It is interesting to sit back and reflect on my past 3 years at Turbonomic. Throughout my progression from a commercial SDR to an Alliances SE, I have been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful people at Turbonomic who really care about my growth and success. The foundation of those relationships began with openness and making each other comfortable with who we are and where we have come from. However, much like every technology company, there is always room for improvement.
Have you ever walked into a room not being able to relate to anyone at first glance? Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I comfortable being myself within this environment?” If it is not an experience you've shared then, how do you achieve making others around you feel comfortable with who they are? We are with each other for at least 30% of the work week, so what individual efforts are we driving aside from our business goals to help create a more inclusive environment for all people? This isn't an easy thing to do; we must drive ourselves to unpack some of the theories, ideas, and pre-conceived notions that we have been systematically taught.
What does Diversity Mean?
What does the term “diversity” mean to you? Diversity is usually thrown around vaguely and the first thought that usually comes to my mind is race. Selfishly, maybe it’s the first thing that comes to mind because racism is something I have experienced many times throughout my life. It could mean different things to different people whether it is diversity of gender, sexuality, class, ideas, skillsets, etc. It could mean different groups of people from different walks of life who experience different things whether that may be good or bad in the context of their background, identity, or what they look like. I guess the theme here is the word “different” and how we are understanding differences and intersectionality through each of our experiences.
My Experiences Navigating the Tech Industry
Introducing myself to others as a Haitian-American man from Mattapan, Massachusetts comes with an assumption that my life has been tough. These assumptions are a bold claim to make. Everyone has tough times in life no matter where they come from. To achieve their goals, my parents had to give others the benefit of the doubt during racist or discriminating interactions to avoid conflict. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt when they don’t seem “ill-intentioned.”
Ignorance isn’t always intentional or meant to hurt others, however, closed-mindedness doesn’t promote progress either. I've been in some uncomfortable situations that would cause any empathetic person to become angry and react. I have been in professional situations in the past where racist words have been uttered, which truly hurt. With this in mind, my goal is to open the conversation not close it and drive change for the technology industry.
Getting Uncomfortable Before Comfortable
If you are reading this blog, I would love for you to join this conversation about diversity and inclusion to share your thoughts and experiences. I do understand that this topic isn’t an easy one, especially in the workplace. But what is a team without chemistry? What is chemistry without understanding? And what is understanding without openness? I vow to put myself out there and share my experiences around this topic because I truly believe it is important and we can make a difference.
In my professional career, I’ve learned that being uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing. We’ve all been uncomfortable talking to strangers on a cold call and pitching products. We’ve been uncomfortable presenting at company lunches. We've been uncomfortable going over a forecast and there are plenty of other experiences that probably made us uncomfortable. However, being in these uncomfortable situations usually drives progress and the next time iteration is typically easier. My point here is, conversations around racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism will be uncomfortable for most, but we can work through it together by having open and honest discussions – I’m happy to say the culture at Turbonomic encourages this type of open discussion and takes diversity and inclusion very seriously, which makes me proud to be part of TurboNation.