Inclusion in the Workplace

Shifting the Conversation of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace


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Inclusion in the workplace podcast - Embrace your Edge by Hang Black - Book Cover

This is a different, but very special, episode of the Modern Marketing Engine podcast. My guest is Hang Black, VP, Revenue Enablement, Juniper Networks and I invited her to talk about her new book, Embrace Your Edge: Pave Your Own Path as an Immigrant Woman in the Workplace .

This book has the potential to be life-changing for some. Hang says the idea for this book was in her head for a decade. It not only describes Hang’s experience as a Vietnamese immigrant to the United States, but also deals with important issues of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

So don’t miss our fascinating conversation about inclusion, diversity, and access from a perspective you haven’t seen before.

I just listened to this fantastic @mmenginepodacast conversation w/ @hangwithhang from @JuniperNetworks & @bernieborges about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, a MUST for modern companies. Share on X


Although Hang was raised in a diverse culture, she really never felt included or excluded. As an Asian, she wasn’t shunned from the black community when growing up, but neither was she fully embraced — and the same thing happened within the white community.

“One of the reasons I wrote the book was there’s a lot of conversation about diversity and inclusion,” Hang says, “but it’s an incomplete conversation without a discussion about access.”

Whether it’s women or ethnic minorities, more and more people are gaining access to leadership roles in the workplace. Nonetheless, they may still be a minority. Hang explains that minorities are the smaller population in the room.

However, when there is only one person of a minority group at the table, that person may feel that she got a token seat and will try to hold onto that position at all costs –unintentionally excluding others. This is known as the Queen Bee syndrome.

Hang thinks this needs to change. “I never ever proposed a revolution,” she says. “I prefer Evolution. And that’s where I’m trying to have these very frank conversations, because the most heartbreaking thing for me is to see minorities who bemoan injustice, turn around and do the same to other minorities behind them.”

Now I also prefer inclusion evolution, not revolution. More and more minorities are gaining access to leadership roles in the workplace. Thanks, @hangwithhang from @JuniperNetworks & @bernieborges for this @mmenginepodcast Share on X

Building Access

The reality is that sometimes a person from a minority is invited to the table because there was a diversity initiative.

“So the question is,” Hang says, “once you get to the table, do you have a voice? Do you have your role? Do you know what your goal is at the table? Are you sitting, are you serving or are you speaking? They’re all very different things.”

Access is not just about getting to the table, but once you get there, how much voice are you allowed to have? And if you don’t have a voice, how do you gain that voice?

Hang’s experience is that there will always come a point in a person’s career where they will need to find a person who will give them access to opportunities where meritocracy is not enough.

“Meritocracy works for a while, it works through the individual contributor ranks. But as you move up, you need to find a person who will show you the secret door and give you the secret code. That’s what access is.”

The people who will help others move along the journey to the top are a combination of mentors, sponsors and allies. Be sure to listen to the whole episode to learn the difference and how to identify them.

Intentional Evolution

Hang says that there needs to be an intentional evolution in the conversation about diversity and inclusion. That means we need to get to a point where it is not an issue, but it just happens.

And it all begins with leadership.

“It’s so important to ensure that leaders not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk,” Hang says. “Every executive has about three to five people in their closest circle. In that circle, do they have anyone that represents diversity? Even if it’s just one. There are many categories of diversity: age, tenure, religion, gender, all of that stuff. And if they don’t, my challenge to leaders is: are you willing to find someone, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it goes into a little bit of a lower rank than you’re used to, because there have not been enough women and minorities promoted?”

#Leaders, are you willing to find minorities to join your team? I learned a lot about diversity and inclusion in the workplace from @hangwithhang from @JuniperNetworks & @bernieborges in this @mmenginepodcast ep Share on X

Embrace Your Edge

Hang wrote Embrace Your Edge for the next generation, those who are exhausted, for people who don’t have access and for people in power to understand this population.

This book is written for those who did not inherit access, but who have clawed their way to earn every step forward. It is written for those with will and grit, who are searching for guidance to build their own powerful networks and to shape their own destinies.

This book is dedicated to those who are highly capable but may be exhausted or stuck.

This book is also written for those in power who want to attract these scrappy ones, the often diverse talent pool who possess an innate entrepreneurial spirit. And for this audience, the book is written without anger or accusation, but with a simple mission to seek mutual understanding and support.

Listen to the entire episode to discover more on this important topic from Hang Black.

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