How Indeed’s Black Inclusion Group is promoting equity and excellence 

Indeed's Black Inclusion Group in a group poseIt was a year ago this month that Indeedians gathered in person in New York City for a Black History Month discussion led by Daryl Davis, a Black musician who has been reaching out and educating members of white supremacist groups for the past 40 years to promote tolerance and battle racial ignorance.

A year later, the trials of the past 12 months have only added new gravity and importance to honoring Black history. While physically apart, our shared struggles have brought us closer together as we honor those who have made history in the face of great injustice.

On the shoulders of the great innovators and influencers of the past, we celebrate this Black History Month with a fierce dedication to helping those who face barriers and biases in their journey to equity. Much like Daryl Davis, we recognize this journey starts with listening and having uncomfortable conversations about race. Our Black Inclusion Group (BIG) continues to be a leading voice in these important discussions.

VernaLee at the 2019 Inclusion Summit
VernaLee at the 2019 Inclusion Summit

“I love my Blackness and I want to talk about it.” 

Talking about race at work is important because it allows an opportunity to bridge gaps between groups,” says VernaLee James, Co-Chair for Indeed’s Black Inclusion Group in the Americas. 

“If I have to go to work and avoid the fact that I am Black because it is seen as taboo to discuss race, I am not being seen as a full person at my job,” she adds.

Voices like VernaLee’s have led many Indeedians on a path to discovery about our own biases, as well as the biases we’re trying to solve in the hiring process.

Promoting Black Excellence

“Our focus for 2021 is to support the Black community directly by promoting Black excellence,” VernaLee recalls.

To do this, BIG worked with our Job Seeker Experience team to develop a web page with helpful resources for Black job seekers, including information on salary transparency to help close pay gaps, advice on beating racial bias in your job search and how to be a better ally.

“The creation of this page alone says to me that Indeed acknowledges that there is racial bias in the recruitment process and that every situation is not the same,” VernaLee says. 

“With this knowledge in hand, Indeed is walking the walk by not just acknowledging this fact but taking intentional actions to create tools and resources to support Black job seekers.”

Elevating Black Leaders at Indeed

VernaLee and Stacy with CEO Chris Hyams
VernaLee and Stacy with CEO Chris Hyams

VernaLee and fellow BIG Co-Chair Stacy Peters have long recognized the barriers to advancement for Black employees. According to Indeed’s recently published Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Report, only 2.7% of leadership roles in the US are Black/African American. “We wanted to do our part to influence that,” says VernaLee. 

To do this, the Black Inclusion Group kicked off its Meet the Exec Series to give active BIG members the opportunity to meet and connect with senior leaders. 

After many months of research and planning, the Meet the Exec project pilot began in earnest in January 2021. The team began mapping out two sessions that were held in February to create a ripe learning environment through authentic conversations and building new connections between senior leaders and BIG members.

“Meet the Exec is a program giving Black employees a more personalized and warm intro to our company’s senior leaders,” says Stacy. “Success of this program will be generated by the number of mentorship connections established and positive sentiment of all participants in the short term.” 

Hear more about Stacy’s work to promote Black History Month in this ‘Here to Help’ podcast hosted by CEO, Chris Hyams

Nolan Farris, Chief Revenue Officer
Nolan Farris, BIG Executive Sponsor

Recently, Indeed’s Chief Revenue Officer, Nolan Farris, signed on to be BIG’s executive sponsor to help clear a path for future Black leaders at Indeed.

“In serving as the Executive Sponsor for Indeed’s Black Inclusion Group (BIG), I have done a whole lot of listening and asking questions. I firmly believe the job should be to support and mentor the groups’ leaders and make sure they receive the executive attention from me, and the wider Leadership Team where they need it,” Nolan explains.

“If there is no stage for them to stand on, It’s the executive sponsor’s job to build it. If the lighting doesn’t complement the scene, they must shine the spotlight appropriately.”

Making History

New York City BIG event 2019
New York City BIG event 2019

In addition to the job seeker resources and new mentorship program, there were many opportunities for Indeedians of all races to come together, learn, and celebrate Black history.

Among the highlights this year were virtual discussions about building generational wealth in the Black community, cultural appropriation, as well as a virtual wine tasting with Brown Estate, a Black-owned winery based out of Napa. 

To top it all off, we hosted virtual public conversation with Morgan Debaun, CEO of Blavity Inc.—the largest network of content platforms for Black millennials. 

William Bryan, Communications Lead for BIG Americas, sums up the impact. “BIG has created a space for people of color to feel included, ultimately leading to a higher retention rate from these groups. We provide support, education and give a voice to those who often feel silenced in the tech space,” he says. 

Stacy adds, “We don’t do this work alone. Our regional and local BIG site leads work passionately in the midst of these difficult times to plan and host amazing events and activities. They keep our members engaged and encouraged to continue this work.”

Read more Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging stories here.