In this episode, Allie and Michelle look at recent NFL news regarding diversity hires. In response, we talk about how to properly set diversity goals when it comes to building a team or company.

Episode Transcript

Allie Nimmons  00:02

Welcome to the Underrepresented in Tech podcast hosted by Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons. Underrepresented in Tech is a free database, but with the goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech overall. 

Allie Nimmons  00:18

Hi Michelle! 

Michelle Frechette  00:19

Hi, Allie. 

Allie Nimmons  00:21

I wanted to jump in with the first Hi, because you always get the first Hi, and so I was like “I’m gonna get her this time.”

Michelle Frechette  00:28

And you did and you did it very well.

Allie Nimmons  00:30

Thank you. Thank you. I’ve had a lot of practice.

Michelle Frechette  00:35

It’s officialy spring. Did you know that?

Allie Nimmons  00:38

Whe was the first day of spring?

Michelle Frechette  00:40

I don’t know but it was awhile ago, sometime in March. But this is the thing like it’s been snowing here anyway. And I haven’t looked out the window today because it said like 40% chance of snow or something here today. But like it’s supposed to get up in the 40s this afternoon and tomorrow. If anybody knows me, you know that I love taking pictures of birds and nature. And my favorite place to do that as a wildlife refuge here in New York. Tomorrow, it opens again, actually, today it opens for the season. But tomorrow supposed to be sunny and I’m taking my cameras and I’m gonna go for a drive. 

Allie Nimmons  01:09

That’s awesome. Yeah, the first day of spring was March 20th, which was over a week ago, almost two weeks ago. So awesome. I did notice like today, this morning, I took a walk. And I did notice a lot of the trees were starting to get their little green leaves back and some of them were blooming. My basil plant has flowers on it. And I was like, This is crazy.

Michelle Frechette  01:36

I didn’t know they flower. 

Allie Nimmons  01:37

Me either.

Michelle Frechette  01:38

I didn’t know that was a thing.

Allie Nimmons  01:39

I didn’t know it was a thing either. I guess my basil plant knew that it was spring and I didn’t. So it was like time for flowers. 

Michelle Frechette  01:45

That’s awesome. I love it.

Allie Nimmons  01:48

Well, we’re talking about something a little bit less pleasant today than spring and flowers and all of that. You sent me a link a couple days ago that I arguably did not read but you just gave me the lowdown on what was going on. 

Michelle Frechette  02:02

The TLDR. 

Allie Nimmons  02:03

The TLDR. “NFL forms new committee to review policies regarding diversity hiring. Teams mandated to hire minority coach as offensive assistant.” So it sounds like basically the NFL was like, we need more diverse people so you have to hire a diverse person for this position. That’s the requirement. And I didn’t even have to read the whole article to just think, well, that’s dumb. Right? Like that’s, that’s offensive. Like that… I talked to so many people, as a result of the work that we do about diversity and about hiring, and about how underrepresented people feel about these issues. And I’ve heard so many people say, “I don’t like this kind of conversation because I don’t want to be hired because I’m diverse. I don’t want to be the token black person or the token gay person,” or you know, whatever the case might be. And I totally understand that because you have policies like this that exists or that people would like to try to implement, that say… that boils somebody down to whatever it is that makes them underrepresented, rather than prioritizing whatever it is that makes them skilled. And so I thought today, we could talk about how not to do this kind of hiring because while you want to prioritize diversity, having quotas and requirements and percentages can be a very slippery slope into just being offensive and really setting people up for for failure in terms of when you get hired to do a job, you assume, “I’m hired to do this job because I was the best person they found to do this job.” And so then that expectation is then shattered when you realize, oh, well, “I was not hired because of that I was hired in order to increase that percentage.” And that can affect your your self-worth and your self-esteem and your confidence. 

Michelle Frechette  04:19

Morale too.

Allie Nimmons  04:20

Yeah, morale. Yeah, and a lot and affect the trust that you then have with your employer in a lot of different ways. You know, there are ways to do this appropriately right to prioritize diversity with your recruiting and hire hiring correctly. Yes, this example is not a good one.

