we set a performance goal for our collective DEIA work every year. DEIA Council members (not including our chairs) are responsible for determining whether we achieve these goals. And it is significant because it impacts bonus outcomes for every employee. 

4 . Build inclusion into your products, processes, and employee programs: 

To address the needs of all learners, including those with disabilities, we methodically integrate accessibility considerations into our product development lifecycle that support compliance with accessibility guidelines and best practices.

To address the needs of all learners, including those with disabilities, we methodically integrate accessibility considerations into our product development lifecycle that support compliance with accessibility guidelines and best practices.

Product Development is informed by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that have expertise in specific content or cultural areas, such as animal conservation, the history and legacy of the institution of slavery, or the Quechua community of Andean Peru. 

We conduct an annual pay equity analysis tenure to ensure that every employee is fairly compensated for their skills, experience, and contributions to the company. In 2022, Amplify implemented job posting pay transparency ranges nationwide, not just in required locations.

We also regularly review and assesses employee medical benefits to ensure that they are fair and equitable for all employees, with a particular focus on inclusion.

5 . Create a safe environment for addressing issues or concerns: 

Evaluate the culture. How comfortable are staff in discussing diversity, belonging, and inclusion? Review employee surveys and exit interview surveys to build a context for understanding what is happening across the company. 

We also have an anonymous form that makes it easy for folks who may feel uneasy having certain discussions with their managers or HR to submit their concerns. The unattributed responses go directly to me, our CEO, our President, and the Chief of Staff; we work together to address each submission.

Invest in the training and resources that support managers in creating an environment of psychological safety. In addition to facilitating workshops, we also share tips and best practices for managers on how to best cultivate environments that promote and support belonging.

Amplify's employee resource groups (ERGs) are an important resource for helping employees create connections and build belonging in a safe and supported environment. Our ERGs (open and welcoming to all, regardless of your self-identity) receive annual funding to drive meaningful programming and discussion-based learning opportunities.

Can you share some common mistakes you have seen businesses make while trying to become more inclusive?

Sure! When it comes to fostering inclusivity, businesses often have the best intentions but can make mistakes along the way. Here are three common mistakes I've observed companies make while trying to become more inclusive:

One of the most common mistakes is not having a diverse range of voices at the decision-making table. 

If you are truly serious about creating an environment where everyone feels like they have an opportunity to contribute, you have to build it from those perspectives. The best way to understand what different groups need is to ask them and invite them into the conversation. 

Also, tokenistic efforts or initiatives that can be construed as superficial will not work. Focusing on cosmetic changes, such as using diverse imagery in marketing materials or hiring a few individuals from underrepresented groups without addressing systemic issues, is a non-starter. Employees know when you're bluffing—and they will call you on it. 

Lastly, don't rush—real and meaningful progress takes time. You have to be willing to invest in the long game. Educating yourself and others about aspects of DEIA that you may not be familiar with or don't feel comfortable addressing takes time. 

The work is never done. You can't check this work off and stop efforts when you've hit a set of goals. There is always more to do and more to learn.  

How do you measure the effectiveness of your DEI efforts?

We track a number of metrics, but the following are most important: 

Measuring inclusion and belonging—we survey staff on several questions each year across a range of subjects, but these three give us a lot of information on the work to cultivate inclusion: 

  • I feel safe to take risks at Amplify 
  • I feel valued for the contribution I can make at Amplify 
  • I feel respected at Amplify

We also survey staff on the experience associated with their first five weeks of work to understand if they have been feeling welcomed, supported, and connected in their new role. We use that information to make improvements to our onboarding process. 

Measuring workforce diversity—we look across a variety of demographic data about our workforce, not limited to gender and ethnicity, but we also look at disability, sexual orientation, and generational workforce data. And we track our progress over time in each of the categories. 

Measuring employee lifecycle changes—we also track metrics by demographic categories to understand what new hires, internal mobility, and voluntary separations look like across the organization. 

By comparing retention and promotion rates across different backgrounds, we can identify if certain groups face barriers in their career progression or if there are disparities in opportunities.

But it’s important to note that measuring the effectiveness of DEI efforts goes beyond quantitative metrics. We also rely on qualitative feedback and anecdotal evidence. We use this data to help inform our approach to establishing DEIA goals each year.  

Are there other organizations you admire for their approach to DEI?

Absolutely! I have learned so much from so many in this space. I have been really impressed with Salesforce's efforts. Salesforce sets clear goals, regularly publishes their diversity data, and holds themselves accountable for progress. 

They have a strategic approach to inclusion centered on engaging all stakeholders (including customers) in their journey. Some notable programs include their Return to Work program in India, which offers a six-month paid apprenticeship designed to assist women returning to their careers and supports them in earning full-time job offers at Salesforce. 

I've also been impressed with their commitment to increasing their annual spending with minority-owned businesses, which they recently grew by 50%. 

How do you ensure remote workers are treated the same as onsite workers and have equal access to opportunities?

At Amplify, we have taken a remote-first and in-person sometimes approach to how we work. 

Remote first means most people work remotely by default, empowered and supported in productive daily work and career growth. In-person sometimes means that employees come together periodically for in-person connection and collaboration in the office and elsewhere. 

As a result, we have been able to take advantage of the national talent market in our work to grow our organization, but it has required us to make some changes to our internal processes too.

In the past several years, we have re-examined how we communicate internally—leveraging a higher frequency of town halls, newsletters, and Slack communications to stay in sync and connected.

It also means that we have had to lean on managers to develop new skills focused on creating a sense of belonging and connectedness for the teams they lead.

We are also actively revamping our performance assessment to focus more wholly on only those that impact our work to build high-quality instructional materials for all students. 

Thank you Chastity, some great insights in there! How can our readers further follow your work?

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health! 

Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.