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The Importance Of Letting Your Employees Voice Be Apart Of Your Creation

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tash Jefferies, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Hirekind.io. She is also a mentor to 500…


I had the pleasure of interviewing Tash Jefferies, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Hirekind.io. She is also a mentor to 500 Startups, Runway and Innogate, and a digital and social media strategist. Her accolades include being a TEDx Speaker, best-selling author, and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post. Tash is the first African Nova Scotian startup founder in the Bay Area.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, have a degree in Chemistry and Biology, and have worked in sales and marketing, project management, sustainability and wellness coaching. Because of my multidisciplinary background and varied experience, with no American-recognizable school or work organizations on my resume, I’ve had a hard time either being recognized by companies in the US, or getting organizations to understand where to fit me in. This is what helped me realize I needed to create a company where I could leverage all of my talents. Which is why I jumped at the offer from my co-founder Xuan Yue, to help other people who also have a hard time fitting into company’s checkboxes — which turns out to be many women, people of color, and other under-represented groups.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I would have to say how we found our CTO, Amy Cho. Xuan and I were a part of Female Founders School where we were getting support to help grow our business. Amy was a solo fellow founder who was going to build another project/business. But after a few weeks, she found out more about what we were working on, loved our mission, and asked if she could help us build our technology! We felt so honoured that she aligned with what we were creating. Now, I am sure that we are amongst a handful of companies in Silicon Valley that have a founding team of all women of color.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We definitely are not the only company creating technology and services that help companies diversify their communities. However, one of the first things we do as team when we meet prospective candidates is share with them our own personal stories of challenges we’ve experienced within our own careers, and how we overcome them. For instance, I tell my experiences of working with corporate clients; even though I had worked virtually with them for months, upon meeting them in person, they would usually expect me to be a white woman, so would see a shocked look on their face (this of course was before LinkedIn became so prominent). Nearly every member of our community can relate to our experiences like this, and feel like we can truly represent them because we’ve been through the challenges that they are currently facing. This is not something that can be easily fabricated, replicated or duplicated. Our ability to build trust and integrity-based relationships with both our candidates (job seekers) and clients is above average.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

We are just about to launch our Office Hours program, which allows members of our community to directly engage with our team, our amazing community of mentors, and other experts within hiring, diversity and inclusion. We will also be offering quick “Teachable Moment” segments where we will invite our experts to teach a lesson within 5 minutes, and then answer questions about that tool/skill/tip they have offered. We strive to always keep our community engaged, learning, growing and fully supported with resources.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Be willing to show your strengths AND vulnerabilities. The days of having perfect-images of leadership are going bye-bye. It is ok to not be perfect. A full-rounded human being is more appreciated as a leader, and makes it easier for your team to be more productive, effective and communicate what they need with you.

Let their voice be a part of your creation(s) — We are not power hogs, and let our team guide and shape the development of our technology, processes and services. We empower our team to also be leaders, and let them see their amazingness shine through. This makes them feel truly a part of our overall vision.

Teach them how to become thought leaders themselves — Each of our founding members speaks, writes, hosts events, and are gaining visibility in our overall community. We believe that one of the most important ways we can pass on the leadership torch to our community is to groom our team to also use their voice, present, and to hone their own skills. We provide weekly and monthly opportunities for them to present to our internal community, show them how to begin speaking, and become panelists within community events themselves.

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

I learned how to develop resilience from my Mom, Elizabeth Jefferies. She always encouraged me to embrace my uniqueness, showed me how to build trust and respect with others, and most importantly, she showed me how to always use my voice in a powerful and empowering way. She taught me that the only thing that no one in the world can take from me is my ability to shine. Because of this, I have used this strength to help others develop their own internal source of energy and resilience as well.

And secondly, my career mentor was a man by the name of Steve Ralph. He gave me my first opportunity to develop my management consulting skills, and taught me how to be successful in a corporate environment. He was a very strict businessman and boss, but I learned from him how important it is to establish boundaries. From the very beginning of our relationship I learned how you it is my responsibility to show others how to me. Because of this, I was shown his understanding, compassionate and respectful side, which he really didn’t show much in his business persona. It taught me that I can make a connection with anyone, no matter how outwardly tough they may seem to be.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are helping to make sure that companies don’t just talk about “improving their company’s diversity” but actually hire underrepresented people. We truly believe that when women and people of color are able to financially support themselves, their families and their communities, that they do more to give back, help mentor, and help the next wave of people gain access to opportunities. So we help companies become a part of the solution through their actions.

Secondly, I truly believe that simply because our team exists, we are giving hope to all other female founders of color. I hope we see more of them in the next few years!

Can you share the top five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. 

A diverse team can better understand its customer’s needs and challenges — Especially if you know your target customers have large numbers women and people of color (which is actually most businesses), it is increasingly difficult to serve their needs unless your team can directly relate to them. A great example is a company that provides a blockchain service for sending money within Africa; unless your team understands how transactions happen there (many are through mobile phones) and through whom (mostly women with small businesses), they will be unable to understand how they’ll be using the service, and what impacts them most.

A diverse team can better understand its customer’s needs and challenges — Especially if you know your target customers have large numbers women and people of color (which is actually most businesses), it is increasingly difficult to serve their needs unless your team can directly relate to them. A great example is a company that provides a blockchain service for sending money within Africa; unless your team understands how transactions happen there (many are through mobile phones) and through whom (mostly women with small businesses), they will be unable to understand how they’ll be using the service, and what impacts them most.

A diverse team can provide a more diverse set of solutions and resolutions — Let’s face it, women and people of color usually have a set of challenges to deal with that white males by nature may not be faced with. That makes their ability to problem solve simply different, and in many cases more complex to resolve. This allows under-represented people to bring out-of-the-box solutions to the table, for different cultural, ethnic, environmental and socioeconomic challenges that they have to contend with.

A diverse team can make it easier to build an inclusive working environment — Having a team that has different cultural experiences means there are always new things to share, and opportunities for teams to get exposure to new ideas and ways of being in the world. This naturally will foster a community of appreciation of differences, which leads to teams that function better together, leads to a more positive work environment, and most importantly leads to higher productivity which directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

A diverse team, when built with inclusion, can help retain its talent and reduce employee churn — The cost to hire new talent could cost double what it costs to retain them. Therefore, if you can keep your team happy by creating a positive, inclusive workplace that encourages openness, teamwork and shared vision, it can go a long way to ensuring expertise is kept within your organization.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Never let anyone dim your light — Especially as a woman of color, it is all too often we hear of us being passed over, underestimated, disrespected, discriminated against in the workplace (or honestly anywhere in society). One of the biggest lessons we teach all of our community members is that no one can touch, harm, diminish or dismiss the greatness that you cultivate within. Self confidence is one of those things, that when done in a positive, empowered way, will encourage others to also embrace their own uniqueness and power. We bring our A-game every day, and choose to guide ourselves by this principle so that we continue to build a strong, energetic, positivity and love based community.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Priscilla Chan! We love the work that she does with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and would love to partner on projects promoting women and people of color in STEM fields, equal opportunity access to jobs, especially with youth.


Jilea Hemmings CEO & Co-Founder of Best Tyme. She is running a series on how diversity can increase a company’s bottom line

Originally published at medium.com

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