#PrideatWork: How Companies Can Advance LGBTQIA+ Talent by Democratizing Access to Networks and Informal Mentorship

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
June 24, 2022

Pride month is a time to celebrate the right for everyone to live openly as their true authentic selves. It’s also a time for organizations to raise awareness and create a culture that fosters continuing education and understanding towards their LGBTQIA+ employees 

In this Q&A, Clo Scannell, Talent Solutions Leader at 10KC, shares her perspective on DEI in the workplace in Canada as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. She discusses how organizations can support LGBTQIA+ employees by democratizing access to networks, mentorship and informal programs to create a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey.

Scannell: Growing up in Ireland, I played competitive basketball at a really high level. That’s what brought me to Boston on a full athletic basketball scholarship to Boston University. After graduating, I moved to Toronto with my Canadian partner. My first mentor gave me great advice which was to leverage the transferable skills I built playing Division 1 basketball. After a few interviews, I landed an HR coordinator role supporting the campus team at a financial services company. 

I fell into HR but always knew I wanted to support and develop the people around me, and help create a more diverse and equitable workplace. Campus recruiting was a natural fit and I progressed quickly through a number of roles at various financial service and academic organizations. I often reflect on how fortunate I was to have had some incredible mentors that helped me along the way. 

What influenced your decision to transition from an HR Leadership role to a Sales role at 10KC? 

With the rise of remote work and my personal interest in technology, I began to reconsider my career aspirations and my current role. 

I decided to lean into my strengths and working with two of my mentors, I identified key skills I’d built during my career in HR. I was considering roles in various fields like HR Tech Sales, business development, talent solutions and HR consulting. HR Tech Sales was one that resonated most - I had some transferable skills and was familiar with most processes. I focused on finding organizations that aligned with my values and had a human-centric mission where I could impact the HR industry at scale – which eventually led me to 10KC.

Sales is typically a male-dominated field. How do you navigate being a LGBTQIA+ woman in technology sales? 

Scannell: When you’re the only woman and/or gay person in a room/on a call. I think it’s really important that you stay true to yourself - here’s my advice:

  1. Have a Voice:  I leverage my confidence and keep reminding myself that “I have a voice!”. Confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it is really critical for women, especially those in underrepresented groups. It’s important to work on your self-confidence - I focus on building positive relationships, being kind to yourself, and staying open-minded and mindful. 
  1. Use your EI: I think my superpower is listening, leveraging everyone’s perspective and being creative! I often lean into my Emotional Intelligence in my new craft, as it helps me build relationships with clients and colleagues, communicate effectively and listen with intent.

  2. Be a part of the mission: I’ve noticed a trend when playing/coaching sports, working, and volunteering; when I align my passion and values with the organization I’m working for it’s A LOT more fun - careers don’t always have to be tough, and long. Remember the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”, find employers that allow you to be your authentic self, motivate you to work hard, have fun and change lives! I believe in 10KC’s team and product which makes my job a lot easier.

How do you encourage 10KC clients to authentically embrace DEI at their organization? 

Scannell: When you look at DEI priorities, the critical challenge is the lack of access and equitable practices. Companies need to find ways to democratize access and remove the manual processes usually attributed to building employee networks and mentorship programs. They also need to provide access to leadership and flexible work options that level the playing field for all. Data and insights also play an important role in identifying where these barriers exist today. Leaders need to invest in technologies like 10KC that leverage machine learning to remove existing biases from manual program approaches and use data to drive inclusive decisions.

What role does mentorship play in DEI?

Scannell: Mentorship is a proven tactic to accelerate organizational DEI goals. 

For some employees and underrepresented groups, it’s very challenging to navigate career paths, ask questions, and seek guidance. Giving them access to mentorship and relationships breaks down the barriers that exist because those connections allow them to build their confidence, develop their skills and have a safe space to learn and grow. Mentorship is an underestimated tactic in employee experience strategies. 