Michelle Frechette  04:39

It’s not. It’s not a bad idea, I don’t think, and maybe you could correct me if I’m wrong. It’s not a bad idea for a company that’s definitely not diverse to say we want to increase diversity by a percentage. We want to make sure that we have equal representation, you know, and we want to take it from zero or two percent or whatever. And this is our goal for our first year in making sure that diversity is important to be able to give yourself goals to work toward, but then those goals shouldn’t be focused on, you know, oh, we want to find an offensive assistant who’s a black person, or an offensive assistant whose whatever minority that they want to focus on, as opposed to, we want to make sure that we’re recruiting properly, and that we’re getting applications from the right places and the right people, because we’re putting our efforts into the proper ways to make sure that we are hiring for the right reasons with diversity in mind. So, you know, giving yourself to say that we’re a company that’s X percentage, I’m not sure that’s correct. But to give ourselves goals to move forward, and make sure to hold ourselves accountable to those goals, I think is important.

Allie Nimmons  05:54

Yeah, absolutely. And there are times when you do need a particular type of person with a particular type of background, in a position. My husband was recently telling me about a new comic book that’s coming out. And there are two characters in this comic that are supposed to be non binary. And they are the most cringy, inaccurate representations of binary people you could possibly imagine. And it was just so obvious that they didn’t have any queer people, much less a non binary person, on the creative or executive team making those decisions with the characters on designs, how they were going to be designed and created. And so you know, there are situations where you might say, hey, we would like to have a non binary character in this comic, we need to hire a non binary artist or animator, whatever the case may be. And so yeah, when you interview someone…

Michelle Frechette  06:52

Or at least consulted!

Allie Nimmons  06:53

Yeah, or consulted. And that, that means when you do recruit or hire those people, you can tell them, you know, we are looking for a non binary person, because of this reason. And like, the thing with the NFL is like, a lot of I don’t know the exact percentage, I want to say something like 95%, of professional football players are black men. And yeah, it totally makes sense that you would want to have black leadership, black coaches, black assistants, you know, supporting them, and providing them the kind of mentorship and help that they need. But there’s, it’s such a like, weird line between, well, we’re hiring you because you’re black and we just want more black people around. And we’re hiring you because you’re really talented and it’s a bonus, right? It’s an additional value add that you come from a black community and you can have that perspective and connect with the players and whatever. But you have to look at the whole picture of who a person is, and not just how they’re going to increase your percentages.

Michelle Frechette  08:01

Now, I’m not a sports person, anybody that knows me knows that. 

Allie Nimmons  08:04

Me either.

Michelle Frechette  08:05

I understand what the different point values are for different actions in football, and that’s about it. I also don’t like to watch football with the volume up because like the constant crowd cheering is like, it hits my ADHD in a way that is just not pleasant. But so let me say just before everybody that’s listening to this as a football fan, and wants to like, correct me, I’m fine with that. You can correct me. But when you’re looking at the leadership of a team, and you mandate a specific coach to be a minority, isn’t that kind of strange? So it’s like, teams are mandated to hire a minority coach as the offensive assistant? Like, why? Why the offensive? Why not the defensive assistant? Why not? The whatever!

Allie Nimmons  08:49

Why not? Any other position? Yeah, like just that position for some reasons is what they decided. 

Michelle Frechette  08:55

And I didn’t see anywhere in the article that it mentioned why that position at all. And, you know, guys, ladies, nonbinary people, if you’re really into football, you want to educate me on why that was a good idea, I’m all ears. Try to keep it like, you know, as non sports terminology as possible for me to understand, because I am… I can’t think of the right word. That’s the stereotypical white woman who does not understand football.

Allie Nimmons  09:25

I mean, I’m the stereotypical woman that doesn’t understand football.

Michelle Frechette  09:30

But I was trying to equate it to like, okay, what if I was a WordPress company? And I said, “Okay, you know, anybody who’s a WordPress company now has to hire a minority person for their director of marketing.” What, how does that even make sense? 

Allie Nimmons  09:50

Yeah. 

Michelle Frechette  09:52

Like, well, I got a great you know, I apply and I’m a great developer, and they’re like, oh, no, we need you in marketing. Like, wait, what? 

Allie Nimmons  09:58

Yeah.

Michelle Frechette  09:59

It’s just doesn’t make sense to me. 

