For businesses, there is no greater resource than their human capital. People matter. Culture matters. Inclusion is key for elevating both.
Consciously Unbiased sat down with human capital expert Daisy Auger-Dominguez, founder and CEO of Auger-Dominguez Ventures, a consultancy that helps organizations build cultures of greater belonging, to uncover her journey to discovering her true purpose, and how she helps leaders and companies to do the same. Auger-Dominguez shares why self reflection can lead to greater impact not only for yourself, but also for your organization. You can listen to the full candid conversation here, and read on for her real-world advice on how to make inclusion a reality.
EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN
We all know that disruption is now the norm, but those periods of transition may be some of life’s greatest teachers. For Auger-Dominguez, a career break led to an aha! moment that revealed how her identity was disproportionately tied to her job title.
Working with leadership coach Alexander Grashow, she realized she had gotten off course by ignoring her heart in lieu of listening to her head. The coach’s prescription? “Play until you need to rest, and rest until you need to play.”
LEAD WITH YOUR HEART
“I was in this corporate Game of Thrones where I had no idea where the power was or where the end game was; I was just in it,” says Auger-Dominguez. “You forget who are you doing this [work] for or what you are doing this for. I had depleted my energy and the joy out of my life.”
She had just received a severance package that gave her the gift of time, so she took what she calls her “year of my heart” to reconnect with her family, her friends and herself. She spent the summer traveling with her husband and daughter to visit friends in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Portugal, and Spain, Dominican Republic, among other places.
BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR TIME
The summer after she returned from her travels, she says she started doing something that was really dramatic for herself: “I scheduled only three things a day,” says Auger-Dominguez. “I needed to be far more intentional about how I managed my time, because I was letting my time manage me.”
This meant she might take a call from a recruiter in the morning, have lunch with a mentee and then attend a meeting for an organization she volunteered with in the afternoon. “I found that the way I experienced my days changed dramatically. I was able to breathe.”
FIND YOUR CIRCLE
Nobody accomplishes anything big alone, and sometimes it takes simply being vocal about what you want in order for others to offer support. More than halfway into her “year of the heart,” Auger-Dominguez told her friends, “I’m ready to do my own thing. I am tired of having my ideas be squashed or taken away by someone else.”
To her surprise, they “told me that they had been dreaming about this for me for years…I’m Caribbean and I tend to hibernate in the winter. So I sat on that for about six weeks doing nothing. There came a point where I realized I’m no longer just hibernating from the cold; I’m hibernating from my fears of what I can be and what I can do.”
After sharing more about what she wanted to do with Anita Hill—with whom she was volunteering for at the Hollywood Commission to help end sexual harassment in the workplace—the organization became her first client. It was the start of her consultancy.
CREATE SPACE FOR REFLECTION
Auger-Dominguez’s year of the heart may have come to an end, but she now carves out “Daisy Thinking Days,” each month to reflect on and check in with her heart—no matter how busy she gets.
“We can always carve out time, but we have to be intentional about it and we have to hold ourselves accountable for it,” she says. “It can be a day, it can be an hour, it can be a walk around the park. The world needs a balanced you. You’re actually doing yourself a disservice and the cause you’re trying to help by not taking care of you.”
REIMAGINE THE WORKPLACE
When first entering corporate America as a Latina from the Caribbean, Auger-Dominguez says she experienced what it felt like to be marginalized. She saw many talented people of color, people with disabilities, and people who were LGBTQ, sidelined as well. “We were trying to navigate spaces that were not designed for us,” she says. ”I realized it’s about access, but it’s also about opportunity. It’s about how to create conditions for people to feel that they belong, and that they can actually succeed in this organization and see a path forward.”
“We all know what we need to do to bring in more diversity. We all know what we need to do to ensure that all employees feel safe and like they belong. But what we lack is courage,” says Auger-Dominguez. “We need to be willing to admit that the system that we have for recruiting, for example, or for retention or development, was not built with an inclusive mindset. Then we have to be willing to fix and rebuild it.”
SEE STRENGTH IN VULNERABILITY
The way to build connectivity is to share your story. “[As a leader], if I don’t tell my story, if I don’t share the good, the bad and the ugly, then I’m not creating space for others to do the same,” she says. “People are no longer interested in leadership that feels devoid of connection, or that feels so distant.”
ASK BETTER QUESTIONS
Finding an answer lies in asking the right questions. “When folks ask me for a blueprint for diversity and inclusion, I pause and say, ‘What questions are you asking?’
The question should not be, ‘How do we build a more diverse and inclusive workplace?’ because that’s not centered on your people. That’s centered on you and what you’re trying to solve for. The questions for your employees should be, ‘What are your dreams? What are your aspirations? What are your greatest obstacles to success, and how can I help you overcome them?’”
CHANGE STARTS WITH YOU
Rather than looking only at the culture shift that needs to happen to create more inclusion, also look at the behavior changes that need to happen. “Folks have to recognize the way they’ve been behaving—whether they have been perpetrators or not—has been enabling a system that’s resulted in [the inequality] we’re experiencing now,” says Auger-Dominguez. “So that means that we’re all responsible, and we’re all accountable.” What behavior can you shift today?
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