The most fulfilling part of my job is meeting leaders who acknowledge mentorship is a MUST HAVE in transforming their culture and driving inclusion. It confirms to employees that you are invested in their development and committed to creating a permanent sense of belonging.

What are the things you wish your former (or all) organizations did to better support you or LGBTQIA+ employees in general? 

Scannell: I’m fortunate to work and live in Canada-- I’ve lived in 4 countries, and not every country is as inclusive as here. While I feel fortunate to be in this environment where I can be out and myself, there’s still some work to be done.

  1. DEI Training: When it comes to DEI training, I’d recommend personalizing learning curriculums about and for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Teaching empathy through individual stories about LGBTQIA+ family or life experiences creates awareness around biases that we often face. For example: assuming your co-worker is marrying the opposite sex because that is the “norm”. 

Humans come in all shapes and sizes and our society often forgets that there is a spectrum of genders and sexualities. We are quick to label and make assumptions. It’s important we break down these biases and educate employees to create inclusive workspaces. 

  1. Employee Resource Groups or ERGs are also valuable. Participants can take comfort in the fact that they’re led by people with similar values, backgrounds or goals. And you have the support of a group of peers and allies to create that sense of belonging.
  1. Investing in mental health. Employers can’t control external factors that could potentially impact their employee's well-being or performance even though they create an inclusive work environment. For example, your employee experienced homophobia online, at the store, by a family member, etc. Providing mental health support benefits and programs proactively supports your LGBTQIA+ and diverse employees. Take care of your employees through mental health & flexible benefits - they are your strongest asset!

What does our mission of democratizing opportunity here at 10KC mean for you? 

Scannell: Democratizing opportunity means equal access! At 10KC, we commonly use the statistic that 85% of jobs come from people’s networks. I’m proud that our technology and solutions help employers level the playing field by giving people access to career-changing networks they may have never had access to. 

 Visit our DEI Solutions to learn more about how we can help your company build a DEI program that drives engagement, promotion and retention.

Webinar

#PrideatWork: How Companies Can Advance LGBTQIA+ Talent by Democratizing Access to Networks and Informal Mentorship

Pride month is a time to celebrate the right for everyone to live openly as their true authentic selves. It’s also a time for organizations to raise awareness and create a culture that fosters continuing education and understanding towards their LGBTQIA+ employees 

In this Q&A, Clo Scannell, Talent Solutions Leader at 10KC, shares her perspective on DEI in the workplace in Canada as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. She discusses how organizations can support LGBTQIA+ employees by democratizing access to networks, mentorship and informal programs to create a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey.

Scannell: Growing up in Ireland, I played competitive basketball at a really high level. That’s what brought me to Boston on a full athletic basketball scholarship to Boston University. After graduating, I moved to Toronto with my Canadian partner. My first mentor gave me great advice which was to leverage the transferable skills I built playing Division 1 basketball. After a few interviews, I landed an HR coordinator role supporting the campus team at a financial services company. 

I fell into HR but always knew I wanted to support and develop the people around me, and help create a more diverse and equitable workplace. Campus recruiting was a natural fit and I progressed quickly through a number of roles at various financial service and academic organizations. I often reflect on how fortunate I was to have had some incredible mentors that helped me along the way. 

What influenced your decision to transition from an HR Leadership role to a Sales role at 10KC? 

With the rise of remote work and my personal interest in technology, I began to reconsider my career aspirations and my current role. 

I decided to lean into my strengths and working with two of my mentors, I identified key skills I’d built during my career in HR. I was considering roles in various fields like HR Tech Sales, business development, talent solutions and HR consulting. HR Tech Sales was one that resonated most - I had some transferable skills and was familiar with most processes. I focused on finding organizations that aligned with my values and had a human-centric mission where I could impact the HR industry at scale – which eventually led me to 10KC.

Sales is typically a male-dominated field. How do you navigate being a LGBTQIA+ woman in technology sales? 