Allie Nimmons  10:00

And you know, what’s funny? Is I’ve been in that position before, or I believe I have, because no one will outright say it, right? I mean, I guess NFL has decided to, but people will say, I have been approached for jobs. I’ve been recruited for jobs. And I’ve been hired places, where in retrospect, it was very much a diversity hire. And then I was asked to do work or fill positions, or learn how to do things that were not what I was hired to do. And it was like, well, we want another person in this department or this area, who checks this box. And yeah, it is a very insulting it’s very insulting thing, because it’s like, okay, well, then why did I spend all this time and passion and energy learning how to be good at this one thing if that doesn’t matter to you, it just matters that I sit in this desk, and do this job, and have my face on this part of the website, right, like…

Michelle Frechette  10:56

The most important part. And that’s why we talk about right representation without tokenization. Because it is about not just having a different color face on your website, it’s about what does that represent? And who is that person? And what are they doing within your company? How, what, you know, what are their qualifications? Why are they a strong person? What value do they bring to the company? Besides, you know, what you see in a camera.

Allie Nimmons  11:19

Yeah. And that’s why I.. that’s one of the things I love the most about our database, like not to get all self promo-y, but like, it allows…

Michelle Frechette  11:27

We can. It’s our podcast

Allie Nimmons  11:28

 Yeah! We totally can. It allows people to say, “Okay, I want to, I would like to increase my diversity hires by or – diversity hires is not the right term,- but I would like to increase the number of diverse people on my team by this percentage. And so every time I hire, I’m going to go to this database, and I’m going to look through this database first, and reach out to these people first.” And, you know, we’ve never said that, like, “Oh, you’re guaranteed to find somebody,” or that we have people in the database that fill every possible position. I’m sure that we have options in the database for like, particular roles, that, you know, if you searched for that role in that database, you might not find anybody at all that fits that box. But it allows you to say, I’m going to prioritize diversity, but also prioritize the skill. Rather than just reaching out to the first black person I find and being like, “Do you want to do this,” right? And, again, we’re like, I’m, I feel the need to emphasize like, we’re not pulling this out of our butts. Like, this has happened to me, I have DMs in my inbox of people like, “Hey, do you want to come do social media for my brand?” And um, I have to reply and say, I, I don’t now nor have I ever been a social media manager. This is, this is what I do. This is my website of like, my business and my services. If you need this, sure! Let’s talk about that. But why? Why do you just assume that I would take any role?

Michelle Frechette  13:08

You must need it right? You’re a minority person, you must be grasping at straws. And by the way, we want to put you in a position where you’re front, you know, front facing forward facing and people know that we have a black person on our team.

Allie Nimmons  13:19

Yeah. And it’s super offensive, because it’s like you didn’t take a moment. Either you didn’t take a moment to look and see what I actually do. Or you did, and you ignored that. 

Allie Nimmons  13:31

Hi, everyone, Allie here to interrupt. As we approach our 50th episode, we want to hear from you. Have you learned something that has helped you through listening to this podcast? Have you used our tool and found it helpful for your projects? We really want to know. Please go to underrepresentedintech.com/50 and leave us a quick Voice Memo telling us what you’ve learned or accomplished. Your voice memo might be featured in our 50th episode. Thank you! Back to the episode.

Michelle Frechette  14:02

Can I also bring up something else from this article that really made me stop to think? So the NFL in and of itself is not not diverse. Like you said, there are a lot of people in the NFL who are not white people. However, it’s the leadership that we’re talking about. 

Allie Nimmons  14:17

Yeah. 

Michelle Frechette  14:18

And if you if you start to look above the players, and you continue to climb up, you see fewer and fewer minority people included, and that includes women, and that includes, you know, ethnic minority, etc. And that is not unlike technology. In technology, we have a lot of hires, I should say a lot. We have hires that are diverse people, but they’re not necessarily in the C suite or the director level positions. And that’s where we also need to see change happening. It is not just like, well, you know, we’re getting people for their perspective. And we did talk about that a lot, right, that it’s not just about having a diverse person on your team, but the perspectives and the the experience that they bring and the skill set that they bring. But also, it’s not just having them on the team, but having people in decision making, and leadership and mentorship positions, like you mentioned earlier. And that’s where it really makes a difference too. I think about when I was a single mom raising my daughter, and I think about the fact that I wanted to be a strong woman, so she could see a strong woman, right. And if I expected other people to fill that role for her, she wouldn’t be the independent, sometimes overly independent, woman that she is, and I applaud that, right. I love that she is a strong, capable person. And you know, she’s, she’s gone beyond anything I’ve ever taught her and that’s great. But if I hadn’t been that role model, or made a decision early on to be a role model, it would have been up to her to find role models. And that’s not as easy to do.

