The last time Daisy Auger-Dominguez was a guest on Break the Bias, she shared how she took time off for self-reflection with what she called her “year of the heart,” and how the power of a pause not only positively impacts our own lives, but also benefits our organizations. That time away helped her deepen her purpose, and today she is the Chief People Officer at VICE Media Group, and author of the new book, Inclusion Revolution. “All humans, no matter where they come from, want to feel seen, heard, and valued. That is a human need,” says Daisy.
In this episode, Consciously Unbiased founder Ashish Kaushal (virtually) sits down with Daisy to talk about her personal journey, how to find joy and belonging at work, and ways each and every one of us can use our voice to build inclusion. Listen to the full conversation here, and read below for some key takeaways.
*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and length.
Ashish: How did you come up with the name Inclusion Revolution for your new book?
Daisy: “I come from a family of revolutionaries. Actually, my grand-uncle was a revolutionary in the Dominican Republic who died fighting for democratic ideals at the hand of U.S. Marines. That’s another story. (Laughs) I have other uncles who have fought for constitutional democracy in the Dominican Republic. So that’s always been a part of my life, but I never saw myself as a revolutionary.
I was speaking [about it] to my agent, and she had this moment where she said, ‘You’re a revolutionary, and this book is about building an [inclusion] revolution.’ I said, that’s it; it is about the revolution and driving change. It’s about you and me and everybody else holding hands and doing our part. We all don’t need to do the exact same thing, but we can all put one foot in front of the other and drive the change that needs to happen. That’s where Inclusion Revolution came from.”
Ashish: Your dad gave you the advice to “keep your head down and work harder than everyone else.” Do you think that advice works? What advice would you give to other “onlies” in the workplace?
Daisy: “I think working hard works for everyone. Living in shame doesn’t. That wasn’t [the message] my father intended for me to get, but that’s the message that comes across for many of us—especially women and people of color and other marginalized identities. We operate in these workplaces as if we’ve been given a favor; we’ve been given this small permission to enter this space, but we don’t really own it. It’s not our space. I think the true advice is to own your space, own who you are, and own where you contribute to the workplace. And work hard because, at the end of the day, work is work, right?
But I do fundamentally believe work can be joyful. Work can be full of love. There are all these words that we’ve never used in the workplace, because we think they’re too soft and that they don’t have a place at work. But we forget that we are human beings who generate love and enthusiasm and happiness. I don’t know about you, but I’m my most productive when I’m in a good mood. I am my most productive when I’m feeling protected and cared for. Then I’m in a place where I can create and add value. We forget that.”
Ashish: Women of color will be the majority of all women in America by 2060, according to Catalyst, yet currently only 4% of C-suite leaders are women of color. What needs to happen for us to expand our impression about what a leader is supposed to look like?
Daisy: “We need to simply change it. We need to speak out loud about it. We need to demystify what leadership looks like. In every opportunity that we have to either promote someone from within or to bring someone into an organization, we need to actually have real, intentional conversations about who we’re bringing in. And not like, ‘Oh, I need to hire a Latinx woman or I need to hire a Black woman. No, you actually need to hire the best talent. And that talent comes in all colors, shapes and forms.
And if you bring in a Black woman, a Latinx woman, an Asian woman, or whoever it is that you bring, [speak about] the additional value that this person adds to the organization. It’s debunking what true leadership looks like. We still have a long way to go. By that I mean not just white people, but even people of color ourselves. We buy into the same normative behavior. I’ve seen many leaders of color make the exact same biased assumptions about what leaders look like. We have to question ourselves as well.”
Ashish: What are three actions that leaders can take to advance equity in the workplace?
Daisy: “The first is to really listen to your teams, understand them, and solve not for what you think needs to be solved for, but what they need you to solve for.
The second is willing to ask better questions. Reflect on what are the pain points in your organization—not just at your level, but across all the levels. Then be willing to interrogate your systems, your processes, and the things that we’re lazy about, the things we just walk around every day assuming that they work for everyone. Be willing to interrogate those.
The third is to design different solutions. Show bravery and courage in saying, ‘This doesn’t work for everyone, and I’m going to change this.’ I want to be really clear: I’m not saying you have to break apart and destroy everything. I’m just saying to be very practical. I say this intentionally in the book: this inclusion revolution is about fixing one part of a broken system at a time. You don’t have to turn it all upside down, but fix one part of the broken system at a time, and persist in doing that. That’s how you drive real change.”
Break the Bias: Daisy Auger-Dominguez on How To Find Your Purpose
Inclusion Revolution: The Essential Guide to Dismantling Racial Inequity in the Workplace
TEDx Talk: Inclusion Revolution
Forbes: How Women of Color Are Changing What Leadership Looks Like
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