Scannell: When you’re the only woman and/or gay person in a room/on a call. I think it’s really important that you stay true to yourself - here’s my advice:

  1. Have a Voice:  I leverage my confidence and keep reminding myself that “I have a voice!”. Confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it is really critical for women, especially those in underrepresented groups. It’s important to work on your self-confidence - I focus on building positive relationships, being kind to yourself, and staying open-minded and mindful. 
  1. Use your EI: I think my superpower is listening, leveraging everyone’s perspective and being creative! I often lean into my Emotional Intelligence in my new craft, as it helps me build relationships with clients and colleagues, communicate effectively and listen with intent.

  2. Be a part of the mission: I’ve noticed a trend when playing/coaching sports, working, and volunteering; when I align my passion and values with the organization I’m working for it’s A LOT more fun - careers don’t always have to be tough, and long. Remember the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”, find employers that allow you to be your authentic self, motivate you to work hard, have fun and change lives! I believe in 10KC’s team and product which makes my job a lot easier.

How do you encourage 10KC clients to authentically embrace DEI at their organization? 

Scannell: When you look at DEI priorities, the critical challenge is the lack of access and equitable practices. Companies need to find ways to democratize access and remove the manual processes usually attributed to building employee networks and mentorship programs. They also need to provide access to leadership and flexible work options that level the playing field for all. Data and insights also play an important role in identifying where these barriers exist today. Leaders need to invest in technologies like 10KC that leverage machine learning to remove existing biases from manual program approaches and use data to drive inclusive decisions.

What role does mentorship play in DEI?

Scannell: Mentorship is a proven tactic to accelerate organizational DEI goals. 

For some employees and underrepresented groups, it’s very challenging to navigate career paths, ask questions, and seek guidance. Giving them access to mentorship and relationships breaks down the barriers that exist because those connections allow them to build their confidence, develop their skills and have a safe space to learn and grow. Mentorship is an underestimated tactic in employee experience strategies. 

The most fulfilling part of my job is meeting leaders who acknowledge mentorship is a MUST HAVE in transforming their culture and driving inclusion. It confirms to employees that you are invested in their development and committed to creating a permanent sense of belonging.

What are the things you wish your former (or all) organizations did to better support you or LGBTQIA+ employees in general? 

Scannell: I’m fortunate to work and live in Canada-- I’ve lived in 4 countries, and not every country is as inclusive as here. While I feel fortunate to be in this environment where I can be out and myself, there’s still some work to be done.

  1. DEI Training: When it comes to DEI training, I’d recommend personalizing learning curriculums about and for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Teaching empathy through individual stories about LGBTQIA+ family or life experiences creates awareness around biases that we often face. For example: assuming your co-worker is marrying the opposite sex because that is the “norm”. 

Humans come in all shapes and sizes and our society often forgets that there is a spectrum of genders and sexualities. We are quick to label and make assumptions. It’s important we break down these biases and educate employees to create inclusive workspaces. 

  1. Employee Resource Groups or ERGs are also valuable. Participants can take comfort in the fact that they’re led by people with similar values, backgrounds or goals. And you have the support of a group of peers and allies to create that sense of belonging.
  1. Investing in mental health. Employers can’t control external factors that could potentially impact their employee's well-being or performance even though they create an inclusive work environment. For example, your employee experienced homophobia online, at the store, by a family member, etc. Providing mental health support benefits and programs proactively supports your LGBTQIA+ and diverse employees. Take care of your employees through mental health & flexible benefits - they are your strongest asset!

What does our mission of democratizing opportunity here at 10KC mean for you? 

Scannell: Democratizing opportunity means equal access! At 10KC, we commonly use the statistic that 85% of jobs come from people’s networks. I’m proud that our technology and solutions help employers level the playing field by giving people access to career-changing networks they may have never had access to. 

 Visit our DEI Solutions to learn more about how we can help your company build a DEI program that drives engagement, promotion and retention.

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