Allie Nimmons  15:53

Yeah, exactly. And I do just want to say before anybody comes for us. I do I do disagree a little bit with what you said about the NFL being diverse, right? And this is this is a, this is a like how do you define diversity sort of topic too, which maybe one day we should do an episode on? I just looked it up. As of February 6 2022… actually, no, it says “in 2021,” about 71% of the players in the NFL were people people of color. A quarter were white, so 25%, white, 71% people of color, anything other than white 4% were not disclosed or specified. I don’t know what that looks like as far as the coaches. I know that, when, if anytime I’ve ever watched football in my whole life, I have noticed, all the coaches are white. 

Michelle Frechette  16:51

Yeah. 

Allie Nimmons  16:52

And I’ve noticed this with every major league sport, basketball as well. Like I got really into basketball for a while. All the coaches were white. And if I ever saw, I can count one or two times I saw a black coach. And so I think that it is awesome that 71% of those players are not white, right? And these men of color, women of color have attained success in this, in the industry that they’ve chosen to participate in. But it’s it they’re not diverse sports. You know what I mean? Like,

Michelle Frechette  17:30

Right, I guess what I meant by that was, it’s not like when you look at, let me pick a television show out of the air, like you watch LA Law back in the day, okay, I just picked one really too far back, but or Ally McBeal or anything like that, where it’s like, it’s an all white cast with perhaps a black person or Hispanic person on occasion. You look at the NFL, you watch a game. And your your mind sees diversity, because you see not all white people on the field. I guess that was what I meant by that. And I didn’t say well, so thank you for bringing that back.

Allie Nimmons  18:05

Yeah, no worries. I know, I think of diversity, as you know, as many different types of people as kind of equally distributed as possible. Right. So whatever that might mean, um, I found another… See now, I’m just going down a rabbit hole of being interested in these these statistics. I found another set of data that says, you know, around 70% of the players are black, 80% of the coaches are white. Right, that’s such such a massive disparity. And, you know, it would be crazy to see if the NFL was like, Okay, we want to hire more diverse or fewer white coaches, right, like that, to me has a direct affect on the players. But again, it’s like you said, like, why did they pick that one? Job that one role, rather than focusing at the top and say, “Okay, we want to create…” I mean, maybe that’s, that’s what this is. Maybe they’re trying to create a pipeline, where it’s like, okay, if you’re a black person and you join the NFL as this particular role that they’re trying to get people for, maybe that’s the beginning of the pipeline to becoming a coach? I don’t know. Somebody tells us right. 

Michelle Frechette  18:06

It could be right. 

Allie Nimmons  18:40

It could be but regardless, it is very strange. They’re already reevaluating it because they’ve gotten backlash, it seems like. Yeah, what we wanted to share with everyone is that it is a good idea to set goals for, you know, okay, our company right now is 80%. white, by the end of the year, we want to get that down and have more people of color or maybe by the end of the year, we want to have a 50/50 split of men and women or you know, something like that. Personally, I think one of the best things to do there, and I guess this depends on the company and it depends on a lot of different factors, but making that known, like making that public and saying, like, we acknowledge the problem, we recognize that it is a problem and we are dedicated fixing it. How we’re going to fix it, right, is, like you said before, so much more important than any number, percentage or whatever. You don’t even have to pick a number, you can just say, we want to increase the amount of diversity in our team; here’s how we’re going to do it. And you know, what that would look like to somebody who’s considering applying to work at your company, or that you have reached out to and they’re now doing research about their company. If a company reached out to me, and I saw that prominently displayed on their social media, their LinkedIn, their website, I would feel way more moved to how to, you know, respond positively to that company. And maybe not everyone feels that way but that’s how I feel.

Michelle Frechette  21:07

No, I understand. And, and I guess, you just bring up a point too, right? Like, so you and I are two people representing ourselves and trying to make a difference for underrepresented folks in technology. I guess the, you know, not prominent part of what we do is we don’t speak for everybody, we speaking for our knowledge and the information that we have. And if you are somebody who’s underrepresented, and you don’t agree with us, that’s okay. And you know, feel free to talk to us about it. And we are as open to being educated as as possible. And just know that our intentions are always the best.

Allie Nimmons  21:48

And if we’ve said something that you disagree with, I want to have you on the podcast and I want to talk about it. I want to hear. I want to change my mind. I want to receive new information that will make me change my perspective, like that’s, that’s the key to growing more wise, right, like, being open to changing your mind about things. And even just since starting the, or helping to increase participation in the BlackPress Slack group, I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things, just hearing other black folks in WordPress sharing their ideas and experiences, and realizing that, you know, I don’t know everything. Like my experiences are my experiences, and I have so much room to grow and that’s so exciting. So, yeah, if you disagree with us, let us know. We want to have you on the podcast and you can tell everyone else where you’re coming from and the more the merrier.

Michelle Frechette  22:44

Yeah, it’s like, when when when we had the all women identifying release squad for WordPress, there was one person in the WordPress, Advanced WordPress Facebook group who was like “I’m a woman and I’ve never experienced that.” We’re like, Oh, good. I’m glad. I’m so happy you’ve never experienced that but that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t.” You know, don’t you can’t negate everybody else’s experiences, because that hasn’t been your experience too. And so opening our eyes to your experiences, we’re all for it.

Allie Nimmons  23:15

Yeah, exactly.

Michelle Frechette  23:17

Awesome. That’s all I got; I don’t know about you. 

Allie Nimmons  23:21

That’s all I got. Another one in the books. Oh, Happy April Fool’s Day.

Michelle Frechette  23:25

Oh, that’s right. I did some I did some online pranks. Did you see any of my online pranks?

Allie Nimmons  23:29

I didn’t I? Oh, sorry. I accidentally muted myself. I honestly have been avoiding Twitter because of the pranks. I’m just like.. 

Michelle Frechette  23:37

I make them obvious though. 

Allie Nimmons  23:38

I kind of wasn’t in the mood for it today, to be perfectly honest. So I have not but I will go look now and maybe I’ll retweet some to the Underrepresented in Tech account so people can see that. Yeah, I mean, people should be following you anyway. But I’ll share some too.

Michelle Frechette  23:52

No, it wasn’t me though. It was the companies that I represent. Let me just say I renamed Post Status “Pre Status” so that we can print the news before it even happens.

Allie Nimmons  24:03

That’s really funny.

Michelle Frechette  24:05

I did one for Stellar and one for Sentree. Check them out. They’re fun. It’s fun to have fun, but make sure it’s obvious that you’re joking and not misleading people.

Allie Nimmons  24:13

I saw Um, oh gosh, the guy that now runs iThemes. His name is totally blanking on me right now. But he like he tweeted out he’s gonna rename it “me themes.” That did, that one did make me laugh all the other ones just like, Alright, whatever. 

Michelle Frechette  24:30

Like, roll your eyes. 

Allie Nimmons  24:31

Yeah, yeah, a little bit. I’m a I’m a Grinch when it comes to April Fool’s. I guess.

Michelle Frechette  24:38

I’m having a little bit of fun. That’s good. Yeah, I even use Comic Sans. I’m just gonna say.

Allie Nimmons  24:44

Oh, my gosh. How dare you. All right. 

Michelle Frechette  24:47

I know, right. 

Allie Nimmons  24:50

Thank you so much for listening. 

Michelle Frechette  24:51

We’ll see you next week. 

Allie Nimmons  24:53

Yeah, we’ll see you next week. Bye.

Allie Nimmons  24:54

This episode was sponsored by the following companies. WP Wallet. WP Wallet is a free, simple, intelligent tool that helps WordPress professionals effortlessly manage all their license keys and invoices for all sites and clients. Never forget a renewal lose a license key or miss out on a reimbursement again. Join WP Wallet for free today. StellarWP. StellarWP is home to some of the most beloved and dependable WordPress plugins and solutions on the planet including iThemes, the Events Calendar, Restrict Content Pro, Kadence, GiveWP, IconicWP and LearnDash. Go to StellarWP.com to learn more. If you’re interested in sponsoring an episode, using our database, or just want to say hi, go to underrepresentedintech.com. See you next week!